Hiking Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge

Another beautiful weekend behind us. What fantastic weather we had this past weekend. Perfect for a hike, right? Of course. I made a last minute decision to head up North again to tackle a peak or two. Giant was on my list of hikes to do this year and I couldn’t wait to do it.

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My friend Brendan and I arrived at the trailhead at 7:30AM Saturday and took the Ridge Trail to Giant. The entire way was just a steep climb with few flat portions to catch your breath. I was struggling up the mountain, but took my time and took a few water breaks. We arrived at the Washbowl after about an hour of climbing. It was gorgeous.

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A quick stop for a photo, then back to climbing.

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There were many views on this trail once we got up high enough. There were a lot of open rock portions where we had a view from any angle. So amazing.

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Some tricky parts.

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Now we were above the Washbowl!

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I’m seriously so spoiled.

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Giant Mountain for Number 9.

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We had a snack or two on top of Giant at 10:15AM! We were thinking it was not even 10:30 and we had already climbed a mountain. What! Then it was on to the next, Rocky Peak!

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We saw the trail to Rocky from Giant was only 1.1 miles. Easy, right? Eh..

It was a lot of butt sliding down slippery wet rock. Going down the other side of Giant took longer than we thought–but going up Rocky Peak wasn’t bad at all. Finally, around 12:10 we hit our second summit of the day, Rocky Peak!

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And Rocky Peak makes 10.

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We sat around enjoying the warmth and had another snack. We stayed on top for about 30 minutes, preparing for the trip back down Rocky and back up Giant.

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When we hit the sign for Giant’s summit, we decided to go back on to the summit again just because. It was around 2:45. This time it was much more crowded! We stayed for a few minutes, then back down we went.

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Back at the Washbowl, about an hour of hiking left.

Going down is always harder, especially on my feet! My feet were getting tired at this point and I was getting anxious for some cold water. My water was warm and not very tasty after being in a bladder all day.

Finally at 4:10 we hit the trail register. Done. I had a bottle of Gatorade in the car that I was dreaming about the whole hike.

There were cars lined up and down the Route 73. It was a busy day in the high peaks for sure!

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Giant and Rocky Peak via the Ridge Trail

The Ridge Trail to Giant Summit: 3 mi
Ascent: 3050′
High Peak Rank: 12
Elevation: 4,626′

Rocky Peak Ridge from Giant: 1.3 mi, 2.6 mi RT
Ascent: 1400′ ascent
High Peak Rank: 20
Elevation: 4,390′

Total Distance:  8.6 miles RT
Time with stops: ~8 hrs

Hiking the Northville/Lake Placid Trail – Wakely Dam to Lake Durant Campground

Another weekend down, another hike completed!

Friday after work my friend Meredith and her boyfriend John and I drove north to do some backpacking! We all had been wanting to check out the Northville – Lake Placid Trail, a 133 mile long foot path through the Adirondacks from Northville to Lake Placid.

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We chose to do a short section of the trail that began at Wakely Dam that also had a camping area nearby, so we could pull our car right up the site. This wasn’t your normal campground–meaning it was primitive–no running water or electric. There were picnic tables and outhouses though, which I thought was a nice step up for someone like me, new to backpacking and backcountry camping. I’m taking baby steps!

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My new little Kelty tent. It kept me warm when the temps dropped below 40 on Friday night!

We got our camp set up at about 8:30 PM Friday night. The sun went down at around 9. There were a few other people at the camping area, so I didn’t get too freaked out about camping such a remote area. We went to bed around 10:30, we had a long day of hiking a head of us.

I didn’t sleep that great that night due to so much rustling in the woods At one point I woke up to a heavy breathing animal wandering by my tent at ground level. Lord knows what it was–we dubbed it The Beast.

Once the sun came up, I actually slept a few more hours, much better than at night which was kind of funny.

We got up, had breakfast and packed away all of our gear all while be being attacked by swarms of gnats. They were SO BAD near this area, so we checked out Wakely Dam and the Cedar River Flow briefly before we left, a short walk over from our site.

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Wakely Pond–a moose would have made this picture even better!

Our plan for the day’s hike was to walk the portion of the NPT to the Stephens Pond lean-to and camp there for the night, which was about a 9 mile hike from where we were.

The first few miles were on an old logging road, and then eventually the trail went left and into the woods.

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The trail was marked pretty well, with the blue NPT trail markers.

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However, the trail itself wasn’t very worn down and it didn’t look like anyone had hiked here in a while! There were a few sets of foot prints that we followed the entire way, so that was a bit more comforting. We didn’t see another soul on the trail the entire day!

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Honestly the hike was uneventful and there wasn’t much to look at.  There weren’t many good stopping points so we hiked on through continuously without stopping much. We did encounter a deer, some birds, and lots of toads on the trail! We also spotted some droppings which were so big we figured it was from a bear. It was also fresh and kind freaked us out. A bear was there, probably watching us!

About six miles into the hike, John twisted his ankle! It was a big bummer, but he managed to keep on hiking! We hiked to the lean-to, which was our original camping destination. After evaluating, we decided to hike the remaining three miles to the campground, and to Route 28 where my car was parked.

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Resting and having a snack at the lean to. I was expecting a view of the lake at this spot, but there was none. I think a trail lead down to the lake across from the lean to but I was too tired to explore much.

Then onward we went to the campground. The last few miles the trail widened, and we could hear boats on the Lake. It was nice!

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Finally, something to see! We signed out of the register and walked over to the campground’s beach. This would have been a nice place to camp, there was a tent site right on the lake. But we decided to head on home. I wasn’t opposed–I was imagining another night with The Beast roaming near my tent!

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A long 12 mile hike with a heavy pack, but it was fun. Although I don’t think I would ever try thru-hiking this trail.

