Cascade and Porter of the ADK46

This Sunday, April 22nd, we set out to hike our first two of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks.  Steve and I hiked the 48 New Hampshire 4,000 footers over the past few years when we lived in Boston, so now that we are in upstate New York, this seemed like the perfect list to tackle next.

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Since this has been a long winter, we were hesitant to start climbing mountains this early in the season.  However, I’ve been feeling restless from many months without the great outdoors, so we went for it.  I had been reading trail reports and facebook posts to try and figure out what the trails would be like. Some people said snowshoes were needed. Some people said not to hike without crampons and an ice axe. I was a bit nervous. However, microspikes and trekking poles turned out to be enough for a solid hike up the mountains. The trail was icy on the way up and slushy on the way down.

The Hike

I will share some of the details and statistics from our hike.  Some of the information is based on the AllTrails app data and may not be perfectly accurate.

  • Time started: 9:45am
  • Time Ended: 1:45pm
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Total Distance: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,297 feet

We started at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead on route 73 between Lake Placid and Keene. There were a few small parking lots right along the main road.  I assume this probably gets quite full during the summer months!

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We took the Cascade Mountain Trail and then at the junction we took the Porter Mountain Trail to hit the summit of Porter first.  This ascent took 2 hours.  The summit of Porter had some lovely views of mountains in one direction and beautiful snow covered trees in the other direction.  There was only one other couple up there and we took our time enjoying the quiet and the beauty around us.  We then hiked down to the junction and then up to the summit of Cascade.  This took another 45 minutes including taking photos and having snacks at the top of Porter.  We spent some time alone on top of Cascade enjoying the incredible 360 degree mountain views.

After 15 or so minutes at the top, we made our way down.  The descent to the car from Porter took less than an hour.  We passed a lot of inexperienced and unprepared hikers on the trail. Make sure to do your research when hiking in early spring! Microspikes and poles were needed for a safe day on the mountain.

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This was a beautiful hike and a great introduction to the Adirondack High Peaks. Even though the ice was a bit slippery and slowed us down a bit, the scenery was incredible.  We also didn’t face any crowds or bugs, which was a plus! I can’t wait to hike more high peaks! 2 down, 44 to go!

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Havasupai Hike

Havasupai is an incredibly beautiful area deep down in an offshoot of the Grand Canyon filled with brilliant blue waterfalls and red canyon walls. It is an amazing spot and truly one of the most unique and beautiful places I have ever been. But the process of getting to these epic waterfalls was not simple or easy. Let me explain…

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STEP 1: GETTING THE PERMIT

The story of our Havasupai trip began on February 1st: the day Havasupai permits went on sale. Photos and videos of this area have been going viral on social media in the past few years and it has become an extremely popular destination. Due to the fact that the waterfalls are a 10+ mile hike from the trailhead, no day hiking is allowed and you can only visit if you camp in the official campground or stay in the single lodge down in the canyon, which both require a permit. Knowing this, we were prepared at 10am on February 1st to reserve one of the coveted camping permits. We were lucky that we had complete flexibility on dates due to the nature of our extended road trip, just as long as we could get through the notoriously busy phone lines. We were aiming for mid April for the hike, but knew that other days could also work. We had 3 cell phones and a landline calling constantly for five straight hours, but had no luck getting through. A few times lines got crossed (is that even still a thing?!) and the landline seemed to connect to random strangers’ houses. Awkward! We checked the website to make sure we weren’t doing something wrong, but the website was down and had one of those ‘Page Not Found’ error messages, seeming to indicate that their website had been shut down.

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Fast forward two days and we were getting tired of calling and listening to busy signals. I then noticed one of my friends on Instagram had excitedly proclaimed that she got her Havasupai permit. I asked her how she got through or what tricks she had. She kindly pointed out that the website was up and reservations could easily be made there. Apparently the new website had been launched some time after we checked it and since two days had gone by since the permits went on sale, almost everything was booked. We checked every single date from March to November and only found two open dates: March 7th and March 8th and knew that was our only chance. That is why we had to rush across the entire US in less than a week from Key West to northern Arizona. While I was bummed about missing the American south and really hated the excruciating 8-10 hour drives each day, being able to do the Havasupai hike was well worth it.

