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46 what? How high?

>> Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I want this blog to document my Adirondack 46 high peaks adventures in their entirety.  Therefore, I shall back up in time a few days and describe the weekend that started my husband and me on our wild quest to scale all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks.  It can all be blamed on one person: our friend I shall call D.

D is a great guy I got to know through a professional organization to which he and I both belong.  Eventually we discovered he and my husband share a passion for cars (surely there will be more on that in the future), and we all share a love for biking. 

I suppose I should have known long ago that this friendship might be a little dangerous.  D is fit.  Very fit.  Spouse and I, well, we used to be very fit.  Yet somehow D talked spouse into training for a roadbike ride up Whiteface Mountain this summer.  Yes, that's something like 8 miles UP A MOUNTAIN.  I had the good sense to scoff.  D trained hard and made it to the top in good time.  We - ah - won't discuss how the poor spouse fared in the training.

This D is the same crazy person who invited us on a weekend camping trip in the Adirondacks.  He's a 45er, and intends to climb his 46th high peak this coming weekend.  Warning bells should have gone off in our heads about the potential rigors of the proposed trip, but they did not.  We love woods.  We love camping.  We love hiking and even trail running.  So we happily agreed to go.  At the last minute D's incredibly cool twelve-year-old son decided to come with us. 

It.  Was.  Awesome.  And yet I'm hard-pressed to describe why it was so good.  When I describe it even to myself it sounds slightly nuts.

We hiked 5.5 miles with 20+ lb packs on our backs through rain, ankle deep mud, and slippery rocks to a lean-to.  Spouse at the luxuriously plush lean-to:

Allow me to clarify for my less-woodsy readers that there are not bathrooms in the middle of nowhere in the Adirondacks.   There is no running water (unless a 33 degree mountain stream counts).

We slept fitfully in that lean-to in 40 degree weather.  We even generously shared it with a mouse, who tried to take some of my hair for nesting material sometime around 3 a.m.

We got up the next morning, cold and stiff, to more rain.  We then proceeded to wade, sink, scramble and claw our way to the top of Mt Seymour.  There isn't actually a "trail" to the top of Seymour.  It's considered a trailless summit, and there's only a herd path that's sometimes a little tricky to follow.  And for what it's worth, 4000' feet is higher than you might think.

We all sank in mud over the tops of our boots at some point during the trip.  (squish, squish, squish - my toes raisined beautifully).  We grasped and slid and squished and hurtled our way back down the mountain through the rain, picked up the rest of our gear, and slogged back through all the mud to the car.  We arrived back at the car after dark, and got home at a ridiculously unreasonable hour for someone who is normally in bed by 9:00.

I hurt so much afterward I was afraid I wouldn't be able to walk the next day, and my right knee still bears fading yellow and green suggestions of a spectacularly gruesome bruise.


Seriously.  Even the hair thieving mouse had its charms. 

Is it about the adrenaline?  The view?  The exertion and the utterly satisfying sensation of having worked your body that hard?  The quiet of the woods, the magnificent display of stars, the chuckling of the stream behind the lean-to?  How good the crummy trail food tastes when you're that hungry, or the glorious beauty of falling yellow leaves like flakes of pure gold?  The outstanding company, and how slap-happy you all tend to get after that kind of exertion?

It's all of those things and a whole bunch more I can't even begin to describe.  Suffice it to say we loved it so much that we went back to climb 2 more peaks the next weekend (see post on Porter and Cascade), and are suffering major pangs of anxiety about the winter months when we likely can't climb any peaks because we don't have enough cold weather gear or the budget to acquire it.  Yet.

3 down, 43 to go.


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