All I can say is…better late than never with this! At the end of 2017, Kyle and I spent 5 days in the Adirondack mountains…in a cold snap…and it was awesome.
We left in the early afternoon of December 26th for a night in Lake George, NY. We don’t usually drive up to the mountains and hike in on the same day because driving stinks and it makes us tired. The Best Western in Lake George is ~1 hour from the major ADK trailheads–we take our time getting up there, have an enormous, delicious Indian meal for dinner, and then pack all of our belongings for the trip.
On December 27th we headed to the Garden Trail Head. The plan was to head up the three brothers and over Big Slide Mountain. We would sleep somewhere near the Wolf Jaw shelter that sits at the bottom of Lower Wolf Jaw. This was supposed to be our first of 4 nights sleeping out.
The “plan” went out the window within the first hour of climbing. Despite being sunny, it was COLD and windy. We started our hike at -10 degrees and the temperature never rose above -4. With wind chill, we just could not get warm. This was our second time climbing Big Slide. On our first climb (in December 2016), a white out robbed us of what was anticipated to be an incredible view of the Great Range. Thankfully, this was a clear day– it was hard to be mad that we carried these 40 pound packs up 3000 feet for no reason.
We stared at Giant Mountain the entire way down Big Slide and the Brothers. Since we weren’t sure what we would do the next day, eventually Kyle said…”I guess we’re just going to have to go climb that mountain tomorrow.” And so…we had a new plan.
We finished up the 8 mile out and back hike in the early afternoon and headed to our favorite B&B (The Keene Valley Lodge). In Keene there isn’t ANY cell service so you just walk right into the B&B in order to see if there are rooms available. Thankfully, we were in luck. We made new friends by the fire, dried out and got an excellent night sleep.
In the morning, we headed out to climb Giant Mountain (the 12th highest peak in the ADKs). We started at the Roaring Brook Trailhead on Rt. 73 and tackled the mountain from the west.
The hike up Giant Mountain is short (less than 3 miles to the summit), but you climb almost 3000 feet to get there. We did it in -10 degrees (-40 at the top with windchill) and it was still my favorite hike of the trip.
The hike back to the car is above tree line for what seems like forever–just incredible. Overall, there’s nothing super challenging about this hike. It’s steep, but short annnd sometimes (apparently) its pretty cold out there.
In the evening of the 28th, a couple of trail angels invited us to stay at their house (we may have accidentally invited ourselves). Gerry and Sue Crowe are the parents of one of my old friends. They’ve built a mountain house in Jay, NY that is WONDERFUL. We sipped on delicious beers and ate the best black bean soup I’ve ever had. Trail angels are a real thing (more on that another time).
On the 29th, we slept in, ate breakfast, overstayed our welcome at the Crowe’s and headed to the Garden Trail head at around 11 am.
The plan was to take a leisurely 4 mile hike into the Ore Bed Brooke lean-to where we would spend two nights. First thing in the morning we would head up Gothics, Armstrong and Upper Wolf Jaw.
Kyle had talked about Gothics as if they were untouchable. He originally said “I would never do them in the winter,” so not surprisingly, I went into the hike a little apprehensive.
Cables. Waist deep snow. Frozen toes. Wind. A 10 foot, frozen “ladder.” It was a blast.
PERKS OF THE TRIP
- Our -25 degree sleeping bags got their debut. Amazing! I NEVER go to the bathroom in the middle of the night–it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I don’t do it. BUT I was actually TOO warm and had to go out in the -25 degree weather to cool off.
- I spent my Christmas break doing something that I love. In the snow!
- As always, Kyle pushed me to what seemed like my limit. I’m continuously relearning what my limits are.
- We didn’t do exactly what we had planned, but PRO TIP: we almost never do. Things change (like weather, health, overall mood). Hiking has taught me to be flexible and to “go with the flow.”
- I got to power off for 3 full days. I never bring my cell phone with me when we hike.
- We made some new friends who we will hopefully get to see again soon!
- Most importantly, we stayed warm (most of the time) and safe!
This post is a little late. I say, OH WELL! THESE PICTURE ARE SICK!