Last Sunday my Dad and I started the 4 hour drive up to the Adirondacks, to tackle my first two Adirondack 46ers (my Dad has already climbed all of them, but he agreed to do them all again with me). We picked my sister (Arielle) up in Troy and decided to do an easy hike to prep us for the following day. My dad picked the Hadley Mountain Trail , because it was on our way, it was short, and it had a fire tower.
We pulled up to the trail head and put on our gear … boots, backpack, etc. This trail probably did not require a full day pack … some water and a camera would have been more than enough, but in the spirit of training, why not? We started up the trail head, and a few feet in there was the sign-in book, and then a steady incline. Not exactly what I expected for a “warm up hike” 1,500ft of elevation gain in 90-degree weather. Obviously, dad never read that part … “this one should be easy, it’s less than 4 miles.” Yeah … 2 of them were straight up. We climbed up to the top where there was an awesome fire tower. Even better, the fire tower was open, so we were able to climb all the way to the top and get an amazing 360 degree view of the southern Adirondacks!
Total distance: 11,273 steps (thanks fitbit), 3.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,561 ft
Total time: 3 hours (including about ½ an hour at the summit)
Now many of you do not know this, but I have a rule; if I hike, I get ice cream. Seems like a fair deal. So our first stop before driving the rest of the way up to the high peaks region was Stewarts, for Black Raspberry Ice Cream!
When we hit exit 30, the exit for the high peaks region, I instantly fell in love. My eyes were glued out of the car window, gazing at all the mountains that I will eventually climb. I was mesmerized.
We stayed at the Alpine Country Inn, nice hotel owned by Bill & Trudy. My dad has been staying there for years, but the funny part was they put us in the Whiteface room … one of the mountains we were looking to summit the next day.
We woke up at 5:30 am and headed to the trail. The plan for the day was Whiteface and Esther. Prior to the hike, I was informed by my dad that this would not be a ski slope hike (did enough of those in Vermont), but that was not entirely accurate. Just because the ski slope hasn’t been used in more than 20 years doesn’t mean that it is not a ski slope. On our way up the trail, we saw remnants of the old ski lift that once served this side of the mountain. We started the climb to the Esther and Whiteface juncture. It was a nonstop slog up, for about 2.5 miles, and I’m not going to lie … I was feeling it. About .9 miles up, there was a beautiful lookout. I snapped a bunch of pictures (and caught my breath).
When we go to the Junction where Esther splits to the right, we had a snack, I went with a cliff bar and my sister….she went for a healthy staple Cheetos (the crispy kind). Since we were just going up and back, and the distance was short, we hung our packs on a high branch and started the climb up Esther. It definitely felt good to walk for a little while without a bag. Esther is a pretty easy climb, especially since it was very dry (my dad said its normally sloppy and muddy). There’s not much of a view from the summit of Esther, although there is a good view of Whiteface.
Esther is a real girl power mountain. It was named after a 15 year-old girl, Esther Mc Comb, who made the first recorded accent of the peak in 1838. She loved hiking and nature and one day got lost. She climbed to the top of the highest point, Esther, lit a forest fire, and was subsequently rescued.
After summitting Esther, we headed back down to the junction and grabbed our packs. It was now time to tackle our next mountain, Whiteface! The climb up to Whiteface is kind of gradual until you reach a rock wall by the road (you can drive up Whiteface), than the real fun starts! You turn to the left at the wall and start the scramble up. The views on the way up are so amazing. Naturally, as you should expect from me by now, on the way up I had a slight mishap. Towards the top, the trail gets narrower, with trees on both sides of you. As I was walking, a branch jumped out at me and ripped my pants….but hey, at least I didn’t fall…yet.
At the very top there is an observatory with lookout points and plenty of photo ops. I was able to lookout and see most of the great range … the next 8 mountains we are going to tackle … I CAN’T WAIT.
After about 30 to 40 minutes at the summit, we decided to head back down. The trail back to the junction with Esther wasn’t that bad, but the the trail from the junction to the car was a different story. It was very steep with a lot of loss rocks. Remember to lean forward (nose over toes) and trust your feet; and occasionally your butt. My sister fell and twisted her ankle … I guess it runs in the family. She was a champ and kept going. And, as expected, about 10 mins later I went sliding down … luckily my butt caught me. I am okay, but unfortunately my sister has a sprained ankle. She finished strong and is on the mend! She will be hitting the trail again soon (probably both literally and figuratively).
Climbing my first two Adirondack 46ers really lit a fire inside of me and has made me long to head back up to the Adirondacks. These were some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever climbed, and there are so many of them so concentrated in a small area, making for awesome views. With every mountain I climb I learn something new about myself how much further I can push myself…can’t wait to see what’s next!!!!
FYI we did stop for ice cream on the way home, but two mountains doesn’t mean two ice creams ☹.
Total distance: 33,538 steps (thanks fitbit), 9.5 miles
Elevation gain: 3,818 ft
Total time: 7 hours