Adirondack Series: A Rocky Start
My first experience climbing a high peak was during undergraduate school in 2004. My roommate Sasha and I took a plant taxonomy class and our professor offered a weekend trip every October to climb Mount Algonquin. The purpose of the trip was to get above the tree line to look at endangered alpine vegetation. We did not know anything about the Adirondacks, what the 46ers were, or what we were getting ourselves into. We did, however, love plants! Missing class to hang out in nature seemed like a great idea.
It turns out hiking up the second highest mountain in NY is slightly difficult. Also, getting iced on the entire climb (not snowed on…it was literally ice) is less than pleasant. We stopped for lunch at a nice waterfall. I was sure we were close to the top we had been hiking FOREVER! My professor informed us we were “already halfway up the mountain!” Only Halfway?? Sasha and I contemplated crawling into a crevice and living on the trail for the rest of our lives.
He also proceeded to tell us a story of how during the last trip a student broke her ankle and had to be airlifted off the mountain. Needless to say, this did not improve our mood or motivation to keep going.
After hours of complaining and misery, we made it to the top. It was freezing, we were exhausted, and the endangered alpine vegetation was significantly less exciting than what had been advertised. Despite all this, while taking in the 360-degree mountain views, I got the mountain climbing bug. There is just something magical about being above the tree line, looking out at a view that you worked your but off to enjoy.
I did not get back to the Adirondacks until 2010. During Veterinary school I became an avid runner and hiker. I lived on a volcanic island at the time and frequently climbed the volcano in the 90-degree heat.
During a school break, A group of friends and I (including Sasha!) went camping and climbed Mount Cascade. This is arguably the easiest high peak to climb and we had perfect weather to boot. I was in phenomenal shape at the time and climbing Cascade was a joy. I probably could have done it three times over.
We had beautiful views at the top. We horsed around, took a nap, and yes, we looked at the alpine vegetation to make our college professor proud.
I have climbed only five high peaks so far. I will likely never complete all 46 peaks. Each summer I force Steve to trek up one of them with me so I can feel that magical on top of the world feeling. These days I take the pups with me. Maverick has done four peaks and Quinn has done three. I will post a review of several of the climbs along with puppy pictures in the near future!
Keep adventuring on!