Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Adirondacks Day #1 – Giant Mountain.


We arrived at the Giant Mountain trailhead in the Adirondacks around noon on Thursday, July 19.

Giant is one of the taller peaks in the Adirondacks, stretching more than 4,600 feet above sea level. The 3,050 foot ascent takes you up to the top of the mountain in roughly 2.5 miles. That said, the overall hike from beginning to end was 8.6 miles and took, roughly, 5 ½ hours to complete.

And, unlike the Appalachian Trail, there are no switchbacks. It’s straight up and down, baby. If there’s a boulder, you climb over it. If there’s a rock face, you go straight up. Sometimes you even hit a rough 80-degree climb, sans climbing gear.

Oh yeah, did I mention the rain?

From the moment we stepped foot on Giant’s trailhead until the moment we reached the car, the rain came down in buckets. We were literally climbing up waterfalls. Gallons of water poured down the mountain and saturated our clothes. It was like some sort of water ride that you'd find at Wet and Wild Amusement park.

Plus the hike was intense. Heavy breathing. Frequent stops. And no pee. In fact, I didn't pee until I reached the bottom. That's about 1.5 gallons of water and no urination for 5+ hours. You literally couldn't tell what was sweat and what was rain. So, even though water was flowing all around us, it was very important to stay hydrated.

About halfway up, we ran into a husband and wife couple who looked to be about 50+ years or older. Armed with walking sticks, rain gear and big smiles on their face, they slowly shuffled down a 65-degree rock face as streams of water poured around their boots.

“How’s it going?” the man asked my friend.
“We would be a lot better if it was sunny,” my friend replied.
“Well,” the man said with a pause. “It’s all relative.”

The perfect answer.

Who fucking cared if it was raining! We were out of the office. Not thinking about paperwork, spread sheets, mortgages or whether or not we were supposed to pick up grape or strawberry jelly at the store on the way home from work. Simply put, we were fucking living. And our one focus at this point in time was tackling this mountain while at the same time making sure we didn't crack our heads open on the rock.

When we reached the summit – the only thing visible was a gray mist, a heavy downpour and four wet hikers with tired faces and content hearts.

One peak down. Many more to go.

As the downpour intensified, we slipped, slid and careened down the cliffs of the mountain. On the 2-hour downhill trek, my mind was thinking of three things: whiskey, dry clothes and pizza. All of which came true as we headed to Lake Placid to celebrate our insane climb.

Had it been sunny, I’m not sure what my impression of Giant Mountain would have been. But, the rain, the sleet, the wind, the slick rock faces, the waterfalls and the two old folks we saw on the trail - definitely made this a day to remember.

I hear there are peaks that are rougher, tougher, steeper and more strenuous than Giant (this was a 5 out of 7 difficulty hike). I say bring ‘em on. But, hands down, this was definitely one of the most exciting, and satisfying, hikes I've ever experienced.

That was, at least, until we headed up Algonquin Mountain on Day #2.

1 comment:

Eric said...

yaaayyy. Encore, Encore!