Adirondack Hike: Mount Marcy

Mount Marcy [Parking in ADK Loj 1002 Adirondack Loj Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946, $10 per vehicle] is no ordinary Adirondack hike, but the tallest of the 46 high peaks, the highest you can get in New York State. I’m not a 46er, and I don’t plan on becoming one. It’s too much commitment, and a two-hour drive each way is exhausting. That being said, I wouldn’t have traded my Mount Marcy experience for anything. We hiked it Labor Day weekend and set out from Albany at 5:30 AM, while the stars were still shining. After a carbalicious bagel breakfast we were off, and our drive up the Northway corresponded with a beautiful sunrise.

marcyWe got to the Loj just before 8 AM and we were the second to last car allowed in the lot. If we had any extra delay we would have parked in another area, and additional mileage would be tacked on the to the hike…It would have been awful, but fate was on our side that morning. There are facilities in the lot, also a little shop. We started our way to the trailhead, bright and early feeling great. The friendly park ranger went over the trail map with us, follow the blue blazes and watch the signage the whole way and you’ll be fine. We didn’t feel the need to buy the $10 map and never got lost even for a minute. So we were on our way. The first two miles were very flat and pleasant, just a walk through the woods you know? There were boardwalks and mountain views, we were excited, everything was so interesting and new.

mount marcy 1 marcy 1Before too long we arrived at the Marcy Dam, quite a scenic little spot.

mount marcyWe marveled to walk along Phelps Brook which looked so inviting, its deep pools were beckoning us – but we had a mountain to climb.

mount marcy 5 mount marcy 3At around three miles the trail begins to climb upward. The rocky path through the woods was beautiful as always. We noticed intricate spider webs and a strangely beautiful log that was dripping.

mount marcy 6 mount marcy 7We took a detour and quick water break to view Indian Falls. This gave us a peek of what’s ahead.

mount marcy 8You don’t actually see the waterfall, just the water falling off the side of the mountain.

mount marcy 9It was wonderful to slow down for just a moment and see the vibrant flora.

mount marcy 10Continuing on, around five miles things got real, if only for a short time. We gritted up the logs and rocks, swatting away the black flies [wear serious bug spray].

mount marcy 11The trail relented giving us a view of the summit!

mount marcy 33We continued on boardwalks and trails, through the woods and out in the open, until the final stretch. The last push upwards is on the yellow trail and as exhausted as you are keep going! The summit meant views…and lunch! I was completely awed when I got there, astounding beauty, but so voraciously hungry I had to sit and stuff the most perfect Cardona’s sandwich in my mouth before I could take a single picture. It was heaven on earth that sandwich, quite possibly the best thing I ate. Granola bars, applesauce, raisins, and lots of water – I was ravenous at the summit after that long climb. Then all the sudden Jeff said my lips were blue, and I sure was shivering. During the climb I was hot in a tank top, moving upward, fast. At the summit I sat down, not moving, and the wind was whipping. I had to put my windbreaker on and felt a little better. After eating we walked around taking in the views, the absolute best around in every direction.

mount marcy 44 mount marcy 45 mount marcy 88 mount marcy 99Be careful where you walk, there is rare alpine vegetation growing. We saw young woman who was a stewart and extremely knowledgeable about Marcy, surrounding peaks, and ecology. She makes the climb five days a week, absolutely amazing individual. Freezing, it was time to go. We got our picture of the plaque

mount marcy 77And one of us

mount marcy 55And started our descent, because we still had a long 7.4 miles before we got back to the car. The way down was long…longer than we could have imagined. We kept a good pace and by the time we reached the Marcy Dam again we were worn out. That last two miles was grueling. Even though it was relatively flat, the rocks wore on my tired feet. I was even aggravated at happily chirping birds. It wasn’t that the hike was so strenuous, just longer than anything we had ever done before. We kept going and the sight of that parking lot was so exciting, hallelujah good. A 14.8 mile round trip hike in six and half hours including a short rest on the summit, it was hard, it was grueling, it was one of the best and most memorable hikes of my life. The drive home was long, but we were satisfied. Cardona’s spinach ravioli were in the freezer just waiting to be made, and after that, we slept like rocks. I wanted to see what the high peaks region was all about, and I can see why so many have dedicated the time and energy to conquering these majestic mountains. If I lived closer, if I had more time, I would consider trying to hike them all. For now, I am more than content having hiked at least one, Marcy.

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