After finishing a tough semester of grad school- I took a week off of work with Erica so that we could relax in the outdoors.
This trip truly starts at 10:00pm on 5/19/22. I left class from Hunter College with all of my gear needed for the week ahead with me. However, it is well known that the best epics start in medias res. Our adventure in that case begins on Saturday 5/21/22. We had arrived in the Adirondacks the night before, having driven the 5.5 hours from NYC. Our goal: climbing Mount Marcy, the highest peak in NY State. It’s not a very impressive hike for mountaineers- but it is much more involved than anything we’ve hiked in the lower Hudson Valley. After checking the forecast religiously the whole week leading up we were finally there. The morning of- in the parlor of our Airbnb I spotted a deer on the lawn. Good luck for sure!
After a hearty breakfast of Oatmeal and apples we were off. Our more experienced friend warned us of icy conditions at the top of the mountain (in late May!) so we came dressed for cold. What we did not prepare for, was that 95% of the hike would be sticky and warm. Our sleeves were rolled up the second we stepped out of the car at 6:30am in the parking lot of the Adirondack Loj. There we purchased a physical map and water purifying tablets. We each carried 4L of water- but a worker at the Loj warned us that a minimum of 5 is recommended.
We set out on the 15-16 mile round trip hike!
It was a long and sweaty adventure. Much of the terrain was generic foresty wilderness with scattered rocks. The melting snow created a lot of mud which quickly permeated our boots and socks. We had heard that of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, Mount Marcy was neither the most difficult nor the most interesting. While this seemed accurate for the first 2/3rds of the trip- once we entered the Alpine Region it quickly became both of our favorite hikes to date.
Coated in a mixture of sweat, bug spray, and sunscreen we emerged from from the treeline to see the peak of Mount Marcy up close and personal. With a renewed sense of urgency we hurried to the top, making sure to stick to only hard rock surfaces to not damage the fragile alpine vegetation.
The peak was of course the highlight of our entire trip. Upon reaching the summit we met a summit steward who reminded us of our responsibility to protect the vegetation. We were congratulated by other hikers that we had passed on the way up. We made sure to return the favor for those that came after us. We started the hike at 7:30am (spent a bit too much time at the Loj) and reached the summit around 12:30pm. Sunset was at around 8:00pm that night, so we couldn’t relax for too long. We ate our sandwiches and texted our friends using the surprisingly decent cell service at the top of the mountain.
At around 1:30 we started back down the mountain. Thankful for our crampons due to the aforementioned ice and mud. About a mile down I refilled my water bottle at a river and used Iodine tablets for the first time. We shared tablets with some Montrealers who didn’t listen to the guy at the Loj. Going to Marcy Dam in the beginning of our trip seemed like nothing- only 2 miles of relatively flat terrain. On the way back it began to rain. Then we heard thunder. 2 miles has never felt so long. Tired, cranky, and miserable we speedwalked through the woods wincing at the thunder. It stopped raining with about .5 miles remaining to the parking lot. We dragged ourselves and emerged feeling proud of our physical accomplishment but humbled by our experiences with the forces of nature.
We rewarded ourselves with a cold cider at the Hungry Hiker right next to the Loj. Needless to say, we slept well that night. We of course proceeded to buy as much Mount Marcy merchandise as possible the next day. What good is an accomplishment if no one knows about it?!
This was a lot of firsts for us. It was both of our first times in the Adirondacks. First time climbing a high peak. First 46er mountain. I don’t know if we’ll ever seriously attempt becoming 46ers- but the option is on the table. I’m glad that we started the season with Mount Marcy. The clarity found on top of a mountain is really special.
One final reward- on the way back we spotted The Pine Cone and treated ourselves to a round of ice cream.