Weather: Partly cloudy, high 75 🙂
I was SO EXCITED to climb these mountains today, that I was already up at 5am a full 40 minutes before my alarm even went off. I’d read that Cascade mountain in particular is extremely popular, and the parking lots can fill up quick especially during summer weekends, so I though it would be best if I got there early. I had already made all of the preparations the night before, so all I had to do was fill my Camelbak and walk out the door. I arrived at the trailhead on 73 at about 7:45am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Good thing, too; there were already a fair amount of cars when I got there, parked in all three available lots. The day started off great as I walked right past the entrance to the trailhead, down past the 3rd lot (I parked in the 1st lot, the trailhead was behind the 2nd…oops), so I snapped a picture of some mountain nearby and asked a couple of guys if they knew where the trailhead was. They pointed my in the right general direction, and I happily headed down the steps. In my defense, it was not very obvious.
I stopped by the register, signed in as maybe the 7th hiker of the day, and set off. It was slightly chilly, so I started off wearing a light jacket, but took it off not 10 minutes into the hike.
The trail started climbing right out of the gate, but it was a nice wide path relatively easy places to step, with no shear faces that I had to figure out how to get up. I climbed at a pretty good pace (for me), stopping frequently for just a few seconds at a time to give my lungs a rest.
After about 30 minutes of climbing, I lost all trust and respect for the weatherman, because it started raining. I took shelter under a tree when the drops got more frequent, and then stopped just as suddenly as they began. (There’s rain in the picture below, not that you can see it…)
I made it to a short, flat section just as the early morning sunlight filtered through the trees, and took the opportunity to catch my breath and let a fit young couple pass me while I took some pictures.
Too soon, the trail began to climb again, and I clambered up some squarish rocks (bottom picture, on the right) that had a cute little smiley face painted on! It sort of lifted my spirits after climbing for more than an hour.
Shortly after, I came to a very steep, flat rock face that climbed maybe 20 feet up. I scrambled up, and met about 6 people hanging out at the top taking a breather, and enjoying the incredible views from Cascade’s first (and only) lookout.
We chatted some, and discussed how far we thought we had left to go. No one had been up this trail before, so we all relied on my memory of having read about it; I recalled that there should be a junction sign at the split between Cascade and Porter, and after that it should be 0.3 miles. Rejuvenated, our group broke apart and continued up the mountain. Luckily, my knowledge proved to be correct as we encountered the junction sign not a quarter of a mile later, and Cascade was just 0.3 more miles to go.
The trail was mercifully flat after this point and offered only minute glimpses of the scenery beyond the trees. I imagine the whole trail is usually very muddy (and buggy), but it was mostly dry and bug-free for my hike.
At long last, I came to the base of the summit. Looking up, it was quite an impressive sight.
I had a renewed burst of energy, and ran almost all the way up. When I got to the top, however…
It just kept going! This was the coolest part of the trail; I had never climbed a mountain quite like this before, and the experience was humbling. There were cairns and blazes to show the path to the summit, and numerous signs saying to stay off of the alpine vegetation.
I got to the top at 9:30am on the dot, and looked around me. Views were complete 360, but unfortunately I didn’t take a panorama…There were just too many people up at the top (maybe 5 different groups of 2-4?). So I’ve resolved to do this climb again, but in time for sunrise! Meaning I’ll leave the trailhead at around 3am to get to the top just as the sun starts to peak between the distant mountains. At any rate, I sat down to have a snack and talked with the people around me. Though it’s nice to have the mountain to yourself, it’s also equally nice to talk with people and head their stories. One man, who had climbed up with his daughter (around my age) and her little beagle puppy (Louie!) said that of the 39 states he’s lived in, including Colorado, Wyoming, Montana…etc, New York is absolutely his favorite. His reason was in part because the mountains in the Adirondack are like no others; they have ranges, but they also have solo peaks, and when you get to the top and look down, all you see is green forests and lots and lots of lakes. I’m sold! We laughed at how so many people think NYC is all there is to New York, and how people think Albany is upstate, and then we took some photos for each other. That’s another nice thing about having other people at the summit!
After resting up and taking in the sights, I set to work trying to capture the beauty of the mountains (and had my turn at the summit plaque). While snapping pictures, I met the guys I had asked for directions at the bottom, and took some pictures for them. I found out that one of them has climbed the tallest mountain in every state, and the ADK 46ers are his next challenge! Wow! I’d like to do that someday…One thing at a time, though.
I’d been up there for half an hour and was getting pretty cold (it was so windy!) so I reluctantly headed back down, taking one final picture of the impressive slope and cairns as I went.
Now we already know that my navigation skills certainly were not at their best today (i.e., I couldn’t even find the dang trailhead), but I really didn’t think they’d be so bad that I’d miss the junction to porter….twice. I did find it eventually, after going down and up and down and back up again for a good workout. Once I found it, I took the path to Porter and immediately started a rapid descent. It leveled out some, I passed through an interesting forest of really skinny pines, and then the trail got muuuuddy. Luckily I had doused my cap with bug spray near the beginning of the trail, so no critters bugged me. Get it? bugggged? Well, I shouldn’t say that. One did fly straight into the back of my throat, because apparently the ENTIRE ADIRONDACK PARK was too small for it, and my mouth looked like the better option. Ugh. I tried to cough it out, but to no avail. So looks like I got some extra protein today! -.-
I soon came across a giant boulder, and of course thought “Hey! Maybe that’s the summit!” Oh how optimistic I can be. I climbed to the top, got a nice view in front of me, turned to my left, and saw the real summit. I absolutely should have known better. But at least I did know that it always looks much farther than it is. So I climbed down, and continued on.
I reached the summit soon after, and met a nice family who were also beginning their 46ers challenge by climbing these two mountains. We took a photos for each other, and I took photos for a man and his super cool kid, and for a couple, and….on and on. I did eventually get out of there, and snacked on some chocolate as a reward for successfully summiting two mountains. The peak in the top left picture is Cascade, where I had just come from.
I made it back to the junction (and didn’t go the wrong way this time >.<) and headed back down the mountain. I passed probably between 50-100 people making their way up, and reassured them that they were almost there, and the views are well worth it.I couldn’t believe how many of those people were thoroughly unprepared, wearing jeans, sneakers, no day packs, no water, even! Come on, people, this is a mountain, not a walk in the woods! Anyway, going down actually wasn’t that bad! It was a tricky enough trail to be fun, but I didn’t have to go super slow and I didn’t get bored, either. My knees took it like champs too, I never even had to break out the hiking poles! On the way, I passed one family in particular with a kid who was playing PokemonGO; he said the whole trail was on there! So of course I had to get my phone out to see for myself…
Ha! Way too funny. Anyway, I finally made it out after only about 4.5 hours, which wasn’t bad considering how much I dilly-dallied. When I went to sign out at the register though, there were so many people added to it that I had to go back 2-3 pages just to find my name! Wow. They weren’t kidding when they said it’s a popular hike! I proudly walked back to the car, arriving by 12:30pm, and had a quick snack of an apple and downed some water before stripping off my shoes. Notice how my feet, in particular my pinky toes, never bothered me this trip! Well, that’s because of my ingenuity…see below.
My method worked! In retrospect, the toe socks probably weren’t even necessary, but they didn’t hurt! All in all, today was an amazing day. I walked out of those woods so happy, and proud, having met lots of interesting people and climbed my first two 46er peaks. I can’t wait to do more!
Cascade: 4098′ Elevation gain: 2000′
Porter: 4059′ Elevation gain: +400′
Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles
Total Duration: 4.5 Hours
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