14 in 2014: The Epic, the Mud and the Cloud Cover

Nippletop Summit

Nippletop Summit

Who can believe it that hiking season came to a close a month ago. I’m still feeling the itch to be back on the trail but with the short (and cold) days I’ll have to satisfied with dreaming/planning of next season in the months to come.

I started the hiking season with six ADK46 under my belt and added another 14 over nine hikes. Yep I’m at 20. My goal was to hike 11 this season so I’m feeling pretty good about it. Nearly half of those hikes I had cloud cover for either the summit or for the whole hike. Damn you mother nature for not adhering to my pre-determined schedule! But that’s the deal when you have limited weekends to make the trek and that whole full-time job getting in the way.

So without any further delay here’s my re-cap of the 2014 season, ranking in order, starting with my favorite. O.K. actually one delay – a note on the ranking order. Some get low ratings because the view was pretty crappy on the day I hiked it (a.k.a complete cloud cover) but on a clear day I know would have been amazing (particularly Rocky Peak Ridge). I’ve never believed in sliding scales so they get no points for how I would have ranked them given better weather conditions. My rankings are  capricious and unfair but generally based on how much reward for effort (and perhaps some bias against a certain private rd.)

  1. Mount Colden (Sept) – Takes the #1 spot. It was an epic loop, and misery mile doesn’t exaggerate for a miserable, never-ending, soul-crushing section. But with three lakes, deep forests, high cliffs, bridges attached to a cliff face, fall foliage,  and one hell of a summit view it is my favorite and most unique loops to date. It is the hard way up but well worth the epic trip!
  2. Dial and Nippletop (Sept) – gets extra points for bang for bunk. Steady but not too hard. Plus at that point I had one hell of a bad stretch in cloud clover and the sun was quite welcome.
  3. Sawteeth, Gothics, Armstrong (June) – The Great Range is more than great. And hitting Pryamid (a non-46er) is one hell of a view as well. Though if I had to do it again I’d not choose a day with 80% humidity. Some may scoff that this should be higher up on the list (see my note on being capricious) but it loses points for access via the Lake Rd and in fact the entire length of the Rd (an extra 4 miles to start the day before even hitting the trail head). Ausable Club if you open up your buses to the (paying) public we I will forever love you:)

    Pyramid Summit

  4. Big Slide (May) – Gotta love the brothers. It was simply awesome and great rewards throughout. I love any summit that I can dangle my feet off the side and the view at the top was spectacular. It gets knocked down for the raging river, with a ridiculous amount of crossings. Don’t get me wrong I love water – but having raging ice-cold water up to my hips isn’t really the most ideal. Also losing my big toenail didn’t really leave a warm and fuzzy feeling.
  5. Macomb view from the slide

    Macomb* (Oct) – While it had no summit view for me (another in the clouds), there were great views all the way up the slide to make up for it. And with a “short” hike gets high points on effort for return. Not to mention you feel like a bad ass climbing up the epic slide and managing not to fall.

  6. Marshall* (Oct) – A very long, muddy hike to the trail-head to an even harder, muddier ascent to the wooded summit. Really, the effort for return ranks it below Macomb even though I had a nice view ledge off the wooded summit compared to the complete lack of view at Macomb’s peak. Did I mention there was a lot of mud?

    Marshall Summit

  7. Tabletop* and Phelps (June) – Another cloud cover day and the effort for Tabletop isn’t the highest return on effort.  The ADK Gods did show me some love, raising the clouds up just as I reached the summit of Phelps. And it was still great to cross one more trail-less of my list.
  8. Rocky Peak ridge (July)- TheADK gods screwed me on this one.  I had a great 4th of July weekend planned. But then got stuck with clouds, slippery scrambles, mud and one of the steepest and slowestcol yet. So it ranks near the bottom but that’s because it was a tough hike with hardly any reward. I will be visiting this one again and hopefully I will build up some karma with theADK gods in the meantime.

    View from Junction with Giant Trail

  9. Upper and Lower Wolfjaw  (Aug) – Right off the bat loses points for being on Lake Road and with limited views (damn you clouds). Plus bear scares suck. But it was certainly easier than RPR and the woods were exactly the solitude I was seeking, so it probably should be a position up – but like I said  I am the master of this rating system. Sorry Wolf Jaws.

With 14 months since my start I’ve tackled 20 ADK46ers. Feels like a solid start. What’s in store for next season? That is an excellent question. I’ll be using these dark, short days to research and plan away. Looking forward to hitting some more next season and should be in the 30s if everything goes as planned. And will be working on sending some good karma to the ADK weather gods for more clear days!

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