I have another post just dedicated to Grace Camp Cabin!
As with everything, nothing in life is easy… There is a funny backstory to how we arrived going to the ADK Grace Camp cabin this particular weekend… This cabin was supposed to be the location of my bachelorette party! The day before my MOH broke her foot. Even though she offered to make the 3mi hike in, we all knew that was NOT the best plan, especially since she had never gone hiking or backpacking before…
Anyway, we all decided to head to Grace Camp in the fall, and booked it for November 2018.
6 humans and 1 massive Nova loaded into the cars and drove up to the Garden parking Lot in Keene NY. The Garden Parking lot does have a fee to park there, and is relativity small, so if you plan on heading up there, try to get there early!
We arrived around 10:30AM and got everyone collected. Out of the 6 of us that were on this trip, only 4 (5 if you count Nova) of us had been backpacking before. The 2 new people had never gone, and were borrowing some of my gear. It took a little while for everyone to get adjusted and comfortable with a pack on.
Part of the complication to getting everyone moving this morning was the weather! As we pulled into the Garden parking lot it started to rain. Zack and I only have 1 rain fly each, which left a few bags potentially exposed to the elements. We had a few extra plastic shopping bags and a garbage bag so we waterproofed what we could and were happy to know we had a warm dry place to sleep that night should anything get soaked! We headed into the woods around 11AM.
I had picked Grace Camp due to the easy access (& that it allowed dogs). The hike from the Garden parking lot is one we had done in the past (hiking to Great Range). The hike is easy, straight forward and relatively flat. Over the ~3.5 miles from the parking lot to Grace Camp from the, you only gain about 900′, and none of it is steep at all.
Everyone started to get a little more comfortable with the packs, and figured out the adjustments they needed pretty quickly.
The hike in we took our time. We stopped to look at cool trees/rocks etc and took pictures of the beautiful waterfalls by the deer brook lean too. We were all happy just to just be outside and enjoyed watching Nova sniff and prance around.
Luckily, I had made sure everyone packed and wore some essentials: Rain Jacket, Winter Hat, Non Cotton Clothing etc…
Unluckily, I did NOT make sure everyone had waterproof boots (including my soaked Oboz, that need to be re-finished or retired). It had obviously rained or snowed recently as the trail was quite wet when we started, and the constant drizzle did not help us at all.
As we hiked in, we started to notice the rain turn to snow, and the wind pick up a little bit. One of our first timer’s later told us that the gusts of wind made her question why she came on the trip, and was subjecting herself to this. NOW, if that isn’t something ever hiker/backpacker thinks at one point or another I don’t know what is!
We all started to notice just how wet we were getting more and more, but stayed in good spirits considering it started to snow! We were all just very happy to know we had a dry place to sleep with a heat source that could dry out our boots and bones!
The hike into Grace Camp is over a few streams, some of which have some pretty cool bridges you get to cross! Careful, those bridges can be slick when when/icy!
We turned and headed towards Grace Camp, excited to see where we were staying, and to be able to take our soaked boots off and eat something!
After the turn off/bridge you have just about 1/4 mi to Grace Camp! You come across the sign to the right, which gives you a helpful up-close map of the Johns Brook area.
We walked the last little bit and came across a beautiful little sign nailed to a tree, letting us know we were almost there, and almost able to try to dry and thaw out!
We all got SUPER excited to see that the privy (aka bathroom) was connected to the cabin, even under a covered porch! The privy is the white door to the left in the photo, the entrance to the cabin is the green door to the right.
We all dropped our wet packs, took off our rain jackets, got our muddy wet boots off and headed into the cabin!
The cabin was beautiful inside! Way more than I had expected! The bunks were triple bunks, leading to a lot more area in the cabin. There is also a massive table perfect for group dinners, board games, and wonderful conversation!
I explored the kitchen options and made sure everyone started hydrating as the guys were forced to open up the propane lines, and work on getting the lights and heat going.
*Read my Grace Camp Review post for tips and tricks to the cabin*
After getting our boots in front of the heater and changed out of our wet clothes, we pulled out our snacks and some maps that we had brought (and some that were in the binder in the cabin) and started to discuss what we wanted to do that afternoon! After almost everyone said “I am up for anything” the group decided that the snow was coming down pretty good, we were all enjoying being warm, and that no one wanted to put back on their wet boots.
