Ascent of Giant Mountain on 2013-04-27

Climber: Cortney Bangel

Others in Party:Alan Bangel <2439> & Matt
Date:Saturday, April 27, 2013
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Carpool
Peak:Giant Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:2940 ft / 896 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a first attempt at a high-peak and the beginning of what will hopefully become conquering the 46! I will admit I had been nervous for this hike as the day approached, since it has been almost a decade since my last ADK climb (Cascade) and I am currently carrying around 50 pounds more than my body was designed. Matt and I had been taking walks up the hill behind our house since the start of Spring, which is a laughable “training” for a high-peak, but I digress.

The morning of the hike arrived and we were a little late starting out as everyone slept through their alarm (dad can blame the kitties for keeping him up all night, while I had no such excuse). Much running around to get our packs put together while Dad looked on, amused. We left the house and stopped at Dunkin Donuts for nosh and Sunoco for gas and got on the road. Dropped my car off at a friend’s for repairs in Ballston Spa and carpooled the rest of the way in Dad’s roomy van. One last stop at the High Peaks rest area before making the stone throw to Giant’s Rolling Brook Trailhead. The trip seemed quite fast, but perhaps it was all the stops and good conversation helping to break it up ;o)

We arrived at the trailhead and noticed some Canadian francophone ladies who were all ready to fly up the mountain (and wearing what looked to be snow-type pants-a premonition). It was the last we would see of them. Meanwhile, we took our time getting ready and snapped a few sign photos. Up the trail we went, beginning around 10:15am, and 10 minutes in I was already nervous at my lack of stamina and overheating. Praised heaven for a gorgeous clear day, with temps in the 50s. Perfect hiking weather allowing for a t-shirt and minimal sweat accumulation. Made a slight detour to view the top of the falls, and snapped a few photos. (Matt did not want to get too close to the edge, and watched me like a hawk!) Continued back on to the trail until the fork of the campsites to the left and the foot trail to the right, where Matt applied some moleskin to both ankles (we are such amateurs - thanks for the supplies Dad!) and we continued just a bit farther to find the trail-namesake rolling brook. It was a-flowin' and there were two options for crossing. Shimmying up a fallen tree or shimmying over a medium sized boulder to four stepping stones. Matt chose the boulder, and he and Dad crossed fairly easily. I held the group up in fear as I readied myself to cross these four small stepping stones. Worked up my nerve and made it across without so much as a wet hand. Proud!!! Continued on with newfound stamina due to the adrenaline rush. Came to the fork for the trail to the washbowl and decided not to add to our summit goal. We continued up the trail, which went from pretty dry to a steep, muddy stream bed quite quickly. The ascent got steeper and I got slower, stopping often to catch my breath. We also stopped around noon for a drink. Continuing on, I mis-stepped at one point and found foot deep in wet mud. Luckily, water did not soak through my hikers! A few times we had to divert off the trail to where there was no mud, but soon the wet muddiness turned into ice, which turned into ice and snow. We met one couple with their dog and asked them how the summit was. They said they did not make it, and we assumed amongst us that it was rough on their puppy’s foot pads. Continuing on just a bit farther we came to a snowy, icy flow which we had to divert well out of the way to go around, and as we did, we heard a younger couple coming down the flow on the other side. The girl had on pink sneakers with no traction whatsoever and they were having difficulty making it down the snow. We asked them how the summit was, and they said they also did not make it. They had only gotten about a mile further and the snow/ice got much worse to where it was impassable without spikes or crampons. At this point, we discussed whether to bother continuing upward and I made the executive decision to backtrack down the trail and head to the washbowl.

The descent was fast and easy after a difficult climb (with the exception of one trip-and-fall, with my ego being the only injury). Once embarking on the washbowl turnoff, my legs were a little annoyed to discover that getting to the washbowl also included a little bit of an ascent. Many mini-stops were taken to catch my breath, but soon the trail headed downhill, past some gorgeous cliffs with fallen boulders and we wondered if we might wake a bear coming out of her hibernation den. There was a tiny brook along the way with a small few pools of water here and there and dad joked that any of these pools made a lovely washbowl so we could stop at any point. The REAL washbowl came up quick and it was a lovely sight to see. Still mostly covered in ice, with some drowned dead, white trees on the edges. The water was very close to the trail in parts, but did not look like it had flooded it in a while. We came across another pair of hikers and Dad had a 5 minute conversation with them about other hikes they might enjoy. They were backtracking and had not come from the ridge trail. A short while later we found a boulder to sit on and ate what we had brought and rested. We took a few (silly) photos and I again was asked to decide if we wanted to backtrack or to continue on to find the intersection of the ridge trail with the washbowl trail we were on. I am glad we did continue on, as the intersection made us realize there was an alternate way down to Route 73 than over that crazy rolling brook so we eagerly began the descent. Immediately, we came upon a glorious sunny lookout with flat rocks, upon which some other Canadian francophones (this time co-ed) were sunning themselves. I was jealous of their sunny repose and took a moment to take a few photos (and attempt to eavesdrop, unsuccessfully). We continued on down the trail, which quickly became quite steep. To add insult to injury, said Canadian francophones came running down the hill after us (literally running), followed by a family of 5 which included a middle-aged man drinking a can of beer (really??) and a younger man carrying a sleeping boy on his back (REALLY!?!) We let both groups pass us and continued our way (slowly) down the steep trail. It was sunny and pretty, but embarassing that I could not keep up with a beer-drinker and a sleeping child. Dad’s words kept ringing in my head that this was "each our own walk to make" and I continued my inner positive pep talks of doing a pretty good job considering my weight and out-of-shape-ness. Soon the trailhead (of the washbowl and ridge trail) appeared and it was glorious to pass through. We continued our road-walk (an odd feeling to walk flat after ascent and descent hiking!) past Chapel Pond and made it back to the car by 4:45pm. Dad was awesome and took us up the road to see the view of Giant summit from the Ausable Resort. Got a gorgeous shot (and could see the snow/ice near the top from that vantage point!)

Sadly, we did not see nor hear much animal life during our hiking travels, with the exception of a noisy bird (that sounded like a dog barking from far off), and a skinny squirrel. We did see two large beaver dens by the washbowl, and signs along the trail that the little guys have been busy making them. I am looking forward to seeing a cute red eft (not to be confused with a red @ss – I made this mistake and was swiftly corrected) on the next trip!

Note: Any gps elevation data was stolen from Dad's ascent report - thanks Dad! :)
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1664 ft / 508 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow Climb
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Great hiking day - temp. in the fifties
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1664 ft / 508 m
    Route:Rolling Brook Trail
    Trailhead:Trailhead  1276 ft / 388 m
Descent Statistics
    Route: Trail from Giant Washbowl to Chapel Pond

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