It was some time ago after being introduced to the High Peaks that we realised The Adirondack Forty-Sixers were within our reach.
We approached our last two peaks with excitement.
The previous evening at TMax-n-Topo’s hostel, we socialised with other hikers and our hosts; Dave and Terri. We had planned to finish on Saturday, but a poor weather forecast delayed our hike until Sunday. It was a good decision as Saturday turned into a bummer day with heavy rain in the afternoon.
Saturday morning we did a warm up hike on Cobble Hill overlooking Lake Placid and got out just as the rain started to come down. A vegetarian lunch at The Good Bite followed by drinks at The Cottage on Mirror Lake made for a relaxing afternoon.
Back at the hostel we prepared for the next day and settled in for a quiet night. The alarm was set for four am, but Gord was awake at 2:30 like a kid at Christmas, anticipating the next day.
It was a warm morning, foggy and very dark, darker it seemed than our last trek up to Marcy Dam. Even though we knew the route well, the going was slow especially since Ginette’s headlamp was not so bright.
The sky began to brighten and by the Avalanche Pass turn off we could navigate sans headlamps as we turned up the Lake Arnold trail. Pacing ourselves, we reached the Mt.Colden turn-off in good time and spirit.
We pushed on over the pass and down to Feldspar Brook lean-to where we turned left towards Lake Tear of the Clouds. Within an hour, we reached the cairn located at the outlet of the lake, marking the herd path to Gray Peak.
The half mile up to Gray was tricky. One section, in particular, had us questioning how to navigate up the short but challenging obstacle.
Looking up at the steep rock face we both thought; ‘”There’s got to be a way around this.”
Analysing her choices, Ginette suggested, “We can do this!”
“Fine, you show me the way,” Gord chirped back.
Slowly wedging herself along a fissure in the bedrock, she called back “Hey it’s not so bad.”
Reassuring Gordon as he approached “You just have to put your left foot over there…up a bit more…look, there’s a hand hold over here…reach…reach a bit more…good, now pull yourself up…hug the mountain. Gray-t!”
Soon our 45th peak was accomplished!
A quick descent brought us back to Lake Tear where we relaxed in the warm morning sunshine with the beautiful Mount Marcy vista in the distance.
Continuing along Lake Tear brought us to the Four Corners junction and the trail up to Skylight. According to local legend, we each picked up a customary rock at the bottom and started out. The trail climbs at a moderate incline and is not difficult. At 4,700 ft, we reached the alpine zone and walked on the remaining way above the treeline.
Reaching the top, no one was there, and the expansive summit of Skylight was ours. Time to celebrate!
We added our fair-weather stones to the huge rock pile and took some pictures.
The sun was bright and warm, but the wind was bitterly cold so we huddled behind a rock to keep warm while we ate our lunch. After a half an hour, we left the summit and headed down to the Four Corners and picked up the trail to Mount Marcy.
We took the advice of a hiking friend;
“Never pass up a High Peak”
– Craig MacCue, Adirondack 46er
We decided that finishing our day on Mount Marcy summit would be fitting. Marcy is the dominant peak in the Adirondack Region and at 5,343 ft (1 629 m) is the highest in New York State.
From Marcy, we could look back at Gray and Skylight and appreciate what we had accomplished.
There were about a dozen people on the top of Marcy, not that many for such a beautiful day. Our stay at the top was brief; we had a good conversation with the summit steward before we began our descent down over Little Marcy and out the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
Before long we were at Marcy Dam, and the last couple of miles out were easy. We surprisingly both felt good, at least as compared to our previous hike into Redfield and Cliff, which left us exhausted, sore and tired for a few days.
Our quest in becoming Adirondack 46ers has been challenging but fun. These mountains have required considerable scrambling, trekking through mud, rocky terrain and tested our endurance but have rewarded us with fantastic views and memories along the way.
By the roadside with the silhouettes of the mountains in the background, we cheered and celebrated with a sip of champagne. We were now 46ers, and it felt great!
Update: We’ve received our patch and are officially recorded as Adirondack 46ers, class of 2014.
Gordon #8627 and Ginette #8628
4 thoughts on “The Adirondack 46ers Series: Our Big Finish; Gray and Skylight”
“Hey it’s not so bad.” Famous last words. 🙂 As for carrying rocks up mountains. Hmmm. Is it time for a sanity check? Now maybe a pebble… –Curt
You caught us – yes, our stone was a mere pebble size:) Fortunately carrying a stone up in not common tradition.
We used to hassle each other by slipping stones into backpacks. 🙂
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