The rest of the evening consisted of warming up, sangria, board games, snacks and dinner! We ate really well compared to my normal standards and had easy mac with dehydrated chicken (re-hydrated of course).
We woke up to an overcast day, and after having a breakfast of oatmeal and some dehydrated Mountain House eggs. We packed up our gear and headed out onto the trail. As a group we decided to hike to Lower Wolf Jaw. I had previously done that hike, knew it was relatively short, and that there were no massive ladders like Upper Wolf Jaw, so Nova would be able to summit too!
As you hike from Grace Camp to Lower Wolf Jaw you can take the route by the DEC Ranger Station and get to cross over an AWESOME suspension bridge. Half the group are engineers, so we had to marvel at it!
Crossing the suspension bridge was a lot of fun, and everyone enjoyed looking out at the beautiful waterfall next to it!
While “planning” this weekend, no one knew what the actual plan would be, so we all packed day packs to hike with. We stashed our large packs behind a tree towards the bottom of the trail and headed off with nice light day packs!
As we hiked up the trail became more and more snow covered (and Zack and I did not have enough micro-spikes to go around, so we did the logical thing and didn’t pack any at all!)
We all continued up the trail. One of us was even in just regular sneakers (because we did not fully think our plan through, and that it would be snowy/icy). As we ascended Lower Wolf Jaw it got more and more icy.
Just past the turn off point between upper and lower wolf jaw there was an ice covered rock, approximately 4′ tall. We decided it was not going to be that safe to lift Nova up this, and had no idea how we would get her down this on the way out. Safety is our #1 priority, especially when it comes to Nova. I volunteered to stay where we were with Nova and have the rest of the group continue up. The person in the sneakers was also worried about their traction and decided to stay with me. We decided to start heading down because we knew that the sneakers would prove to be a challenge in hiking down the icy rocks.
The 3 of us (2 Humans and Nova) took our time hiking down. Making sure we chose our footing and enjoying the scenery, serenity of the wintry woods, and good conversation.
As we hiked down we stopped to rest on some rocks in the sunlight. Here the rest of our group came across us and the gang was all back together!
I asked how the summit was and they informed us that about 200 yards ahead of where we had turned back, they too made the decision to stay safe and turned back around.
We all hiked towards our full packs. Once we made it there we had some snacks and threw our packs on and started hiking once again. We hike fairly quickly towards the cars, happy to be down out of the icy area!
TRIP RATING: 9/10 – 2 days – 0 Summits, ~ 3.65 mi Day 1, 7.2 mi Day 2 and ~2,500 ft of elevation gain overall
I would recommend everyone try the ADK’s lodges or cabins! We loved out time at Grace Camp, and I think it is the perfect way to easy people into backpacking! I would also suggest that you not underestimate the Adirondacks! They have their own weather, and precautions should be taken when traveling up there, particularly around the winter months!
TECHNICAL: Attempted 11/3 – 11/4/2018
- 11 AM – Garden Parking Lot towards JBL area
- 1:15 PM – Arrive at Grace Camp!
- Hang out, have some Sangria and play board games!!!
- 9:15 AM – Depart from Grace Camp.
- 9:45 AM – Drop packs slightly off trail
- 10:25 AM – Hit Turn Off to Upper Wolf Jaw (0.5 mi To Lower Wolf Jaw Summit)
- 10:45 AM – Turn Around Point, start heading down .. No summit for us 🙁
- 1:30 PM – Arrive at cars and head to Chipotle!
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS & SUGGESTIONS:
- Keep extra garbage bags in the car, they make great impromptu rain-flys!
- Pack traction if it is late fall/early spring!
- If you are staying a one of the ADK Cabins, read my Grace Camp post!
- If you can drop your pack, and just carry your water and other essentials to grab a peak DO IT, it was delightful to only have a day pack going up!
- Stay safe, do not push yourself/your dog/your friends to do something if you are going to be in an unnecessarily high risk situation. It is more important to enjoy yourself and stay safe so you get to have another day on the trail!