Monday, February 29, 2016

Hike 2 - Mount Marcy

I am writing 10 posts about my 10 favorite hikes, here is more information.

Trail: Mount Marcy
Ranking: number 2
Where: Adirondack Mountains, NY
When: July 2004
Cost: None
Who: My friend Dave and I

July 2004. I was 26 years old and had finally bought a cell phone. I was still waiting tables on the side. I had been a teacher for 2 years – or 4 if you count 2 years of daycare teaching, subbing and tutoring. So far my “grown up” vacations had consisted of 2 cruises and 2 drives across country. Up until this point the longest hike I had been on was probably exploring the trails in Ithaca, NY. “Ithaca is Gorges.” 
Yes I owned that tee at one time. I think I need it in a hoodie. 

Around this time I had discovered thru hiking, and I had fallen in love with reading trail journals. I had not quite discovered blogs though. I also liked the idea of going to the highest point of each state, although after reading about it I decided Denali and Rainier and probably 7 others were out. But I continued to research it, and thought – I could do New York’s highest peak! 

So with little experience and no real exercise regime at the time – I headed up north. My plan was to not only hike the hike, but take pictures of EVERYTHING to give others an idea of the experience.
This hike would become my first overnight backpacking hike, and strangely my last. I always intended to do more overnight hikes, but could never find anyone to go with me. Or their skill level was way more than mine. 

Back to my Mt. Marcy hike – my friend Dave was excited about tackling this mountain too, so we decided to give it a go together. We took off from his house in Binghamton, NY. My hometown. The first night we camped right outside our cars at the trailhead. In the morning, Dave and I hiked 2 miles on flat land with our sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tent, little stove thingy and meals in pouches – just add hot water. We set up camp at a little woodsy pond, and we took off – 7 miles uphill to the summit. Compared to regular hiking standards, we had a very late start.

Up, up, up we went. We hiked in what seemed to be an old creek bed. We passed volunteers doing trail maintenance. We stopped to take pictures – most of which I cannot find. I never did make a scrapbook about the WHOLE experience, even though I took pictures of everything from pinecones to the outdoor toilet.

Ooops, I forgot to warn you - more photos of other photos! 
I have an under the stairs closet and pushed all the way up to the low end is a HUGE tub, I am thinking I have a ton of long lost pictures in there! But since there are 203 things between the door and that tub, for now I can only give you more horrific pictures.

 Evenutally we started to pass people coming down the trail, they probably got up at 4am so they could see the sunrise from the summit. I was getting cranky and when these strangers cheered us on l only rolled my eyes. I think I lost 14 pounds just during the hike – my shorts started to fall down every 9 seconds. Later I was disappointed to find out from Dave that I supposedly complained the entire hike. I don't remember being it that bad!

We left the forest and our hike became a rocky one. We kept thinking – there is the summit! But then when we got there we could see no, the summit was still a while off. I think this happened 3 times. I love rock scrambling but I was getting tired, and my knees were starting to turn to Jello.

Dave and I at the tippy top of New York

 Finally we arrived at the real summit! I was hoping there would be a lemonade stand on top but no, just a handsome, rugged ranger with calves the size of watermelons. He probably ran to the top of this mountain 5 times a week. He took our picture and warned us a storm was coming.

I didn’t think being on the highest point in the state was a good idea during a thunderstorm, so I booked it down the mountain. By the time we reached tree level, we were soaked. I had to wonder what did the ranger dude do in the storm? Did he have a secret cabin up there on the mountain? 

Going down on slippery rocks was a hot mess, and I really wished I had invested in hiking poles. It was that hike that I discovered going down can be worse than going up.

We arrived back at camp in time to watch the sun go down over hazy skies. It was chilly there at night. We had forgot to bring cards but it didn’t matter, I was out by 9pm (and up at 5:15am much to my friend’s annoyance).

We hiked out very early. I was so sore I could barely bend at the knees. At the trailhead we said goodbye, I was going to meet my dad at a cottage on the St. Lawrence River and he was headed back home to Binghamton so he could wouldn't miss work.

