Last weekend we set out to tackle two more 46ers Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge.
3 am wake up, YAY! I love waking up super early to drive to a trailhead (notice the dripping sarcasm there)
The weather called for temperatures of around 20 with windchill to -5 degrees at the summit, so we bundled up. I wore:
–BC igniter jacket: love love love this jacket
–Prana summit pants: my favorite hiking pants
We were not sure what we were going to encounter since there had been rain, snow, and icy conditions, so we tried to make sure we were prepared for everything.
From where cars were parked, it looked like most people were taking the ridge trail, but I wanted to check out Roaring Brook Falls, so we parked at the Roaring Brook trailhead parking lot. It was not overly crowded. When we all put our packs on, I realized all four of us had Osprey Packs. They definitely make a good light day pack.
We took the .1 mile detour to see the base of the falls. It had just rained the day before, so the falls were in full force. While they were impressive, you really can’t get a good feel for the falls because the falls are rather narrow and wind down through the rocks. In the winter, these falls freeze and make for great ice climbing.
After taking way too many photos at the base of the falls, we started up the path. We came to a rapidly flowing stream, with a rock path across. I am traditionally not very skilled/graceful at these parts (as evidenced from my prior blog postings), but I made it across (with help from my dad) without falling in. Small win!
After about a half mile we came to a sign where we took a short detour to the top of the falls, I highly recommend it. The views were amazing!!
Now time to head up to the summit of Giant. I may have put too many layers on; it wasn’t as cold as expected. I took off my fleece (thus the reason for layers). As we walked up the trail, it progressively got icier and as it became icier we became slower … walking around the trail trying to avoid the ice walking on the snow, stepping through the ice into a large puddle of mud (mid-calf) that seeped into my boots (yeah, I did that). After about 30 minutes or so of trying to navigate the ice … it was like a real-life game of chutes and ladders, we all slid back a few spots, we realized how silly this was, we had Microspikes. We quickly put them on over our boots and it was a game changer. The micro spikes allow you to get good traction on the ice. No more slipping and sliding!
We continued up the icy trail towards the summit of Giant. On the way, we used nature’s handholds (trees) to help pull us up when it became too slippery. About a .1 mile from the summit we came to the turn-off to Rocky Peak Ridge … the second 4,000 footer on our to do list for the day. We kept straight and reached the summit a few minutes later. We were so lucky! No clouds. A winter wonderland at the top. Also at the top, we encountered an unexpected rock … on the finger of a fellow hiker. Her boyfriend proposed to her on the summit and we knew before her family did. We let her family know that we were more important when she called them to tell them.
Time for some lunch (pb and J – homemade peach) before heading back down and toward Rocky Peak Ridge. The trail down was very steep, and the ice made it even worse. There weren’t a whole lot of people making the trek over to RPR. The .6 mile trip down to the gully was a slow go; it felt like it took forever to get there.
The cull (flat are between two mountains – basically where one mountain ends and the next starts) was really short and we were quickly on the .6 mile trek up the slope of Rocky Peak Ridge. While it was steep, it was nowhere as steep as the way down Giant (so looking forward to climbing back up that – more sarcasm, easy to spot, I put it in parenthesis). We reached the summit! I officially finished 12 of my ADK 46ers. The view from the top of RPR is amazing. You have two separate summits, which give you a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. I could have stayed up there for hours, but we had one more summit left, the car.
We had to move quickly. While we got an extra hour to sleep in the morning, we lost an hour of daylight for the trip. We proceed back down Rocky Peak Ridge and up Giant. (this is going to be fun – type 2 fun)
I felt my body starting to cramp up a little and I had to stop for some water, it’s important to remember to hydrate prior, during, and after a hike. Because of the cold, I wasn’t that thirsty, but you have to force yourself to drink. This made the hike up Giant seem longer. The way back up did not disappoint – shouldn’t have done so many lunges the day before the hike.
We proceeded down Giant and towards the car. The ice was starting to melt making for a slippery muddy descent, and a few falls if I am going to be 100% honest (but I wasn’t the only one this time, we all had our slips). At some points, I just sat and slid down the rocks, the ladder, the trail, anything I could slide down … hey, don’t judge, whatever works. We kept our micro spikes on till we were fully free from the ice. As the rock became bare, with no ice, it became harder to walk with the micro spikes.
This hike was one of the most beautiful I have gone on, a true winter wonderland. The ice forced me to work muscles I have not worked on prior hikes. I cannot wait to go back on ice again, but maybe next time I will try snow shoeing. Ice Cream flavor … went for a cinnamon dolce latte instead … needed the warmth.