Northville – Lake Placid Trail

Wakely Dam to Durant Lake Campground

12 miles

Visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park

This post was way overdue! When I was in Ohio with Chris a few weeks ago, we went to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a short drive away from his new apartment.

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There were miles upon miles of hiking trails, along with a really long bike trail, the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, which was really busy with bikers and made me wish I had my bike with me!

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It was a fantastic day. We decided to check out some of the park’s biggest waterfalls, and did a five mile loop hike to Brandywine Falls.

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One thing nice about this hike? It was flat!

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After our loop, we drove to the trail head to a smaller falls called Bridal Veil. It was so pretty, someone was seated nearby painting a picture of the falls!

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Next up was another short hike, the 2.2 mile ledges trail, which lead us to a scenic overlook. This part of the trail reminded me of Thacher Park!

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The scenic overlook, where we had a snack.

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It was really nice to see of the trails of Ohio. A lot of them were wide and looked like a trail runner’s paradise.

Hiking Big Slide and the Brothers

Friday night, my sister, our friend Brendan and I drove to Keene Valley to stay a few nights in the Adirondacks for some hiking! I wanted to take my sister up there to experience a hike and thought she would enjoy it! She is in pretty good shape, even though she doesn’t do any hiking, so I figured we could tackle a moderate but not too easy hike, so I decided on Big Slide!

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Saturday morning at around 8:30 am, we parked at The Garden Parking lot for $7 and it was already filling up! Everyone knew it would be a nice day for hiking, despite the previous night’s rain.

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We decided to take the route to big slide via the Brothers, three smaller mountains that you summit on your way to Big Slide. They boasted good views so, we might as well, and we were also told the other route was treacherous because of the rain and we should avoid it. The Brothers it was!

We hiked for about an hour and half until we reached the first Brother. With some rock scrambling, we made it to the first viewpoint!

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We stopped for a snack and some photos, obvisouly.

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The view of Big Slide, from the Second brother (I think?)

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The views were so good, I can see this being an easier hike for those not wanting to go all the way to Big Slide.

Things got a little freaky when at the second Brother we thought we were at the third! And there wasn’t anyone else at the trail at that point, so Brendan consulted his trail book and we determined we still had well over a mile to the Big Slide. Eventually we ran into a group coming down so they confirmed we had about a mile left of hiking! Hurray!

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More views, from the Third Brother.

The higher up we got, the more interesting the vegetation got! Here is the Old Man’s Beard a type of moss that grows up there.

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Finally we saw some signage! .3 to the summit of Big Slide!

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A few scary minutes of climbing ladders (I didn’t know there were ladders on Big Slide) and we got to the summit!

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High Peak # 8 for me, complete.

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We stayed up there for a while enjoying the view and eating some snacks. Every so often the clouds would come by and cover the nearby peaks, it was a lovely sight.

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4 miles of climbing make these views worth it!

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We took the same route back, stopping at the Brothers again to recharge before hiking back to the car. Overall we spent about 9 hours on the trail. It was a LONG day, but we stopped a lot and weren’t moving very quickly. I’m one of those hikers that likes to stop and enjoy the scenery around me, listen to the birds and take photos. :-) The trail was muddy and getting dirty was unavoidable. The black flies were nowhere to be found.

Back at the car at about 5:30PM. Time for a shower!

Big Slide

Via the Brothers: 8 mi RT
Elevation: 4240′
Ascent: 2800′
High Peak Rank: 27

My favorite way to refuel after a hike: a red ale from Paradox Brewery at The Cottage in Lake Placid.

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Chicken and mushroom flatbread.

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And without a doubt, the maple cream soft serve from Emma’s. THE BEST.

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Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon

Last Sunday morning marked the start of the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in Boston, and the conclusion to the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Festival! It was also my third and final race in the Hat Trick.

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After another early wake-up, Loretta and I drove over to the Boston College campus for the race, which began at 7:30am. The race had corrals again, just like it did for the 10K, which I liked.

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We both went to the back of the pack because we had planned on doing the “run/walk” method. I knew because I hadn’t been running the past few weeks that this race was going to be tougher and slower than all of my other races. At times I felt like I was shuffling through the final miles of a marathon, because my legs were so fatigued. It was my first time EVER doing a run/walk method, but I knew it was the right decision when I felt strong while running, powering up the hills and generally feeling okay until about mile 9 or 10. I used the stopwatch on my phone to time 8 minutes of running, followed by 2 minutes of power walking. This worked great until about mile 9 when the walking kind of took over.

By the time we hit Heartbreak Hill, I was tired, and was ready for the race to be over. As soon as we got to the top, I ran to the finish line, which was just around the corner. I was so happy to see it, for the third time this weekend.

We were handed our medals, and I shuffled over to the finisher’s tent for some Gatorade and snacks. I was SO thirsty! Running so many miles this weekend, combined with the warm weather was really tiring! I just made sure to hydrate well before and after each race, and on the course as well. Thankfully, the half marathon course had water every mile and a half, along with a few Gatorade stations, and a Clif Shot station. However, there was no water available at the Clif Shot station, so I carried it for about a mile until I got some water. That could have been planned a little better!

My final time for the half was 2:37:28, my slowest road half marathon (I think my first trail half was faster). But I’m 100% okay with it, because I had doubts in the beginning I could even finish the Hat Trick! Just the fact that I finished all three races this past weekend amazes me.

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Overall, the races in Boston were very well organized and were very fun to run! I’m really glad I signed up for the Hat Trick, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have come all the way to Boston just to run a half marathon. It was also great being able to run on portions of the Boston Marathon course! As a runner, this was amazing and I definitely felt a lot of emotion while I was out there! I know it will be the only time I’ll ever run a race in Boston.

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Three races and 22.4 miles completed. We are awesome.

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