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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

(If you missed parts I and II.)  

I woke up Tuesday morning not completely rested; my knee had been uncomfortable throughout the night. When I stood up to take advantage of the bathroom right across the hall, I knew it wasn’t good. Every once in a while I’ll twist my knee while hiking and although it’s uncomfortable, it’s nothing worth mentioning because I usually rest the next day. This was different but being someone with a high tolerance for pain, thought I’d be okay after taking something.

With a warm belly full of soup and homefries, and with my pack emptied for the day trip ahead of us, Paula and I were at the trailhead by seven forty-five. The first couple of miles I didn’t really notice my knee because the rest of my body was screaming at me for trying to move so quickly. This was our fourth day hiking and a first for attempting as many miles as we did. By mile five it was impossible for me to hide from Paula that I was in pain. I was limping and my pace was not at my normal chipper rate. I took another Aleve and ate a snack at Slant Rock in hopes that this would do the trick… but it didn’t.

Lucky for me the pain was nonexistent while going uphill. We took the little “shortcut” over toward Basin instead of taking the route that we took toward Haystack for two reasons: a) it was steep and b) it cut off a small amount of distance. I personally enjoyed the steep little climb, although, I had to be very cautious of my knee when stepping so high. I couldn’t trust it 100% even though there wasn’t pain, it was still weak. Paula kept asking me if we should turn around but we were almost to the middle of the mileage for the day, so I figured why not continue upward? I should have done my research about this hike ahead of time.

The mile or so up Basin once we met the trail junction was steep! It had ladders. It had a cliff. It had sheer rock with barely anything to hold on to. It was a test for my fear of heights. One young man passed us who said he had done this hike a number of times and suggested that maybe we not go over to Saddleback because if it was wet, it could be dangerous (we were in the clouds). I had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t care; I was in pain and there was no way in hell I was going to re-climb Basin. We got to the top, took our photographs and immediately headed toward Saddleback.

The descent was just as steep as the climb. It was slow-moving and because we were in the clouds, we couldn’t really see where we were headed. All I remember thinking was I will never re-do that mountain in the winter in fear of falling off cliffs.

Before I knew it, we were heading upward and it wasn’t bad until we broke the treeline. I literally could not believe what was in front of me: boulders stacked upon boulders. There was no trail. There was a yellow painted dotted line giving us a suggested route but there was no definite route. You could see dirt and skid marks from crampons all over the boulders. It was do or turn around and re-climb Basin; which was not an option in my book because of the pain in my knee.

It took Paula and I a good five minutes to assess what was about to happen. The rocks weren’t wet, which was a plus, but they seemed impossible to climb. I could conceptualize how I was suppose to move forward (up really) but I couldn’t physically do it; the fear was in me 100%.

Paula decided to go first; this tactic of her proving that it could be done is what had gotten me up other similar situations. When it became my turn, I followed her direction (meanwhile, she was clinging to the boulders up above us) and then froze. I was shaking and the tears were a-flowin’! There was no budging. I had to close my eyes and say out loud that I HAD TO DO THIS. I had to. And I did. Slowly. And ever so tightly gripped to rocks that didn’t have spots to grip onto. It was by far the most difficult thing I had to do on my 46er journey.

We got to the summit with absolutely no views and no fingerprints left on the tips of my fingers. I was happy but very worried about the walk out. After a quick snack in the trees to avoid the wind, we headed down Saddleback; which wasn’t too bad at all. Before I knew it, we were at the junction to either head out of the woods or go to Gothics; we chose to walk out (our plan all along).

All I really remember from the walk out was the amount of pain I was in. Luckily Paula let me borrow one of her poles which helped me take off some pressure from my right knee. It was a long steep out, and this time we got to see the finished staircase going down the slide that was created from the hurricane. When Paula and I hiked Gothics last summer, they were just starting this project. I was very thankful for those stairs because although I moved slow, they helped in that very steep section.