Looking back it's surprising I made this hike number 2. But I am proud of my 18 mile hike. I learned a lot about what to take, what to NOT take and how to attach it to a backpack. I don't remember complaining that much, but was told I looked miserable the whole time (and complained non-stop). I thought I had actually controlled my whining! And trust me, Dave went on many more hikes with me after 2004. I saw him last summer, for the first time since 2011 - when we hiked at Joshua Tree. And he asked where our next big adventure would be. So I couldn't have been that bad!

I used to dream of backpacking the John Muir Trail in CA. Now I wish I could hike in to the cabins at LeConte Ledge in the Smokies (although I hear they are full for 2016 anyway). Couldn't I ride a horse in? A camel? There must be someway they get all that food to the kitchen up there!

Where would you backpack to, if given the chance?


  1. This post had me chuckling on the inside! I'm a big time trail whiner though usually in the form of under-the-breath sarcastic muttering, cursing rocks, and plenty of exasperated eye rolling. But that is just my way of getting through things sometimes! Overly chipper hikers that offer advice/commentary as you're hiking up is so annoying! Hahaha.

    At LeConte they have llamas deliver supplies a couple times a week. You can even meet them! Unfortunately they weren't on the trail the same time as us. I think I read that they may also use a helicopter at the beginning of the season though maybe I'm confusing LeConte with another camp. In the High Sierra camps they still use mules.

    I really want to hike the JMT. I've only hiked a few torturous sections but I'd love to backpack the entire trail some day.

    1. I am glad I am not the only whiner - and you're right - it got me to the effing top, so deal. I really was not as miserable as my friend thought I was, but I do think I ruined the whole thing for him. As for me, that hike was the one that got the ball rolling - hike after hike until I had Brycen.

  2. Love this post so much! I've always wanted to visit the Adirondacks and now I want to attempt Mt. Marcy!

    This is seriously impressive first long hike/backpacking/camping trip! 18 miles! I love the idea of trying to reach the highest point in each state (I think I've been to maybe two? Clingmans Dome, TN and Spruce Knob, WV) and I love that this hike got you hooked on more hiking. When L and I were hiking the other day we saw some 20-something women solo hiking/backpacking and I could've kicked myself for never thinking to do that when I was in my 20s. It's never occurred to me to hike alone (and it still freaks me out), but I wish I had thought to grab a girlfriend and hit the trail. I'm glad I have L as a hiking partner, but I wish we had been more serious about it when we were younger.

    Love the description of the ranger with calves the size of watermelons! Ha!

    1. He was adorable. But seriously, where is the secret cabin you hide in, dude? Or maybe you camp up there for a few days while you're working? And can I come too?

    2. Also, I am not sure about the 18 miles now that I think about it. I know it was 2 miles in to where we set up camp. Then it was either 5 miles up to the summit or 7 . . . I am thinking 5 sounds right. So the first day we did 12 miles, then in the morning we hiked out the remaining 2. So 14 total?

    3. When I googled it, the website it is 15 miles roundtrip. So I am wrong either way! Also, it says there is now a $10 fee to park. Where do I enter my rolling eyes emoji?

    4. 15 miles is still seriously impressive! I consider anything over 7-8 miles a pretty decently long hike, so I know I would never attempt double-digit mileage as a newish hiker. The mileage that thru-hikers do still blows my mind!

    5. I think the longest hike I've ever done was 19 miles or so RT to the top of Half Dome + another mile or so back to camp bc we missed the bus. And I've hiked that trail several times! If I were to do it again I'd probably set up camp halfway and then get up early to summit so I could beat the crowds. The other thing is that now you need passes (issued in lottery system) to summit Half Dome which I'm glad they did bc there were just too many people. At the same time though I hate that you no longer have the freedom to get up and go (the problem with so many of the popular outdoorsy things to do in Cali).

      If we're ever back on the East Coast I definitely want to try this hike!

      As for the watermelon-legged ranger: maybe he was from Alaska and thereby impervious to rain. I swear when we were in AK nobody carried an umbrella. Just XtraTuffs. They will protect you from everything!


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