This Spring marked my first trip to the Adirondacks, where, to close a great few days of camping at Rollins Pond, my friend Micky and I hiked to the top of Ampersand Mountain. At the top, we discovered a beautiful 360-degree view wedged between the lakes region to our West and the High Peaks to our east. It was during that trip where I learned about the 46 Adirondack High Peaks — a group of mountains in the High Peaks region originally surveyed to be at least 4000 ft in elevation. (Though, when poking around for maps, I learned that a re-survey later revealed that 43 peaks sit at or above 4000 ft.)
As last weekend approached, I pulled up a list of the High Peaks to find a challenging day hike with a 360 degree view at the summit. At the top of the list was the tallest mountain, Mount Marcy at 5344 ft, which met my criteria. With a goal in sight, I loaded the Jeep and journeyed North on Friday night to tackle my first of the Adirondacks High Peaks.
During my early morning drive into the High Peaks region from Interstate 87, it didn’t take long to notice that trailheads lining the High Peaks Byway were loaded with hikers taking advantage of their Saturday. Towns like Keene made it impossible not to think “the ski people are out”, as mostly everyone was decked out in their fancy outdoor gear. Though, perception is relative, and I probably looked like an amateur in a pair of old blue jeans and my tattered boots of 17 years.
The people pattern continued after I turned down the worn and rugged Adirondack Loj Road, where I was dumb-founded by the number of cars behind and ahead of me, dodging fractures in the road among patches of newer asphalt. (I later learned the road had been damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.) For the first time in my life, I felt like I were in a children’s book. It was as if I were driving a cartoon Volkswagen Vanagon among a few hundred other hiking families all flocking to a nearby trailhead, all of us eager to enter the woods.