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Giant Mountain & Rocky Peak Ridge
Greetings! I finally got back out in the woods yesterday, and climbed my first (and second) high peak of the year. It's been a while since the last time I climbed one of the 46 peaks, and I'm feeling it in my legs today!
Liz and I hiked up Giant Mountain via the Ridge Trail, hiked down the back of Giant and over the ridge to Rocky Peak Ridge before turning back. It was a hot day, and the haze interrupted what would have been an awesome view had we been there in different weather.
We weren't 100% sure which trail we were going to take as we made our way up the Northway, we had seen a few trail heads along Route 73 on our way through the area, so we figure we could just choose one when we got there..
We got to the Ridge Trail at about 10:00am. This trail head is located right across Route 73 from Chapel Pond. The sign for Chapel Pond will probably be easier for you to see from the road than the sign for Giant Mountain.
We strapped our packs on, signed in, and started up the trail. The first leg of the climb is a little steep, but makes use of several switchbacks during the 3/4 of a mile or so up to Giant Mountain Washbowl. This is a stream-fed pond on the side of the mountain that made a nice spot to refill our water bottles (again) on the way down.
NOTE: if you do not own some form of water filtration system, you'll have to carry quite a bit of fluid to stay hydrated in hot weather. I drank a liter of water in the car on the way up there, and carried a liter with me.. and I was almost out of water by the time we reached the summit of Giant.
After the Washbowl the trail levels out a little offering a nice grade for about a mile or so. The Ridge Trail meets the Roaring Brook Trail and continues to the summit after going over or around "the bump". The remainder of the trail scrambles across some open faces and slides. This portion would have been more pleasant if it wasn't so hot.. but jeeze, what am I going to complain that it was too nice and sunny?
We reached the summit at about 12:15pm. We spent about 30 minutes at the top of Giant eating lunch, and would have spent much more time if we weren't being eaten alive by black flies. Bug spray didn't help, and the breeze seemed like it was blowing just soft enough for the bugs to stick around.
We collected enough black fly bites in the 30 minutes at the top of Giant to annoy both of us, so we took off after enjoying some bologna sandwiches and a thermos full of iced-coffee. We hiked down the back side of Giant and across the ridge before starting the ascent to Rocky Peak Ridge. The back side of Giant is somewhat steep, be careful.
We were dangerously low on water at this point, but found a small trickle of a stream to fill up at while on the ridge. The small streams that run down these mountain have got to be some of the freshest water on Earth. The water was ice cold and clear. I am a little skeptical of drinking out of stream, so we sterilized the water.
Liz got one of those SteriPEN UV water treatment wands for Christmas this year, so we used that. These things are pretty nice if you have clean, clear water to begin with. It takes about 90 seconds to sterilize one liter of water, and is relatively light (4.5 oz.) compared to pump filters. The only thing that worries me is the battery, which is supposed to last for about 50 treatments. We have spare batteries, and a piece of cheese cloth to filter the sediment out of the water if needed.
Once crossing the ridge, the climb up Rocky Peak Ridge isn't bad at all. We reached the summit of Rocky at about 2:00pm. As we were approaching the summit, we heard several rumbles of thunder that sounded like they were getting closer. We ran into a a couple hikers that were on their way back down, and they said it looked like the storm was coming towards us. This offered a little motivation for Liz and I, and we didn't spend much time at the top of Rocky. We were hoping to be back up over Giant and on our way down by the time the rain got to us.
It didn't rain, and after climbing back over Giant we were making our way down to the trail head at a little after 3:00pm. We stopped at the Washbowl on the way down to refill our water bottles again. That makes it 3 liters of water consumed so far (each). We eased our way back down the switchbacks as our feet and knees were starting to get a little tired. We reached the car at a little before 5:00pm, and boy did Chapel Pond look inviting. I stripped down to my skivvies and took a quick swim. The water was colder than I expected, but it was super refreshing and I didn't have to ride all the way home stinking and sweating. (Ok, I probably still stunk, but I wasn't sweaty).
It was a pretty hot day with some hazy views, and we got eaten alive by black flies at the top, but it was a great hike and it was time well spent in the woods.
This brings our total-peaks count up to 10, almost 1/4 of the way through! Checked off the list so far are: Porter, Cascade, Dix, Big Slide, Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois, Colden, Giant, and Rocky.
Any suggestions on where to head next? I would love to do an overnighter and try to knock off another two or three peaks in one trip.
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