Five year’s ago my father developed a tradition of taking his thirteen year old sons to the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness, in NY. The purpose – to call out the man in us, and to help us transition from boyhood to becoming a responsible man. He wanted to teach his sons to be courageous, to take responsibility, and to be a leader. Last Month I had the privilege of spending a week with my father enjoying the spectacular views.
Day one- at 2:00 we left the Kilpatrick family farm for a two hour drive to the Garden parking area, where we would begin our seven day excursion into the wild. The forecast called for rain, but later we learned that up there the weather is very unpredictable. After about a two hour hike we had covered the 3.5 miles to John’s Brook Lodge, and went down by the river to rest. The ten man bunk house was crowded and hot but it was a nice way to start the trip.
Day two – Bushnell Falls
After a whole night of rain we awoke to a cloudy wet day and a hot breakfast of pancakes, sausage, and pineapple. We got an early start and headed down the trail, encountering many puddles along the way. Finally we reached our destination and found the lean-to empty. We quickly set up our stuff, grabbed the necessary gear, and headed off to climb our first high peak (the fearsome “Hay Stack” – one of the steepest mountains in the ADKs). Upon reaching the top of Little Haystack we found it pointless to continue, for the mountain was in a cloud. We returned to our camp site, and swam in the crystal clear river. The day ended with spaghetti and meat sauce, and some reading from the Raising a Modern Day Knight book (which I received for my birthday!).
Day three – The Range Trail
We woke up at 6:30, ate breakfast, and headed up to Slant Rock where we filled up our water bottles. From there we started our ascent up Range Trail, a hard and rocky terrain with steep hills.
At Mount Basin, we started a very difficult and exhausting climb up the 4284-foot rock. Upon reaching the top we got a few short glimpses through the clouds, and then descended to what we thought was a sadle-back. This turned out to be only a little hump, so we reluctantly pushed on, up the most treacherous mountain I have ever experienced. The steep and ridged rocks could only be surpassed by first taking off our back-packs! We were almost to the top when we came to a rock face where ropes could have been necessary to get up. For about half an hour we tried to think of a good way to climb it, and then it started to rain. It was so frightening I felt sick, but remembering that God was with us we cried out to the Lord.
Shortly after we had reached the summit, and started our final descent, we came to a HUGE slide where Hurricane Irene had swept the whole side of the mountain away. To go down it we had to descend about 1000 feet of stairs, before reaching the Ore River (the water was orange from the massive deposits of ore). Exhausted, we trudged into camp too tired to eat. it was the hardest nine miles I have ever done, and I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
Day Four – Mount Marcy
We woke up around 7:00, refreshed and looking forward to climbing Marcy. We set off, headed for a camp site at Panther Gorge. The trail was the most beautiful piece of trail I have ever traversed, on which we encountered fresh bear tracks going down the trail. Finally we reached a fork and started up Mount Marcy, meeting many people along the way. The top provided a good view of Lake Tear of the Cloud and Upper Ausable Lake. We also met some friendly people from Lake Placid NY, who gave us an apple, which was a huge blessing after 4 days of dehydrated food . after lunch we descended Mount Marcy and found our lean-to. We swam in the river until dinner. We also found a pen that someone had left behind, which was a blessing as we had forgotten to bring one along for journaling .
Day Five- Lake Colden
after a hard climb out of the gorge we descended to the beautiful Lake Tear of the Clouds, and hiked past Felspar Falls with three huge spectacular overlooks. Upon reaching the lake, I swam for the afternoon and was glad to find it warmer than the freezing cold river .
Day Six – Calamity and the Badlands
After a great breakfast of oatmeal, we set of on a pleasant walk down to the lake, to enjoy the scenery of the marshes and to see some bull frogs . After a one mile walk we came to a fork in the trail, where we took an over-grown path around the lake to the dam. Along the way we encountered many bull frogs (Daddy’s highlight of the trip) . Upon reaching the dam we found that the previous ranger had blown it up, so we returned to the lean-to and ate a late lunch on the Lake Colden Dam. We spent the afternoon relaxing, and finished off the day with some reading from The Modern Day Knight book.
Day Seven – Avalanche Pass & the parking lot
Our last day was exciting, yet sad because we had to leave the splendor of the Mountains. After leaving Lake Colden behind, we came to Avalanche Pass and found it a difficult hike. We stopped to watch some daring climbers make the assent up the Tri-dyke (a ravine that comes down the Mountain almost vertically), with apparently no ropes. After an hour long hike we came to Marcy Pond, and discovered that what had once been a beautiful lake was now a field of puddles and tall grass. Hurricane Irene had washed away the Dam leaving nothing but deprese behind. After a quick lunch by the river we pressed on toward the parking area. On the way my dad stopped to look at the lake, and as we resumed our path down the trail we heard a loud crash. We came upon a tree that had fallen right across the trail, and probably would have hit us if we had not stopped to look at the lake one last time. When we reached the parking area we ran inside and bought an ice-cream sandwich, which we ate on the porch. We recognized a ranger that we had met at the Garden Parking area seven days before. We had the opportunity to share the gospel with him, and to tell him about our Entrepreneurial Conferences. About an hour later we found that we were waiting in the wrong spot for Mommy to pick us up so we raced over to the parking lot of the lodge, and found the van waiting for us.
I’m grateful for God’s protection, and all the amazing ways I saw Him work throughout the week. It was really special to have some bonding time away with my dad, growing our relationship and learning about manhood. I’m excited about the new responsibilities and challenges that will come with being a man, in the years ahead.
More pictures coming soon!