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Post-46 and Not Bad

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  • Post-46 and Not Bad

    No, I didn’t top any high peak this last trip, but it was still a great adventure.

    How many times trekking for the Forty-Six have I looked in passing at various spots where I’d think, “I’d just like to spend the day here.”

    On Friday Paul and I met up with friends who wanted to capture Tabletop and Phelps. Our mission wasn’t entirely clear, to be frank. We didn’t completely relish the thought of boulder-scrambling our way again to Tabletop, but we thought Indian Falls might be a good place to hang while the others climbed. I was getting over a bout of sinusitis and Paul had gone through a particularly hard work week, so we weren’t, perhaps, at our best. But I wanted to be outside, and I was looking forward to seeing again the wreck of Marcy Dam. Wrecked or not, it is an inspiring place. And it was great to stand there once more. Soon we made our way up to the Phelps turnoff. That was when I realized I just wasn’t up for a lot more mileage, and Paul agreed that we should turn back and enjoy the day. Immediately we spied on our left a spot on Phelps Brook that I remembered from our many climbs up the Marcy trail as one of “those spots” that beckoned, and we headed off the path and onto the wide inviting ledges next to the water. I caught my breath and just looked around. What a gorgeous location, green, sunny, rushing clear stream. Only Maxfield Parrish could’ve done it justice. We just flopped down, ate cheese and crackers, then found good positions for a suntan. No need to get anywhere, just for once feeling how great the Adirondack wilderness was, how soothing to the spirit, how great to just sit and stare. No more “stolen moments.” We could just stay as long as we wanted.

    Well, we stayed there a long time. We ambled (had I ever done that in pursuit of the Forty-Six? very different from the driven pace of former climbs) back to the dam and, again, we just sat and enjoyed the sun. I love the place. For once I could study from a relaxed stance the beauty of Wright and Colden, and that mountain in-between that looks like a giant green butt pushing up into the sky (Avalanche Mountain, I think). And I mean I just studied things. No lake left from 1978, my first time there—how sad. The mountains had to stand on their own, with no reflections to assert their majesty; they were doing all right on their own. Have I actually lived long enough to see the mountains change so much? Yikes. With all my staring and studying, I put that thought aside real fast. I took my map out but before long I set it aside and just beheld (no better word) what was around me. My first high peak had been Colden back in 1978, and I have a picture of me on that dam so long ago, sitting at the same spot where I was now. A little older now ha ha but still happy to be there. No need to rush off to bag one or two or even three peaks before dark. No need to do anything, for that matter. What a strange and great feeling. My Forty-Sixer badge sewn onto my pack was there at my feet, and I looked at it, then back up at the mountains. Lots of meditation there.

    We stayed another long while.

    Then back down the return trail to the Loj, but off to the right was a spot Paul remembered, and we again left the path to lie in the sun for another hour in a beautiful spot, Phelps Brook again keeping us loud company. Paul rock-hopped over to a huge boulder, took off his shirt and lay back and—I think—fell immediately to sleep. I wedged myself into a v-shaped spot between rocks shaded by trees, and—I think—immediately fell asleep.

    We woke up a time later and the sun was still high and the place still inviting. After a while we reluctantly headed back to the Loj, this time unhurriedly, looking all around us. That old trail is mighty familiar, trampled to death in spots, but always calming. I laughed to see the sign to Fangorn Forest.

    It wasn’t long before we met up with some of our friends, back in parking lot #4. Two of them had done Tabletop and returned. The rest had gone for Phelps. Tom, the “chauffeur” who had not climbed, was there too, patiently waiting for his riders to return. For several hours we chatted away, enjoying the sun and warmth. But even with all the talk, I kept looking up between the trees where Algonquin topped the scenery. When it came to be 7:30, we were concerned not to see the remaining five returned yet from Phelps. Well, that was another adventure. Taking our lights, we head back toward the dam, to see if we could intersect them. Well, we eventually did. All was well but the climb up Phelps (that Paul and I had voted the “easiest” of the Forty-Six) had turned out to be challenging for them, and they were moving slowly. The dusk grew into dark in the woods but before long we were all reunited and back at our cars.

    Too late for local restaurants, but Trail Break Restaurant in Schroon Lake said they would wait for us though they were due to close as we were phoning them. Talk about nice people. We eight were the only ones there, but the homemade food and the drinks were served to us in an unhurried fashion. Great conclusion to a long day.

    The Forty-Six are one thing, and I am proud and grateful to have stood on each peak. But now I am thinking it’s time for a different experience in that incredible terrain. Could I match today’s adventure, which some might describe as a non-adventure? Dare I say that too many people reach their Forty-Six and stop posting here. For me, I hope those climbs were just the start of a bigger experience. I want to revisit Artists Falls, on the way to Colvin, and just stay there, maybe looking for the Colvin marker that has never been found. And I’d like to spend the day on Santanoni Brook. And…but all in good time. No rush. That’s the point.
    Last edited by Jim Gifford; 08-11-2020, 11:46 AM.

