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Rick Brockway

September 13, 2013

Third shot at climb turned out just fine

They say that the third time’s the charm. That’s the way it was for my good friend George and I.

Last fall, we headed to Lake Placid to climb in the High Peaks but were turned back by nine inches of ice and frigid temperatures on the mountain peaks. We were ready go go back in May, but the DEC advised hikers to stay off the trails because of wet conditions and deep mud. But last weekend, we summited Mt. Marcy.

You’ve heard that if anything can go wrong, it will. Well, that’s the way things started out for us.

We arrived at Heart Lake and signed in. We were full of enthusiasm as he hiked the first couple of miles to Marcy Dam. The weather was beautiful. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

As we started up the blue trail, hard use by thousands of hikers became evident. The trail was deeply eroded. Large boulders, logs and exposed roots, along with mud, made the hike more difficult. But we continued on.

A couple of hours later, we arrived at the place where we’d spend the first night. Before setting up camp, we decided to go back down the trail and climb up Phelps Mountain. After all, the trail sign said it was only a mile hike. So why not go up and knock off another of the 46 High Peaks?

The steep trail was brutal, even worse than the main trail. It took us nearly two hours to cover that mile and well over an hour to get back down. The views were spectacular from the rock ledges just below the summit, but the thick, stunted trees on top made other views impossible.

On the way back down, I twisted my knee. So every step down was that much more difficult. That was the beginning.

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Rick Brockway

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