Looking back I made a few assumptions about the day that were wrong and I was able to overcome them. The assumptions were; a 2600+ foot summit was not going to be a hard hike, after all, how could such a small mountain be hard to hike, and the heat would not be a problem as I was leaving in the early morning and I would be done the hike by noon. Let’s review the assumptions. ..
Early in the day it all seemed easy, (as seen in the main photo I selected for this post is of me after disembarking from the boat at a secluded dock, labeled “A”), I looked happy and ready, albeit a bit tired, to get started with the hike. In the beginning, I even commented that the hike up the mountain was “easy” compared to Mt. Washington, NH.
To put this in context, anyone who has ever hiked to the top of Mt. Washington understands the difficulty of the hike, on any of its trails. Upon entering the trails of Mt. Washington to begin the hike to the summit, I always think of the Inferno and Dante and what he saw when passing through the gates of Hell. Dante views the inscription with the famous line, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate“, which translates to “Abandon all hope, ye who enters here.” If you are going up to the summit and you have done it before you understand that the trail (on Mt Washington) is never the same and the hike remains an affirmation that you can do anything you set your mind to! So Black Mountain made me think of – Bring a couple of bottles of water, a camera, and your video camera, it will be fun. You may think I am making this up but check out this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUUAescYawk ) where I mention how easy the hike is initially. I say initially because while Black Mountain itself is no Mt. Washington, and not even a Mt. Tom, when combined with the other incorrect assumptions this would be a long day.
The mountain is a small mountain so how it can be hard. Let’s review some facts on the mountain. At 2,655 feet Black Mountain is the highest peak in the two ranges that shelter Lake George. If you go to this link, http://www.summitpost.org/black-mountain/150871 you will be able to read that my chosen trail, by water, was actually the “Hard” Trail. The trail I had reviewed before climbing was the trail from the Road that was not as steep in fact at some points I would consider the trail from the water as moderate with a tendency towards relentless, even on a cool day.
To complete the picture I need to discuss the heat. The temperature was at least 94 degrees in the shade and there were far too many bouts with the sun. A local thermometer showed the temperature 96-98F (around 35C) and as any Pilot or climber knows as you go higher the sunlight has less atmosphere to traverse (the sun is hotter) thus wear your sun block. The weather forecast, which I got, did show the temperature to be this oppressive and the meteorologist defined it as America trapped under a heat dome. Still, I figured that if I started early enough, taking two hours up and one and a half down, I would easily beat the heat and go for an immediate swim after the hike. But wait, I planned the trip on the wrong trail, the time for where I was going was 3 hours up and two hours down. Nonetheless getting there early I would be headed down by 10:30 – 11 am. Well, of course never having been there before I got lost, by the time the boat was tied down at dock “A” It was 9:30 am. Giving my bad planning, wrong trail and all, that meant I would hit the summit around 12:15, High Noon! Does anyone think two bottles of water per person would work on a steep climb in temperatures at 80 degrees at the beginning of the hike and no breeze for a hint of respite?
All assumptions aside it was a great hike. It was a great climb to the summit, and though I considered turning back as the water went down, I remembered the old saying, “No shortcuts to the top.” Any of us that ever founded a business understands that while you make assumptions based on sound science, sometimes you have to be flexible. I had set a goal for the hike. I just planned badly; however, I would complete the hike. Water rationing and hats on in the sunlight made the hike both safe and doable. So I hiked to the summit as planned and ate a sandwich with rationed water at the top as water was needed for the walk down. Here is a video of the view on the way to the summit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMxAAEzl1ZY .
After getting up to the summit and having a small lunch it was time to hike down, in heat that was easily 105 Degrees Fahrenheit in the shade! The water lasted almost to the midway point down. Here is a five minute snippet of the hike down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0tuG4K0oPs . In the end there are no shortcuts to achieving anything meaningful. If you achieve something great and there were shortcuts to the achievement you most likely were not the one doing the achieving! In fact you were probably stealing someone else’s achievement or part of someone else’s achievement. When it comes to hiking up and down a mountain there are no shortcuts, and in the end you know you accomplished something. It is a good feeling, even when the mountain is only around 2600 feet versus being around 7000 feet. So, my legs may have been a bit sore this morning but the pain in my calves does not speak of failure, it speaks of me being able to achieve anything I set my mind to do. So get out there, pick a mountain and hike up/down, just remember to plan a bit better than I did!
More photos from the hike: http://yonaitis.shutterfly.com/12033