We passed JBL and Paula picked it up this time to get me motivated to get out to the car. We knew we’d be in the dark for a little bit of the trip, but with no water crossings ahead of us, we were both in a better mood. On the trail we got to see a man from PA that we had met the previous Sunday on top of Redfield. He was camping out there for a couple more days before heading home to his wife. We also met a father and son from western NY who were planning on staying out in the woods, but decided to get a room in Keene instead. They were shocked to hear that we only had one more peak left. How dare them doubt us! 

We only walked a mile or so in the dark, and reached the car shortly after seven. We stripped off our boots (mine were still wet from the water crossing the previous night) and cranked the heat… and cracked the window because our gear stunk! Despite the knee pain, it was a wonderful four days in the Adirondacks and it was an even better feeling knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do. 

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…so Paula and I woke up to rain Sunday morning; not exactly what we had in mind for one of the longest hikes on our journey to becoming 46ers. I personally don’t mind the rain and we’ve both hiked in it previously, but for eighteen miles?! I think the stubbornness within me kicked in and I was determined to reach that summit.

We loaded up our packs, put on our rain gear and started, slowly toward Allen Mountain. Because we were already at Livingston Point, we only had to travel a half mile or so to the trail that ran parallel to the Opalescent River. I would love one day to return to this trail because I could hear the Hanging Spear Falls and see them through the brush, but had no desire to stop because I was already coming to the realization that I was going to be wet soaked all day. Hiking in the rain is one thing but having sopping wet boats that squish with each step is another. From early on in this hike did I have to remind myself repeatedly why I wanted this so bad.

The three and a half miles went fairly quickly until we had reached an opening with private property signs. This threw us off because we could see where the trail kept going but Paula had the idea/inclination that we were suppose to be on this property. We continued on about ten minutes and came to an odd intersection. To the left was a yellow marker trail (what we needed to follow out to the car) and to the left was a massive sign carved out of wood that said Allen. That to me looked familiar (and obvious that that was indeed the trail to Allen) but the trail seemed to go into two opposite directions: left and right. The right was used far more frequently than the left but Paula swore she saw a yellow marker on that trail = Allen is NOT marked = couldn’t have been the trail we were looking for. We dumped the contents of our packs (in the rain) to the left and proceeded on. But this was clearly not the trail.

My assumption was that these were trails used by the property owners and not hikers. I hiked back out and over to that mysterious “marked” trail and my gut said go. Turns out the yellow markers were made of recycled plastic and were intended to help hikers. I convinced Paula to follow me and ensured her that if we didn’t get to some sort of registry, then we’d turn around. With my luck, the registry was found! One solo hiker had signed in previous to us so I was optimistic that we’d see him at one point throughout the day. I secretly hoped we weren’t too far behind him.

The trail to the mountain was long and somewhat uneventful for the two miles. It was muddy in plenty of sections but because we were pretty wet, we didn’t really mind. It was so cloudy we didn’t have any views and couldn’t even really see where we were headed/what we were about to hike. Things got very interesting once we got to the Allen Brook.

This trail normally runs up a brook. In the rain, it felt like we were climbing up a river; over rocks with slippery algae and very little to hang on to. It was very slow moving and each step was calculated. I could tell that Paula was out of her element big time and realistically she and I should have established a turn around time. The higher we got, the steeper the large sections of rock became and we were basically crawling. Right when I think the two of us were getting ready to call it quits in the heavy rain, we ran into the guy who was signed in before us! I of course had to ask him how close we were to the summit and he said another 45 minutes or so… “are you kidding me?!” I thought. He even went on to tell us that it got steeper, more slippery, AND almost dangerous. I could hear him hinting for us to turn around.

