Saturday, February 8, 2014

Getting Out

This blog got off the ground by my recounting a very special string of adventures in 2009-2010: my "Year of Helmets."  Ever since completing that personal challenge--to take part in a different helmet-requiring activity each month for a year--I've been kind of on the lookout for "something else."  While it was all just for fun, and made for a string of pretty sweet photo-ops, I really did grow a good bit by constantly pushing my limits over the course of those 12 months...

So, in the first few days of 2014, I came up with a new quest: to spend one night sleeping outdoors each month for the year.  This particular goal comes out not only from my earlier "Year of Helmets," but from last September's 10-day, 120-mile hike of the Northville-Placid Trail.

And so, this adventure has begun.

On Wednesday-Thursday, January 29-30, Fr. Scott Belina and I spent the night at Marcy Dam, a just over two-mile hike into the Adirondack High Peeks wilderness.  We prepared for weeks, carefully assembled all the necessary gear...and kept a watchful eye on the weather.  The original plan?  "As long as it stays above zero..."  But the forecast kept inching downward and, for some reason, we just got more and more excited by the idea.  We rented a tent which we then set up in a lean-to.  You can't have a campfire in that part of the Adirondacks, but we hot food and drink.  It was about -10° F that night...with strong gusts bringing the windchill far below that (-30° to -40° F, we'd guess).  It was so cold it snowed inside our tent: as soon as our breath hit the tent wall, it turned to ice crystals which would sprinkle down on our sleeping bags.

And we loved it.

"Why?"  That's the question everyone keeps asking when they hear about this.  An honest answer is simply, "Because we can!"  But hopefully a little look at the neighborhood which was our chilly home for the night will help to explain...

That's why!

Of course, beginning this little venture in the company of Fr. Scott has come with the high risk of a serious side effect.  He's been working on becoming an ADK 46er.  For all my hiking around in the mountains, I had never climbed any of the High Peaks.

On Thursday, that changed.  I have now summited two.

I'm not yet sure if I want to commit to becoming a 46er myself.  Overlapping adventures could get a little tricky...but only time will tell.  With a nice dose of fresh snow, we strapped on snowshoes and made our way up both Cascade (4,098 ft, #36) and Porter (4,059 ft, #38) Mountains--a 6.2 mile roundtrip.  It was (surprise!) quite cold on the top--especially above tree line on Cascade's bare peak--but it was incredibly clear and you could see forever.

(Somehow the icy beard shot makes my mother a little nervous.)

So, there you have it: a new year, a new string of adventures.  I'll try to keep you posted as they unfold, and hope you enjoy the ride right along with me.

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