Post edited 6:07 pm – July 21, 2012 by admin
The Lake Placid region of upstate New York is in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and provides some of the best hiking in the east, if not all of North America. The Adirondack High Peaks Region as it is known, within the Adirondack Park boasts 46 peaks over 4,000 ft within it's 6.1million acres—that's roughly the size of Vermont! It's the largest protected are in the contiguous Unites States and is larger than Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and the Great Smokies combined. So what makes it so special other than sheer size alone? In addition to the beauty of the mountains the park contains over 2,000 miles of hiking trails (the largest trail system in the U.S), over 60 free lean-tos, 85% of all wilderness in the eastern US and 3,000 lakes and ponds.
By western standards the mountains are not huge but they do posses a certain charm and contain small amounts of true above-tree-line alpine. Mt. Marcy is the highest of all the peaks at 5,344 ft, the highest point in New York State. While 60 million people live within a day's drive of the park only about 7 – 10 million visit the region annually and while this sounds like a lot, if you consider the shear size of the park and the fact that only a very small fraction ever set foot on the massive trail network, you won't be hard pressed to find solitude within it's boundaries. Come winter you may even find you are the only one out there in search of some backcountry lines. While the snow pack is not the deepest on the continent there are plenty of good Eastern style backcountry routes down slide paths and frozen brooks.
I have been a visitor for 16 years to the Adirondack region after discovering the area in my early twenties. At this time I decided to take on the challenge of the 46'ers. To become a member of this club you must climb all 46 of the peaks over 4,000 ft, not unlike Colorado's 14'ers challenge which is comprised of 53 mountains over 14,000 ft. With over 7,355 members in the 46'ers club already and 346 added just this year alone it's a popular pastime for easterners and this westerner alike. I have been chipping away at the list on a few trips each summer from my previous home in Ottawa. Now that I live out west in BC, the trips are less frequent but I still make a point of heading down to the Adirondack Region to cross a few more peaks off the list. On my most recent trip, my friend and I tackled Mt Allen, Cliff Mountain, Mount Redfield and Esther Mountain to bring our total peaks climbed to a respectable 40, with only six more peaks to climb.
Every mountain is unique and has it's own character, as does each trip to the Adirondacks. There have been injuries, spills, bears, storms, laughs and suffering along the way but these all add up to providing a long list of spring, summer and fall memories that are fondly remembered.
Whether you reside in the east or out west I would recommend that you put the High Peaks Region on your 'to-do' or 'bucket' list, whichever you call it. It's a beautiful area with unlimited terrain to be discovered by foot or by ski.
While the final six mountains on my list may take me a few more years to complete it's not of concern as I am in no rush to finish things. Sure, standing on top of number 46 (which ever one that ends up being) will be an accomplishment, but it will be more about the journey than each destination.
Some of the gear we use for our summer hiking adventures:
- Osprey Aether 85 Pack
- Black Diamond Compactor Poles
- Adventure Medical First Aid Kit
- Oboz Beartooth Boots
- Suunto Core Altimeter Watch
- SteriPen Freedom UV Water Purifier
- GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cooking Solution
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 degree Down Sleeping Bag
- Exped DownMat UL7 LW
- MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove
- Revo Guide Sunglasses
- Suntrica Solar Charger (still reviewing this item)