By Flick and Terra
Two groups, four days, nine high peaks, twenty-three candy bars, countless breathtaking views, and oodles of fun is the best way to sum up this past week.
Our adventures began when we left beloved Arcadia on Wednesday morning bound for the Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake, gateway to the High Peaks region wilderness near the outskirts of Lake Placid, New York. After renting seven bear cans to protect our food from hungry critters and loading up our 40-pound packs, we broke into two groups to hike out to Lake Colden via the majestic Avalanche Pass. In order to comply with the area’s camping regulations, we set up two base camps about one mile apart from each other on the shores of the lake. After a night of frigid temperatures, we awoke Thursday morning to frost on the ground and clear blue skies above.
We, Flick and Terra, were in separate groups but have equally exciting adventures to recount from each expedition. On the first day, Flick and company bagged the High Peaks of Algonquin, Iroquois, and Wright, hiking a total of 8.7 miles. Their reward was amazing panoramic views of the Eastern High Peaks in fall foliage. At the same time, Terra and her fellow adventurers summited the highest peak in the ‘Dacks, Mt. Marcy, as well as Gray Peak and Skylight. They totaled 13 miles, passing pristine waterfalls, gaping at swimming holes, and encountering an eccentric mix of hikers. Both groups returned to their respective camps weary yet satisfied, and of course, ready to chow down on some rations. While some cook groups feasted on a curried vegetable medley, others were slightly less creative, preparing what is now a favorite: Pigslop (a.k.a. quinoa with tomato paste.)
Friday, Flick’s birthday (and, coincidentally, Terra’s half birthday, as well as Mac’s quarter birthday) dawned somewhat overcast, yet proved to be an equally gorgeous day. Flick and her companions hiked up Gray and Skylight that morning, summiting the first peak just as the sun broke through the cloud cover. On their way down Skylight they were excited to meet a father/daughter pair just a few hundred feet away from completing their 46th High Peak summit. For those of our readers unfamiliar with this goal, becoming a “46er” means one has summited all the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks that measure over 4,000 feet. Meanwhile, Terra and her five comrades charged up Iroquois, Algonquin and Wright, as the other group had done the previous day. They were greeted atop Iroquois with an otherworldly view from above the clouds, while Wright nearby swept them off their feet . . . literally.
On Saturday, both groups were to spend the night at the Saint Lawrence University yurt near the Adirondack Loj. Flick’s group hiked the 6.1 miles directly to the yurt where they rested and ate. Shortly after arriving, Blaze and Mac decided to head out again and bag Street and Nye, two high peaks that are accessed by another trail head near the Loj. They covered a total of 9 miles and returned before Bud, Blue, and Flick woke up from naps. Terra’s group chose to make one last summit before breaking camp and heading to the yurt. The two groups were overjoyed to reunite and were soon filling each other in on their adventures and misadventures in the High Peaks. Excitement rose further when the two students who had remained at Arcadia due to illness and injury came out to the yurt bearing chocolate cake (complete with candles for Flick), baguettes, and their own entertaining tales.
Our fun-filled weekend continued on Sunday when all 12 students met two of our professors in Lake Placid for class. Together we drove to Whiteface Mountain, stopping several times on the way up the summit for geology and ecology lessons. Hiking the last mile or so was a treat, especially when it began to snow! We returned to Arcadia way past our bedtimes (typically around 8 PM) after feasting on Mexican cuisine in Saranac Lake, a wonderful surprise ending to a memorable trip.
Happy to be home, to sauna and put our feet up, but always ready to bag the next peak.
Yours truly, Flick and Terra