Dear Grace: Hiking Giant Mountain on 10.5.15

Dear Grace,*

It hardly felt like October today, with blue skies and temperatures reaching 70 degrees. I’d beard amazing things about the hike up Giant Mountain via the Ridge Trail and was excited to have such perfect sunshine lighting up the fall leaves. Our first lookout, about half a mile into the hike, brought beautiful views over Chapel Pond below. The kids at my rock climbing gym come here sometimes for bouldering and say it’s one of the best spots in the area. We couldn’t see anyone climbing from so far up, but I like to think they were down there, having adventures.


At .7 miles, we reached Giant’s Washbowl, which is a wonderful name for a short story. I don’t have an idea for it yet but have tucked it into my notebook, just in case.


This hike was steep in places. I’ve heard Giant described as a “three-mile staircase,” and while it wasn’t as relentless as I’d expected, it was a workout. Thankfully, there was plenty to look at whenever we stopped to catch our breath.





Marsha and I made it to the summit in just about two and a half hours and took our time enjoying the warm rocks and views. Shortly after we arrived, three men showed up and explained that they were at a conference for work. They’d left one guy behind to take notes. We asked how much they’d pay for us not to share their photos. 🙂




The steep parts of Giant were a fun challenge on the hike down. Sometimes, Marsha and I played it safe and sat down to slide instead of risking a fall, but all in all, it wasn’t as tough as we thought it might be to descend. Looking down at our feet to avoid tripping paid off when we spotted this cool millipede.


We made it back to the trailhead just about six hours after we’d set out. I’m finding that my favorite mountains have as much to do with the weather and the sky as the actual terrain, so it’s not surprising that this was near the top of the list so far. Giant is such an autumn beauty. It’s one I’m already planning to revisit.


Good climbing!



* 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 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. But I wish I’d had the chance to climb these mountains and write 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.