 

STEP 2: HIKING DOWN TO SUPAI

In order to start our hike early in the morning, we slept in our van at the Hilltop Trailhead parking lot. There were pit toilets and plenty of other people camping in cars or tents for the same reason.

The hike down was pretty brutal for me. It wasn’t the length of the hike, the steepness, or the desert heat. It was carrying my heavy backpack. No matter how much I try to pack light for an overnight hike, it never works. We packed food and water, extra clothes, warm layers for night temperatures in the 30s, towels, bathing suits, water shoes, camera equipment, tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, flashlights, plus the “ten essentials” and first aid supplies. Every little item added up, and by the time I stuffed my bag and forced the zippers closed, it was very heavy. I felt like Cheryl Strayed from Wild at the beginning of her PCT hike. I also realized, that however in shape my lungs and legs were from jogs and short hikes throughout the winter, nothing I did had strengthened my back or shoulders to carry a heavy pack.

It took us six hours, including stops for water, snacks, and taking photos, to reach the Supai village deep down in the canyon. The hike itself was truly gorgeous. It started with a very steep descent comprised of many switchbacks to get to the bottom of the canyon, which was interrupted every ten minutes or so by a group of horses passing through. Once at the bottom, the hike was mostly flat but no less beautiful. Giant walls of red rocks surrounded us, widening and narrowing at times, with incredible geological formations on all sides. As we hiked deeper and deeper into the canyon, brilliant green trees started to appear and it felt like bits of the tropics were sneaking into the desert.

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After 8 miles of hiking we reached the town of Supai. We hiked the path that winds around the village and registered for our campsites. Thinking we were finally there, I breathed a sigh of relief. That is, until I realized there were another two miles of hiking required to reach the campground.

The campground was beautiful, with many sites along the bright blue river surrounded by trees. To my delight, there were plenty of pit toilets and a spigot of flowing spring water for drinking.  I imagine the campground must be even more lovely in the late spring and summer when all of the plants and trees are in bloom. We set up our tent, stretched our legs, and spent the late afternoon and evening exploring the easily accessible, and stunning, Havasu Falls. We cooked some delicious freeze dried camping meals for dinner (at least they tasted delicious to us after the long hike!) and went to bed around 8pm.

STEP 3: THE DESCENT TO MOONEY FALLS

The next morning after some camp coffee and granola bars for breakfast, we set out for the hike to Mooney and Beaver Falls. I assumed these would be close to the campground, but I was very wrong. It was a one mile hike from the tent to a spot where you can view Mooney Falls from above, but to get down to ground level was a much more difficult and steep descent than I had had anticipated. With metal chains and spikes to hold onto, it is an almost completely vertical climb down, occasionally through narrow tunnels built into the rocks. It reminded me of the Angels Landing hike in Zion, only much steeper and also wet from the waterfall’s mist. Luckily we descended at the right time and didn’t have any other people to pass as we climbed down.

The moment my feet hit the ground, I was flooded with relief and then awe as I looked up at the majestic Mooney Falls towering above me. We spent some time exploring the aqua pools and photographing the falls. We had the whole area to ourselves!

 

STEP 4: BEAVER FALLS

We then continued hiking the extra two miles to Beaver Falls. This included several river crossings, between knee and waist deep, with the occasional rickety bridge. There were also several wooden ladders and rock scrambles up and down the canyon walls. The beauty at every turn was breathtaking. There were layers of cascading falls, looming red canyon walls, and brilliant green trees lining the trail. It was a long day of hiking, but I hardly noticed because of the intense beauty around us.

Once we reached the end and took more photos in the waterfalls, we made our way back to camp. The climb up at Mooney Falls was much better than the descent! We enjoyed another delicious freeze dried dinner and another early bedtime (except for Steve, who took a few extra hours to take some stunning nighttime photos of the falls, seen below!) Find him on Instagram: @walasavagephoto or his website: walasavagephoto.com!


