Thursday, October 27, 2011

46er run-down

Before I moved to Alaska, I was one of those New Yorkers.  I've decided not to even bother distinguishing the city from the rest of the state anymore.  Folks who don't recognize the additional 30 million acres from what's commonly projected through the tubes these days are akin to those who think Alaska is just off the coast of California, in a box...and smaller than Texas.

Down there in the northern chunk of the state, there's this nice group of hills called the Adirondacks, where plenty of adventures can be had, but the big draw is the hiking to the top of all the summits of the 4,000+ ft. mountains.  An ample amount of the "mountains" certainly qualify as such, especially Marcy, Gothics, Haystack, the McIntyre Range, and a few others, but some are nothing more than measly bumps on a ridge with little or no view, since the treeline down there isn't until about 4,800 ft.  But, if you do manage to find yourself at the top of all these peaks, you can get your name put on a website with an associated member number, if you care to go through the process of writing (not typing) down each of your experiences and mailing them to the organization's historian.  Some of my 46er stories, mainly the winter ones, were fairly amusing, certainly contributing to my current mind-set and desire for adventure.  

Unlike cannabis, peak-bagging actually is a gateway drug.  After a while the non-technical stuff doesn't jive anymore, so you get into rock climbing...then ice.  After you spend a winter slogging around on snowshoes and see no few skiers skinning up and making turns down the same route you're on, you realize there's more fun to be had and get into the whole backcountry skiing scene.  Pretty soon you're starting to meld it all into one multi-sport adventure, reveling in the rock, ice, and snow, at whatever degree nearest to vertical you find exhilerating.  But disappointment hits when the ice rottens, the snow melts, and the seasons change, forcing your skis and ice tools back into the closet and your mind into a funk...of course until you realize all that melted snow is now water gushing down creeks and rivers.  Because you like moving fast and light on your own two feet, the packraft becomes ideal for your summer whitewater and pan-wilderness pursuits.

Before you know it, you've spent more money than you care to estimate, and you partake in a lifestyle conveyed to those who weren't there only by means of pictures, video, and the written or spoken word.  You strive to assume your rightful place in the universe: a sometimes-influential being with the level of consciousness needed to understand humans are a part of nature, not in dominion of it.  You're along for the ride like everyone else, and you're searching for as much fun as can be had in accordance with nature and nature's God, before all the lights go out and you earn your ticket to the Great Gig in the Sky.  

Hilarious...because all that stemmed from a simple walk to the top of two of those 4,000-footers in the Adirondacks on September 29, 2007.  It can happen to anyone, and you don't have to move to Alaska to realize it (although doing so is a much more efficient process).

So here's the tribute video I put together two years ago commemorating those 46 hills.  Entirely still shots with timely animations, quotations, and music which seemed to best express the overall adventure.  Enjoy the show.

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