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  • Writer's pictureJake Baechle

Mount Marcy

The silence of our campground was blowing my mind last night. I could hear the wind brushing against treetops that seemed to be miles away. Occasionally I heard pine needles falling off of trees. The only sign of civilization was the rare sound of a plane passing thousands of feet above us. I slept well.

We woke up fairly early and quickly prepared for our long day of hiking. (I did some quick math and found that we would be hiking a minimum of 15 miles round trip.) As we were prepping a ranger pulled up in his truck and told us it was supposed to storm later today and said we should get moving if we were planning to day hike Marcy. We thanked him for the info and kicked it up a notch.

The first 2.5 miles were fairly flat to Marcy Dam. I told Karrie that I needed to “find a tree” and about 10 steps later there was a sign stating <- TOILET. The trail provides!

When I had finished, there was a group of 3 boys waiting to use the facility. We had a nice chat with them and at the end of our conversation, I learned they were also climbing Mt. Marcy. I said, “Great! We’ll see you up there then!” One of the boys responded, “Well, with any luck we’ll beat you to the top…”

I immediately knew that I was going to spend the next two hours hauling ass up this mountain to prove a point. Karrie set out at a blistering pace. I tried to tame the mood, “Those kids must enjoy a friendly competition huh?”

Karrie: “Can you believe he said that!? You know we have to beat them now right?” … Yeah, I know.

The hike was challenging. Constantly climbing, with rocks of all sizes covering the trail. I was struggling to keep up with Karrie’s determined stride. At one point we had to stop to look at the map due to a confusing trail junction. We heard some male voices behind us and quickly bolted up the trail away from them. Geez! These young guns are moving! We kept joking about the young “whipper-snappers” and how we had to beat them to the summit to prove a point.

About two miles from the summit I was wearing out. This rocky trail was taking much longer than either of us had expected and we conceded to stopping for a snack break. Just as we were finishing we heard the male voices again.

“Shoot,” we thought, “this is it. They’re going to pass us.” But then two middle-aged men appeared from around the bend followed by a woman! The men were conversing in French and hiking fast. We spoke with them briefly, but their English was terrible, and Karrie's French language skills are not at all what they once were. As they left one of the men happily exclaimed, “Enjoy your ride!” It was awesome. We were cracking up.

Feeling refreshed and a bit silly about the young whipper-snappers and the clearly blown-out-of-proportion competition, we set out again with a slightly more relaxed pace. For the last two miles, the scenery just kept getting better.

As we started our final approach to the summit we met a man wearing an “Oxy” hat, and I asked him if he went to Occidental College. I soon learned that his daughter went there, ran the 400-meter dash for them, and graduated in 2010! Apparently, she had won the conference one year too! I explained that we may have been conference champions the same year. I was very excited about this unique connection. Here we were in New York state, on top of a mountain, and we shared a connection from California? Anyway, I think he said her name is Lucy? I may have to look her up!

Mt. Marcy is the highest point in New York and it is located within the Adirondack’s High Peaks Region. Needless to say, the view from the top was spectacular. There was no sign of rain or the youngsters. On first impression, it seems to me that these New Yorkers are a lot of talk and no game.

We ate lunch at the summit, enjoying the views and the cool wind. After about an hour we decided to make our way back down (still no sign of the boys…) We opted to take a loop trail in order to see some new sights. This added 1.3 miles to our trip.

The way down was long and slow. We did enjoy some unique scenery, but we were also worn out. We made it back to the car around 5:30 pm, making it a 9 hour day and covering roughly 16.3 miles.

Mac ‘n Cheese tasted delicious, 3-minute showers felt amazing, and the cushioned car seats made Vermont radio stations the perfect source of entertainment for the evening.

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