Paula and I were up early around 5 am and had water boiling in no time. It was still pretty cloudy out/we were in the clouds; it usually takes a couple of hours for the sun to burn them off. After a quick breakfast and packing everything up, we slid our packs on and started for Lake Tear of the Clouds.
The trails were still wet and it was slow moving at first to get use to once again carrying all that weight, but before I knew it, we were seeing water. Did you know that Lake Tear of the Clouds is said to be the location where Teddy Roosevelt heard that President McKinley took a turn for the worse? He had just hiked Mount Marcy and then proceeded to hike the ten miles out, to then travel to Buffalo where he was sworn in. I’m not a big history buff but I always enjoy learning bits and pieces about these mountains and the people who have hiked them prior to me.
From here, we saw the heard path leading up to Gray Peak; an unmarked trail but an official 46er. We hiked in a short distance, dropped our packs, took the essentials (camera/iphone and water) and started upward. It was a steep trail that required a lot of actual rock or boulder climbing with water flowing over everything. This might not be so tricky going up but always requires extra attention going down to prevent slipping and being hurled forward. With speed due to no packs, we were soon at the peak. This was Paula’s 23rd peak and we did a little dance, took photographs and high-fived each other. There wasn’t a view and that was perfect because the clouds were still heavy. Down we went.
By the time we got down Gray, the kids that were camping near us caught up and were taking a break; they were heading straight for Marcy. We kept on the trail to Skylight and I had a little pep in my step: I miscalculated and thought at the time, that this would be my 23rd peak. Once we got to the trailhead, we once again dropped our packs and basically sprinted up. All I kept thinking was, “this is it! Halfway there!” We got there, in the clouds once again, and I searched for the marker. Faster than Paula could whip out her camera, I was on the ground kissing the plaque; I hadn’t been that happy in a while. Little did I know… Marcy would actually my halfway point- ha!
We didn’t stay for long on top of Skylight because of the cool breeze and I think we both wanted a snack…that was conveniently down the mountain in our packs. Once we got down there, I realized my water bottle had unhooked from my pack and was no where to be found. Luckily those kids had caught back up to us and had seen it along the way and picked it up. I made sure to thank them a ton before heading toward Marcy.
To be completely honest, I don’t remember much of this trail until the tree line broke; looking up at the bare rocks that we had to climb was overwhelming and exciting all at once. The sun was starting to shine, the clouds were starting to disappear and those kids were right on our tails. As a group we were all staggered climbing the last quarter mile or so and it was encouraging to hear them all motivate each other. They were a high school group completing a final project together and based on the teamwork I saw for that short while (and for returning my bottle) I would have given them an A.
The last section of the mountain was so steep I’d take about twenty steps, pause for 20 seconds then take another 20 steps. The clouds were opening up and showing blue, the breeze kept the bugs away and my attitude got lighter; I was climbing the tallest peak in New York!
I got up there! We took some photographs, ate a quick snack and then started down the other side because we had about ten miles to hike until we reached the car. Within fifteen minutes of working our way down, the sky became cloudless and it was crystal clear out. I *quickly* debated on whether or not to turn around and go back up, but decided on not returning due to the weight of the pack.
The last leg of the trip was tough for me mentally because after getting brief cell service on top of Marcy (the first time in three days), all I could think about was getting home to the beau. Of course I missed him prior to that two-text interaction, but knowing he was cooking me a big pan of pad thai really made me wish I could speed things up. It was an easy trail, long but easy, and just as I started to complain, there was Marcy Dam; only three more miles to go!
The water was significantly lower than it had been the previous day and the slides were all shining in the sun. The sights sure did lift my spirits. And as Paula and I were signing out for the weekend at the parking lot, out trotted two of my friends from Troy! They had just hiked their first 46ers, Algonquin and Wright. I didn’t stay and chat for long; I raced over to the car to take off my boots and replace them with my Birkenstocks. Next time I’m packing those puppies along for the hike!