Your first high peak climb in the Adirondacks is unforgettable. It is full of joy, exhilaration, unexpected wonder, and appreciation for life. Memories are created that will remain with you always. Like a piece of your soul..it becomes part of you forever.
It was October…my favorite month of the year. A beautiful fall October day in the Adirondacks. The mountains? Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge (often referred to as “Giant’s Wife”). I chose Giant as my first high peak after researching many others. It was challenging, yet not in the top 10 highest peaks. Couple it with Rocky Peak Ridge and you have yourself an amazing first trip to the 46ers!
Giant Mountain is the 12th highest peak in the Adirondacks (Rocky Peak Ridge is #20). Although the distance for the hike is only 3.6 miles, the ascent for Giant is 3375 feet! Tough climb for sure…and that is only if you are hiking Giant as a single peak.
My original hope was to complete my first 2 peaks as a hike through, but that required a spot car at one of the two trailheads…and that was something I did not have. I will definitely try that in the future though!
Time at trailhead: 9:03 a.m. Temperature: 46 degrees.
The route would be along Roaring Brook Falls, where you are guided by the red trail markers most of the way. It was a bit longer than the Ridge Trail and the path less chosen, making it the perfect choice!
My heart was racing and pounding with excitement! I had waited years for this moment. Next to my name in the trail register, I wrote: Jeremiah 29:11, keeping with my tradition.
As I stepped foot on the trail, I literally began jumping up and down, while clapping my hands vigorously! Like a kid again! Instantly…anticipation of the undiscovered and the unknown ahead!
The path up to Roaring Brook Falls has some absolutely beautiful lookouts to explore the falls.
This is the view you spot first…
Until you rock hop across the brook…and then….
Amazing!! The sight, the rushing song of the water…memorizing and breathtaking!
After about 40 minutes of hiking, the ledge and open lookout of Roaring Brook was reached! Here…was my peace. I sat in silence atop of the falls and just listened to the sweet melody whooshing all around me. This would also mark the beginning of “journaling my climbs” in the trail book I received from the bed and breakfast I visited.
The temperature was still around 45 degrees. In my journal, I wrote: In the cloud lines, bring a map next time. I was so brand new at hiking, I was not entirely sure of the peaks that stood before me. I remained pensive and silent…just breathing it all in. The smell of the air like a crisp fall morning, reminding me just how good it was to be alive. The sounds of the rushing water swirling and twirling by, as if to say, “Don’t dawdle too long my friend, more of your adventure awaits.” The vibrant hues of the foliage, dancing around to keep me present.
(In hindsight and with much more high peaks experience now, it was part of the Great Range in the cloud breaks).
After spending those quiet moments at the lookout, it was time to move onward and upward towards the summit. Much of the trail was decorated for fall….fallen, colorful leaves scattered on the path, songbirds guiding the way…precious little cairns here and there, like this one. My rock is somewhere on the right.
I was so brand new at this hiking business that I also neglected to snap photos of any trail signs along the way! Which is so unlike me because I have come to LOVE those signs! Just another reason for me to climb these two peaks again 🙂
But I DID take one of the ladder! Yay!! One of my favorite parts of hiking in the Adirondacks…you never know when or where you’ll find one of these! No two are ever alike either!
After this point in the hike, the weather began to change. At first, the thought was raindrops were falling…but as the climb continued, and upon closer investigation…..
SNOW! It reminded me of Narnia, after the kids sneak through the secret door in the wardrobe and arrive in winter!
“This is so unexpected!” I exclaimed. So now…some winter in October. The trail grew a bit foggy, which indicated that I was walking through the clouds. It was also an indication that those same clouds…would be at the summit.
The rest of the climb to the summit was both magical and strenuous. The snow was just so peaceful and calm…I loved every breath of this walk. Everything…everything encompassed the true essence of beauty.
About a half mile before the summit’s approach, the red trail junctions with the Ridge Trail (blue markers) and you follow the blue markers to the top! I recall there being a bit of a “traffic jam” here, as many hiking groups were ascending via Ridge Trail that day.
At 12:30, with a temperature of 36 degrees, I had conquered my first high peak!! Giant Mountain stands at 4626 feet tall. The Giant of the Valley in all his stature.
And…not a view to be had!! It was completely socked in! But I loved “The Giant” just the same.
It was windy and chilly besides! Brrr! I did pray however (as I always do on my mountains). A prayer of protection and thankfulness. I was in High Peak Heaven, no doubt about that.
Only stopping for a quick lunch consisting of peanut butter and jelly, an apple and a chocolate chip cookie, it was back on the trail to find out about Giant’s wife, Rocky.
Now, there is also no photo account of the next part of the trail…because the descent from Giant to the ascent of Rocky Peak Ridge was tough!! Tough…and icy and very tricky to navigate for a beginner. It was “only’ a 1.8 mile trek to the summit of Rocky Peak, but boy, was it tough! (Did I mention that already??) The path was marked with yellow discs for this portion of the hike.
At 2:00 p.m., I conquered my second high peak of the day!! Rocky Peak Ridge stands at 4390 feet tall and is the 20th high peak of the majesties. I absolutely loved this summit! It was full of cairns as well!
The vista offered some gorgeous views, and as luck would have it, the clouds parted ways as the sun shone its light to illuminate Nature’s beauty!
Amazing view of Giant Mountain and its slides!! I could not believe I was just standing up there an hour or so ago! Truly incredible.
Forty minutes of rest and relaxation would be spent atop Rocky Peak. I wrote in my journal: Life is beautiful! I was happy. No…happy is not the word. Elated. Elated and full of joy…that was me. Perfect peace. (Even now…as I type this, deep breaths and exhales)
The days were growing shorter so at 2:40 p.m., it was time to head back . Then reality set in. Remember how I said I really wanted to make this hike a “hike-through”??
Yeah…so, instead, it would be an out and back hike. As in, back down Rocky Peak and reclimb Giant! If I thought the way to Rocky Peak was tough…the return trip was tougher!
Thankfully much of the ice has melted. Not thankfully, this made the rock slides very wet and slippery…and then the ascent back up to Giant’s summit. This beginner was beginning to tire out. Fast!
However, my efforts and perseverance would have its rewards! At 3:45 p.m., I was gazing out towards the mountains and valleys from the summit of Giant! A view! Many views! The sky was still clear enough to see over yonder and then some 🙂
Giant Take 2
And after 5 short minutes…it was time to hit the trail again. I would sign out of the trail register at exactly 6:00 p.m., as the sun was beginning to settle in for her nightly nap.
Total time: 9 hours plus a few stops
Total distance: roughly 10.8 miles, give or take a few
Currently, I am 15/46 on my journey through the High Peaks. All so far have been spectacular and full of personal growth, each in their own way. But my first 2 high peaks…The Giant of the Valley and his Wife…well, they are sacred to me. Sacred. Nothing could ever replace them or this hike. And no matter what this embraceable journey of mine reveals each day, nothing can ever take this “first”away.
Memories were created that stay with you forever, you see.
Ones that were full of excitement, exhilaration, unexpected wonder, and an incredible appreciation of life. Life is beautiful…always. Amen.
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