High

The Adirondack High Peaks are the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks that are over 4000 feet high. Or rather, they were, until later surveys showed a couple of the 46 really are less than 4000 feet, and one that wasn’t on the list is higher than 4000 feet. Revising the list would have made too much sense, so they didn’t.

(Of course even aside from that it’s not that simple: What’s a peak? What distinguishes two close-together peaks from two summits of a single peak? The 46 were chosen based on a requirement that to be a separate peak it must be more than 0.75 miles from any other peak, or must be surrounded by drops of at least 300 feet. Just for additional laughs the Adirondack Mountain Club has published a list of the 100 highest peaks, which includes the 46, and 54 others chosen based on a requirement of 0.75 miles separation and a 300 foot drop on all sides.)

In the early 1990s a friend of mine was working on climbing all 46 by age 46, and I went along on a couple of her ascents. (Lots of people have done all 46; some have done all of them in both summer and winter; and apparently about seven people claim to have climbed each of the 46 twelve times, once in each calendar month. Others of us have lives.)

Kenny enjoyed last year’s climb, and this year we decided to climb a High Peak. This time Heather was able to come along on the trip. We drove on Friday to the Lake Placid area and set up camp at Wilmington Notch, a state campground. It was a decent enough place to stay, though I preferred the somewhat more isolated campsites and nicer scenery (from our site anyway) of Durant Lake state campground last year. We got a later start on the trip than I’d hoped, owing to various things, and there was rain coming so we didn’t really have a chance to do much Friday beyond setting up camp, making dinner, toasting marshmallows, and playing card games.

Sunday Kenny and I went on our climb; Heather stayed behind at camp, content to relax and read. I’d decided to revisit a destination I’d gone to with Maria 15 or so years ago: Cascade Mountain, #36 of the 46 and reputed to be the easiest of the High Peaks. The summit is separated by only about a mile from that of Porter Mountain (#38), with a descent between of only a few hundred feet, so people often climb both on the same trip. In fact Maria’s group continued past Porter to Blueberry Mountain (not one of the 46) and on to a different trail head — I guess we parked a second car there, though I don’t really remember.

Kenny and I climbed Cascade, went on to Porter, and then came back to the start. I started out worried about the weather, but the breakfast rain ended quickly and there was no more that day, aside from a few drops while we were on the Cascade summit. (Very ominous clouds, but not much rain.) I also didn’t expect much of a view, but I was wrong — we were able to see quite a lot.

Doing both Cascade and Porter probably wasn’t wise: Kenny was pretty tired and not in a good mood for most of the Cascade descent. We made it, though, and his mood improved. As it does tend to.

Heather, it turned out, was not feeling so well that afternoon, so we picked up a pizza and made an early evening of it, and broke camp and headed for home first thing Sunday. So all in all it wasn’t entirely up to my expectations for the weekend; still, we did have a good time, and Kenny’s now bagged his first two of the 46.

Photos here.

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