Here's the real story of how and why I kept going after the first two High Peaks. Later in the summer of 2006, Hubby and my two older kids, along with our three teenage family friends, decided to hike Wright. Wright is the 16th highest peak. That's a significant jump from #36 and #38, Cascade and Porter. Doubting whether I could handle it, my younger son and I stayed back. Upon the conclusion of their hike, they reported, "We don't think you could do it, Mom." The gauntlet had been thrown down! Don't TELL me I can't do something. Of course I HAD to do it. Hmmmm... maybe that was their strategy all along. In any event, I decided 2007 would be my year so I had to get serious. I found a camera backpack - a real backpack - that I put on my Christmas list. I read about this hike. I mentally prepared for this hike. I even got hiking poles!
The big day arrived in August. The plan was that Hubby and the five kids from last year would join youngest child and I from the Adirondack Loj to the junction of the trails for Wright and Algonquin. They would ascend Algonquin (2nd highest) and we would do neighboring Wright (elev. 4,580 ft.). We carried small walkie talkies in the hopes we could keep in touch.
The day dawned clear and crisp and in the 60s. Perfect hiking weather. We left the Loj trailhead at 7:50 a.m. You know how there are some days when you feel like you could go forever - whether hiking, running, walking or whatever? This was one of those days. Maybe I had worked this hike up in my mind to be more grueling than it was. Whatever the reason, the right amount of sleep, the perfect breakfast, I don't know but I felt good! There were some decent sized rocks to navigate, not like the relative ease of Cascade.
We stopped at the sign for Whale's Tail ski trail for a granola bar. At 10:20 we parted company with the rest of our group. They went right for Algonquin; we went left for Wright (I love saying that).
My youngest son, just 10 years old at the time, does NOT like barren summits. I should have remembered this after Cascade. When we got above tree line, he was out of his element and very nervous. It took quite a bit of coaxing to keep him moving. The summit was EXTREMELY windy. This photo was taken by another hiker. I tried to set my camera up on a tripod but I was fearful the wind would take the whole thing right off the peak and fling it into Colden, the mountain you see behind me with all the rock slides. I later learned that Wright is one of the windiest summits in the Adirondacks. (Side note: we tried to climb it again a few years later while a hurricane was raging along the east coast and we literally were almost blown off the mountain when we got above tree line. We had to hold onto boulders and go back down into the trees on all fours to stay low and avoid the wind.)
With the walkie talkies I was able to communicate with the rest of my family on Algonquin. With the large lens on my camera (when it was not safely stowed in my new camera backpack!), I was actually able to see part of our group on Algonquin.
With some help from fellow climbers, I was able to locate the plaque memorializing the plane crash of 1962 and see some of the wreckage. The backstory on that is this: in 1962 a military plane was flying a training mission. It was January and the weather was less than optimal. They crashed into the face of Wright and all four crew members were killed. Because of the size, and I would assume weight, of the wreckage, a good deal of it remains. It is eerie in a way to see it scattered in the bushes. Some of it looks as though it just landed there a short time ago as it's so shiny. Other parts are covered in rust. In the cracks of some of the rocks you can see much smaller pieces. I'm not sure if I should admit this, but I did take one of those smaller pieces.
I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked on this summit. It would have been difficult to enjoy lunch up here due to the wind, although I would imagine it would have been possible to find a spot shielded by rocks from the wind. The day was so clear you could see forever. The sky was a very deep blue. I particularly liked seeing Heart Lake and over to Mt. Jo. We had hiked Mt. Jo before and it looked so tiny from the top of Wright. On the other side of the mountain, the rest of my family was probably thinking the same thing of the view of Wright from Algonquin.
Young son and I headed back to the split with Algonquin. Most of the group arrived shortly after and we ate here. I say "most" because two of the teens decided to head over to Iroquois and had their own car for the return trip if needed. The rest of us hiked out, stopping at the falls (which were merely a trickle) on the way down to cool off with some cold water. We reached the Loj parking lot by 3:30. Overall, I did not think this hike was difficult and in fact, I started to wonder what other High Peaks I could do. Only my thighs were sore the next day. No residual knee pain is a good thing because that's often the case after a hike. It seems as though hiking poles were a good investment. Some older hikers I've met on the trails swear that the poles have added years to their hiking abilities. I can't ever imagine hiking without them anymore. I keep them strapped to my pack for the ascent and only take them out for the return trip. I will admit they sometimes get in the way when there's a lot of rock and I need free hands.
We stopped at the Stewart's in Keene for ice cream. The two boys who ventured on to Iroquois pulled in as we were leaving! They boogied on that hike. Overall, it was a great day. I'm beginning to understand how people get hooked on this.
Oops, I almost forgot and I know you were wondering: Wright was named for New York's 14th governor, Silas Wright. He didn't even serve a full term and I'm not sure he was even a hiker so I have no idea why a Peak was named after him.
This was a re-do as my youngest son never actually made it to the summit the first time we hiked. He was only 10 and so afraid of being above treeline! But now that he's 15 and definitely not afraid anymore, off we went. He needed the McIntyres as he's attempting to catch up to me so we can finish our 46 together in 2013 (hopefully). Being the dutiful mom, I agreed to re-do these 3. I didn't really have to be talked into it - they are possibly 3 of my favorite High Peaks.
Because I've written about them before, I'll make this short and sweet but providing just a summary of our times. Suffice it to say, once you've done Haystack, Allen, 3/4 of the Sewards, etc., these 3 really didn't seem as tough as they did the first time around! And it was an absolutely crystal clear, spectacular day of hiking!
6:23 a.m. Signed in at the Adk Loj trailhead
6:44 reached the split for Marcy (L) or Wright/Alg (R)
7:46 after a staircase like hike, reached the "falls" which were a dribble with this dry summer
8:28 junction for Wright or Algonquin
9:40 summited Algonquin (we took a bunch of pictures just above tree line so I guess we dawdled a bit)
10:15 left Algonquin for Iroquois
10:43 summit of Boundary, the 4000 footer between the two High Peaks
11:07 summit of Iroquois (there are two somewhat tricky rock scrambles just prior; one has a fissure down the middle that is pretty easy to climb but the other is just a giant rock. I had a helping hand from a fellow climber; turns out you can scoot to the right and avoid the rock. I went down that way.)
11:22 left Iroquois
12:12 back on Algonquin (and now it was really crowded)
12:20 left Algonquin
1:02 back at the junction, took a few sips/gulps of water and headed up Wright
1:42 Wright's summit (40 minutes to go .4 miles; obviously my legs were slowing down; son was ahead of me by a bit)
2:26 left summit
2:56 back at junction
4:38 signed out