I am starting to go stir crazy with this winter and am in a major winter funk so I told Harrison I wanted to do a crazy adventure this past weekend to push myself and get outdoors. Being in the mountains is my therapy of choice so we opted for a High Peak Adventure.
Our original plan was to do a combination ski/snowshoe up Seymour Mountain but upon later review of the area we decided we weren’t sure if we’d be able to drive into the summer parking area and didn’t want to add an additional 6 miles to our trip so we chose something more accessible but still a peak Harrison hasn’t done yet. While I’m hoping to conquer my 3 remaining high peaks this year the ones that I have left were more than we wanted to tackle (Allen, Haystack and Couchsachraga).
We decided upon Giant Mountain because of its easy accessibility and the short distance we’d have to cover. I have hiked Giant before so I know it is no walk in the park, there is ~3000 feet of vertical gain in just under 3 miles so it is STEEP but I knew it would be fun. I told Harrison ahead of time that we would also aim to climb Rocky Peak Ridge if time allowed because there was no reason not too while up there. The trail junction is 0.1 miles from the top of Giant and it is a mere 1.2 miles over to the top of Rocky Peak. There is a bit of elevation lost descending from Giant to the col but it’s worth it while up there.
The majority of our stuff was packed Thursday night so we could easily head up north after dinner Friday evening to spend the night in Wevertown at the in-laws house. They were going to be watching Owen for the day on Saturday and knowing we had an early wake-up call we figured it was easier on everyone if we were there to head out.
The alarm rang at 4:15AM. Yes, it was early, but we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time on the trail to get up and down in relative daylight. We rolled out of bed, dressed, ate some breakfast and gathered the last of our things to throw in our car including our thermos of hot TANG!
The trailhead was a short hour drive from the in-laws, giving us enough time to wake up but not enough time to question why we were heading out in the dark with temperatures well below zero to hike a mountain… Crazy hikers! We made a quick stop at Stewart’s for some breakfast and last minute snacks and were on our way. The thermometer in the car read -15 at the house but it had warmed up to only -4 at the start of our hike, a true heat wave!
We arrived at the trailhead sometime after 6 and were on the trail at 7AM. The trail had been well traveled so despite the amount of snow we have gotten this winter we could do without snowshoes for the climb up Giant. We donned our microspikes and were on our way.
We took many breaks on our way up but managed to summit Giant just after 10AM. Unfortunately the winds were whipping on top so we only managed about a minute, long enough to snap a few shots before running (or being pushed by the wind) off the top and back into the woods.
By now we were both getting pretty hungry and were ready for a break but we needed to get out of the wind and the cold on top so we decided to head down Giant and over to Rocky Peak to stop and have lunch in the col. We started down Giant and in fluffs of powdery snow, the trail was much less traveled. Not far into our journey down we stopped and switched to snowshoes. At that time a group of 4 passed us, the first people we had seen all day! The going was much easier in the deeper snow with the snowshoes on, we were able to “ski” our way down and soon enough we were in the col where we were a bit sheltered from the wind and were able to eat some food and water some trees.
The ascent up Rocky Peak was uneventful and soon enough we were summiting another high peak, this one happened to be Harrison’s 13th High Peak hiked! We were smarter for this summit though, we made sure to put on our ski goggles before breaking out into the windy summit. They made a huge difference and we were able to stay a few minutes, take some photos and scoot down back into the trees. As we made our descent back to the col we ran into a few more people and it also started to lightly snow. By the time we were back on Giant and heading down to the car the snow was coming down pretty hard. It was beautiful to be in the woods with light snow falling.
The descent back to the car was epic. We did so much butt sliding it made the trip that much quicker and it was such a hoot! While the weather may be more extreme in the winter I find the hiking to actually be easier!
We were back at the car at 3:30PM which made for a total of 8.5 hours on the trail. Considering the number of times we stopped we were pretty happy about that. We definitely took it slow and steady and enjoyed our time outdoors. It was exactly what I needed!
A quick stop was made at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley and then it was time for some pie (and warm food) at the Noonmark Diner.
The night ended with some play time with Owen at the in-laws, a glass of wine and a dip in the hot tub, the perfect ending to a perfect day!
The Ridge Trail to Giant Summit: 3 mi
High Peak Rank: 12
Rocky Peak Ridge from Giant: 1.3 mi, 2.6 mi RT
Ascent: 1400′ ascent
High Peak Rank: 20
Total Distance: 8.6 miles RT