I had grand plans for today. They involved climbing a High Peak and then drinking a beer while cleaning the house. What? Which part of that doesn’t sound like fun?
Unfortunately for me, the first part of my plan failed miserably.
I had hoped to take advantage of today’s glorious weather and climb Phelps Mountain, which is number 32 on the list of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. It’s one of the easiest High Peaks to climb, at just under 9 miles round trip from the Adirondack Loj with less than a mile of sustained, strenuous climbing.
But I wouldn’t know because I never got to the sustained, strenuous part. Because I’m a chicken and high water scares me.
I knew the trail conditions would be tricky. In early spring you can expect it all – ice, mud, water, snow, snirt. So I did my due diligence and checked conditions online at the ADK website this morning before I left. I was disappointed to learn that the High Water Bridge to cross Phelps Brook had been washed out, which is a necessary crossing to get up Phelps (unless you want to go waaay out of your way). So I called the High Peaks Info Center to get the real scoop. I was told (very confidently, I might add) that the snow bridge was still intact and that the brook was still very much passable. Excellent news.
I’m sure you can guess what happened next.
I arrived at the Adirondack Loj, happy to be outside on such a beautiful day, and set out towards Marcy Dam. The trail wasn’t too bad – several icy parts, but nothing dangerous, and the snow cover was only an inch or two and bare in spots. I carried snowshoes with me, but didn’t feel the need to slap them on just yet.
It’s always interesting to see what other people choose to start out in – most others barebooted it, some wore stabilizers, others wore snowshoes, and some people strapped on the crampons right away. Some wore shorts and carried snowboards with them. Ah, spring.
I made it to Marcy Dam in no time flat and lingered for a few minutes. I had never been there this time of year. Surprisingly, I had the place to myself until the snowboarders showed up.
And then it was on to Phelps, which is only 2 miles from the dam. A few minutes later, I came to this sign:
Which was pointing to, well, nothing.
But that’s okay, because I knew the High Water Bridge was out. So I walked further up the trail, confident that my snow bridge would be just around the corner.
Well, it wasn’t. And in its place was a roaring brook.
I rocked hopped as far as I could go. Hemmed and hawed. Started and stopped. Got my toes a little wet. But then I chickened out. I just didn’t see a way across without getting significantly wet and cold. And I was by myself, which increased the wimp factor. And I knew that, as the day wore on and warmed up (we were already at 75!), the water would rise even more and make the crossing on the way down even more difficult.
The water wasn’t even that high. Had my long-legged husband been with me, I don’t think it would have been a problem at all. We have a system for obstacles like this. But I was all by my 5’nothing self with no other hikers in sight.
So I turned around. And found an empty lean-to at Marcy Dam and sulked while I ate a snack.
Speaking of snow bridges. On the hike in, this bridge was solid snow/ice. On the hike out, my tootsies got wet. Things are melting fast out there, folks.
On the drive home, I was stunned by how different the Cascade Lakes looked compared to just a few hours before. They were white this morning and now they’re a mix of blue and yellow and white. So beautiful.
I have one more very important announcement for those of you still reading. If you happened to be out hiking in the Eastern High Peaks area today and you happened to lose a small silver key on your way into (or out of) Marcy Dam, I found it. I turned it in at the Info Center. You’re welcome.
Wait, one more thing. People, LEASH YOUR DAMN DOGS. I love them, really I do. I’ll gladly scratch their ears and pat their head while they sniff me in inappropriate places. But other people don’t like that, and some people are afraid of dogs. I know, I don’t get it either. But guess what? There’s a LEASH LAW in the Eastern High Peaks. Please stop breaking the rules. Thank you.
Sorry, I’m still bitter from today’s hiking fail. At least I’ve still got beer in the fridge and a dirty house to clean.