I could see it on Paula’s face, she was convinced in turning around. I was torn: I did NOT want to turn around. I also didn’t want her to sit there and wait for me in the cold if I decided to go on without her. I don’t remember what I said or the tone in which I said it but she kept going. She moved slower and I talked her into every step; also talking myself into every step forward. I do remember thinking, “this guy doesn’t know who we are or what we’ve hiked. We can do this.” And we did. And when we reached that summit there were high-fives and middle fingers.

After we got our photographs out of the way, we sat down for a quick snack and realized that it was after two in the afternoon. We still had get down that mess we had just climbed and walk an additional seven miles or so out. And those miles had their own obstacles for us to face.

See I don’t like heights, which means on hikes I don’t like cliffs, climbing hand over hand on boulders or climbing ladders. I especially don’t like climbing off of ladders. There have been plenty of times on my journey to becoming a 46er where this fear has been tested. For Paula, she does not like water crossings, no matter the size. She is just extra cautious in fear of getting wet and having our gear ruined. What I didn’t realize was that all she had been thinking about all day was the three water crossings that were ahead of us. And after a day of rain, she was worried that they’d be worse. I’d have been doing the same if I knew three of the biggest cliffs were ahead of me, potentially in the dark.

We walked as fast as we could. When we signed out of the registry, it was just after 5 o’clock. We both knew we had about two hours of hiking ahead of us and that the remaining portion of the hike would be in the dark. Luckily we were both prepared. I tried to stay as calm as positive and kicked it into high gear to get us out. Our pace was fast and I kept my head lamp off for as long as possible so that I could see more clearly in the dusk. Once the headlamps were on, all you could see in front of you was what was lit. We now had to be extra careful of our steps and alert to the noises around us. It was hunting season after all.

Our first water crossing was the Opalescent River. This looked like it had enough rocks for me to scramble over and I am usually a pro, but my right foot sunk into the water and I quickly hopped over other rocks as fast as possible to the other side. Paula managed great with the use of her poles. Our second water crossing was suppose to be over Lake Jimmy but the bridge, well, it is no longer existing. Lucky for us, a team cleared a marked trail around the lake with no issues at all. Slightly longer milage, no complaints.

Our third water crossing was the Hudson River. There was no avoiding getting wet here. It was either take your boots off and walk across barefoot or go boots-‘n-all because the car should only be a few hundred yards away. I decided on the boots-‘n-all option and started in. Paula hollered for me to stay with her, and I did, laughing and thinking to myself, “this is the best way to end the day.” The water wasn’t too fast but had definitely risen up over our gators to about our knees. And we were right, the cars was only a few hundred yards in front of us. Seven- thirty at night, after twelve hours of hiking in the rain, we had left the woods.

We were hooting and high-fiving and snapping photographs and stripping off layers of clothes and just talking about what we had just accomplished. There was so much excitement between the two of us. With the heat cranked, we called in our orders at the Noonmark Diner, drove up the Northway to exit thirty and checked into the Rooster Comb Inn. We had warm beds and hot showers awaiting us but couldn’t stay up too late; we had another day of hiking ahead of us.

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This is a very long overdue post that I was hesitant to write about because I can’t share any photographs, but decided to go for it regardless. The post covers the span of four days so I’ve decided to break it up into three posts.

This post is about my hiking trip I took the weekend before I finished up my 46. Paula and I set out the Columbus Day weekend, on Saturday, and didn’t return home until late Tuesday night after hiking five mountains. You read that correctly, five of the 46.

Saturday we drove up around noon to Upper Works after I finished my morning shift at the store and decided to park at the first parking lot because we knew that would be the lot we’d come out at on Monday. We had a short walk on the dirt road to the second (furthest) lot, logged in, took note of all of the cars parked for the holiday weekend and started on the Calamity Brook trail to the flowed lands. One special thing that I remember from this walk in was that we stumbled upon the monument for David Henderson who died near the trail in 1845. I still haven’t researched who he was or his significance to the Adirondacks, but it was a gorgeous location and quick break (our packs were heavy!). All of the lean-tos we passed were full, so Paula and I continued on and ended up at Livingston Point. It was very secluded but right on the Flowed Lands; my new favorite spot in the whole park to date. If you are friends with me on Facebook, my cover photograph was taken our second evening on the water. We unpacked, ate a hot meal then settled into our sleeping bags around seven. I was passed out within ten minutes.

