Today marks the beginning of my journey towards becoming an ADK 46er. I have actually hiked 10 peaks but haven't made the effort to appropriately document them for the clubs standards. So instead of working in the past, I am to start here and moving forward.
I had decided earlier in the week to climb Cascade and Porter Mountain and for once, actually took the steps to make sure it actually happened. On Saturday evening, I made my sandwich and trail mix, filled up my water bottles, and pulled out my clothes: Asolo's, compression socks, running tights, dry fit long sleeve and t-shirt, arm warmers, fleece hat, raincoat and Northface Fleece. Most of my hiking gear, is actually my running gear, since I've been running far more consistently than I have been hiking in the past few years.
I set my alarm for 5:00, actually rolled out of bed by 5:30 and made a real breakfast before heading out (eggs over easy/medium since I haven't mastered cooking everything on high which is my only option on my 1976 stove) Then I hit the road, since it was so early, there was very little traffic. In fact, once I passed exit 10, I was the only car driving north the rest of the way to Keene. I knew where the trail head was as I had hiked Pitchoff Mtn. last winter and also had driven by when I went to the top of New York with a friend.
I was one of the first 5 cars there, so had no trouble parking. According to my car it was 45 degrees, however as reliable as the corolla is, it tends to be generous in it's temperature readings so I'm guessing it was closer to 40 degrees. I started up my running gps watch, signed in the book and started walking.
There are a lot perks of hiking in the late fall. The cooler temperatures, the smaller crowds, and the challenge of mud. Lots of mud. And while this trail is clearly well maintained it was wet and muddy.
I took off at a comfortable pace for me checking out the trail, and following the footprints. I noticed that most of the foot prints I saw here heading in the same direction as myself. At one point I noticed some spit on the trail. I figured I probably wasn't too far behind anyone, but I am a slow walker, slow runner, and definitely a slow hiker. I didn't anticipate catching up to anyone on the trail and expected to be passed.
But I did catch up to a bunch of people. First two women, one with purple hair. Their goal was to hike Porter since they've hiked Cascade before and considered doing both if the weather cleared up. We briefly chatted about how we packed our sunglasses and raincoats but preferred to have to use the former rather than the latter. I wished them a good hike and continued on to one of the steeper switch back areas where I passed 1 maybe 2 families and a man and a women. I stopped for a minute to gauge the pace of the others and found a rock to add to the pile on the top of Cascade, it is commonly used to marking trails, but I had an old camp counselor that would have us make wishes. I'm a sucker for tradition.
I continued to cruise up the mountain until I ran into someone already on their way down. He mentioned that it was cloudy but we agreed it was a nice day for some fresh air and exercises. As I continued to climb the weather changed. As it does normally I suppose. I had been hiking in just a long sleeve but switched to my raincoat when I reached the first area of bare rock.
Cascade was the first priority. As the wind started to pick up and the weather began to get more gloomy, I decided I would definitely do Cascade and would consider Porter after. It seemed like a good idea. Then I finally reached the fork in the trail . I stood there for a few minutes trying to decide which direction to go. It then occurred to me, that if I did cascade first, I probably wouldn't want to do Porter at all, not wanting to have to do the same hike a second time I figured I might as well check it out. It was only 10am so I knew I had plenty of time to hike, descend and drive home before dark.
So I went for it. The trail to Porter was wet. I won't even describe it as muddy because it was just plain ole wet.
I was the only person on the Porter trail and when I reached the summit, I wasn't even sure I had reached the top since I was alone. I had never been the only person on the top of a mountain before. It was a very cool feeling.
On my way back to the fork, I passed a few people and was thankful that I had a few minutes of solitude on the mountain. I headed over to Cascade where I was warned b everyone that I passed that it was a very windy day on that side.
They weren't kidding, if anything they were understating far more than they were exaggerating. I could tell from the base of the treeline that there would be absolutely no views today, but it would have been silly to come this far to turn back now. So I followed the yellow
Once I reached the top I went to take a photo of my feet and the benchmarker only to discover that my ipod had decided it was too cold to work anymore. I tried to play with it for a few minutes until it began to sleet and decided that it was time to return to below the trees and eat my lunch. (peanut butter sandwich with banana chips)
Because of my weak ankle I took my time climbing down. From the steady flow of traffic and mist, the trails were even sloppier than they were at the start. At first I was careful to keep my feet dry, but the closer I was to my car the more daring I became. My boots are amazing and managed to keep my toes dry despite my intentions.
I returned to my car around 13:30 where I quickly switched into less muddy clothes and began the drive back to Albany. The weather and views could have been better, but it was an excellent day for a hike. Not only was it the beginning of my official ADK 46er journey, it was also my first solo mountain climb. I am glad I stuck with it and went for it.