To end the year of many adventures in 2017, I experienced something on another level; winter hiking for the first time in the Adirondacks. It wasn't just any old winter hike but one that took place on one of the coldest days of the season. Of course Mother Nature wanted it to actually feel like winter in December when I already had plans to do this hike! I always try to do at least one big vacation during the year but also try to add in small trips to keep my sanity. So I decided to do a hike in the Adirondacks.
We convinced our friends Dave and Steph to come with us last minute. Since it was going to be super cold the four of us scrambled to make sure we had all of the proper gear we needed; face masks, wool shirts, hats, hand warmers, winter hiking boots, mountaineering socks, microspikes, snowshoes, and plenty of layers. Not only did we have to make sure we were dressed properly for the cold weather but we had to handle our food and water situation differently as well. To make sure our water didn't freeze we used an wide mouth water bottle (like a Nalgene) and placed it in a thick sock upside down in our packs. Then comes the food. Most people bring cliff bars or some sort of granola bar hiking but when it's freezing cold you don't want to do this. You'll break a tooth trying to bite into that sucker! So after some research, we packed cheese and crackers, granola, beef jerky, and a special treat we knew we'd appreciate.... hot soup :).
On our drive up the night before, the temperature kept dropping more and more. By the time we got to Lake Placid the temperature read -11 degrees Fahrenheit! Oh man... what were we getting ourselves into? Every time I looked at the thermometer my tummy hurt. What was I getting myself into?
The next morning, we ate a good breakfast, layered up, and made our way to the trailhead for Cascade and Porter. We started off the hike when it was -6 degrees. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. About a quarter mile in we had to stop to take off some layers because, even after researching, we still put on too many layers to start. Once you're going uphill you start working up a sweat. However, you don't actually want to sweat because there's a chance it will freeze later so off come the layers.
Oh man was it beautiful! It was actually distracting me from being cold because it was so beautiful. I felt like I was in the North Pole on my way to find Santa's workshop. I was walking along the trail in awe the entire time. I remember walking around with the biggest grin on my face because it was so beautiful. There's nothing like experiencing something for the first time.
The one thing about winter hiking is that there aren't any breaks. Once you stop you start getting cold again so you have to keep moving or, do what I did, march in place. It's so nerve-racking thinking how bad it can go when you're in the middle of the woods. You're far from help and vulnerable to the weather.
Remember how I told you we were well prepared for the hike? Well we were but we weren't the smartest when we got to the summit. Since we were warmed up from hiking we decided to try to summit in what we had on instead of adding all our layers on. Yup! Even after all the research we did we decided to ignore it. We soon realized how dumb that was! As we were walking along the bald face summit we had to stop. It was about about -30 to -40 degrees (with the windchill) and we couldn't handle it without our summit gear. That was fun putting it all on then and there! On went the face mask, snow goggles, wind resistant jacket, and snow gloves. We had to make sure there was no exposed skin whatsoever or else you could get frostbite within minutes. I might have thought my pinkie was going to fall off at one point but it didn't.... and we learned. :) (sorry Mom and Dad)
You're probably thinking what everyone else told us, you're crazy. But it wasn't as bad as you think. As long as you have all the proper gear (which we did) and you've done plenty of research (which we did) then you're good (so we were)!
The view was amazing! Very hard taking pictures (thanks Dave for the shots!) but so beautiful to take in. Of course this was not a summit for us to relax and enjoy our lunch on. We were only able to spend a couple of minutes on the summit to absorb the 360 degree views of the Adirondacks but it was totally worth it.
Summit of Cascade
One of the best things about this hike was that we got to summit 2 mountains, Cascade and Porter. All we had to do was hike another mile or so in order to reach Porter's summit!
Summit of Porter
I'll never forget how beautiful it was walking through the winter wonderland of the Adirondacks. Having the opportunity to experience the beauty of the snow-filled mountains was amazing. Not to mention, feeling like a bad ass during it all ;). Pretty sweet for my first winter hike!
Living outside of your comfort zone
2017 was a pretty great year. It was an adventurous one for sure! From starting the year in the Catskills to our Northern California Road Trip and then ending in the Adirondacks. It hit many items on my bucketlist for sure. It's the year I truly started living my life outside of my comfort zone. My goal in life is to always become a better version of myself. There's no stopping, there's only growing. I lived a lot of my life in my comfort zone and I did not feel like I started living until I made myself get uncomfortable. Setting goals that you never saw yourself setting and then accomplishing them is one of the best feelings. I never thought I would have done half the amount of things that I have done and I can't wait to build on that list even more. I have accepted the fact that I am going to do things that make me nervous. Things that might put me in danger. But I want to live a life of adventures with stories to tell. I want to see the world and try as many new things as possible. Life isn't about watching it pass by in front of you but taking part in it.
I'm looking forward to many more adventures and many more stories in 2018. Here's to making this year uncomfortable but so rewarding!