This past June I finally did something I’ve always wanted to do. I checked “climb an Adirondack high peak” off my bucket list! I’ve always been completely infatuated with mountains. They have this amazing way of putting everything into perspective and making me realize just how small myself and my problems are in this universe. I had climbed a few smaller ones before this but nothing like this.
After work on a Friday, one of my best friends Krystal and I packed up her car (her name is Adventure Car) with all our hiking essentials, strapped a couple of kayaks to the top of her car (which was an adventure in and of itself) and headed to Lake Placid, NY for a long weekend. The drive for us coming in from the complete opposite side of the state was just under 6 hours. We arrived in town around 10:30 PM. If you’ve ever been in and around the ADK region at this time of night, you know its darker than dark. PITCH BLACK. We often couldn’t tell if what was in front of us was a mountain or just some sort of black hole we were about to drive into. Some real edge of the earth type stuff. We eventually made it to our lodge to get to bed early to prepare for an early morning climb of 4,098 feet.
We stayed at Cobble Mountain Lodge in Lake Placid, roughly a 15 minute drive to the trail head for Cascade and I think I can speak for both of us when we say we would highly recommend this place! The room felt more like a cute little apartment with a nice, clean kitchenette. It was directly across the street from Lake Placid Golf Club. I have to say, I’m not a golfer but all the men in my family are so I pay extra attention to this stuff. That golf course made me wish I was a golfer. The views of the mountain from the course were absolutely amazing! The lodge was also about 5 minutes away from Main Street in Lake Placid. Location perfection.
We managed to get ourselves moving at 7AM the next morning to pack up our hydration backpacks and gather some essentials. Essentials including but not limited to: food (we are both always hungry so we probably pack more than is necessary), first aid kit (you’ll use it when your right foot decides to kick a rock into your left ankle, let me just take a second to roll my eyes at myself), lots of water, hoodie/windbreaker for the windy summit, a blanket and BUG SPRAY (you’re welcome). The drive from our lodge was pretty easy, just following Route 73 to Keene. The trail head is on the right just before you reach the Cascade Lakes. The lakes are also worth a few photo ops just an FYI. First off, we were super glad we made it out early. We beat the crowds (and the heat) and had a nice peaceful hike for the most part. Parking is along Route 73 so the earlier you go, the better chances of not having to drive around looking for a spot forever.
Cascade is a 4.8 mile RT. This trail is considered a moderate trail. We found some short, very steep areas that we did take a moment to rest after and hydrate. Your first reward for the climb comes at about 1.8ish miles where there is a ledge with stunning views. We decided to stop here to eat our lunch because it was the perfect resting point for us and the view was really incredible.
Shortly after this ledge there is a trail going toward the right which is a starting point to head to Porter Mountain. Many people combine Cascade and Porter in one day. We had predetermined we were just going to tackle the one for today so we continued on up towards the Cascade Summit. Once you hit the last 0.2 miles of the hike there are no more trees and it becomes just open rock hiking so you can see the view all the way up to the top. There were some parts of the open rock portion that were a little tricky to get your footing on but once you’re up, you don’t even care. It is AMAZING. Notably, even though we were working up quite a sweat on our way up, the summit is COLD. It’s very windy up there so make sure to pack a hoodie or windbreaker in your backpack because you’ll want to stay and enjoy this view for a while. We were feeling really proud of ourselves that two ridiculous adults just conquered this while laughing most of the way up because that’s just what we always do. It took us roughly two hours to reach the top. We are both dancers and love to hike so we are in somewhat good shape but not mountain climbers. We did find this challenging at some points but not impossible and if you can do moderate hikes on the regular I highly encourage you to give this one a try.
The way down took us about the same amount of time as the way up, which surprised us because we thought going down would go much quicker. However, this does present a whole new set of challenges on your body that we weren’t expecting. All in all, if you think you can do it, you CAN and you SHOULD. Also, you should most definitely do what we did and plan to sit by the lake at the bottom for a few minutes to really appreciate what you just accomplished and the perfect view there. So bring a blanket of some sort and enjoy!
That night we knew we were going to crash pretty hard since we had just put our bodies through a lot. We hit Main Street for a relaxing early dinner at Dancing Bears Restaurant for some much needed body fuel, with of course some well deserved drinks 😉 Then as expected, we CRASHED when we got back to the lodge.
Mirror Lake is exactly like it sounds. We couldn’t believe how calm the water was. We don’t have water that calm in Buffalo. The reflections in the water make it look like it’s all iced over even though it was June and it definitely was not icy. This area is SO much fun. The lake is open for swimmers, kayaks and just anyone looking to sit and enjoy a beautiful summer day. The day after our high peak climb we were looking to give our legs a break and focus on our upper bodies. We took our kayaks down off the car and paddled right in. Everywhere you look while floating in this lake is mountain backdrops that don’t even look real. This is a super easy lake to kayak because there really is no strong current here which allowed us to go pretty far, not being worried about being pulled away and gone forever. You can rent kayaks in Lake Placid which we have determined we would do next time so that we’re not constantly worried about making sure our kayaks are secured to the car properly. We are not very tall humans so us doing this was I’m sure very entertaining to watch. We were in town unknowingly during the Lake Placid Marathon so we had the lake pretty much to ourselves in the morning because everyone was so focused on the race.
We quit early afternoon to check out brunch at Big Slide Brewery which has a great little patio and we got to watch and cheer on the marathon runners who ran right by this patio full of drinkers on a Sunday morning. We also headed to Lake Placid Brewery and walked down Main Street which to our delighted surprise we found a candy store and we were way more excited about it than two grown adults should be. A Pinch or a Pound on Main St. Do it. Even if just to feel like a little kid for a few minutes.
We eventually made our way back to Mirror Lake to catch sunset. A very good decision.
THE DAY WE BROKE LAKE PLACID
We have a knack for bringing just a tiny bit of minor bad luck with us wherever we go. After kayaking around on the lake for several hours and eating and drinking OUTSIDE to our hearts’ content all afternoon, we discovered that the entire village had lost power. WE BROKE IT. WE BROKE THE VILLAGE. The best part is the power had been out for several hours before we even noticed. This is apparently a fairly common occurrence in town particularly on busy weekends such as marathon weekend. Locals reassured us after we asked “Did we break Lake Placid?” that this had nothing to do with us bringing a tiny bit of humorous rough luck with us always. We’re still skeptical. This power outage really really didn’t matter though. It’s too beautiful there to stay inside anyways (which is why it took us so long to notice) and we lucked out with perfect weather the whole weekend. A few restaurants on Main St were still open as some have special menus just for times like these. We could not have cared less that the power didn’t come on until after we were already in bed. We also both vowed that we want to start saving our pennies for a vacation home somewhere in town. We will do our best! We can’t wait to go back!