Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Slaying the Giant

Heading down Rocky Peak Ridge

Starting point parking lot: N44 08.333 W73 44.670
Giant (4627 ft, #12): N44 09.669 W73 43.211
Rocky Peak (4420 ft, #20): N44 09.286 W73 42.167
End point parking lot: N44 08.982 W73 37.593
Or click here to get a general idea of the area thanks to Google map.
And here's a link to the online topographical map.

Up the Giant and down Rocky Peak Ridge - 12 miles and 4000 vertical ft. This was my first real hike to bag not one but two of the 46 peaks over 4000 feet in the Adirondacks. What an adventure!

The day started with me waking up shortly after 4am and grizz picking me up around 5. We crossed over the border with out incident and after a slow drive down, following school buses and state troopers, we finally arrived at New Russia around 9:10. This is where we picked up Kenmore leaving his truck in this remote but safe parking lot for us to later use as a shuttle to get us back to grizz's car at the starting point.

Once back at the starting point, I double checked my pack to make sure I had my lunch and snacks and more importantly my 4L of water. Then I slathered up with some sunscreen I borrowed from grizz. Seems he left it in the trunk a little too long as all it managed to do was paint me white from head to toe. I laughed it off and took this to be initiation gag number one for the day.

From here we climbed, hopped, and crawled nearly 3,000 feet in 3 miles. I'm not sure if that was initiation gag number two but if it was it certainly was planned well in advance. And for those of you at home wondering what exactly 3000 vertical ft in 3mi means well imagine climbing a very steep set of stairs where the stairs are sometimes spaced 4 feet apart and strewn with rocks of all sizes and tangled with an endless string of tree roots. Actually on second thought there is no imagining, just go try it for yourself.

After hiking the Ottawa valley all summer, the climb was a little slow going for me. Combine that with the unseasonably warm weather (sunny and 25°C) and I was practically crawling. Thankfully Kenmore and grizz were more than willing to match my pace.

Scrambling up Scrambling up the Giant

Finally, some undisclosed time later, we arrived at the top of Giant. Sweet... stunningly sweet with just a splash of fall colour. And apparently a lunchtime hot spot with the local high school kids. Actually it turned out that all the high schools in the Lake Placid area had officially closed for "Mountain Day" and were out and about hiking the ADK trails. How awesome is that?

Lunch time on Giant A well deserved break on Giant

Giant and Rocky Peak sign

From Giant we headed off to tackle Rocky Peak at 4420 feet.

View of Rocky Peak from Giant

In hindsight, Rocky Peak was a piece of cake in comparison to Giant. Rocky offered us an awesome view of Giant which was no less awe inspiring from this angle. We were greeted at the top by a couple of not-so-young woman and then later by another flock of young and energetic high school girls. Their leader was a tough cookie and wouldn't let them sit for their break and then went so far as to encourage them to collect rocks from the nearby inukshuk to take back for their Geology class. One of them grunted and muttered that he already had dibs on the classroom door stopper. Can't say I blame him.

Here's a shot of the three off us with Giant in the background.
The trio on Rocky Peak

From this point on there was no turning back. Luckily it was mostly downhill along Rocky Peak Ridge all the way to our car sitting comfortably at 900 feet.

Lake Mary Louise on top of Rocky Peak Ridge
One last stop

Down down down we hiked. Daylight was fading fast and the last of our energy wasn't far behind. Then BLAMMO! We arrived at the parking lot, home to Kenmore's truck and a well deserved pint of ale. Total hiking time, 10hrs. That's got to be a record.

After shuttling back to grizz's car and changing into some clean clothes we hit the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for some grub and then a quick stop at Price Choppers for some items only available in the US of A. We finally arrived back at home around 1am. Total trip, ~21 hrs.

A victory pose to say "I'll be back".

Victory shot


Now as mentioned in Kenmore's blog... that wasn't quite the end of the story. Here's the excerpt:

"But that’s not the end of the story….. When you park your car in a lot and head into the woods for the day (anywhere) there is always a little niggling fear in your head that someone will break in to the car or vandalize it while your off soaking up the views. Its only happened to me a couple of times in the many years I’ve been playing in the woods but it hangs in my mind every time I lock up the car and walk into the woods. When we returned to my car after a long day on the trail we found the parking lot covered in water. It had not rained (not even any clouds) all day. We were perplexed…. And then Mike – upon arriving home – spotted an item in an internet hiking forum about a guy whose day went terribly wrong. Seems his car “self ignited” (electrical fire?) when he parked it in the lot. The owner happened to return to his car 10 minutes after he left for his hike. He discovered he’s forgotten something but returned to find his car engulfed in flames(note Kenmore's truck in the background). Enter the volunteer fire department to the rescue that luckily was able to arrive to put out the flames before the tinder dry forest erupted into a conflagration(it hasn’t rained much all year and the forests are dry). My truck – escaped unscathed. Don’t tell me the good karma I’ve logged over the summer helping hikers in the woods didn’t pay back for me today. I can’t imagine what we would have done if we stumbled out of the woods at last light to find my car in embers and a State Trooper looking to collect some information from me for the “report”. I can’t imagine… but I probably will try for a while.

The car (smoldering hunk of metal?) had been hauled away by the time we came out of the woods. I'm still debating if my truck had a more exciting day than I did... "

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