Dear Grace: Climbing Colvin & Blake on 8.1.17

Dear Grace,*

This wasn’t technically our first climb of the 2017-2018 hiking season, but it was the first that added to my list of High Peaks. Last week, we hiked Esther as a warm-up mountain (side note: Kate of just a few years ago would have had a good laugh at someone who called an almost ten-mile hike a “warm-up” but life is funny that way.) Anyway, we felt ready for the 14.7 miles it would take to add these two peaks to the list of those we’d climbed, so we parked at St. Huberts and set off down the road a little after 7am. The Ausable Club property is always so pretty, no matter the season.

We took the Gill Brook Trail, keeping an eye (and ear) out for bears, since there have been reports of a couple unusually bold ones in the area. Apparently, someone threw food at them, so they’ve taken to following hikers in the hopes of getting tossed a granola bar. We didn’t see any and didn’t hear reports of anyone else encountering them either. All we saw were pretty waterfalls, cool mushrooms, and a chia-pet boulder.

The trail up to Colvin was great – a bit challenging in places but not too demanding, and we reached the summit by 10:30ish, happy to drop our packs for a little while and enjoy the views.

We decided to eat half our lunch and then start making our way to Blake, which we could see from Colvin’s summit.

The trail between Colvin and Blake involves a steep descent into the col, followed by a tough climb back up Blake. It was a whole lot of effort to put forth for a mountain that has no view from the summit. But it’s one of the 46 High Peaks, so…

No matter how far we descended, Blake never seemed to get any closer.

But finally, we made it to the top. It was…uneventful. And then we started back down Blake and up  Colvin again. The ladders helped.

The trip to Black and back to Colvin took us 90 minutes each way. By the time we got back to Colvin, I needed a little nap.

We had our second lunch on this lookout spot near Colvin’s summit and then started the climb back down to the Lake Road. I was thankful when we met up with the Gill Brook Trail again because I was super low on water and took the opportunity to filter some in the brook. It felt pretty great to wash our hands & faces in the cold water, too. We made it back to the car just after 5pm for a ten-hour round-trip hike. Colvin was a beautiful climb and one that I’d happily do again. Blake…not so much.


* The Grace of “Dear Grace” is Grace Hudowalski, the first woman to climb all 46 high peaks. She was a founding member of the Adirondack 46ers, the group’s 1st president, and later on, its secretary and historian, roles she filled until she died in 2004. It used to be that if you wanted to be a 46er, you had to log each climb by writing a handwritten letter to Grace. And Grace would write back. She answered thousands and thousands of letters, with encouraging words and sometimes, her own reflections on a climb, too.  Today, the 46er application process is simplified; one only needs to keep simple climb records on a club form that can be downloaded. There’s an online correspondent program now, too, and while I like my correspondent a whole lot, I still wish I’d had the chance to climb these mountains and write paper letters about them when Grace was around to read them. I love her story and her strength and the way she urged others to get outside and explore and tell their stories. So I’ve decided to write the letters anyway. I think Grace would have liked that.

2 Replies on “Dear Grace: Climbing Colvin & Blake on 8.1.17

  1. Enjoyed this storytelling as much as your fiction! Blog posts are quite a bit like letters, though a much wider audience.

  2. Love this post and the information about Grace Hudowalski. I look forward to reading more of your trail letters and seeing more wonderful photos. The mushroom is awesome!