I had previously climbed Cascade (4098') and Porter (4059') from Route 73. Then in 2012 I climbed Little Porter (2840') from The Garden. This gave me the idea for a seven mile traverse over Cascade, Porter and Little Porter.
My friend Gary Kling and I started the traverse at 9 AM from our parking spot on Route 73. The day started out sunny but it began clouding up after lunch and was only partly sunny by the time we got to Little Porter. On Cascade there was a good stiff breeze which was very welcome. On the other summits it was more sporadic and down in the forest it was calm. It was about 72 degrees more or less for most of the day.
The trail to Cascade was steep but in fairly good condition and we arrived at the summit at 11:45 AM. The summit looks like a castle. You have to climb up one wall, then walk to the second wall and climb up that. There are great views of Gothics, Marcy, Colden, Algonquin, and Whiteface, along with many other lesser peaks. We could also see Mt Mansfield and Camels Hump in VT faintly in the distance.
The volunteer summit caretaker Mary was very friendly and she took our picture for us while we were on the summit. You can see the effects of a stiff wind blowing on us. We had lunch and left the summit at 12:15 PM. The way over to Porter had some muddy spots. There were tons of flowering bunchberries near the summits of Cascade and Porter. When we passed the big fang-like boulder on the trail to Porter we decided to name it Wizard's Tooth in honor of "Mr. Wizard" the science TV personality. Beyond that we came out to a pleasant lookout.
Once we were here a large group of teenagers or young 20's hikers came up, accompanied by one older hiker. They were planning to hike a traverse like us, but instead they were going to come out on Blueberry Mtn. Having climbed Blueberry, I warned them that there is a huge chasm between Porter and Blueberry and I said they should take it very slowly and carefully. I had not chosen this route because it looked too difficult. I believe that Mary on Cascade had also warned that group to be careful on the demanding route they had chosen.
Gary and I arrived on Porter at 1:43 PM and asked the two men there where we could get some porter. One said that would just hit the spot right now. They left and we had the summit to ourselves for a while. This mountain has a great view back to Cascade and a wonderful view of Marcy, Colden and Algonquin in a row. However, since my last visit some scraggly evergreens have been growing up near this view and they really ought to be trimmed to preserve the view in its full glory. We left Porter at 2:08 PM lamenting over the lack of porters to carry our backpacks.
Now we were on a stretch that I had never hiked, and to judge by its rough and overgrown features, not many others either. This part of the trail was full of boulders to hike over and around, flooded areas, blowdowns to climb over or around, underbrush growing into the trail, and places where the trail was hard to follow. I got quite tired out from this section and Gary was very kind to put up with my slow hiking as a result of this. In one spot I slipped and got a small cut to my hand.
Finally at 4:30 PM we arrived on the top of Little Porter, which has some nice views of the ledges on Big Slide and on Porter, as well as some of the other mountains in the area, especially Noonmark. Here I rested up for the final leg of the traverse. Fortunately for me, the last stretch is a very good trail in excellent condition. We were back out at 6:55 PM. This was a very enjoyable traverse but it should only be attempted in dry conditions because of all the climbing on slant rocks and areas that were flooded and tricky to get around. Actually this observation could be made for many trails in the Adirondacks which are not great mountains for hiking in wet conditions but are otherwise very beautiful and wonderful hikes.