It’s So Rewarding to Introduce My Own Kids to These Mountains…

I’m from Rochester, NY and as much as I love my own Finger Lakes country, I fell in love with the high peaks as a kid. My first trip was when I was 11 years old. My dad took the family up the Brothers, thinking we would do Big Slide and then camp and hike out. That’s when we learned that there’s miles and there’s Adirondack miles. We ended up nearly stranded in the dark and camped barely off the trail on the First Brother. We tried Big Slide in the morning, but we just didn’t have the juice for it.

From there, we were hooked. We soon learned to ice climb from Ed and the other guides and Rock and River, and to explore the high peaks on snowshoes and skis. One of the highlights of my teenage years was a winter climb up the north face of Gothics when a sudden squall caused near white-out conditions for a short time before clearing up into a beautiful blue winter day as we reached the top, followed by my first backcountry telemark experience down the true north slide.

Anyway, I have kids of my own now and history is repeating itself as I introduce my own kids to the mountains. We spent the past 3 years slowly chipping away at the LP9 as a family, completing it in 2020. In October 2020 I took my oldest (then 10 years old) up Marcy via the Garden, spending a night at Slant Rock. Last summer I took my youngest (then 8) to hike the MacIntyres. And just this weekend I got back from my first Adirondack backpacking trip with both boys. When I was younger, we never made an effort to complete the 46, we just kept on going back to our favorites: Colden, the MacIntyres, and the Great Range, mostly. But now I kind of want to make a push. Maybe get all 46 by my 46th birthday (I’m 41 now).

The kids’ last day of school was Wednesday, so to celebrate (and to get them out of my wife’s hair, since she had a two-day grad-school web seminar Thursday and Friday), we decided to do Big Slide and maybe Street and Nye, depending on how the boys were feeling. I hiked Big Slide from the Garden three times when I was younger, but I turned around at the slide every time and never actually finished that last quarter mile, so this time I was determined to actually summit. But we thought it might be fun to try it from the other side, via Yard. 

We packed and hit the road around 10:00am Thursday. After stopping for lunch and making our customary stop at The Mountaineer, we rolled into the parking lot at South Meadows around 4:00pm. Temperatures were in the mid-60s. It had been raining all morning, and then had briefly cleared up, but the clouds were looking threatening again. I haven’t been to South Meadows for years and didn’t know that the bridge there was out. Maybe you could cross in lower water without getting wet, but with the rain that morning there was no way. So we changed into sandals and forded the brook, and then hiked with full packs to the Klondike Lean-to, getting there just before 6:00pm. The trail was muddy, of course, especially with all the rain that morning, but nothing untypical for the Adirondacks. We got a sprinkling of rain a few times as we climbed the pass, but nothing heavy enough to require pulling out rain gear. We had a cold dinner that night of cheese, crackers, salami, and cookies, and went to sleep. Didn’t see anybody else on the trail that night.

I like early morning starts, but my boys are still getting used to that idea, so I wasn’t able to get them out of their sleeping bags until after 6:00. After a breakfast of oatmeal and shortbread cookies we hit the trail around 7:00am. Temps were mid-60s again, and it was cloudy. Trails were a bit less muddy after the height of land in Klondike Notch. As we climbed Yard the clouds lowered and soon we were in a foggy-misty forest of birches and conifers that, as my youngest said “gave Rivendell vibes.” We only met one other hiker on the way up Yard.

We reached Yard’s viewless summit about 9:30am. As we continued the easy ridge-walk to Big Slide we met a summit steward coming down, only the second other person we saw on the trail.The clouds began to break up and by the time we hit the summit at about 10:30am the sky was clear enough for some great views of the Great Range through the clouds. We spent 20 minutes or so at the summit, chatted with a group of high school kids that had come up from the Garden, ate a few granola bars, and then headed back down. We did briefly lose the trail coming down one of the steep pitches coming off of Yard, but quickly retraced our steps and regained the trail, reaching the lean-to just before 2:00pm. We ate a lunch of cheese, crackers, and trail mix, and then packed up camp and headed back down to South Meadow. My youngest was starting to feel the miles, especially with an overnight pack on, so we moved a lot more slowly and didn’t reach the trailhead until a little after 5:00pm. We only met one other person coming down.

We drove into one of the South Meadows sites, ate a dinner of Mac & Cheese, and camped there for the night. The plan was to drive over to the Loj in the morning and do Street and Nye, but even though we got to the Loj before 7:00am, the lots were already full. So we headed back to South Meadows and I had the brilliant idea to follow the truck trail and then the Mr. Van Ski Trail from South Meadows to the Loj. I know it’s a ski trail and therefore challenging to follow in the summer, but I figured it would be more interesting than just walking along the Loj road. 

Well…that didn’t work out so well. I knew we’d have to ford the streams to cross over to the Loj, but the water was a little higher than I expected. The first stream was about waist high for me and probably would have been nearly chest-high by the time I finished crossing. The boys said they weren’t comfortable making the ford, and I didn’t want to try to pressure them, so we headed back. By the time we got back to the car, it was getting late in the morning, and rather than hike to the Loj to make the attempt on Street and Nye we decided to call it, hit the Noonmark for pancakes, and drive home. 

So I finally summited Big Slide on my fourth time on the mountain–30 years after my first attempt! That’s 13/46 for me and 2/46 and 4/46 for my boys. Street and Nye will have to wait for another day. I really enjoyed the Klondike Pass trail. It was obviously less-used than some of the more popular trails, but still pretty easy to follow

It’s so rewarding to be able to introduce my own kids to these mountains. 

– Submitted by Jared Cook (Rochester, NY)

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