Sunday morning we woke as the sun was just rising and Paula mentioned that two men had passed by the previous night in the dark. When I went down by the water I couldn’t find them and because the trail ended at our location, I was confused as to where they had gone. I decided to walk along the water’s edge and found a trail that cut across the bog. I told Paula about it while I ate my big bowl of hot soup for breakfast and we decided to try and cross the bog. On our way over, we found the two men; they had camped out on a little “island”. They were curious to see if we could get across because they too had to get over on that side of the bog and cutting across would shave off miles from their trip too. Well, we made it! It was wet in some places and the brush was thick (especially because I was in shorts) but we were all smiles and high-fives on the other side. This put us at the base of the Uphill Brook, and we followed the trail to the Uphill lean-to where the intersection for Cliff and Redfield were.

It was uphill but a very scenic route with plenty of waterfalls and gorges in the rocks. Oh, and the privy at the Uphill lean-to was clean and a great stop before (and after) climbing Cliff Mountain. The trails to these two peaks were unmarked but very easy to follow. The number one thing I remember about Redfield was the mud. The number one thing I hated about Cliff were the cliffs! I can’t imagine hiking to that summit in the winter- yikes! Gotta do one thing a day that scares you, right? The day was absolutely gorgeous and we did get views along the trails and on the peak of Redfield.

On the way down the Uphill Brook trail, it was like a highway. Tons of people were either looking for a lean-to or heading out to their vehicles to head home. Once again, we cut across the bog and were happy to see that no one else decided to camp out at our spot. Because we cut off almost four miles of our anticipated trip, we finished in the daylight and I decided to sit down by the water. It was beyond gorgeous; I took my boots off, soaked my feet in the freezing water and just thought about how grateful I was to be experiencing that day. As the stars starting to show, I walked back up to camp and cooked up a warm meal.

So many people have asked me what I eat on the trail, especially now that I’m vegan. And while that’ll be a separate post, I will share with you now what I eat for dinner. When I was preparing for my first overnight, I knew I’d want something quick, healthy, warm and substantial enough to fuel my body after a long day of hiking and before another day of hiking. I stumbled upon Tasty Bites at my local health food store, but I only had one option that was vegan; the channa masala. I tried it and was hooked! Paired with rice, I was stuffed and satisfied. Once I got back from that overnight, I immediately reached out to Tasty Bites to see if they’d like to sponsor any other overnights that I would encounter while finishing up- and they agreed!

I was beyond thrilled when they sent me seven packets of food to try! There was a great mix of noodles and classic Indian meals. For the two overnights mentioned above, I brought the lemongrass ginger Asian noodles and the Bombay potatoes respectively. Although the noodles weren’t as soft as I would have preferred, they weren’t mushy and had a great flavor. I was a little nervous that it wasn’t going to be enough, but it was and I even had room for dessert (a fig newton or two). The Bombay potatoes I saved for the second night because I knew I’d be hungrier after a longer day, and I was right! It was the perfect mix of potatoes and chickpeas with a wonderful flavor that most aren’t expecting in a camping situation.

What I love most about Tasty Bite products is that on all seven packages of food, I recognized every single ingredient. Better yet, I have almost every ingredient in my own kitchen. Each packet costs just over $3 and doesn’t take up much space in my bear canister. They simmer well over a small canister flame and can also be reheated by simply placing into boiling water. I could have saved the remaining packets for future hikes but was too curious to taste them; they made a great meal at my desk when I didn’t have the time to step out and dinners, when I didn’t want to make something from scratch. Some of my other favorite options are the pad thai (!), aloo palak and spinach dal.

