Four days, 30 miles, six students … and 20 degrees

Pat Dunn, Lucas Harris, Dave Hyman, Katrina Rabeler, Manique Talaia-Murray, Greg Schwedock
Pat Dunn, Lucas Harris, Dave Hyman, Katrina Rabeler, Manique Talaia-Murray, Greg Schwedock
A week after an impressive attempt at conquering the Adirondack High Peaks during the annual 46 Peaks Weekend, Hamilton Outing Club (HOC) members have not tired. Over this recent fall break six tenacious students braved icy slopes and sore feet during a four-day assault of some of the highest mountains in New York State.

The group was lead by Dave Hyman ’12 and Katrina Rabeler ’12, and was filled out by Greg Schwedock ’10, Manique Talaia-Murray ’12, Lucas Harris ’12, and myself, the fifth sophomore on the trip. We departed from campus on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 5 p.m., and after a hasty shopping spree at the grocery store, we piled into one of Hamilton’s Jitney vans, bound for St. Hubert’s Ausable Club in Keene Valley, N.Y.

Four days, 30 miles, and seven High Peaks later, we stood in the parking lot at the Adirondack Loj, where Katrina’s parents had graciously agreed to pick us up. Soaked to the bone and half-dead after a 17-hour day, we collapsed at a local hiker hostel for Saturday night and made the drive home well-rested on Sunday morning.

On Monday afternoon, I am still sore. Part of this is from four days of carrying a 35-pound backpack, part of it is from the countless spills I took on icy summits, and part of it is from having hiked the two highest mountains in New York State, Algonquin and Marcy, in the same day. Our gross elevation gain was more than 7,000 feet, and the point-to-point route we took ended up exceeding 30 miles.

The schedule was intense. On Thursday, we left the Ausable Club at 9 a.m. and hiked Dial Mountain, Nippletop, and Mount Colvin, camping in tents off the trail east of Colvin. The next day we continued down to Lower Ausable Lake and then up more than 2,000 feet over Mount Haystack, the third highest peak in the Adirondacks. Following a frigid night in Slant Rock Lean-to (we woke up with our boots and all of our water frozen solid), we climbed over Mount Marcy, down to Lake Colden, then up and over Iroquois and Algonquin Peaks.

The sun was setting by the time we hit the summit of Algonquin, and we made the four-mile descent with headlamps, sliding down the mountain for a good portion because the ice and snow made it too difficult to find secure footing.

While all of us knew from the itinerary that this would be a strenuous hike, none of us were expecting the cold. With no exceptions, we were cold if we were not walking. Nights and mornings were especially frigid; although none of us had thermometers, I’m sure the temperature dropped significantly below 20 degrees, and the wind on the bald summits was often so unbearable that we merely had time to snap a quick picture before beginning our descent.

Subsisting mainly on cheese for the length of our time in the woods, it was a great surprise when Katrina’s parents met us with subs, chips, and brownies upon our arrival at Adirondack Loj. Sunday morning marked the end of our trip when, following a small feast at Keene Valley’s Noon Mark Diner, we returned to the previously unappreciated warmth and comfort of the Hamilton campus.

Pat Dunn '12 is a graduate of Marcellus Central School.
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