Hiking the High Peaks you begin to develop a relationship with “her”. Some days she gives you all the beauty and happiness you could ask for. On other days, she is like a teasing lover, teaching you a lesson and tempting you with what you cannot have. Rocky Peak Ridge was like that for me.
I had planned to hike via the East Trail (New Russia) described as a “very challenging route” but heavy rains the days proceeding I decided to take the more cautious route via Rock Roaring Brook Trail to Giant (the same as I did last summer). Shorter, less steep overall and more importantly, a trail I’m familiar with.
My hike on July 4th (what better way to celebrate the 4th of July with a hike, right?) had three major differences from last year: (1) heavy rains the previous day made the trail muddy and slippery (2) unlike last year I was in cloud cover for nearly the whole day (3) I cut an hour off my ascent time (thanks to spin class and getting more hikes under my belt I am getting faster. Woohoo!).
I could of hiked a different ADK46er given the weather and clouds but I knew from the beginning that if I’m going finish all 46 in any sort of reasonable time period, I can’t hold out for perfect days. Also, being a solo hiker I do my research and spend lots of time with various trail descriptions, forums and maps. With the Great Range hike just five days prior, time just didn’t allow to prepare for a different hike.
The junction with the trail to Rocky Peak Ridge is just shy of the summit of Giant and only 1.2 miles. Not far, right? Wrong.
You descend quite steeply (800′) and into the col between Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge. The climb is 0.4 miles down with a steep, steep decline that was muddy, slippery and seemed never-ending. I saw more than one hiker nearly bite it on the mud and wet rocks. Yes I took my sweet time.
Then on to an easy-to-moderate ascent (600′) up to the summit of Rocky Peak Ridge. Throughout giving just hints of a view and tease that there might be the summit view that you’ve asked for. But just like a jilted lover – you know “she” may or may not deliver, regardless of all that sweat and toil.
Without a doubt Rocky Peak Ridge is one of the most under-rated views of the high peaks. While I got just a glimpse, it was breathe taking with 360 degrees of high peak beauty (even though my point and shoot camera isn’t really built for cloud conditions).
While I got an amazing view (and I thank the ADK gods for delivering some insanely high winds as I hit the summit to lift the cloud cover) I know in my heart it is just a hint for what a full visibility day will deliver. Not all ADK 46 hikes I ever plan to visit again – but this peak is one that I’ll have to make the trek at least once more. Keeping my fingers crossed for some good karma in the mean time.
I was surprised for the 4th of July there were so few people – compared to the high traffic I saw last year. I’m guessing the clouds and previous days rain had something to do with it. I stayed the rest of the weekend on Saranac Lake with some friends. The rest of the weekend brought sun, kayaking, fireworks (yes our hotel was directly next to the water) and a trip to Ausable Chasm on the way home.
Rocky Peak Ridge: completed 07/04/2014, total distance 9.2 miles, hike time: 10 hrs, elevation 4420, order of height 20
Weekend at Saranac Lake