Yeah, you read that right. Lasik, baby.
Before I tell you why Lasik is what lead to me becoming an adventurer, how about that frickin waterfall? Our hike of Sawteeth Mountain, Pyramid Peak, Gothics Mountain and Armstrong Mountain went super well. There were many highlights throughout the day, but towards the end we found this waterfall. It was likely the highlight of the whole day for me. It was huge. And despite having about 90mins to 2 hours left to hike back to the car, I went with my gut reaction – shower in that waterfall in case I never see it again. I tried my damndest to not get my feet soaked. I did pretty well rock-hopping, but alas, I went in kneecap deep at one point. Fuck it. Who cares? I even had spare socks and didn’t bother changing because it was an epic part of the day and I felt like I was on a natural high. Joel and I even took turns climbing up the side of the waterfall. Check these photos out:
Let's go backwards a day....
The hike for Big Brothers Big Sisters. What a day! We hit up Wolf Trail in Gatineau Park and I don’t think this blog story would be complete without talking about it a little bit. At the beginning of the summer, I used my re-introduction to social media to do a Backpack fundraiser, hoping to stuff the packs with hiking gear for the kids. The community helped me out soooo much and we stuffed the bags with so much cool stuff. Hats, sunscreen, bug spray, first aid kits and so much more. Everything they needed to take a hike safely. And this past weekend, the team at Big Brothers Big Sisters here in Cornwall organized a hike for us. We met nice and early Saturday morning, Johnny Mountaintop gave the kids their backpacks and we were off. Right from the get-go, everyone was getting along, was super excited and having fun. I’m not sure who I was more worried about finishing the 9km trail, the Bigs or the Littles. But aside from a few scrapes and bumps, all went well. Scrapes and bruises, as I told the kids, are just proof that we were there. Each of the Littles had a great personality and were happy throughout the day. I could not have been happier. One final shout-out to everyone who donated items or cash to make this happen. To the BBBS team, Brittany, Kelsey, David, Ron and my world-traveling partner Joel, thank you all so much. This was truly one of the highlights of the year. The kids were so funny and fun to be around, I hope I bump in to them again. Here’s a few photos to make the rest of you jealous of our day:
Right, now where were we
Almost three years ago, I finally decided to pull the trigger on something I had been debating for a very long time. Laser eye surgery. I love it. Still, all this time later, I look around at certain things each day to make sure it still works. I hated wearing contacts for so many years. During our hike yesterday, Joel’s glasses started fogging up. And that’s when it hit me. Laser eye has been the secret all along to why I finally decided to stop sitting on my couch so much and get out in nature a little more. I think it gave me super powers and I finally understand why. Check out these commercials that play in the Lasik offices as you’re sitting around waiting for your consultation/surgery/check-ups:
So, me being me, when I went in for my consultation, I asked for the surgery that would allow me to snowboard on super-mountains or surf mega-waves. You know, like the commercial playing in the office. The doctor thought it was funny, but I wasn’t joking dammit! It’s only now, years later, that I realize I got exactly what I paid for. Laser eye surgery has made me an adventurer. Totally worth it! So, if you suck at seeing things AND you suck at nature and nature activities, there’s your answer. You’re welcome.
I wish I’d done a better job in taking a comparison photo for that spot near the Sawteeth summit to show you how much snow accumulates on the mountain. But you get the gist of it. What a huge difference between winter and summer/fall.
On our hike yesterday, Johnny Mountaintop and I were joined by a couple folks we hadn’t hiked with yet, Sylvie and Jason. In the planning stages, this hike changed from “Let’s do Sawteeth” to “Yeah, Sawteeth and if we feel good, Gothics too” to “Well, if we do Gothics, ya know Armstrong is right there”. And there was an extra mountain, Pyramid Peak, conveniently right in the way of Gothics. So all in all, our day went from climbing one mountain, to potentially climbing four. You know Joel and I by now: “Hey, you wanna (insert whatever here).”…..”Yeah, I’m in.”.
Sylvie and Jason were all for it too. Sawteeth was steeper than most teas, but that was the worst of it. We were all huffing and puffing pretty badly on the way up that one, but we all discovered second and third (and fourth?) winds at different times.
It took us roughly two and a half (maybe three, memory isn’t my forte) hours to hit the summit of Sawteeth. And it didn’t take any longer than a sammich and protein bar for us to decide that Gothics Mountain was definitely a go. That made me smile since I already Sawteeth’s summit on my completed list and I was definitely hoping for High Peak #21. At this point tho, I think the general consensus was that Armstrong probably was not happening. All good, I’ll take one new High Peak over none. Before we got to Gothics, Pyramid Peak was in our way and we had to go up and over it. Pyramid itself is also over 4000 feet high – the criteria to be a High Peak – but it doesn’t count because it’s technically too close to Gothics to be considered its own mountain. Regardless, we headed back down Sawteeth to the trail split and headed up Pyramid. This is where we started crossing paths with these two dudes – one from Kingston, On doing his first High Peak and his buddy from New York State. We would catch up to these guys and trade the lead for the rest of the day. Naturally, in Joe Wilderness style, I did not ask their name. But they were awesome, hilarious and they hooked us up with group photos for the rest of the day.
