Mt. Marcy: A rainy climb and watershed moment

Mt. Marcy: A rainy climb and watershed moment

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 44.11250°N / 73.9239°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 30, 0000

A trip to remember

Driving up early in the morning, we found our way to the Adirondak Loj, a fantastic little store with everything we could want except dry weather. Already a little bit late, we looked at the rain and our 15 mile hike and I said,
"you know, the weather is supposed to be sunny tomorrow."
"Can we do it today?" My daughter asked, and of course I said yes.

Cypress and I had just decided to climb the 50 state highpoints. She was 14 and had never done any difficult hiking. So at 9 am we set off from Adirondak Loj. In less than an hour we crossed the dam, and the real hike began.

As we are walking uphill we run into an old man who tells us to turn around. "The bridge is out," he said, "and when I tried to cross, I almost got swept over a waterfall." Well, I didn't want Cypress swept over a waterfall, so we pulled out the map. We had just crossed a creek and the trail would recross the creek less than a mile ahead. So we decided to go back a few hundred yards, cross the good bridge, and bushwhack along the creek until the trail crossed to our side, then continue.

At first, the far side of the creek had a decent game trail. Then, as it petered out, we began traversing steep slopes and fighting undergrowth. The slopes and undergrowth got so bad there were spots I had to have Cypress stay put until I figured how she could safely get through them.

One hour passed. Then two. Then three! Now I am fighting all the time to keep my footing and watch Cypress' progress. Our little diversion to escape this bridge has become an exhausting exercise in incremental progress. For at least an hour I wonder if we should just turn around, or, better yet, bushwhack down to the creek, cross, and then turn around. Finally, well past the three hour mark, we cut down the steep, vegetation choked hillside. and cross the creek on a log.

We hit the trail on the other side and it is 1:30 in the afternoon. Just out of curiosity we walk up to the next creek crossing, and what do we see but a perfectly usable bridge! Well, I am ready to kill that old man if we ever see him. Instead I explain to Cypress that it is already very late in the day to only be 1/3 of our way into a climb, and the weather has not improved one bit and could easily get worse. I tell her the smart thing to do is to turn around.

But she asks again and again if we can keep going. I warn her we might be coming back in the dark, but Cypress is rarely this insistent on anything, so I was eventually convinced.

We speed up the hill, wetter every minute, just hiking on a wet trail. 9/10 of the way there we run into two guys desperate for water. We leave them my water filter and go for the summit.

As soon as we emerge from the trees onto rock, the little bit of scrambling turns dramatic as it is still raining, only there is an amazing wind forcing us to concentrate so not to lose our balance. When we get near the top the wind becomes so strong we can't stand straight. I've been in winds around 75 mph and I could still stand straight, so I'd guess these winds around 90 mph. At one point, when I faced the wind, it almost blew my daypack right off my arms! And Cypress couldn't stand up at all.

Looking around for the summit up there, we ended up crawling on our hands and knees for a good ten minutes before we literally creep over the summit block and see the plaque there. Cypress has her fourth and most challenging high point.

The way back down was uneventful, except for this: I expended so much energy on that gratuitous bushwhack that I was now thoroughly worked. I had to bust my hump just to keep up with my kid! As the descent continued she started hiking faster than me, which had never happened before.

We finally got back to the car at 8, just as the rain stopped. Eleven hours to climb Mount Marcy. And one old man who was probably laughing his ass off!


It was three or four years later that Cypress began referring to this climb as a moment that changed her life. She had always been a girly girl who was not big on physical challenges. But this hike got her thinking that if she could do this climb, maybe there was other stuff she could do... which led to a still-expanding universe of sports and dancing for her. Proof positive that climbing expands your horizons!


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chugach mtn boy

chugach mtn boy - Mar 4, 2010 1:28 pm - Voted 10/10

Good story

Hope you're still getting out with the daughter. A shared interest in mountains kept me connected to mine through the worst of teenagerhood. She surpassed me in hiking speed last year, at 17, but with a little old age and treachery I can still make her think I'm the pacesetter sometimes.


jbonbright - Jun 30, 2013 6:44 pm - Voted 10/10

Good stuff

Enjoyed the TR, especially the parts concerning your daughter. The hikes I've done with my son have been among the most rewarding times of my life.

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