Bryce, Julie, Aleah and I left Lake Placid on Thursday at 6:45 AM to hike along Lower Ausable Lake to Sawteeth Mountain and then over Pyramid Peak to Gothics Mountain. It had been nearly a year since my last hike in the High Peaks and despite my efforts to keep in shape by biking, taking long walks and skipping the elevator whenever possible, Thursday’s hike was hard.
We chose the “Scenic Trail” to Gothics and saw spectacular views as we climbed out of valley. Unfortunately the trail is very steep at first, with almost a mile and a half of constant climbing before easing a bit, and I was exhausted by the time we reached to intersection with the trail to Marble Point.
We stopped at the Sawteeth summit for a few minutes before continuing on the Pyramid Peak, a little less than a mile away. I felt fine as we descended into the col between the peaks but found the climb to Pyramid very difficult. It was hot and humid and I could not keep up with my hiking companions.
Upon reaching Gothics, I finished my lunch and saw in the distance Big Slide Mountain, which I had hiked to three years ago with other friends.
When I decided to climb the high peaks, I climbed the first two peaks alone. Then, on August 30, 2014, two friends joined me on a hike to Big Slide. When we reached the summit that day I took this picture and showed them how to orient a map with a compass and to use it to help us identify the peaks across the valley.
I remember wondering then when I would be on the other side of the valley looking back at Big Slide.
Thursday was that day and I am a bit sad because I have not seen the friends who were with me on Big Slide in a long time. The swimming pool where we first met was torn down to make way for a parking garage and we have each moved on, heading in different directions, focused on other things. When it is time to leave Gothics, I am the last off the summit, pausing to take one last look at Big Slide.
I returned on Saturday, with a larger group, to hike up the opposite side of the valley to Dial and Nippletop mountains.
I have hiked with this group twice before. Our first hike together was to Grace Peak and last year we hiked to Pitchoff Mountain one day and over Mount Marcy the next.
Everyone in the group has an Iron Man Lake Placid connection. Three of us competed in the 2014 race and regularly share stories of our experiences finishing the swim in the middle of a lightning storm before biking into the Keene valley with water sheeting across the road. Others in the group completed the race in different years or came to cheer on friends and family members.
For Saturday’s hike, we chose an approach that was gradual on the climb up but very steep on the descent. Although this made for a slow return to the trailhead from the summit of Nippletop, we were all less tired when we finished than we would have been had we hiked in the opposite direction.
With these four hikes complete, I have only 14 more to go to meet my goal of becoming a 46r on August 1, 2018.
Every hike has been difficult but I have loved them all. And although I have lost touch with some who have joined me on this journey, I will never forget the friendship they showed me along the way.