Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 New Things #15: Backpacking in the Adirondacks

Thanks to Jon & Chris for the great pictures!
When Stacey and Jon invited us to join their Adirondack backpacking trip, we of course accepted. Because when adventure calls, the only answer is yes. It was my first time backpacking, my first time visiting the Adirondacks and my first real camping experience (read: no bathrooms), so I was a little nervous. But I don't even know why. It turns out that hiking is just walking plus climbing on things, so basically a grown up version of playing in the woods. What's not to love? Plus, you really get to know people. I mean, "Anyone who knows Omar knows he didn't kill that woman." (We overheard a female hiker telling her friend this as we passed them on the trail.) And we realized that Stacey and I lived down the street from each other when we were about 3 and 7 years old, respectively. I used to play with her older brother and my parents said she called me Furniture because it was easier for her to pronounce than Jennifer. Too funny!

 Stacey, Jon, Chris, Pete and I left Rochester early Friday morning, stopping at The Mountaineer to rent a bear canister before heading to the trail. (Campers are required to store all food in a bear-proof canister because apparently the bears are particularly hungry at this time of year. Only certain types of canisters are allowed since the smarty pants bears have learned how to break into some of them. I have to admit I'd find it more hilarious than terrifying to encounter a bear on a trail, just hanging out eating some cliff bars and trail mix. Or boiling some water on a tiny camp stove so he can eat his dehydrated food packet dinner.) The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and with highs of almost 80 degrees. We hiked about 4 miles to the campsite with our big packs, set up camp, then hiked up to Indian Head with our daypacks. The views from up there were incredible, especially since it's perfect leaf peeping time (evidently this is what people who are really into watching fall foliage call it.) After hanging out and taking in the magnificent scenery, we went back to camp, ate dinner around the fire and called it a night.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at camp and were back on the trails a little before 8:30. We hiked two of the Adirondack's high peaks, first up to Nippletop, then traversing the ridge to Dial Mountain. I don't know if I have the desire to become a 46er, but at least I can say I've been to the top of the peak with the best name. I loved the hike up to Nippletop. The trails were just really neat and it was all climbing up rocks and tree roots, like some kind of natural jungle gym. The hike back down through Bear's Den and Lake Road and back to camp was nice too. But the climb up was my favorite part. If I ever have my own mountain, I'm going to put a zipline and an ice cream stand on top so after all the effort of climbing up, you're rewarded with ice cream and a zipline back down. Now that's my kind of hiking! All in all, we did about 10 hours of hiking on Saturday. Once we got back to camp, we took some x-stream-ly cold showers in the creek, ate dinner and sat around the campfire talking and laughing until we got too tired.

Sunday, we got up early, ate breakfast, packed up our stuff and hiked the 4 miles back to the cars. We stopped at a cute little vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Lake Placid, which was conveniently located next to a Ben & Jerry's, then headed for home.

I'd definitely go back to the Adirondacks again. I loved exploring the trails, taking in the views from the peaks and getting to spend time with friends. Even the backpacking part wasn't too bad. I didn't feel as dirty as I thought I would and my sleeping pad was semi-comfortable, but I was still excited to take a hot shower and get back to indoor plumbing and a real bed on Sunday night. I don't know that I'd ever want to spend a whole week doing the whole rustic camping thing, but a long weekend was just right. May many more adventures ensue!

Lyric of the moment: "Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain. We're climbing two by two to be sure these days continue..."

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