Mt. Marcy: A Spontaneous Adventure to Hike NY's Tallest Peak
With a random week off from work & no solid plans.. it leaves room for all kinds of fun things. I invited my friend Samantha to join me & we headed North to camp and hike with our pups. I love visiting upstate NY, but because of the 4 hour drive, can only make it here for a long weekend or if I have some vacation time to spare. Since we both had some time off- we decided to take full advantage and venture a little further than our usual hikes in the White Mountains.
We gathered some last minute groceries and began our drive. Having a total of 3 dogs with us and 2 being sassy Shiba's we had to take our own cars to keep them separated.
First Pit Stop: Vermont Craft Beer store for some Sip of Sunshine and some Raspberry Whale Tale from Burlington Beer Co to accompany us on our travels.
We camped at a top secret spot. Near the high peaks, close to a water source, and the best part: FREE. We settled into camp, and pulled out our maps to try and make some hiking plans for our next couple of days there. Really only one peak stood out to us- Mt. Marcy, New York's highest peak. I mean, go big or go home right! Mt. Marcy is a 14 mile round trip hike. We prepared our packs and set an alarm for 5 AM. I was both excited and slightly nervous- since 14 miles would be the most I have hiked in a single day...and I forgot my knee brace at home.
The next morning we were up right at 5 AM - sleepy but excited for the day. We drank coffee and ate our oatmeal, waking up slowly with the sun. Since we were close to the trail head it allowed us the liberty to take our time. & Not rush to have to drive north to the mountains. Basically a hiker's luxury.
We had to get creative on how we would get to the Adirondack Loj trail head, as parking was $10 per car, and we faced the dilemma of our fur kids getting along in a vehicle. Here was our creative solution:
We made our way to the trail and tried to prepare the best we could for a 14 miler day. Lucky for us, the beginning of the trail was very easy on us. Flat, super gradual. & We were appreciative of the significant amount of dirt trail we could walk on (VS The White Mountains and their rocks on rocks on rocks).
The trail was very well marked. & We felt it helped mentally that it was broken up into little sections. Instead of starting your day and thinking WOWWW 7 miles until the summit. You just think to yourself- 2.2 miles and I'll reach Marcy Dam. Then another couple mile section to the next landmark/trail sign. It really helped boost the morale to approach the hike in smaller bites, if you will.
As we hiked the day warmed up super quickly. The shade from the trees helped but there was no escaping the humidity. There were tons of river spots for the dogs to cool down and drink. Really a nice trail overall. & Quiet since we made it out here on a Monday.
At one point- we passed a junction where Mt. Phelps was only a mile from. Not going to lie, the heat had me contemplating this escape route. We could last minute change plans, go bag Phelps which was practically RIGHT THERE. & Go back to cool down in the river. Its easy to let your mind play tricks on you like that. Yes its hard work, and yes its a million degrees outside, but we ain't quitting and taking the easy way. We trekked on.
Mt. Marcy summit or bust.
Another amazing thing happened on this day... Luna and Ricky became best friends. They got along- the whole. entire. hike. It was miraculous. We even caught them kissing and putting snouts together at one point. It was impressive as they usually get into a couple sibling disagreements.
Our lunch never made it to the summit- since we had been hiking for 4 hours already we decided to break just before the last push and fuel up. The whole trail had a pretty moderate incline of gaining elevation. But the last final stretch, was where the rest of the elevation was made up for. Plus we'd be exposed and in the hot sun. The beers in our packs were calling our names - & we used that as motivation for that final push to the top where we could relax and drink them.
The alpine zone was beautiful, with wild flowers, and some wild mountain views. A well marked trail, some rock scramble parts. Before we knew it, we were at the top! The highest peak.
It felt so good to break, and sit down. All the hard work of climbing up here paid off in views and sunshine and our beers that were still a little cold. The dogs were happy to rest as well, and laid with us. Before we knew it I think almost 2 hours had passed. It was just too nice to head down!
Something I did on this hike that made a tremendous difference- during our summit break I gave my feets a break and took off my shoes. Holy cow, my feet were sooo happy to have a break from my trail runners. In return, they barely complained the next 7 miles down. I will for sure be doing this on future longer hikes. Sorry other humans sharing the summit with me, I at least made sure my toes were painted LOL.
Eventually we had to put our shoes back on... and hike out another 7 miles. This sometimes can be the part of hiking I now dread. Since injuring my knee the repetitive downhill motion creates a sharp pain in it that slows me down quite a bit.
Due to the moderate incline of this trail, my knee didn't hurt me the entire day. No knee brace, no aleve. I have never been happier.
The hike out was a long one for sure, but at least it wasn't a painful due to my knee kicking a$$ & taking names. The closer we got back the car the more I was STARVING. & Thinking about delicious food. Back at camp we were prepared with groceries to make dinner, and firewood already at the site. The dogs had just about had enough as well. They laid down periodically on the trail. But continued trekking on like champions! Definitely a long hike for them too.
Eventually we made our way out. Sweaty/dirty high fives took place. I might've did a little shriek of happiness as well. I happily climbed back into the trunk of the car with both dogs. & Anxiously awaited our arrival back to camp.
At camp, I made sure the dogs were situated with their well deserved dinner and treats. & Then priorities... jumped in the river for a swim. The cold water rejuvenated me back to life, and washed off the days hard work.
Then finally- It was DINNER TIME. Hiking for a full day burns so many calories, by the time you are done your body is practically screaming for food. We feasted, properly. & Like well deserving hikers. Burgers, and chicken sausages, baked beans and a cold beer. Food has never tasted so good.
I'd say we earned it.
The next day we hung around a little longer to visit Big Slide Brewery before our journey home. Dog friendly patio. AHmazing food and beer. I am really into sour beers right now- & they had 2 on tap that were so yummy! If you are planning on hiking in the high peaks this is a must visit spot. You won't be disappointed.
We ordered a flight of beers to try each, thai salad and a pizza topped with blackberries, arugula, and honey. Practically tasted like dessert pizza.
A couple more pit stops before we left- The ADK Market for homemade donuts. & The Mountaineer in Keene for hiking patches. I am already dreaming of the next time I get to come back and hike. With only 4 of the NY 46 High Peaks completed.. I have a lot more reasons to come back.
Happy Hiking Friends!
-Laura the Explorer