Adirondack Outdoors Fall 2013 Issue : Page 39

By KEVIN “MUDRAT” MACKENZIE Autumn on Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge: A High Peaks Traverse I listen from afar as tour busses roar down the road, each brimming with “Leaf Peepers” enjoying the annual show of Adirondack color. Every person enjoys the season in their own way. I prefer to experience autumn free of barriers by trekking through the wilderness. It’s a time of both subtle and overt beauty when the environment is in a state of fl ux; a changing of the guard with new sights, fragrances and sounds all without the distraction of biting insects. looKing out over g reat r ange froM the first overlooK . n otice the tour bus on r te 73 taKing Passengers on a scenic tour . c haPel P ond toward the lower h i le mo s t of the Ad-irondack reg ion is awash w ith color during autumn’s peak, a traverse up Giant Mountain’s Ridge Trail and down the East Trail over Rocky Peak Ridge of-fers an especially breathtak-ing view of the foliage while exploring diverse terrain. You’ll trek high above gla-cial valleys on ridges with extensive overlooks thanks to a great fire in 1913. The Dix Range, Round Moun-tain and Hurricane Moun-tain are among the closest neighbors; the Great Range W and Lake Champlain add to the distant panorama. A visit to two mountain ponds is even part of the route. The full traverse is for the ambitious hiker. Those looking for an easier out-ing may consider choosing a smaller portion of the whole. The route as described en-tails over 11 rugged trail miles with an elevation gain of about 4,600 feet; plan for a full day with an early start. It is not a loop, so be sure to spot a car at the opposite trailhead from where you start. Bring plenty of food and water and pack for in-clement weather, an exit un-der the cover of darkness and an overnight stay in case of an emergency. Remember that the temperatures can drop below freezing during the fall season. Beginning on the Ridge Trail (southeast of Chapel Pond on NY 73 N), climb steeply through the north-ern hardwood forest up to a cliff-top overlook. Chapel Pond glistens in the val-ley below like a dark jewel. To the left lie a variety of highly rated climbing areas including Chapel Pond Slab. The Lower Great Range sits off in the distance. Giant’s Washbowl, a tranquil pond, is a few minutes far ther along the way. Just beyond, the trail begins a series of switchbacks leading up Gi-ant’s ridgeline. It is here that the splen-dor of the hike truly begins. The fi rst leg was under a de-ciduous canopy of color, but the forest on the ridge con-sists of mainly evergreens. The most brilliant hues now surround you from below. With luck, an early snowfall may have frosted the near-by mountainscapes white. During these times, Mother Nature unveils herself as a master artist painting on a living palette. The trail continues to ascend occasionally weav-ing through the evergreens. A fi nal moderately inclined section leads to one of the steepest portions of the trail at around 2 ¾ miles. Look to the left for a view of Giant’s Eagle Slide. This was the theatre on which an October outing some years back found a 41 ADIRONDACKOUTDOORSMAGAZINE.COM

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