Monday, June 16, 2014

A Giant - Esther weekend

Actually Esther at 9.4 miles (15.2 km) return was a longer hiking day than Giant's 6 miles (9.7 km). Especially the way we did it this weekend: for Esther, we parked at the Reservoir which adds 2.6 miles to the return trip. Esther is the kind of herd path that is impossible to lose, and best of all, it follows the ridge with just small up and downs to get to the summit once we turned off the main trail to Whiteface.
Inga posing on Esther's summit. The clouds were thick,
there was a little bit of sleet, views non-existent, but that
was all  secondary to making it up in the first place.
The trail was very wet, with muddy puddles on flatter parts and running water most everywhere else. The picture below doesn't quite do that part justice. In any case, we did our best to walk right through it all and not make new detours that further erosion. Happy to wear my backpacking boots, which are water proof. Even though I never bothered putting on gaiters, the wet stayed out despite "testing" a few rather deep.

This 6.5 hour excursion, featuring over 3,000 feet of elevation difference, I did with a 40 lb backpack - for training purposes; made the gluteal muscles take note as well as the knees, while merely 'massaging' the feet and ankles.
Summit plaque commemorating Esther McComb's first
ascent in 1839 at 15 years old. Just for the joy of it.
After another easy camping night at the ACC Montreal's Keene Farm property - this spot is like a home away from home having spent many nights both in the hut and camping - we embarked on the shortest route up Giant.

Jan provides gorgeous scale on open ridge
below Giant's summit.
This is a very pretty and varied hike, passing 2 mountain-side lakes (Giant Washbowl is aptly named), and rising steadily by over 3,000 feet almost right from the roadside parking area near Chapel Pond. The sunny weather made us appreciate the alternating shady wooded sections and wide open ridges with gorgeous sweeping views. The summit affords beautiful views of the Dix Range and over to the Great Range. We took 2:30 hours up and 2:10 down - with much lighter packs. Well, Jan could certainly do this faster, so I always go first to set the pace :)
View from Giant's summit across into
the Dix and Great Range.

Esther is our 19th 46er. Giant was our first in 2007 just ahead of our trip to Argentina and our first foray into the higher altitudes with a trek to Aconcagua's Plaza de Mulas. That feels like such a long time ago considering our varied trekking and mountaineering ventures covering much mountainous ground in North and South America and even a challenging foray along Germany's Rhine river. Still the Adirondack's High Peaks are our best training and proving grounds, where miles and miles of steep, technically demanding climbs - usually more difficult than anything we've encountered on most other routes - help us get trail fit for our further afield adventures.


  1. I enjoyed reading about your trips to the ADKs. I became a 46er in 2012 and am from Ottawa too. You've had some great adventures! I'm thinking of making a trip to Patagonia this winter as well.

  2. Hey - good for you! We have quite a few 46ers to go - love the 'dacks for preparing for our other trips. Patagonia is stunning. I want to go back to Cochamo and spend a few weeks in and around that area.