• Dennis O'Heney

Snowshoeing in the ADK

Making full use of MLK day (which, of course, Julia had off and I had to take vacation for), we were up in the Adirondack High Peak region snowshoeing for the weekend with our friends Cody and Casey. The trip was great, and we were able to weather the frigid temperatures and enjoy a little slice of winter wonderland in the mountains. More on the cold in a bit.

A big concern in committing to make the drive up for the weekend was whether or not we would even be able to make it. The snow/sleet forecast for Friday night in the area was definitely going to put the vans snow capabilities (lol) to the test. With this in mind, I was able to pick up a set of chains on my lunch break on Friday and ease our worries a bit. We wound up driving up to the High Peaks rest stop and sleeping in the van Friday night, with the sleet coming down on the roof providing a bit of white noise to drift off to.

Friday morning was a relatively slow start for us. Cody and Casey had got stuck in traffic and not arrived in Lake Placid until ~3am. Needless to say, they were pooped and didn't feel like getting up at quite the crack of dawn.

Julia and I made our way up to Keene Valley though, eventually stopping to put the chains on, as there was 4-5 inches of snow everywhere except the main roads. To make a long story short, we were able to get the van up to the Garden trailhead, which is one long, steep, winding back-road which wasn't plowed. The whole ride up consisted of me audibly motivating the van to just keep inching along and Julia hanging on to the door handle hoping we wouldn't get stuck. We didn't :)

We did, however, decide that we didn't want to leave for a long day of hiking to come back and find the van stuck (there was a sign which said that snowplows didn't go up this road) and elected to pick a different trailhead and go for a different peak. So we made our way over to a trailhead where we embarked on our journey up Giant Mountain.

Snowshoeing is awesome. This was our first time, and we were hesitant about just jumping in and going for a summit, but it was a blast. It definitely requires a certain level of finesse when it comes to stream crossings though...

We wound up getting onto the trail by around 10:30 am, and quickly realized how much slower the hiking was compared to our previous experiences. This was also our first time summitting Giant Mountain, so we didn't know what to expect with the trail. Everything went smoothly though, and we ended up reaching the summit a little after 2pm where we were treated to socked-in (clouds everywhere) views. Visibility opened up a bit on the way down though, and we took off our snowshoes to turn the descent into a big slip-n-slide!

Quick funny story, Cody and Casey started the hike about 2 hours after we did, and tried to catch up to us. Julia and I, being the sneaky people we can be, went down a different trail than we had come up (mostly to avoid the stream crossings, but also for views and a change of scenery). As a result though, they never caught us, and we were able to get back to the van, go to the diner for pancakes, and get back to the trailhead in time to see their headlamp (purposefully left singular) emerging from the woods. Really fun day.

Plans for day two comprised a day hike out to Avalanche Lake and back. Julia and I had been here before in the fall, and we were both interested to check out the scene in the winter. Before we got going though, we went to partake in a gear demo going on, where we tested out some serious La Sportiva mountaineering boots for the day. Cody and Casey had spearheaded this mission, each checking out boots as well, and Casey was able to get a dry jacket that "would make her feel like it was 90 degrees and sunny" outside (it was about 10 below at the time).

Not the most eventful experience getting to the trailhead today, or even on the hike itself. There were very few clouds in the morning so we were really able to take in the views. The hiking was great as well, and with minimal serious elevation climbing, we were all on cruise control and having a great time.

Over the course of the hike, Julia and I were able to convince Cody and Casey to take off work on Monday and come skiing with us at Whiteface. This was just nice cause it meant we could enjoy the afternoon, rather than having to rush back to the cars so they could hit the road. We wrapped up the evening with dinner and a few brews at Lake Placid Brewing Company, all topped off with a s'mores platter. Fantastic.

Unfortunately, there are no photos of skiing at Whiteface, as we were a little otherwise occupied. Great day though, and practically empty. We were able to get run after run in without our bodies being too angry with the three days of heavy leg-work!

#hiking #snow #snowshoeing #adirondacks #highpeaks #peak #van