Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Giant Mountain, 06/03/2017

Giant Mountain, Saturday June 3, 2017.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

It's been a tough spring if you're a hiker, but we finally got out the first weekend in June. Daniel, our 13-year-old son, has been interested in hiking some of the High Peaks (both our kids have dozens of "low" peaks under their belts), and we settled on Giant for his #3 (he's already got Cascade and Porter).

Giant is one of the more popular High Peaks, and there were already a couple dozen cars at the trailhead by the time we arrived. Beth and I generally prefer less crowded trails, but when you’re hiking with two teenage boys – Daniel brought a friend along – any expectation of solitude pretty much goes out the window anyway. The steady stream of hikers up and down the trail may detract from the wilderness experience, but the expansive views more than make up for it.

Daniel and his friend Xavier on one of the steeper pitches

Chapel Pond, Round Mountain and the Chapel Pond slabs


Anyone looking for summer-like weather was bound to be disappointed. Temperatures never got out of the 30s in the upper elevations, and scattered squalls passing over Marcy, Algonquin and the Great Range appeared to be the frozen variety. The last remaining snow patch from winter was hanging tough just below Marcy’s summit. The hats and extra fleece layers that we brought along stayed on for most of the day.

Beth on the Ridge Trail with Washbowl Pond and the Great Range behind her

View of the Dix Range from just below the summit

The boys got a great dose of High Peaks reality after we passed the trail sign that said it was just 0.7 miles to the summit. Daniel ran track this spring, and 0.7 miles is less than 3 times around the track. That last 0.7 miles up Giant is nothing like 3 times around the track. Despite being one of the shorter 46er hikes, Giant does a good job of doling out as much punishment as the other 45.

Summit panorama

Dix, Haystack, Marcy and the Great Range

Snowfield on Marcy

Like Whiteface, Giant stands apart from the rest of the High Peaks. Supposedly 39 of the 46 High Peaks can be seen from the summit. We didn't count.

At the top, another dozen or so climbers were enjoying the views, eating their lunches or just hunkering down to get out of the wind. A quick squall blew over the summit delivering a mix of wind-driven snow and rain. Minutes later the sun came back out and took at least a little bit of chill out of the air. Typical late spring weather drama in the High Peaks.

Squall at the summit

Squalls over the Great Range

Heading back down

Even though I wouldn't admit to Beth and the kids, by the time we made it back to the trailhead and our parked car I was pretty beat. 3,000 feet of vertical can do that, even on a "short" hike. Wings and a beer at the Ausable Inn never tasted so good.

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