Sunday, March 10, 2013

ADK 46: Giant Mountain & Rocky Ridge Peak

warning, crazy lady on the mountain.
The trail head to Giant Mountain (12th highest) and Rocky Ridge Peak (20th highest) is the closest one to Albany in the Adirondack Park.  I have been dreading hiking Giant since the beginning of time.  Because the trail starts right off of Rt. 73, it goes up immediately.  No time to wander in towards the peak, once you're on the trail you're ascending roughly 3,000 ft within 3 miles. So I kept putting Giant off.  I later learned that in order to do Rocky Ridge in the shortest amount of miles, it is necessary to climb Giant along the way.  After avoiding it for a while,  I decided to hike them this weekend with my friends Karen & Greg.

We left my apartment at 5:30 am and were on the trail head by 7:47.  I love hiking alone, but I also enjoy hiking in groups of 3.  Most people are faster hikers than me so it gives them each other company and I walk along.  After the hike that broke my nose, and the mudrun that screwed up my ankle, I take my sweet time on anything that might be tricky.  Someday I'll be over these fears, but it wasn't yesterday.  

We cruised along and caught up with a woman, I'll call her Mary because I never caught her name,  she gave us the run down of the mountain. What landmarks to look for and all that good stuff.  Naturally we made her take our picture, proof that we were all on the mountain.
photo from Greg
After we had hiked 2 miles I requested that we stop and eat some food, I was starving. Thankfully the others agreed so we sat and eat and enjoyed a longer rest.  From there we continued climbing up.  It was easily the most beautiful day I've had in the Adirondacks since restarting my 46 in October.  It was warm (40s), not a cloud in the sky, and very little wind.

I had wanted to hike to Rocky Ridge first, since it was further away. Sadly I was out voted so when we reached the junction, we headed over to Giant's summit.

We met up with Mary and a man enjoying the summit and two men in ski's that were going to go backcountry skiing on the other side of the mountain.  (crazy)  We took a bunch of fun pictures and enjoyed the view.  This had been one of my best hikes to date.

Peak # 7 for Karen, 16 for me, 1 for Greg ! 

And while I'm glad that we made it over to Rocky Ridge.  After leaving Giant is where I began to fall apart.  I had been having difficulty figuring out what footwear to wear.  I started by wearing microspikes, but found they were collecting a lot of snow. Then I switched into my snowshoes but they didn't seemed to have the grip I was hoping for either.  I fell over 22 times on the decent from Giant towards Rocky Ridge. I'm not typically a big faller.  Usually there is one good fall per hike and call it even. I was a drunk toddler on this portion of the hike.  I was very discouraged.  I began thinking that maybe I'd come back another time in the summer and climb Rocky. I wanted to quit.   It was steep.  My snow basket fell off my pole so they became useless. I hated every single second of the descent.  But I kept going. Thankfully we then began to go back up towards the summit of Rocky Ridge.

I was a brand new women once I was no longer falling over and over again on my the down.  We made it up and were the only people on the summit.  This is one of my favorite things about winter hiking.  We sat and enjoyed lunch and the view.  It was stunning.
Karen and Greg reaching the summit

Giant Mountain (where we had hiked from)


Rocky Pose for Rocky Ridge.

Thankfully after summiting I was no longer negative nancy.  I fixed one of my poles and was prepared for it to be an annoying descent.  It was,  but I wasn't falling every 20 steps anymore.  The trip back seemed much quicker than the trip out.  Having to ascent nearly 600 feet again (in less than one mile)  was a bit of a mean trick from whoever created the trails in the park, but we made it work.  When we reached the junction we laid in the snow for a few minutes as a reward.
look at that sunburn from one day!

After a nice rest it was time to make our move.  A lot of snow had melted throughout the day so the snow was very slushy.  I stuck to wearing my snowshoes for the majority of the climb down.  I slipped, fell a bunch, hung on to a lot of trees, and did some ass sledding down the mountain.  But I made it!

As much as I enjoy hiking with snowshoes, microspikes, and all my extra gear,  this will be my last winter hike for 2013 as my schedule is pretty busy until April.  I'll miss the snow when I'm up to my thighs in mud but I'm looking forward to having less gear to carry. 

Staring point:  First parking area for Giant - near Chapel Pond
Mileage:  8.2
Time: 9:12 Hrs
Gear Used:  
Karen - Kahtoola microspikes all day & poles
Greg- Yaktraks all day
Me- kahtoola microspikes, snowshoes, boots & one pole for most of the day.


  1. What a challenging hike but the views look gorgeous! That's too bad you had such a rough time keeping your footing. I can only imagine what a workout 8+ miles of hiking must be!

  2. A-MAHZING! I just showed my husband your pictures, they're so fabulous! He loves to hike, I'm going to try to get us out on some trails this summer! I will certainly need your advice ;-)

    1. Absolutely! If you wanted to take a big trip up to the North Country, I'll happily be your guide. I don't know the Catskills as well, but I'm planning on starting my 35 over 3500 feet this summer!

  3. Gorgeous pictures! I love the ADKs but have not gone winter hiking yet. These photos make me want to strap on some snowshoes and go!

    1. Thanks! I bought my snowshoes off of ebay last year since I wanted to try to embrace winter, they've been great. I'm still getting the hang of mountain climbing with them but it's one heck of a workout!