Saturday, June 21, 2008


Today I did a High Peak, finally! Algonquin Mt near Lake Placid, NY to be exact. Number 2 on NY highest mountains…Marcy is next. I want to talk about a couple of things about this hike as while it was a perfect adventure, it had moments that remind us why we hike prepared and today illustrates the importance of preparation.

The hike itself was wonderful. We began at Heart Lake and hiked up a well marked and well used trail. We started early and we had the trail to ourselves. The trail as you get within 1.5 miles of the peak becomes steep and very rocky. Both boulders and some of the trail is along exposed bedrock greeted each footfall. As you break through the tree line, well before the summit you are treated with spectacular views. The views from the summit are nothing more than stunning. There was a Summit Steward up there, basically keeping you off the fragile alpine vegetation. We sat down out of the wind and ate our lunch and were sitting back to relax and enjoy the scenery. That is when I saw the rain coming and we sat and waited out for a 20 minutes but decided to head back down the now wet and slippery rocks. The hike down was uneventful, but the entire hike was nothing less then wonderful for me.

I was even going to attempt a letterbox that was placed at the summit. However, as we were the only ones up there the Summit Steward kept his eye on us, so it was hard to look for the box. Then we were chased off by the rain. What can you do?

Today gives me an opportunity to discuss a little the importance of being prepared when you are going out and hiking. The weather forecast for today was sunny, warm 80 F with a slight change of showers. Remember that the weather man lies. When you are hiking into the high peaks you have to have rain gear and a fleece jacket. Both are a must. These summits above the tree line are windy and chilly and you can get hyperthermia quickly if you are not prepared. I didn’t bring some gloves and when my hands got wet they really got cold and from now on I am going to pack a light pair of gloves with me. This can happen even in July on a hot and humid day and remember that the weather is always different on the tops of those mountains. Bring extra food, clothes, water, rain gear and anything that you can think of that you may need up there.

Lastly, I didn’t spend a great deal of time trying to describe the scene that I saw up there on that mountain and for good reason. There is and never has been alive a wordsmith, photographer, or canvas artist that can even on an infinitesimal level capture the scenic vista that was laid before me. The feeling of the scene can only be felt and absorbed by your senses first hand. Any description or image is nothing more that a faint shadow of what is reality. Go and hike it and see for yourself!

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