The Basics: Adirondack Mountain Hiking
I can clearly recall my husband Mike stating to me on the summit of Mt. Skylight, the fourth highest peak in the Adirondacks and our first peak ever, “I cannot believe we are in New York. This is just unbelievable.” Hiking in the Adirondacks is a truly unique, challenging, and fascinating experience. For the new Adirondack Mountain hiker there is a variety of basic information that should be known prior to planning a trip that will make the experience enjoyable, safe, and genuinely rewarding. The information I provide here applies to the High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Park that ranges from the town of Jay, south to Long Lake and Tupper Lake, east to Route 87.
Day Hike: What should I do first?
Buy an Adirondack Mountain Trail map for the High Peaks Region. Maps can be purchased online or locally at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in Pittsford Plaza. The high peaks region map provides you with all marked trails in the region, mountain locations, locations of backcountry campsites and lean-tos, and bodies of water. For beginners start with day hikes and when you fall in love with the mountains, short backpacking trips. Excellent beginner day hikes include climbing Cascade Mountain (and Porter too if you’re ambitious, they are right next to one another), Giant Mountain, Algonquin, Wright, and Phelps.
Day Hike: When is the best time to go hiking?
- Winter: If hiking in the winter months (December through March) you can expect to be using snowshoes, microspikes, crampons, and other traction aids to get you up the mountains. Winter hiking can be very extreme and not to be taken lightly. Conditions can change significantly in an instant. If you’re a beginner you may want to consider starting in a different season.
- Spring: Hiking (Late March through June) can get a little tricky. There will still be snow at the peaks through May. It is also very wet as the snow is melting and the season tends to be very rainy. This leads to high water levels at certain stream and river crossings. Nothing that can’t be endured with proper gear however!
- Summer: Hiking (Late June through early September) is definitely the most popular and would be an excellent time to plan a trip. The weather is warm and supports a rather enjoyable atmosphere for climbing. Climbing in the month of June should be avoided if possible as it is Black Fly season in the Adirondacks. Very large biting black flies are very abundant. Even the most avid adventurers suggest waiting until the end of June to commence summer climbing.
- Fall: Hiking is my absolute favorite! From mid to late September through the end of October you can expect chilly days with absolutely incredible views and foliage.
Day Hikes: What do I need?
- Backpack! Head to EMS and try on some of their day packs, relative small backpacks that are comfortable, roomy, and made specifically for climbing. You’ll want a pack that has a chest and waist strap to distribute the weight and keep the pack from falling off when you’re climbing. Now here is a list of gear items. Consider everything on this list essential for your safety. Everything here can be purchased from EMS.
- Waterproof hiking shoes or boots. Sneakers will not work. They do not provide the support you will need for a long day hike.
- Dry fit clothing. Avoid cotton. Cotton does not wick sweat from your skin and will leave you feeling very cold and weighed down. Hypothermia is a reality even in the summer months.
- Wool sweater or a fleece jacket. Even in the summer. It can be very cold and windy at top. Also you want to be prepared in case of an emergency and especially if you have to spend an unexpected night in the woods. Rain jacket (I bring mine even when there is a zero percent chance of rain. You NEVER know!)
- Tall wool socks. Bring an extra pair on a day hike. Wool is the only material that will keep you warm even if it’s wet. I also suggest tall socks to avoid small sticks and pebbles from getting your feet! (I would suggest Smartwool brand.)
- Map and compass. Know how to use them!
- First aid kit
- Water purification system (Water filter, UV water purifier, or iodine tablets)
- Insect repellent (the more deet the better)
- Water (2 liters per person minimum)
Day Hikes: What do I eat?
Bring a lot of food, even if only hiking for a day. Hiking burns an exuberant amount of calories and you will need to replenish your energy to avoid feeling fatigued. I would suggest bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail-mix, granola bars, cookies, beef jerky, Gatorade mix, and Cliff Shot Blocks (Energy gel-like snacks that replenish your electrolytes). Bring snacks in zip-lock bags for easy access.
Day Hikes: Best First Hike?
A great first hike would be to climb Algonquin and Wright. The trail junction is approximately three to four miles from the main trailhead at The Adirondack Loj at Heart Lake outside of Lake Placid. You can easily do this hike in a day and the views are breathtaking. The last time that I did this hike my husband and I left Heart Lake a few hours before sunrise to catch fantastic shades of orange and red at the top of Algonquin as the sun came up over Mount Colden to the East. Algonquin is the second highest peak in New York State and Wright is number sixteen. Both are part of the impressive MacIntyre Range and give views of almost the entire High Peaks region including the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. Wright offers something that is unique to the rest of the High Peaks. Besides from the scenic view, you can rummage around the remains of a B-47 Bomber that crashed one fateful day in the 1960’s.
Day Hike: How do I check the conditions?
A great resource is the High Peaks Forum (http://adkhighpeaks.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=28). It is always smart to read recent trip reports before making the decision to head to certain areas in the High Peaks. This will make sure that you are as informed and prepared as possible for the quickly changing conditions that exist in the Adirondack Mountains.
Have questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask Nicole and Mike Calzi questions about your first time!
Friday, 30th : Crossfit