Two down. Only 44 to go.
How to approach hiking the ADK46
Well, for me I luckily have some vague memories of hiking many of them. So I’m starting with those – or at least for the time being. And the two easiest are hands down Cascade and Porter. However you rank it (some sites go on a 1-7 rating, others a C-AA rating) Cascade is the easiest. I also have family who have hiked them all. I haven’t had in-depth conversations (yet) but Cascade and Porter were the resounding opinion of what to start with.
Since it has been a while since hiking in the ADKs (though lots in Montana and Green Mountains here in Vermont) I read a few blogs and bought a couple of books. I highly recommend Exploring the 46 Adirondack High Peaks by James R. Burnside for planning. Gives lots of great description, logs from his journal but is a heavy book so not a great option for the trail. For that I have Adirondack Trails High Peaks Region by Tony Goodwin, which also includes a waterproof map. It is useless for planning (particularity if you want to see options for combining mountains) but has a great synopsis on the trails, organized by region, and many other area hikes – so if you aren’t looking to doing strictly the High Peaks. Or at least that’s my thought after one hike/ 2 mountains. Hopefully that trend continues.
The Hike: Cascade and Porter
All and all it was about what I thought. Only faster. I guess all those spin classes and running means I’m in better shape that I thought. I will say there are a couple of points on Cascade that have some decent incline. It’s pretty easy going until about . 7 miles and increases in incline and also the footing gets more rocky, vs. a nice open trail. This was harder for me going down than up, because being a whole 5 ft 4″, being sure in your footing after some tired legs takes some concentration. At about 1.2 miles it alternates between flatter trail and steep inclines, and trail vs. rocks. At 1.8 miles, there is a nice ledge for a resting point and beautiful view (and it only gets better at the top). At about 2.1 the trail splits to go to Porter (more on that later) and reaches open rocks to the summit. The open rocks part is not too bad, but is much farther than it looks from the beginning. You think you see the summit and then you get up there and see you’re only half way there. Also, it’s a open rock climb, so footing again can be slippery. And one point where I had to climb/scramble to reach the summit and pull myself up, which again was a bit harder coming down since I basically hung down trying to find the foothold. Yeah not my most gracefully moment. But the views were amazing. And normally a pretty windy peak, there was hardly a breeze. Also, Bob was there. Bob is part of a volunteer program that meets hikers at the top to educate on the alpine vegetation and the High Peaks.
After a rest, on to Porter. At 2.1 miles (from the Cascade Trail) split to Porter and follow a steep decline for .2 miles and then climbs moderately until .06 where there is a large boulder (I recommend climbing it for a nice view) and then easy (but muddy) trail until reaching the summit. Again, hardly any wind. But a much smaller summit, so while less visited than Cascade can feel more crowded. Because less visited, I also enjoyed 15min or so of solitude soaking it all in. All in all it was a great hike and I estimated 6-7 hrs (including a nice long lunch break). It took me 5 hrs flat.
- Cascade 2.4 miles, Elevation 4,098 ft., Order of Height 36
- Porter 2.8 miles, Elevation 4059 ft, Order of Height 38. Total distance hiked: 6.2 miles.
On a side note: if you are going to hike, dress for a hike. This does not include flip flops. Nor does it include khaki pants, button up shirt and penny loafers. And please bring water. Yes I saw all these things on the trail.
So though I hiked alone (Sshhh don’t tell my mom) I had two friends with me, who though weren’t joining me for the hike dropped me off at the trailhead and picked me up. I also kept them updated (mainly for time) on when I was hitting the summits. And then if I fell and was dying in a ditch somewhere they’d know to notify the authorities.
But no issues. Had more water than I needed. And made great time. Plus the views were perfect. It was their first visit to Lake Placid so they explored while I hiked and then I showed them around town, before dinner and evening walk. I have a feeling they’ll be joining me for another weekend trip.
The next morning we drove to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Their first visit and I always try and go when in the area. My Grandfather’s ashes are spread at the top and I can’t be in the ADKs and not think of him.
Remembering Family: Whiteface Mountain
My Grandfather, Richard “Dick” Feathers, is an important figure in our family. He passed away from Parkinson’s in June of 2000, I often think of him when hiking and especially while in the Adirondacks.
He completed the 46 High Peaks on August 15th, 1970. His final peak – Whiteface Mountain. Which I am saving for my last (if I get there). We also spread his ashes at the top a year later.