I think these peaks are almost required to be the first and second any aspiring 46er climbs! The reason it was our first and second was because our kids were itching to start trying High Peaks and the adults thought maybe this would be a good place to start (probably owing more to what we thought our limits were than theirs!). So 3 adults, 4 teens, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old set out to hike Cascade. Porter was not in my plan for the day.
We got on the trail at 7:55 a.m. from the parking spot just off Route 73. Tip - back in if you can so you can pull right out later. We signed in and were surprised to find that the first bit of the hike goes down, not up. I thought, "well this shouldn't be too bad". I didn't think, "Hmmm, so when we're tired and at the end, we'll be going UP?!"
We made the 2.2 mile trek to the summit of the 36th highest peak. Cascade is 4098 feet and labeled one of the easiest to climb. The summit is bare rock, the result of a fire in 1903. Technically, it's not above tree line but it appears that way. At age 42, I had reached the top of my first High Peak. By the way, Cascade was named for a series of waterfalls near the base of the mountain.
The views were incredible - we could see many of the High Peaks from the top, including Upper Wolf Jaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Big Slide and others that we identified from the map in our ADK High Peaks guide. I highly recommend these guides, which are published by the Adirondack Mountain Club. Each guide contains detailed information for various hikes, broken down by specific region (Eastern, Central, High Peaks, etc.)
It was a bit hazy, but we could also make out the ski jumps in Lake Placid. I was surprised by how windy it was at the very top. It was almost too windy to sit and enjoy lunch. My older son and I did locate the survey marker, which we try to do now on any hike (although they are not always there). Because it was so windy and cool, we didn't dawdle. Also, the rest of our group had already departed. They (the kids) informed us that we were now heading over to Porter. As I said, this was not part of my day's plan. I agreed to hike A High Peak, not 2 High Peaks. While my friend and I debated, the kids started hiking. Their rationale was, "We're already here so let's just go for it."
We got to the junction of the trails leading to Cascade and over to Porter and figured it was only a mile from one to the other, so why not?
So over we went. The nice thing about Porter, while it's only 39 feet lower than Cascade in elevation, the summit is mostly treed. What that means for practical purposes is that it feels warmer because the wind is blocked. This was the spot we chose for our lunch. I was feeling pretty proud of us - our family had just summitted our second High Peak of the day. Porter is #38 in height.
A picture of the family on Porter is below. Notice the blue "backpack" to the right. That is actually an insulated cooler that I carried as a backback! It contained our water and food. My kids had Camelbacks for this hike so they had their own water.
We thought these items made us prepared hikers! At least I didn't wear "Survivors" brand work boots as I did on my very first hike ever in 1989. This time I actually had hiking boots on.
After enjoying the summit for a bit, we began the journey back to the car.
Fun fact about Porter - it was named for Noah Porter, the first person to climb it. He later became the president of Yale University. I like to find out how the Peaks were named. Often it's after the first person who made the climb. Sometimes it's what the mountain's profile resembles (but we'll get to Nippletop another time).
We reached the car at 1:30 p.m. Of course we felt as though we had done this huge climb - two High Peaks in a single day! Actually, though, a 5 1/2 hour hike to bag 2 Peaks is crazy short - as we would learn later! I was so tired and my knees were aching. The next day I was REALLY sore. Why would anyone ever want to climb all 46 Peaks, I wondered? I mean, look at me - this is not a pretty sight!! Also, notice the black camera bag that I failed to mention earlier. In addition to the insulated backpack cooler, I lugged this crazy thing up as well. Hubby kept trying to gently encourage me to leave the camera behind, but he may as well tell me to stop breathing. Where I go, the camera goes. Part of the reason I hike is to take pictures.