Since we hadn’t done this hike when we climbed Giant, we knew we would have to climb it eventually. The trail as it comes over from Giant is just one tenth of a mile from Giant’s summit, so this would have amounted to climbing almost a second peak today. We decided not to go up Giant again and thought we’d try RPR from the Route 9/New Russia trailhead. This day it was myself, Hubby, youngest son and Hiking Buddy. The rest of our usual crew had already hiked RPR from Giant and apparently were not interested in repeating the trip, albeit from a different direction.
We signed in at the Route 9 trailhead at 6:35 a.m. on this sunny and somewhat hazy morning. After about 30 minutes on the trail, Hubby was on a roll and took off ahead. The trail was a moderate climb at first. At 7:40 we stopped at a nice viewpoint where we noticed a small tent just off the trail (you can barely see it, but it's in the lower middle part of this photo, behind the tree). We didn’t linger as we didn’t want to be responsible for ruining some hikers’ sleep. At 8 a.m. we saw a sign for the shortcut, which bypassed Blueberry Cobble. While I would have been up to see the Cobble, I like the word “shortcut”. So we took this quick trail to a sign for Bald Peak (1.5 miles away) and RPR (4.3).
Bald Peak is exactly as its name suggests – lacking in trees, therefore bald. It took a bit of what I call “non-technical” rock climbing to ascend it. To me, this means we did need our hands, but we didn’t need ropes or anything. It was windy however, and if you’ve read earlier posts, you know that youngest son is not a fan of climbing on the bare rock, especially with the wind whipping around us. Also, we had not seen Hubby in a lttle while which I think was making him increasingly nervous. Hiking Buddy and I managed to coax him along, mostly because I promised that Dad would be waiting up ahead.
We took a quick break at 9:30 after climbing Bald Peak, even though we were not yet on the summit. We found that out just minutes later when we met up with Hubby at 9:40. He had reached the summit and was waiting for us. We ate our first sandwiches here, and after about 15 minutes we headed over to Rocky Peak. Rocky Peak is just over 4,000 feet but it’s not THE Rocky Peak Ridge that counts for 46er status. Hubby and youngest son decided Rocky Peak was as far as they were going. They are not burning to be 46ers and had enjoyed the hike to this point. They felt it was time to go back. So we hatched a plan (there’s always a plan). Hiking Buddy and I would continue to RPR and instead of coming all the way back to Route 9, we’d push on to Giant and go down that peak. The boys would bring the car over to Route 73 and hang out at Chapel Pond until we came down the Ridge Trail from Giant.
Hiking Buddy and I left the summit of Rocky Peak at noon. RPR looked so far away. We had a quicker trip than we thought along the ridge, through a “meadow” and up RPR. We reached the summit of RPR 50 minutes later. The views from here, and from our earlier peaks along the way, included the Great Range off to our right, as well as that of Giant, Whiteface and even Vermont. We spent 30 minutes at the top, eating and chatting with 3 fellow hikers. We took our requisite photo with Giant as the backdrop (“does this mountain make my butt look big?!”) and left the summit at 1:20. Up until this point in the hike, we hadn’t seen too many fellow hikers. That changed on the trail between Giant and RPR. Traffic picked up considerably.
The trip down from RPR’s summit was fairly easy. We reached the col within 25 minutes and began the climb up the side of Giant. This is a fairly steep climb, with some larger areas of rock slide to navigate. Our legs were really getting tired by the time we reached the trail on Giant at 2:40. Until this point, I did not remember that the side trail over to RPR was so close to the summit of Giant. We met two women hikers who looked to be older than us at the trail split. They were coming down Giant and debating whether to attempt RPR as well. We talked them into it. Hopefully they made it over and back without incident.
We began the descent off Giant and were rarely alone at any point on the way down. It was a busy hiking day! Giant is a fairly steep climb with very little flat parts so it requires constant vigilance by us “older hikers” regarding careful footing. We were also exposed to the sun almost the whole way down. I think this was the first time I got sunburned on a hike. We had also been in the sun coming over on the ridge. We reached Route 73 at 4:50. Hubby and youngest son were chilling at Chapel Pond, along with many other hikers. We put our feet in – the water felt GREAT! My advice for this hike is if you’re not too tired to do RPR in conjunction with Giant, then definitely keep a car at Route 9 and one at Route 73 and do RPR as a long walk, rather than returning to the Route 9 trailhead. This is not difficult to do either as it’s not that long of a ride from Route 73 back to Route 9 to drop off the car. And it’s pretty cool when you drive along Route 73 to realize that the ridge you see from the road is what you hiked.
At 4,390 feet, Rocky Peak Ridge is the 20th highest High Peak. It's name came from its geological formation.