Proceeding upward, I finally saw the top of Mount Marcy through the trees, with a trail of hiker silhouettes climbing up her spine like a string of ants, disappearing into the cloudy mist. The trees around me were cloaked in thick moss, giving them an appearance that would fit in with the Dagobah landscape of Star Wars. Trees turned into shrubs, and eventually the rock structure of the mountain formed the base of the trail, with the earth worn away from it by years of hikers going up and down. At some points, the trail made a single-file cut through the brush, and groups of hikers would take turns allowing each other through.
Wet and narrow was the theme until crossing above the treeline, where eventually, Marcy’s exposed dry rock outcroppings surfaced. I slipped on my raincoat over my sweatshirt, and looked up through the thick mist to the top.
Foot traffic was heavy during the last mile, as there was a crisscross of early-bird hikers on their way back down, with some of us still making our way to the top. Clouds and mist spilled over the ridge as we followed one another, crawling over the exposed mountain rock. I reached the mountain summit at about 1pm.
I was surprised to learn that Mount Marcy had a caretaker of its own, a mountain stewardess, hired to hike the mountain every day from May through September, to welcome hikers to the top, and educate them about the arctic-alpine vegetation. The wind was cold, but she cheerfully greeted piles of hikers, and offered to take their photos. I gave her one of my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a granola bar, which she gladly accepted. If I were a mountain steward, I can only imagine that a surprise snack would make my day.
With the wind whipping, my hood up, and hands in my pockets, I lingered around the top of the mountain for about a half hour, hoping for a break in the clouds. The sun’s position would occasionally try to shine through, but the clouds never broke to give a view beyond the slope of a nearby mountain to the South.
Coming down the mountain was a long trek, as I was sore and tired from the hike up, but also short on water. Next time I’ll bring two bottles, and my trek poles!
15.8 miles. What a hike!