    "A full appreciation of mountains is not to be experienced by merely looking; that is why men climb." -Francis S. Smythe, British mountaineer

  • #2
    Nice report Jim. Some of my most memorable moments out hiking is when I just stood still for a few minutes. Views from summits are great but so is enjoying what is around you without being in a rush to get somewhere.

    If you are looking for places to explore and still want to be working a list of some sort give the Inlet Outdoor Family Challenge, the Indian Lake 4-3-2-1 Challenge, and the Lake George Land Conservancy's Round the Lake Challenge a look. Will get you out to places you maybe never thought to hike and the destinations are easy enough to knock off multiples in a day while also being able to slow down and smell the roses along the way. There are lots of flatland type of hikes to unique areas on lesser-traveled trails along with some peaks if you so desire. Those challenges are choose your own adventure - all require getting to a certain number of destinations chosen from a long list. You can make them as easy or as hard as you want. Also give a look at the Hamilton County Waterfall Challenge and the Adirondack 50 Falls Waterfall Challenge. Same idea but with waterfalls as the destination. Even if you have no interest in pursuing the patches they are great sources for ideas for some short hikes. I have really enjoyed all of these. Despite being a patch hound these all got me out of the peak-bagging mentality for a little while.


    • #3
      Big summits are jewels but their value increases in the solitude of the landscape around them, landscape and solitude which are often missed by those with summit goals and never look around or stop until they are on top.


      • #4
        For me, the post-46 time has been wonderful...not that the first go-around was bad, but I ws so young (finished at age 13) that I honestly do not recall anything from Santas, Allen, Redfield/Cliff, Colvin/Blake, Nip/Dial, S/Nye, Marshall, and several others. Climbing nearly all of the 46 again with family and friends has added so much to the enjoyment, on many levels. Mainly, I appreciate even more the efforts my Dad made to get us to the HP and have wonderful camping experiences (the ones I remember).

        I have turned to other 'random scoots', in addition to guiding others to the tops: scaling the Trap Dike, Shepherd's Tooth, Grace's Great Slide, Bennies Brook Slide; hiking in to, paddling on, and camping by Boreas Ponds (before the deluge); carrying a Hornbeck to Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, as well as Henderson Lake...all unforgettable experiences that had nothing to do with a list. I am eyeing things like Whiteface's south slide, cliffs on SB, Portage to Preston Ponds from Henderson.

        So many great places...


        • #5
          This is the good stuff! Thanks for posting!

          I've only recently finished, but this is how I see much of my post-46 progressing. The last few years, I've thought after every hike, "It is so easy to turn an ankle or wreck a knee." I'll still hike the HP, but will be much more relaxed and un-rushed while doing so. Glad you are having a great time out there!


          • #6
            The value of a hike varies by individual, and as shown, depends on timing. Same with the value of the gas burnt to get there.

            I wonder if hikers are starting the 46 wrongly. Perhaps they should be getting in really good shape by just hiking. Then start with the hardest and work towards the easiest. If they don't like that first hike, maybe they'll know not to commit to it.
            I might be kidding...


            • #7
              I quit climbing most high peaks when the frisbees were flying and ball gloves and a ball were being used on Alqonquin.


              • Makwa
                Makwa commented
                Editing a comment
                I took a buddy up Cascade back in 2016. From my trip report of that hike... "The cast of characters we saw on this day are too numerous to all list here but the standout was the brigade of college-aged bros charging up the mountain, shoelaces untied, carrying no gear and no water but who planned far enough ahead to have a football with them. They were all set if a beer commercial suddenly broke out on the summit of Cascade."

                At this point I don't think it's ever going back to the way it once was. Far too many people are now enjoying hiking to reasonably expect that. And the newcomers will enjoy their hike in the manner they so choose. Us old-timers are just gonna hafta tolerate the new way of enjoying the wilderness because I cannot see the newcomers conforming to the old standard. We're outnumbered. Being in the minority gives us little say as to what the crowd does. On the bright side there are hundreds of peaks and countless lakes, ponds, waterfalls, and remote trailheads to enjoy all over the Adirondacks. Those seeking solitude can certainly find it without much effort. This is one of the reasons, as mentioned in another recent thread, that I'm so against limiting access to the High Peaks. Shifting demand/people to other areas of the park will spoil the solitude everywhere.

            • #8
              Hiking can be much more enjoyable once you stop being task oriented. Nice TR, Jim. That was a great read.
              My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


              • #9
                Originally posted by FlyFishingandBeer View Post
                Hiking can be much more enjoyable once you stop being task oriented. Nice TR, Jim. That was a great read.
                Second that...



                • #10
                  I love the 1978 photo at the Dam juxtaposed next to the present day photo. So cool!!