Mount Sherman via the Southwest Ridge Trail

May 28, 2021


I arrived via Four Mile Creek Road, shortly after dawn. I parked just after “horseshoe bend” and the last improved structure, in a large parking lot around 11,400′. Among Colorado’s Fourteeners, Mount Sherman is known for having perhaps the shortest vertical ascent. In summer, the “trailhead” begins at a locked gate in the road at 12,000′. But in late May, you need to park roughly 600 vertical feet further downhill.

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Mount Bierstadt in Spring (1.8 times)

April 24, 2021

Guanella Pass Road

We arrived in the pre-dawn hours at Guanella Pass campground. Or more accurately, I arrived. My hiking buddy that day decided to camp out in his truck at 11,000′ on this cold, snowy spring morning. I tapped the frosted, translucent glass a couple of times to let him know I arrived. And a moment later, an incandescent glow filled the cab, letting me know he was in fact conscious.

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Lake Aloha, and the Desolation Wilderness

May 23, 2020, Echo Lake Trailhead

Arrival at Echo Lake

In late May, having settled into my new apartment in the Bay Area, I decided to set off on a backpacking trip. This trip would represent my first wilderness adventure in California.

I decided on a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail near Lake Tahoe through the Desolation Wilderness. From the name alone I knew this would be pretty interesting.

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Quandary Peak (Colorado)

May 5, 2020, Quandary Peak trailhead

Rocky Mountain High

The day began with a pre-dawn drive under the continental divide along I-70 (11,000′) from my hotel just above Golden, CO (7,200′). I sped past the Dillon Reservoir, shimmering in the day’s first direct light. From there, I pulled off the highway and headed south through the resort town of Breckenridge, at 9,600′. After Breck, the road climbed even higher, back towards 11,000′ and the trailhead for Quandary Peak.

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Esther and Whiteface via Marble Mountain

The herd path between Esther and Whiteface on a sunny day in mid March 2020.

March 15, 2020, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center


I pulled into the Marble Mountain trailhead to Esther and Whiteface around dawn. This Sunday, the Ides of March, would mark the completion of my 3.5-year journey to become an Adirondack 46er. I didn’t know much about the forty-six high peaks when I began this adventure. But I always knew Whiteface would be last.

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Cliff and Redfield via Lake Arnold

Ice and snow atop Cliff and Redfield in mid March

March 14, 2020, Adirondak Loj

I got an early start from Heart Lake en route to Cliff and Redfield. These peaks lie roughly equidistant from both the Loj and Upper Works trailheads—annoyingly remote either way. The plan involved a traverse to the Uphill Lean-to via Lake Arnold, making fast work of the hike in and gradual ascent. From there I’d tackle my last two summits in the High Peaks Wilderness in height order.

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Mount Marshall (nearly twice)

Mount Marshall from a false summit just north of the peak.

March 7, 2020, Adirondak Loj


The journey to Mount Marshall began on a largely ordinary weekend in early March of 2020. It was likely the last ordinary weekend of 2020. The novel coronavirus had already begun to increasingly dominate the news cycle. But that was hardly evident on this sunny, beautiful Saturday. Alpine and nordic skiers, snowshoers, and post-holers had already filled the parking lots of Heart Lake. Between the rows of cars, excited conversations took place in both French and English in equal measure. There’s usually one (maybe two) weekends in March where the bright sunshine of nearly-spring and the thick snowpack of a full winter collide. This was that weekend.

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Allen Mountain

The summit sign on Allen Mountain.

February 1, 2020, Fire Tower Trailhead

Allen Mountain and 46er Procrastination

Putting off Allen for the bitter end is one of the time-honored traditions of High Peaking.  According to the Adirondack Mountain Club’s official roster of 46ers, Allen spent decades as, far and away, the most popular last ascent.  Only after the 1980 Winter Olympics did Whiteface replace Allen as a more pleasant (and ceremonial) finish.  To understand why folks are keen to procrastinate in bagging Allen, one need only look at the stats. Allen requires an 18-mile round trip through brush and bog to bag just one lonely, tree-covered summit.  No other peak requires such an enormous minimum amount of mileage.

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