Location: Lake Placid, NY, USA
Starting Point: Adirondack Loj, Lake Placid
Elevation: 5,344ft (#1 Highest Peak)
Route we took: Start from the Log parking you with go by Marcy Dam, along Phelps Brook, up to Indian Falls to summit. Return.
Total Distance: 28 km
Time: 8 hours
Level of Difficulty: Tough long day
Mount Marcy is a hike that has been in the back of our minds for a while now. It’s the highest peak in New York State and an easy 3-hour drive from Ottawa.
We thought this would be the PERFECT debut for our blog. A quick roadie across the border, a relatively challenging hike and some exceptional fall foliage views at the summit. What more could we ask for?
Turns out it wasn’t quite as exceptional as we had hoped.
We drove up Saturday afternoon and stayed at an Airbnb (which was a yoga studio by day) in Saranac Lake, a 30-minute drive from Mount Marcy’s trailhead. Mary Anne kicked off the weekend with a nasty cold so we decided to take it easy and climbed into bed at 9:00 pm. Couple of party animals, eh?
After a quick yet energizing breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe, we hit the road and arrived at the trailhead by 9:00 am, knowing there was a long day ahead. Our confidence was quickly shaken, however, after warnings from four different sources telling us to consider a different mountain. We were deadset on Marcy and agreed on a 4.5 hour turnaround time as sunset was around 6:00 pm.
The trailhead was right off the parking lot at the Adarondak Loj, making it VERY easy to find (always a bonus for us HikeAddicts). The air was an unusually warm 18 degrees for mid October, and the skies were cloudy and threatening to rain.
We followed the blue circle trail, which was overall easy to follow, except for close to the peak where it turned into yellow lines on the rocks.
The first 3/4’s of the trail are a total breeze for an experienced hiker. That being said, the length of the trail, altitude and difficulty at the top makes this hike not beginner friendly. We had two big confidence boosts along the way: One from a solo hiker named Alison who was on her descent. She had no doubts we could summit in time and was a total badass in our opinion for doing it alone. Another was a group of young guys from New York who sped by us and said we better see them at the top. We chatted with them for a little bit and it was reassuring to know that we now had someone looking out for us on the mountain.
The last 45 minutes were not exactly fun. Due to fog, we could not see ANY of the views we were promised of the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains. At this point we were trying to summit based on pure merit, not for the view. The last half hour or so consisted of scrambling, trying not to be blown away by extreme winds and silent nods to the few people we passed along the way.
When we were about 15-20 minutes from the peak we ran into our New York buds who were super proud of us for toughing it out. Then the funny request came. Apparently their buddy, Keith, had bailed on their hike at the last minute and being a bit of a ladies man would have loved to meet us. They took a quick video of us basically telling this Keith guy that he wussed out and that we’re tougher than him. They laughed throughout the whole thing and thanked us as we continued our ascent.
By the time we summit the mountain, we could barely see our hands in front of our faces. It was insane. The wind was tearing across the top of the icy mountain and whipping our hair sideways. Since there wasn’t a view to capture, our mission to find the Mount Marcy plaque for a picture became our obsession. There needed to be some proof that we actually conquered this B, for our sake but also for the sake of our first blog post! After frantically searching for 10 minutes we came close to giving up (out of pure frustration, Mary Anne threw her iPhone off the side of the mountain- JK, the wind whipped it out of her hands) but we FINALLY found it with the help of a few other crazies who had summit that afternoon so we quickly snapped our pic and began our descent.
About one hour into the descent we both agreed that we were over it. Mary Anne’s cold had gotten worse and my struggle with altitude sickness was kicking in again. Not gonna lie, it was rough and knowing that we still had a solid 3+ hours to go was pretty daunting. For 2 girls who chat about everything and anything while out in the wilderness, we became uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the hike. We were making good time though, ripping down the mountain in anticipation of the tea, snacks and heated seats in my car for the drive home.
The last hour consisted of us chatting and laughing about how little we had talked in the descent and pointing out areas of our bodies that were achy (typical for us). We’re not whiny girls, but our hips and knees aren’t in the same shape as they were in our teens. It was about 5:00 pm when we saw the trail-head and started celebrating another successful yet challenging hike.
After a speedy costume change into head-to-toe sweats and a pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for some hot drinks, we were on the road again headed home. Being in my car meant endless Bon Iver, Iron and Wine and Donovan Woods for a relaxing cruise back into Canada.
HikeAddicts blog entry #1: Complete!