STEP 5: THE END

In the morning, we had an uneventful hike out. We indulged in some breakfast burritos in the cafe located in the town of Supai to fuel our return hike. The flat part of the return hike was fine, but the final hike up the switchbacks to the parking lot in the heat of the desert sun was pretty tough. (Though to be fair, it was only around 78 degrees. I can’t imagine doing this hike in 90+ degree temperatures in July and August!) We had our dorky adventure hats, sunscreen, hiking poles, and plenty of water to get us to the top.

All in all, the difficulty of obtaining a permit and the challenge of hiking around 30 miles over three days was far surpassed by the beauty we found at this oasis deep in an offshoot of the Grand Canyon. If you can get your hands on a permit (don’t forget to check the website when you do!), I highly recommend you take the time to visit this gem. I would say 2-3 nights at a minimum are required to fully appreciate the beauty of Havasupai, and I highly recommend making sure you are in good hiking shape and that your bag is a reasonable weight when you go!

Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever hiked? Let me know in the comments or feel free to email (carrieoutdoors1@gmail.com ) or DM on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors.)

Finished!

img_20160829_172510I am so excited to share that I have completed the goal of hiking all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains! It has taken me a little under four years to complete the list and I am feeling so happy to have finished. Steve and I had planned to hike North and South Twin on Saturday, August 27th which would be #46 and #47 and then we had plans to attend a party Saturday night. A few days before the hike, we found out the party was cancelled which opened up a new possibility: we could finish the 4,000-Footers on Sunday! And we did! We completed the 48 on Mt. Carrigain, a medium-difficulty hike with beautiful views and a fire tower at the summit. At the top, we ran into a family who was celebrating the father’s completion of the 48 as well! We swapped stories and shared champagne. It was a really magical and special moment.

Part of me is feeling a little sad about being done with the list, because it has been such a driving force in how I chose to spend my weekends and free time these past four years. Driving up to New Hampshire became a regular part of my life. However, I am excited to start thinking about other hiking goals and travel ambitions. Steve and I are also slowly working toward hiking to the high point of all 50 states, so it may be time to turn our attention toward that list for a while. Have you ever done any hiking lists or set hiking goals for yourself? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

NH48…So close!

IMG_20160708_171236I am getting SO close to achieving a goal I have been working on for the past few years: hiking to the summit of all 48 of the 4,000-foot mountains in New Hampshire. This past weekend I did a 12-hour, 20-mile hike to hit Zealand, Bond, West Bond, and Bondcliff. That leaves me at #45 out of 48. I can’t believe how close I am! What are some of your goals?

Facing Fears

20160723-112245_ce6d_sgw_0535-Edit-1I recently shared this photo on my social media pages and received a lot of positive responses and many people telling me how brave I was to stand on Kjeragbolten, hovering 984 meters above the fjord below. The truth is, I am not sure how brave I really was in this moment. I spent the weeks, even months, before the Norway trip having nightmares )and daymares!) about this hike. I felt like I was in a state of panic the entire hike to the rock. When I finally had my turn to step onto the rock, I froze. I put out my right foot, let it hover for a moment, and then quickly pulled it back. Then I did the same thing with the left foot. My heart started racing, I began to sweat, and suddenly I felt this sense of dread that I would not be able to conquer this fear. Just as I was about to turn around and walk away in defeat, a very kind and very brave woman decided to help me out. She firmly took my hand and allowed me to use her as a support as I edged my way onto the rock. She continued to hold my hand until I felt steady, and then let go briefly so I could pose for a few photos. After what felt like a few hours, but was more like a few seconds, she extended her hand to me so that I could safely step off the rock. So you tell me, was I really brave? I honestly don’t know if I could have accomplished this goal without the kindness of this stranger, but does that matter? Sometimes people need extra support or a helping hand to accomplish a task, but does that take away from the fact that they ultimately did it?