goodnight. I hopped in my one-person tent and closed my eyes.
Then I realized something. The pitter-patter of rain had stopped.
I unzipped my tent, looked in the sky and brilliant stars greeted me with a sparkly hello (or something like that). I ripped my rain flap off of my tent and decided to sleep under the stars.
It was, hands down, the most relaxing sleep I’ve had in ages.
I awoke to a slight hangover and beautiful blue skies. Hope was renewed that today would be the day to finally see a vista. After a nice breakfast bar, some Bailey’s coffee and a package of Ramen Noodles (a breakfast staple) we got our shit together, threw away our trash and exited stage left. This place had been our home for the past two nights. In a way, it was going to be hard to leave.
Goodbye Adirondack Loj, see you in a couple of years. Time to hit some mountains.
If Noonmark and Giant Mountain were people, they would be next-door neighbors. They could borrow flour from each other with a simple shout out the window. Highway 73 splits Giant with Noonmark and Round mountain - the two peaks we were planning on hiking today thanks, in part, to a guy’s advice at the end of yesterday's journey.
Being Saturday, the parking lots were jammed. There was even an old, raggedy lady selling spots on her property to fellow hikers in search of a vista. After seeing all the cars, the first thing that crossed my mind was, "I hope all these people aren’t climbing Noonmark." Then common sense got the best of me.
If you were to compare the Adirondacks to an amusement park, Giant, Algonquin and Marcy are the major roller coasters of the Adirondacks. Noonmark is like the Log Ride. Not to say it's not a strenuous hike. It's just not that popular. But it doesn’t necessarily disappoint if you're looking for a quick hike with a great view.
The trailhead to Noonmark is right off of the Ausable country club golf course. We saw a couple of gruff, old men with paisley, checkered pants playing through the 13th hole as we were starting our trek. They stared at us with our stupid packs, hiking boots and camelback water containers. And we stared back at them with their retarded golf carts, stupid, shiny clubs and ridiculous golf shoes. It was like we were a totally different species sizing each other up for some sort of showdown. Had this been a Mad-Max futuristic, nuclear Armageddon and we came across each other in the wild - we could've totally kicked their Phil Mickelson asses.
After adjusting our packs and hitting the trail, I noticed that all four of us had an increased pep in our step. Other than the deep satisfaction of simply reaching the summit - today's hike was going to have a payoff, a happy ending if you will. Minus, of course, the Asian stroker.
We ascended maybe 900 feet before we got to our first, of many, great vista shots. The golf course was getting smaller and smaller in the distance - as you can see in the photo to the right.
The final 1,000 feet of the climb was actually some serious, strenuous fun. Although we were climbing some rock faces that were, in parts, 80 or 90 degrees, the overall climb was difficult, but it wasn't as difficult as the treks up Giant and Algonquin.
You know, there's a point in any great porno movie that's called the 'money shot'. Some examples of a 'money shot' in a regular, mainstream movie are: seeing Ben Stiller's balls being caught in his zipper in Something About Mary. Finally seeing the pirate ship in The Goonies. Or even Charlton Heston screaming "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" as the camera pans around to show us the Statue of Liberty in The Planet of the Apes.
Well, although the photograph doesn't give it justice, this was one, of many, money shots we saw that day:
It's been hailed on many Adirondack Hiking web sites the view from the summit of Noonmark is about as good as any in the High Peaks. Now I can totally see why. You can almost see almost every major peak, which is pretty fucking amazing in itself. Scanning the view, I kept looking over at Giant Mountain, shaking my head and saying, "I cannot believe we climbed that fucking thing" over-and-over again in mind.
After eating a lunch of Spaghetti-O's and meatballs, we hung out on the summit for a half-hour or so. A guy from Canada stopped by to talk to us. "Beautiful view, eh?" he said sounding like an extra from Fargo and Strange Brew. He told us a couple stories about Vancouver, Banff Mountain and this island up in Nova Scotia that he drove 100 miles an hour for 10 straight hours. Cape Breton, I believe.
With a full belly we decided to visit one more peak - Noonmark's fuck-buddy - Round Mountain. We reached the summit in about an hour or so. It was a much smaller peak than Noonmark, but the views were breathtaking as well. We all know that this was the last time to let our minds take it all in. We hung out, shot some video and decided to hightail down the hill.
With the Ironman competition being held the next day in Lake Placed - and surrounding towns - it was an unanimous decision to get a headstart on the trip and head down Route 73. We passed a half-dozen abandoned motels (from the 1980 Olympics perhaps?) and George Lake (it's like the Myrtle Beach of New York, blech).
Fifty miles down the road from the peak we just hiked, we were staring at a campground right next to Six Flags' The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom. To be honest, it wasn't the camping that I've been accustomed to on this trip. There were pop-up tents, RVs with those crazy colored X-mas lights dangling. Plus, everyone - even the girls - looked exactly like Eminem. Maybe it was the six beers I drank after the peak, but I suddenly got depressed.
The reality of my hiking weekend was coming to close.
But, it was getting late and none of us could really afford to get a hotel. I finally gave in and we rented a site. To cap off our commercialized camping night, we spent our last night guzzling beer and pizza at a Pizzeria Uno. Sigh.
As cars zoomed by on the highway and people in the surrounding camp sites screamed and shouted with their Pabst Blue Ribbons and cut-off t-shirts, I still had the opportunity to gaze at the stars one more night.
With the ominous sounds of "Sweet Home Alabama" blaring from a nearby campsite, I slowly drifted off to sleep.
Another year. Another successful hiking trip for the memory books.