Back to the hike… I washed up my dinner dishes, bundled up and stood under the stars listening to the animals moving around in the bog. It surely was a peaceful night. Again, Paula and I were tucked into our bags early and although it was cold when we fell asleep, it was much warmer in the morning. Warmer weather typically means one thing: cloud cover. And it was cloudy alright, with rain falling…

{The Tasty Bite samples were provided to me at no cost however, all opinions are my own. I will continue to be a big fan of theirs and will continue to pack their meals in my bear canister for each overnight.}

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I know, I know. I have five other mountains to tell you about along with the rest of the details from my most recent overnight trip, but I’m bursting at the seams: I’m (un)officially an Adirondack 46er! 

I say it like that because technically I won’t have my registered number until February and won’t be able to buy any 46er gear until that’s issued. You better believe that the decal for my car and patch for my pack will be ordered ASAP once I receive it.

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Where to start? Paula and I were on the road at four-thirty and in the parking lot near the Ausable Club shortly after 6am. We geared up and hiked on the road, in the dark, past the club and to register. We were the second people to sign it but the first heading to Sawteeth; first on the summit we thought. It was a long walk in on the dirt road, about four miles, and for the majority of the way we were quiet. I think we were both reflecting on how far we had come and what was about to happen.

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Paula was still feeling tired from our excursion earlier in the week and decided on the shorter, more direct route up the mountain. Although I was a little bummed for not taking the scenic route, I reminded myself that I too was a little slower than normal AND that the mountain wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. This was an easy enough hike that I could take people back and enjoy a new route in the future.

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I was horrible this trip and took very little notes and photographs along the way. I know at one point we stopped, already on the trail, for a bathroom break around 8am. We must have cruised down that dirt road!

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The trail up wasn’t too difficult and fairly steady. We took our time and only broke down once in tears… it was bound to happen at least once this trip! We enjoyed a snack and shortly after wiping away the tears, we ended up being just a few yards below the split… only half a mile until the summit!

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This was a little “trickier” with a few rocks that we had to scramble up, but nothing that made us stop and think twice. I stuck closer to Paula knowing that we wanted to reach the summit together and within no time, we were there! But we really didn’t know it because there was no marker or disc = poo! We searched around, took a look at the views, snapped tons of photographs, exchanged t-shirts (she got me a great tee from Life Is Good with a hiker gal on it) and then bundled up to head back down. It was definitely autumn and chilly in a tank top!

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On our way down we took our time, chatted with a ton of people, and even met one woman who was finishing up on Sawteeth as well! The celebration began as soon as we hit that dirt road: I brought a big ‘o bottle of hard sparkling cider to sip on as we walked the four miles or so out! It was delicious and just what we needed/wanted/deserved!

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On the way out I realized that I hiked 42 out of the 46 mountains within the last 15 months; that’s about 3 mountains a month. For those of you curious about the other four, I hiked my first two high peaks (Cascade and Porter) on December 26, 2010 and had no clue that there was this “club” I could work toward being a part of. The other two (Algonquin and Wright) were hiked on July 2, 2011 and it wasn’t until I was back in the car did I learn about the possibility of becoming a 46er… if I had known earlier in the day, I would have gone for Iroquois as well! My crazy friend Marla is the one who took me out for both of those trips and I can’t wait until she finishes up her last couple to join the club!

We were back at the car at one o’clock and decided to head to the ADK Cafe for lunch. I don’t know how I’ve never been to this place before! It was cozy and warm, small, and everything was homemade… right down to the pickles! There were so many options for me on that short menu as a vegan, but I went with the grilled sandwich with a white bean spread, pesto, and slices of tomatoes. It came with their homemade chips but I couldn’t resist their homemade fries (duh!) that were mixed of regular and sweet potatoes. I ate every last  bite!

