It was 6:15 a.m. when we got started. The .5 mile walk to the trail register carried us through private land and gorgeous grounds, past the Ausable club, golf course (with mountain views), and quaint cottages. The road ends at the register and at the most beautiful gate. Whenever I am here, I try to imagine what it was all like when the club was built back in 1876.
After passing through the gate, we entered the AMR (Adirondack Mountain Reserve). From this area, you can access a number of high peaks and hiking trails. We hiked down a dirt road for about two miles until we got to the official start of the trail at the Gil Brook cutoff. It was about 7:30 by then. The sun was out and we started to shed our layers. Along the road, we met a few other hikers we knew we’d be leapfrogging throughout the day. That always seems to happen.
One woman was solo hiking up Sawteeth. Two other women were going to hike Blake, Colvin, and Nippletop. A man and his college-aged son were also hiking Blake and Colvin. As it turns out, they were from Brockport, just a hop, skip, and a jump from where we live in Honeoye Falls. That always happens, too; we always meet people who are very nice and connected to us in some way.
The hike took us along the beautiful brook, past a few campsites (some of which were occupied by friendly campers who called out their hellos), and then up and up and up. We passed many trail markers that pointed the way to our mountains of choice along with trails to other hikes with well-regarded views and other high peaks. Everything was quite well-marked.
We got to the top of Colvin around 10:30 and had the summit to ourselves. It was glorious. The view of the Great Range was a feast for our eyes. We also could see Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, along with Dial and Nippletop, two mountains relatively close to where we were (but not close enough for us to hike that day). We enjoyed a snack, soaked in the views, fulfilled with our wish to be connected to what was around us, and then headed off to Blake Mountain.
As is so often the case with hiking the high peaks, it was a big steep hike down until we reached the col. On the way down to the col, we sang our praises to the trail crew for making the trail nice and maintaining two great ladders to make it easier and safer for folks like us. And then . . . no surprises here . . . it was a big steep hike up to get to Blake. This was the muddiest part of the hike but, even so, it was no muddier than I would have expected. We took our time and all was fine. On the final ascent to Blake, there were three or so pretty intense scrambles. But we were careful and watchful and had no problems.
The view from Blake is fairly pretty obstructed by trees but by poking your head here and there you can still see beautiful views. We snapped a few photos, snacked some more, and headed back to Colvin to work our way down. On the way back, we started running into more people (in addition to the father/son team, as we were moving in step with them up the mountains). There was a handful of families out. It was great to see young kids out there enjoying their grand adventure!
We were back on Colvin around 12:30 or so. We met a big family group who had settled in to soak in the space, skies, and sunshine. We talked for a few, snapped a few photos with them, and then found a secluded summit rock on which to spend some time having our traditional lunch of bagel flats, Nutella, and peanut butter complemented by fruit snacks, Oreos, and water spiked with Black Cherry Mio (a refreshing beverage by that time!).
We worked our way back down the mountain with no problems. I was happy about this because I kept thinking of the last time I hiked these particular trails. My friend, Tracey, and I came to one of the trail crossroads and chose a route back that was, well, let’s just say we took the scenic route, which is absolutely true. She and I ended up hiking down the Fish Hawk Cliffs and Indian Head trails which I did not want to do with Ben. Although lovely, the additional mileage added a lot of time, especially when we were pretty well spent. Many people choose to add in these trails and their accompanying views but I didn’t want to this time, as it would have taken too long and we were driving back home that night.
Near the end we stopped by the brook. It was the best feeling ever to splash cold water on our faces and put our tired feet in the very cold water. Putting on a new pair of socks after a long hike and a cool dip was icing on the cake!
Ben and I were back to the car by 3:30 p.m., having made plenty of leisurely stops along the way to find peace, place, and promise. That’s what we always find when we hike. Sometimes, like this particular weekend, a mountain top experience is the juice you need to push through the obstacles that life presents. These hikes always show me that we all have great potential, that we are so much stronger than we think we are, and that we can really count on each other. And if that is not enough, we can always draw from the trees, trails, and views and connect with our wish to be fully alive in the moment.
All in all, it was a perfect day with sublime conditions, a very doable day hike, and great company. We were home late that night and off to the baseball field the next morning to watch Ian and his team play. Life is good!