Now that I’ve got my Saturdays back – holler – I’m determined to do more of what I love in 2019, and hiking is at the top of the list. Did you know that there’s a new hiking list for Lake George? It’s called the Lake George 12ster challenge! There are 12 peaks with nearly 40 miles of trails and up to 9,000 feet of elevation gain. I love the idea of this challenge for a number of reasons:
- It’s a great list to start with for beginner hikers.
- It keeps less people out of the High Peaks.
- It’s much closer to home.
- They also have an ultra feature – ha!
Scratch that last one, I couldn’t even manage the Saranac 6 last season. I will be back for unfinished business this season I promise you that!
Paula and I have hiked all of them between the two of us (maybe she’s hiked them all?) but we did them prior to the start of this challenge. So, we decided this time last year that we’d hike them all again within the winter season, December 21 – March 20th, to help us stay in hiking shape. And avoid the rattlesnakes on the Tongue Mountain Range… more on that later.
Paula picked me up at 7AM, we stopped briefly at the new rest stop at exit 19? I think it was near exit 19 – and it’s GORGEOUS! It use to be this shitty, tiny, cold room with a couple of stalls and now it’s HUGE, serving only NY made food and bevvies, with this giant screen showing off the Adirondack Park… with a fireplace and cozy seating, and a nice water station… and a playground! We only spent a few minutes here but I’ll be back, ha! Worth the stop if you’re heading north… We were geared up and on the trail by 8:30AM.
We decided to hike Erebus first and make a loop out of the day. Despite not having hiked for a month or so, we were moving at a fairly consistent pace. We followed the trails out to Bumps Pond, where we picked up a horse trail to take us up to Erebus. I could see how this would be a wet trail in the springtime, but everything was pretty much frozen over on Sunday. There were a couple of water crossings, but nothing serious. There wasn’t enough snow on the trail for snowshoes (a dusting at most) but I was very thankful for the microspikes; it was fairly slippery up there at times.
This was my first time hiking Erebus and I wasn’t aware of the fact that we weren’t actually summiting a mountain. For this challenge, the official summit is marked by a white disk on the Erebus North Slope Trail. There is no plan for a trail to reach the actual summit of this peak and they ask hikers to respect this area to leave it pristine for generations to come. We reached this spot just before 11AM (after hiking a little further and returning to make sure our intuitions were right – traveling down is a great indicator of this!). After our celebratory photograph, we sat down and enjoyed our lunches. My leftover Chinese takeout was delicious and still hot thanks to my thermos! I love it when I remember to pack myself hot meals for the trail.
Before too long we were back on the trail headed toward Sleeping Beauty. To be completely honest, I don’t remember much about this trip over other than the fact that it wasn’t tricky at all. The sun was finally shining and I was pretty content wandering in the woods that afternoon. It wasn’t my first time up Sleeping Beauty and we were in no rush, it took us 2 hours to summit our second and final peak of the day. With gorgeous views!
It was a little breezy up there so we didn’t stay for long and began the trip out. We ran into a couple of Paula’s friends on the trail and we also passed many hikers heading in toward the summit. It was difficult for me not to speak up but all of them were VERY underprepared (8 people total): all in sneakers having difficulty choosing correct footing on the way up due to the ice, almost all of them in jeans, no one was wearing a backpack with food, water, additional winter gear like hats, gloves, a jacket… and about 3 hours remaining for daylight. Yes, this trail is not difficult but anything can happen, especially in the winter. It was 30* and with the breeze, even colder. I had to remind myself that people must do this every weekend because it’s a popular trail and I never hear about the rescues on the news. I just wish people were more careful, more smart this time of the year. End rant.