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It was a great day. I was home while it was still light out and was surprised by the beau when we walked in the door. The giving tree was all lit up with a bouquet of flowers and a six pack of Adirondack Ale; he knows me too well! I made a HUGE batch of my favorite meal (brown rice, kale and coconut) and we sipped on hot apple cider spiked with caramel vodka while watching Mad Men. Sunday morning I slept in and didn’t have to wake up with an alarm. Can you tell I’m in heaven being home with the beau?

The number one question I’ve gotten over the past 24 hours: what’s next? 

Well, I can tell you that I am almost 100% certain that I will not aim for my Winter 46. There were a couple of mountains that didn’t seem safe enough for my crazy self to attempt with ice and snow in the mix. There’s the Northeast 111, 48 in New Hampshire and the 35 of the Catskills that I’d love to summit. Next summer I’m going to aim to thru-hike the Northville Placid trail, which is about 132 miles long. My ultimate goal and other bucket list item is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

All of these are surely in the back of my head but for now, I’m going to focus on other things in my life (i.e. my job at the store, running, being a better roommate). I’d love to hike at least once a month to keep myself in shape and possibly explore local, smaller mountains with friends who are curious but terrified of the 4,000 footers. There are also a couple of people in my life just starting out on their journey as a hiker/46er and I’d love to tag along with them from time to time as well.

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It feels surreal to know that I’ve reached this point and have to remind myself to not feel shocked when people congratulate me. I did it. I hiked all 46 4,000 foot mountains in New York State. And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat.

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This photograph was taken by my dad. He couldn’t join me on this last hike because he was doing some hiking of his own… at hunting camp. He made it a point to hike East Mountain that morning and send positive vibes my way. Too bad his views weren’t as grand as mine! Next time!

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Woah! Woah! Woah! Slow the clock down a minute, can we? This past week has FLOWN by! Once again it’s Friday and I’m realizing that I never shared my veggie delivery from last week; we are still gobbling them up despite my lack of time to share.

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In this week’s bag:

  • macoun apples
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • red cabbage
  • red, yellow and yummy orange peppers
  • spinach
  • chardonnay grapes

Unfortunately, by the time we got the grapes home, they had mold growing on them. And I had to toss them out after I took this photograph. But on the plus side, the customer service at Fields Goods is so good that they’ve already credited my account. I’m not one to normally complain about the quality, I don’t mind small dents or even dirt (they are coming from the ground after all) but mold I am super sensitive to. I’m bummed we didn’t get to add them to our smoothies, but we still have some of the pears from last week left.

No big plans for the other veggies, other than my go-to kale and coconut dish; I seriously will never get sick of that combo. The beau and I have some shopping to do tomorrow night, so I’ll most likely stop at Trader Joe’s for a container of cookie butter to dip the apples in as the perfect autumn snack. Maybe I can convince the beau to whip up a big serving of slaw with that red cabbage. I personally like to saute it up finely with fresh lemon juice and great northern white beans and white sesame seeds. So good!

I have much to share with you all about the hiking trip I took last weekend; I summited all five peaks that I had anticipated reaching. And let me tell you, they were doozies! If you’re keeping track of this bucket list item with me (sorry, the tab isn’t up to date) via Instagram or Facebook, you know that I have ONE MORE MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB! And I’m attempting this final ascent tomorrow morning! Tonight I’ll pack my bag, wash my hiking clothes and eat a healthy meal. I’ll also ask Mother Nature before falling asleep for decent weather. I’m pumped to accomplish this long term goal!

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In preparation, I’ve designed a tee/tank for Paula and I to sport on the summit for photographs; a perk of dating the beau. I traced a sketch of Sawteeth Mountain from 1875 in Photoshop and then added one of our favorite quotes by John Muir. He (the beau) finished the design and printed it out for exposure. Tonight he’s going to teach me how to print with a cool fade effect. You’ll just have to come back to see the final design and our summit photographs!