Let's go for #21. And #22, why not?
Countless folks told us on the way up that Pyramid and Gothics were where it’s at in terms of views. Some of the best in the ADKs. Our new friend, pictured above, even said when he finally gets a girlfriend that he plans on proposing on top of Pyramid. And it lived up to the hype. The views were unreal. It’s almost as if there is no middle ground in the Adirondacks – the summit is either wooded with no views (bullshit!), or the views are spectacular and you don’t want to leave. Pyramid and Gothics were definitely the latter. Not ladder – but remember that for later, we’re gonna talk ladders.
More views you say? Sure!
By the time we bagged the Pyramid and Gothics peaks, I think everyone was feeling great. Sylvie and Jason are great hikers. Coming in to the day, Sylvie had 13 High Peaks, Jason had 1 (with a possible second that he isn’t sure he hit the peak of). But throughout the day, we all took turns leading the group, we all took turns at the tail end of the group. No one was in major pain, no one was having a bad day and it seemed like everything was working out in our favor. So now, the only decision left was whether to do Armstrong or not. On the way down Gothics, it didn’t take long to hit the trail for Armstrong and I think right away we knew the answer. It was only about .75km to the top. Why wouldn’t we jump on the opportunity. We all felt good. And I wasn’t going to turn down a second new High Peak.
As we were making the decision to climb Armstrong, our root beer friends from earlier came strolling up the trail. I think they were going to skip it. All it took to convince them otherwise was Joel casually saying “you gonna climb Armstrong with us?”. And it was on. After a couple tough spots, it wasn’t long before we hit this summit too. #22 for me. One shy of being halfway finished the 46. It kinda boggles my mind sometimes when I think how much I’ve done in just a little over a year. Not to toot my own horn or anything. But a wise Horseman once taught me that it’s OK to toot away:
Just when it couldn't get any better...
The way back down (as I think I say every time) was uneventful. There were a couple problematic spots that really required huge focus, strength, big stretches and stability. Anyone who knows me knows what a spaz I can be. But I survived. The most interesting thing about the way down was all of the freakin’ ladders. I kept thinking “Who put these here, DJ Khaled?”. Because there was one ladder and then another one. And another one. And another one. OMG and another one! Don’t know who DJ Khaled is?? That’s ok, I did your research for you. I’m surprised he’s not talking over this blog as we speak. Look how annoying this guy is:
Right, so uneventful trip down the mountain. Until we could hear the rushing of water. Probably a stream…..until I looked over to my left and saw the biggest waterfall I’ve seen in all of my High Peak adventures. It was amazing. No doubt we were taking a small detour off the trail to experience this. We washed our face and hands, Joel and I did our SpiderMan thing and climbed waaaaay up, we took group photos. I even took a shower standing under the waterfall. Joel will tell you how much we joke about my lack of showering. But since he isn’t typing and can’t tell you – lemme tell you. I’ve probably even mentioned it before. Sometimes I compete with myself to see how many days I can go without. I did not not shower Saturday morning before the Big Brothers Big Sisters hike. Or afterwards. And I did not shower Sunday morning before we left for the mountains either. On our last trip when we did an overnighter, Joel even said “can you please shower” before we slept in the tent. I did not shower. I know he was joking because it’s become a gag among us, but it truly is a thing. I don’t dislike being clean. Sometimes I just don’t wanna. I can’t even explain it. But standing under that waterfall felt amazing. It was exactly the detour all four of us needed to get our final wind and make it back to the car.
Oh. And this happened:
Whenever one giant rock is balancing itself on another, always take the opportunity to make it look like you’re lifting it. Somewhere it’s in the man code. Which is why there were four hikers and only three photos – Sylvie had no interest in a photo of her own, but she laughed it up with us. Or at us….
All in all, it was a super successful. Joel now has 17 High Peaks, Sylvie bumped up to 16 and Jason got to 4. It was much more successful than anticipated. We went from climbing one mountain to tackling four. Of course, you know what that meant for me: McDonald’s like a champion!
Thanks for reading. I’ve got a lot of minor website work to do, which will happen over the next week or so. This includes fixing some broken links, updating the upcoming schedule, maybe creating a Bucket List Adventure page and a few more small things, so bear with me.