For the past two decades, the Hamilton Outing Club has designated one fall weekend as 46 Peaks Weekend. The goal: to put at least one Hamilton student on the summit of each and every one of the 46 mountains in the Adirondacks that are above 4,000 feet in elevation. This past weekend (Sept. 25-27) HOC succeeded in accomplishing this goal for the second time ever --marking two years in a row that this achievement has been made.
In order to hike all 46 in the course of a weekend, a broad variety of trips are needed ranging from easy day trips to strenuous treks that span the whole weekend and spend both Friday and Saturday night camping in the High Peaks. While solo leaders or a pair of experienced backpackers undertook a few of the hardest trips, the majority of the hikes were open to the entire student body.
“While the goal of hiking all 46 4,000 foot-ers may be the primary aim of the weekend, an almost equally important goal is giving as many Hamilton students as possible a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful sites and rewarding challenges of hiking in the Adirondacks during the fall,” said Lindsay Pattison ’16 one of the student officers responsible for running the Outing Club. This year more than 150 students took part in the weekend on around 20 different trips.
A number of factors aligned this year to help HOC repeat the feat. Beautiful, dry weather in the Adirondacks made hiking easier and allowed for stunning views of the fall foliage. The talented and dedicated leaders of the Outing Club also deserve a great deal of credit for the success of the weekend. “The leaders are well-trained for the job, they enjoy what they do, they’re good at it, and they make it enjoyable” commented Andrew Jillings, director of outdoor leadership. “They are the heart and soul of the club and they’re really the ones who make 46 Peaks happen” added Madison Atterbury ’17 another HOC officer.
Among the many fantastic trips and happy memories created by this weekend a few stories stand out. Elise LePage and Laura Kwasnoski (both ’18) took on the formidable task of traversing the eight high peaks of the Great Range, a feat that entails around 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Another trip saw the first-year students of Professor Maurice Isserman’s Adventure Writing course summiting Cascade and Porter, an experience that they will be asked to reflect on and write about later during the semester. Meanwhile Charlie Ross ’17 ran across 10 grueling miles of the Dix Range summiting five peaks in a single day.
With another successful 46 Peaks Weekend in the books, leaders and officers have spent the past week cleaning up gear, updating itineraries, and uploading photos to Facebook. This Thursday the Glen House will host a party to celebrate, complete with 46 different varieties of cheese as well as a keg of root beer! In the coming weeks and weekends the Outing Club will run a leader training weekend as well as a Wilderness First Aid course, preparing even more dedicated and enthusiastic students to lead trips in the future.