Last weekend I drove back to the Adirondacks to meet up with Bill (from the February Giant hike) to hike to Seymour Mountain. Since I didn’t want to drive all the way up to hike only on Sunday, I decided to return to Giant on Saturday and head over to Rocky Peak Ridge, which we did not attempt in February because of the weather.
I left very early from Rochester, and arrived at the trailhead around 9:30 AM…since I had only eaten a quick bowl of instant oatmeal before I left, I was a bit hungry, and a little tired, but started off and slurped a PowerGel. The day was clear and blue skies abounded, and it was a bit on the warm side, but not uncomfortable. The Zander Scott trail to Giant starts climbing immediately, since you have to gain 3000 feet in three miles – and I was quickly breathing hard. I settled in after a while and had another Gel…this was to be my downfall. I can feel the effect of the Gel’s about 10-15 minutes after eating one, but I usually try to get some real food within the hour. This time I didn’t, and about 3/4 mile short of the turn to Rocky, I started feeling terrible. I was dizzy, stumbling, and had a blinding headache. It seems the sugar had given my blood sugar a brief boost, only to crash to very low levels. I sat for a few minutes and drank some water, then checked my water bladder, which was too close to empty. After a brief rest, I decided to turn back. This wasn’t an easy decision, but after continuing to stumble down, it was the right one. I stopped on on of Giant’s open slabs and ate some real food, and rested some more, then continued down.
That night, I made sure to eat and hydrate well, and slept well. The next morning, Bill & I drove to the Corey’s Rd Trailhead near Tupper Lake to start our hike to Seymour Mountain, AFTER being sure to have a good breakfast this time…protein, carbs, fat – balanced, instead of sugars only. The hike starts at the parking lot, and as we registered, we saw only two other groups ahead of us…apparently the Seward Range is not as popular as the Keene area peaks – but no matter, it was another beautiful day and we’d have the mountain to ourselves.
The hike started from the register across a relatively level trail, and went for about 6.5 miles – along the way we passed a couple beaver ponds, great wooded areas, and only a little mud, which has plagued Adirondack hikers this summer. After reaching the Ward Brook lean-to at 6.5 miles, and a little over two hours, we had been moving pretty well…that would change. Just beyond the lean-to is a small cairn that marks the trail to Seymour, and we turned off. Immediately the trail started through thicker woods, and along a small stream that we crossed several times.
Shortly after we started up – this hike is supposed to climb 2000 feet in the last mile and a half, but I’d say it was more like 1800 in the last mile. No matter – we ended up hiking through and up a beautiful spot…while this is considered one of the ‘trailless’ peaks, there was only one time we weren’t sure which way to go, and even so found it pretty quickly. At one point we stepped off the trail to the slide to see about climbing it – it might have been possible had it been drier, but at this point, there was just enough water running down the face to slick up the moss that grew there, and we quickly exited the area and rejoined the trail.
After some puffing and panting, and lots of water, we reached the summit around 1230, so it was just over four hours from the start. We also found a cool ledge just before the summit, and after the obligatory hero pics, we dropped our packs there and had a quick lunch. The views from here were spectacular – we could see Ampersand Mountain and Lake, the full Sewards, and god knows what else, but it seemed to go on forever. It was quick, however, because the mosquitos were competing for our food – they were miserable!
We descended the same way we came up, and returned to the cars just before 5PM, which made the whole day 8h10m – after hearing someone Bill describes as a fast hiker had done this in 8 hours, we felt pretty good to have done it in this time…plus we did take some time for lunch and pics, so I felt pretty good about it, especially after bailing the day before.
Points to remember – Fitness, Nutrition and Hydration – keys to a good day. I forget these on Saturday, and was miserable, but recovered enough and followed the rules on Sunday and had a great day. And I am convinced that if I had not turned back, I would have collapsed in a heap in the deep col between Giant and Rocky, and would have been an airlift news story that night.
Live and learn…I have! Good climbing.