Have an amazing, jump-in-the-air-to-click-your-heels kind of weekend! Remember to try one thing a day that scares you and tell those who support you “thanks.” And best of luck to my partner in crime on Sunday– you’ll rock this race!

 

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To say that I’m starting to get anxious about what’s to come over the next week, would be an understatement. I always look forward to returning to the mountains but with being this close to reaching my goal, the excitement is building.

Physically Paula and I will be hiking 45-50 miles this weekend. We are leaving Saturday afternoon and won’t be back until late Tuesday night. We are hiking the three mountains we had originally set out to do PLUS the two that we missed last weekend because of the rain. This will be the most consecutive days that I’ve hiked and although I know my legs will grow tired with each day passing and my feet will ache after each mile, I’ll continue to move forward. Sometimes when my head convinces my body that it’s exhausted, I start to slow a little. But then I realize that exhausted doesn’t mean finished and that I’ve got to give it all I’ve got until I see camp or the car. I don’t know if Paula appreciates these sudden bursts of energy but I know that we are both physically capable of reaching the five peaks that are calling our names. And loudly at that.

Emotionally I’m going to be “crossing the finish line.” Although there is no time limit for completing the Adirondack 46, this is a goal I’ll be finishing after working on for over a good year now. I’ve reached summits in the past with tears welling up in my eyes, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like knowing that this bucket list item will be complete. My emotions have changed a lot over this past year toward the mountains- only for the better. There were days that I was on top of the world, doubting myself, and also feeling guilty for taking so much time to dedicate toward myself (and not spending the weekends with the beau or family). But that time spent in the woods only made me a better person for my return.

I know that the date is still up in the air because of the weather, but I am a little sad knowing that the beau most likely won’t be there in the parking lot to see my return. I’m sad that he or any of my family members won’t be able to see my face on the summit and help me celebrate. It’s not like a marathon where family members can cheer you on during that last .2 miles of the race. Emotionally I have to be proud of myself and not rely on others to tell me how proud they are of me. Buuuuut they better be ready for high-fives all around when I see them next.

Mentally I’m telling myself that this weekend and following trip is going to be amazing. That my body is strong and any doubt that may arise is due to fear. I’ve been afraid many times in the Adirondacks (not a big fan of heights) but remind myself that I should do one thing a day that scares me. Oh, and do it safely.

That’s me in a nutshell these past couple of days! I’ve got a long night of laundry and list making tonight, and a longer night of shopping for last minute food items and packing tomorrow night after work. My feelings are mixed, almost like I’m preparing for a marathon but also in the middle of the race with a few miles to go. Does that make sense? I hope so!

Are any of you preparing for a big race? Or maybe crossing off a Bucket List item like I am?

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Last Saturday afternoon (now two Saturdays ago) Paula and I headed north to hike the Seward Range in the Adirondacks. As I was packing, I realized that I really needed a new bladder for my pack, so we made a little pit stop in Lake Placid. The Ragnar race was wrapping up and the streets were packed! Luckily, we found a parking spot right across the street from EMS and were in and out within twenty minutes. I really hit the jackpot with the special that they were running last week! If you spent $100, you got $25 off. So I picked out a new bladder for $35, a new pair of gaitors for $65 and an ADK Nalgene water bottle for Paula at $10. Once they subtracted the promotional $25, the $7 of EMS reward dollars I had saved, AND my 15% off, I paid $60 total = SCORE! I filled up the bladder in the bathroom sink and back on the road we went.

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We got to the trailhead at 6:30pm, signed in and headed down the horse trail. Our packs were heavy but our pace was consistent; the sun now sets around 7ish and it was darker in the woods. We didn’t know where we were going to be setting up camp but had a general idea of where we wanted to be; centrally located. Just after 7, we took a right onto the intersecting marked trails and within a couple hundred feet, I spotted a tiny cairn on my left. There were no markers, but I decided to walk down the path because even with the disappearing light, I could tell that there was a little clearing. It was a campsite! Posts for horses, a fire circle, and a stream about 100 feet away! We set up in the dark, made a little fire, enjoyed dinner and after admiring the sky full of glitter stars, were both snuggled into our tents before 8:30pm.

