As a student at St. Lawrence, there are infinite opportunities to explore the North Country during our time outside of the classroom. With the heart of the Adirondacks located less than two hours away, it’s hard to avoid an itch for adventure. This semester, I decided to dedicate my Sundays to fulfilling that desire. In the process, I have befriended complete strangers and formed memories that are among my favorites from my time at SLU.
This tradition started earlier this fall when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go hiking. I was determined to get my work for the weekend done ahead of time and set my Sunday aside to spend quality time with friends in a beautiful setting. That Sunday, I woke up early, hopped in the car with a friend of mine and four other students that she had recruited, and headed into the Adirondacks. An hour and a half later, we arrived at the trailhead for Tabletop and Phelps Mountains, two of the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks. Many St. Lawrence students will climb all 46 peaks during their four years here, and that day we were on a mission to help our friend get to his 32nd summit.
As we made our way up the trail, I instantly began to bond with the four people that I had just met. It seemed that we all had something in common--three of us had studied abroad in Kenya, several of us were involved in athletics, and all of us discovered that we had several mutual friends. The scenery around us began to change as we crossed emerald green creeks and continued to gain elevation. Fall in the Adirondacks is unlike anything I've ever seen before, and the vibrant crimson leaves above me were so mesmerizing that I found myself tripping on roots and rocks because I couldn't keep my eyes on the trail.
Eventually, we found ourselves at the turn for Tabletop, the first peak of the day. We only had three-quarters of a mile to go, but in that short distance there were nearly 800 feet left to climb. We pushed ourselves up the steep, rocky trail, ignoring the burning in our legs and the pounding sun above us. After 30 minutes of climbing, the path began to flatten, and we made our way to the summit. We took a few minutes to exchange snacks and take pictures before heading towards Phelps. One peak down, one to go.
We had just over a mile of descent before the climb up Phelps began. After already hiking nine miles and climbing one peak, we were all starting to feel a bit winded. However, about half-way up, we got a glimpse of the view that was awaiting us at the top, giving us just enough motivation to continue onward. Eventually, the trail tapered out to a large granite slab with an incredible view. We took turns guessing the names of the peaks that surrounded us and enjoyed a nice lunch break before heading down.
The hike back to the car was filled with high spirits, despite our impending exhaustion and hunger. We had accomplished our goals: get outside, climb two mountains, and have fun along the way. We celebrated over burritos in Lake Placid before heading back to campus. At the end of the day, we hugged each other goodbye and exchanged ideas about what we should hike next weekend. I returned home and finished up the last of my work for classes, knowing that I had found four new friends and an amazing tradition to keep each weekend full of new experiences.