Hiked into JBL from the Garden Parking lot, starting somewhere around 5:20am. Was debating on hitting Big Slide via the Brothers (which I think would be another awesome way to tackle this route and avoid one of the out and backs), but decided to stick to tradition and begin where ole Bobby set off from during the original traverse.
Started my watch at 6:41am on the steps of JBL and took off to the junction for Big Slide where I dropped my pack and headed to the summit with one of my 17oz soft flasks. Tagged the summit, turned around immediately and made my descent back to my pack. Feeling pretty solid after the first climb. Cruised passed the ranger station, headed below the bridge to refill on water and started making my way towards the Great Range. I ended up drinking quite a bit and refilling my flasks again on my way up to the Wolf Jaws for the final time before my next known reliable water source at the base of Basin and Haystack.
Once I hit the junction for LWJ, I again dropped by pack, took a flask and headed for the summit. After LWJ, it's time to carry on with the remainder of the Range and work my way over Basin to get to my next water refill. I got there feeling really solid still. Then, on my way up to Haystack I started to deal with the first signs of some potential cramping in my adductors. This slowly started to kill my climbing legs, forcing me to take significantly smaller steps.
I again dropped my pack for the Haystack out and back before heading up and over Marcy where I had my next water refill at the Four Corners. Dropping my pack here again for the Skylight out and back. With my uphill legs still struggling to move quickly, I couldn't have been much happier for the long descent to Lake Colden.
I was again able to refill on water at Colden before the last long ascent of the day up towards Algonquin. This trail offered water for most of the way up, allowing me to drink freely and cool off frequently. At the next junction I dropped my pack again to tag Iroquois before heading over Algonquin and down toward the next junction up to Wright where I again dropped my pack to tag the final high peak of the day. I found a bit more life in my climbing legs here and was able to pick up my pace on the McIntyre Range. Now time for the final long and cherished descent to the ADK Loj where I was able to hold a solid pace, letting gravity take me to my final climb of the day, Mount Jo.
Oh Mout Jo... My soul may still be up there somewhere, During this final climb I struggled more than any other moment I can remember. I was hot, tired, and ready to get this thing finished. The smallest peak of the day may very well have been the hardest. It was head down and feet forward until the summit. Beyond elated to arrive, I turned around without wasting a second and made my final descent back to the junction, picking up my pack for the last time for a "sprint" finish to the trailhead.
Down hill legs for the win on this day. They held up beautifully. Uphill legs need some work. There is still plenty of time to take off of this route. It was fun and it was beautiful. One of my favorite adventures out in the Adirondacks to date. Stoked to see this time get smashed in the future.