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After breakfast and re-organizing our packs, we were on the trail around 7:45am. We came to the intersection with the cairn marking our turnoff and started our climb for the day. The trails were very easy to follow, muddy, but easy. It was a constant up and soon after we ran into a gentleman who not only is a 46er, but also a correspondent to aspiring 46er hikers. He sped past us but we eventually caught back up to him at the cairn just below Donaldson. He told us about their clean up efforts over the past 15 years on unmarked trails and their attempts to blaze new paths. Paula and I both commented later how great it was to meet him, but felt horrible for not catching his name; hopefully he’ll be at the dinner this upcoming spring.

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Up Donaldson Mountain we went, and within ten minutes were at the summit disc. Number 37 for me!

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We continued on to Mount Emmons and after an hour from leaving the peak of Donaldson, we reached the summit. Number 38 for me!

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Time from leaving camp: 4.5 hours. We sat down in the sun to enjoy our lunches of sandwiches and fresh fruit and headed back over Donaldson to the cairn intersection where we had stopped to chat earlier in the morning. The man had suggested that after reaching Seward Mountain, that we return down this same path because it was less steep and far less muddy. Once we started down and then back up toward Seward, we ran into a couple of people who had confirmed this information. It was a steep up with plenty of rocks to climb over, but the views were amazing. We reached the summit of Seward Mountain at 2:45, seven hours after leaving camp. Number 39 for me!

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After high-fiving and taking our few photographs, back down the mountain AND back up the adjacent mountain we went. Our pace was steady and being familiar with the trail was useful; within a mile of our camp I began picking up firewood to haul back. At 6:30 we were back at our site with firewood and plenty of daylight to clean up. We both washed up in the stream, stocked up on water to purify, and I built a nice little fire. The coals were hot and kept me warm throughout dinner until about 8:30 when I decided to snuggle in.

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Once again we were on the trail around 7:30 Monday morning and decided to not take the horse trail toward Ward Brook. The marked trailed was only about four miles long and fairly easy; only a few sections of wet mud that took us a minute to avoid. We stopped at the Ward Brook Lean-to around 9:30 for a quick bathroom break; the outhouse was the cleanest we’ve seen! After a few moments back on the trail, the cairn marking our turn was on right.

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Now the trail up Seymour Mountain is unmarked and just over a mile long; the longest mile of my life. I don’t want to exaggerate, but this was probably the most difficult hike for me to date. Being afraid of heights, the slides were daunting and I clung for my life onto surrounding roots, trees and fallen debris from the hurricane. The slides were wet, muddy and not my cup of tea (steep!). It took us just over two hours to reach the summit, where we were greeted by a group of three guys from North Carolina and Virginia. They were finishing up their 46 peaks this week (it had only taken them 4 trips into the mountains) and the youngest had completed the AT a few years back. Super jealous of his vacation time! Number 40 for me!

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We both sat up on the ledge, soaking in the views while enjoying a snack before our draining hike back down the mountain. We took our time and made it back to the Ward Brook two hours later to take a bathroom break and eat our late lunch. The sky was blue and the leaves were all shades of autumn. It really was the perfect day for hiking in the Adirondacks! We didn’t stay too long because we still had four miles to walk back to camp. Once back, we quickly packed up and rearranged our bags for the last mile walk out. Just as we were approaching the trailhead, we met up with a guided group that attempted the three mountains that we had hiked the previous day; they didn’t make it to Seward.

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I’m pretty sure Paula and I were both proud of ourselves for the weekend we had just shared, and were both grateful of the weather. Here’s hoping that we have the same luck over the next three weeks; 6 more peaks to go!

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