This June Cycling and Beer enthusiast Tony Jones of the Silver Lake Brewing Project completed a Great Range Traverse in the High Peaks Region of New York’s beautiful Adirondack Mountains. Consisting of multiple peaks over various terrain, Backpacker Magazine called the traverse America’s 3rd hardest day hike. Tony and five hiking buddies completed 20+ miles and over 12,000 feet of elevation change in a little over 20 hours.
WoolX Life caught up with Tony about his experience over a double rye IPA (or two).
WoolX Life: You guys completed your hike as a day hike, 20 ½ hours straight through. Quite a few of those hours must have been in the dark?
Tony: We spent the night before at the Ausable Inn and left at 4:00 am, we finished at 12:30 am the next morning, so we spent a few hours hiking in the dark with headlamps.
WoolX Life: There are a few rock ledges and steep descents on some of the mountains, the Department of Environmental Conservation has even installed cables in some area for safety. At any point did you feel like you were in danger? Was there a scary section?
Tony: When you look back and realize how steep some sections were, and we were scrambling to find footholds some places where you can’t see your feet, you realize how potentially dangerous it was. But when you’re actually doing it you’re just so focused on going forward you don’t think about it being dangerous. Some sections with the cables were so steep going down it’s almost like repelling, which was really fun.
WoolX Life: Hiking for 20 hours straight has got to be pretty grueling in any terrain, at any point did you feel like quitting?
Tony: Before we left we looked at possible out points along the way in case we had bitten off more than we could chew, but we felt pretty good the whole way and stuck together as a group. We did decide to skip Marcy, it was raining heavily at that point and we still had the 9 mile hike out the Johns Brook Trail. That was probably the toughest part, hiking out. It’s a boulder strewn stream bed and the headlamps and rain can play tricks on your eyes in the dark. My feet were feeling heavy too. We were all dreaming of real food, at a certain point you just don’t want another Clif Bar. All I could think about were Tacos.
WoolX Life: What appeal does doing a hike like this have for you?
Tony: I’m in decent shape, but I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. It is a hard hike that I was intimidated by before going out. What appeals to me is what I like about cycling, the suffering and reward. Suffer going uphill and then the reward of the great views. Scrambling up and down on the summits as well, you really have to be focused on what you’re doing.
WoolX Life: What prompted you guys to do a Great Range Traverse, had you been wanting to do this particular hike for a long time?
Tony: It was just one of those “Hey we can do that” kind of moments after completing a good number of the individual High Peaks, it’s such beautiful hiking there. They don’t believe in switchbacks in the Adirondaks though, it’s just straight up and straight down.
WoolX Life: What was the highlight of the trip for you?
Tony: The view of Marcy from Haystack was amazing, but there were many highlights. The whole first half of the hike is like a long highlight reel.
WoolX Life: How do you train for a hike like this?
Tony: Just biking, biked the hills a lot. The best training for hiking is hiking, and if it wasn’t a five-hour drive (to the Adirondacks) I would get out there a lot more.
WoolX Life: What’s next for you? Would you do it again?
Tony: Maybe, definitely would like to do Marcy at some point. Coming from the South (Tony’s from North Carolina) I’d like to do a late fall/early winter hike when there is snow on the ground. I hear that’s awesome.
WoolX Life: Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Good Luck in your future endeavors and don’t forget to pack some Tacos next time!
Silver Lake Brewing Project is a start-up Craft Brewery Project in Perry, New York. They plan to open for business in the Fall of 2016. You can learn more on Twitter and Facebook.