Adirondack Journals

Hiking Journal, Giant Mountain (Adirondacks) 6/10-6/11/94

Left Rochester at 7:00 AM sharp.  Took Rte 8 from Utica, to Rte 87N, exit 30 to Rte. 73.
About 2 or 3 miles up Rte 73, took a right onto Rte. 9.  Found the trailhead about 5
miles up that road, on the left, at 12:06 (noon.)

This was a departure from my original plan, but I had seen some notes in the ADK guidebook
suggesting the hike along the Rocky Peak Ridge to Giant Mtn, particularly in clear, cool
weather.  The temperature was around 70-75, and the sky was crystal clear.  The only
caveat was water: no water on the ridge.  Accordingly, I filled the water bag with about
2-3 quarts, as well as the nalgene bottle, from a stream along the roadside, before I
hit the trail.  Felt a bit stupid carrying all that water uphill, but it was definitely

Two memories of the hike up:  awesome views, and jeezus, that was a lot of work!
There were three main “bumps” on the way up, each followed by a descent to a col and
then another major climb.  The first bump has no name, but a fine view to the next
bump (Bald Peak.)  I grossly underestimated the time required to hike from that
viewpoint to Bald Peak.  It took over three hours to get from the trailhead to the
summit of Bald Peak.  I began to despair of making it even a fraction of the way
to Giant Mtn, and even considered turning back.  Later, I realized part of the problem:
it was a 2400 foot ascent from the trailhead to the summit of Bald Peak.  So in fact
I wasn’t that far off my usual pace.

(In retrospect, part of my problem may have been a mild case of dehydration.  Being
unsure of the water situation, I was being very conservative with the water supply,
and probably not drinking as much as I should have.)

As I said, the views were awesome, but deceiving.  I saw a mountain in the far distance
which I falsely assumed to be Giant Mtn.  Turns out you can’t see Giant until you get
at least to Bald Peak.  The mountain I was looking at was about 15 miles off to the
west, on the other side of Rte 73!  Once I realized these things, I started feeling
a bit better.

Once up on Bald Peak, I was faced with another 300-400 foot drop into a col, and then
another 1100 foot climb to Rocky Peak.  I took it nice and slow.  My only real concern
was saving water, and wondering if that little blue spot on the map was really going
to turn out to be a useable pond.  If not, I knew that dinner and breakfast would probably
be cold munchies, since it would be at another 3-4 miles of tough hiking until I might
find water again.

At the top of the climb, beautiful views in all directions, and a gorgeous little
campsite complete with a firepit and wood to burn.  I passed it up, because of the
water situation, and because it was still early — about 5:30 or so, with the sun still
high.  This ridge, as I recall, is around 4000 feet up, so I had climbed 3400 feet and
walked about 4.5 miles in about 5 hours.

Kept walking.  This section is pretty flat.  Some of it wooded, some of it open
ridge.  About 15 minutes later I spotted the pond.  Another 10 minutes of walking
took me to the pond.  Beautiful!  I pumped two fresh quarts with the water filter,
and poured these into the water bag.  Then pumped one more and left it in the
nalgene bottle.  At that point I figured I had enough water for dinner, breakfast,
and at least the first part of the next day’s hike.

Leaving the pond behind, the trail breaks out into open ridge and makes its final
ascent (about 300-400 feet) to the summit of Rocky Peak.  Found myself a spot to
camp up on the ridge.  A bit spooky, but simply awesome views — the Champlain
valley, and what appears to be the major portion of the Green Mountain ridgeline.
Set up the tent and cooked dinner, the whole time gazing over the view to the
east.  As the sun set behind me, I witnessed another awesome spectacle:  the
shadow of the Adirondack mountains, stretching eastward across the valley, and
then finally creeping up along the western slopes of the Green Mountains.

This is really the first time in my hiking career that I’ve dared to camp this
far up.  Strictly speaking, I was not above treeline, since there were many clumps
of small spruce/fir trees all around me.  But basically, it was open ridge.
A bit risky, but the weather seemed pretty benign.  I hadn’t seen a soul all day,
so I wasn’t worried about ridge patrollers.  In fact, the lack of company made
the experience quite intense, surrounded by all that wilderness, and a vast
ravine just below me.

By 9:30 I was in the sack trying to sleep.  Woke up a number of times during
the night, but other than that, slept alright until the sun got me up around
4:30 AM.  Put on the goretex top and bottom and took in the sunrise over the
Green mountains (another awesome spectacle.)  It was too cold to make breakfast.
Snarfed up a couple of pop-tarts, broke camp, and was on the trail by 5:00 AM.

300 feet up to the summit, then about 400-500 feet down to the next col, then
800 feet up to the summit of Giant, at which I arrived at about 7:15 AM.  Too
cold to really enjoy the views at Giant summit, but I hunkered down and had me
some munchies before beginning my descent.

The descent was uneventful.  Rte 73 is at about 1100 feet, and Giant summit is
4600.  Hence, a 3500 foot drop, which I made in almost exactly three hours
(arrived at Rte 73 at about 10:20 AM.)  Met a solitary day hiker about
halfway down.  At the crossing of Roaring Brook, met a young yuppie couple.
After that, two or three large groups heading upwards on day hikes.
Roaring brook is OK, but nothing special.  The bugs were on my case, so I
just kept moving.  No significant views on the way down.

Started walking south on Rte 73 with my thumb out.  Walked about half a mile
(all uphill) with no takers.  Then I turned around and began walking back
to the trailhead, but with my thumb still out.  A young couple (about my
age) picked me up, about 5 minutes away from the trailhead.   I talked them
into driving me up Rte. 9, so ten minutes later I was back to the car (at
about 11:30 or so.)  Very friendly folks; I thanked them repeatedly as they
dropped me off at the trailhead.

That was it for the hiking.  Although I had allotted the entire weekend to
hiking, I decided to bag out.  Getting up at 4:30, I knew, would make further
hiking that day rather miserable.  And the weather predictions for the next
day were not good.  It seemed that any further hiking would be anticlimactic.

Took off for the drive home at around 11:45 AM, and arrived home at 5:15.  Didn’t
take Rte 8, but took exit 29 (off Rte 87) to Rte 28, down through Old Forge to Utica.
(This is the route that passes by the access road to the trailhead for Mt. Dix.)
Not nearly as quick as Rte 8 — lots of traffic to get stuck behind, and lots of
slow towns.  Hit some rain near Utica, felt a bit better about my decision to quit.

All in all, a short hike (around 11 miles total,) but quite memorable.  Nothing
wimpy about these Adirondacks.  The hiking was as rewarding and as challenging as
anything I’ve seen in the White Mountains.  In a way, not having the AMC gestapo
around is a blessing.  During the walk on Friday, I really felt like I was all alone
in the mountains.