The Utica Tramp and Trail Club has held an annual High Peaks Weekend at Adirondak Loj at Heart Lake for more than twenty years. In the early part of August we reserve several campsites and spend the weekend car camping, feasting, and yes, climbing some of the high peaks whose elevation exceeds 4,000 feet. For many years we suffered from torrential rains that dampened some of our enthusiasm as we struggled to protect our dining area by erecting awnings in gale force winds. In vain did we shift the dates of the weekend, hoping to home in on sunny weather, but the rain always seemed to be one jump ahead of us.
Three years ago we invested some of our dues money in a large, steel framework canopy covered by waterproof fabric. The rains have not abated, but putting up the pavilion has not only kept us dry but has provided many amusing memories centered around the question: “How many Tramps does it take to erect a 30 foot long, nine foot high canopy?” This year was no exception. Our fearless leader, Roger Felske, arrived a little late in the afternoon, after most of our tents were up but as ominous storm clouds were beginning to threaten. We set about with a will, scurrying about like so many ants from an overturned hill, trying to find which steel pole fit with which other steel pole. Miraculously the skeleton of the canopy evolved and we waited only for Roger to bring out the waterproof roof.
Frantically he sorted through the junk in his car, looking for the necessary fabric, finally realizing that he had left it in his garage in New Hartford. Just as he was about to start his car to drive back to town some enterprising Tramp found the never-used side curtains, meant to keep out driving rain. We discovered that with a lot of bungee cords and not a little ingenuity these side curtains could be spliced together to make a serviceable top and Roger was spared a 280-mile drive. While we were doing this it began to rain, but about the time our task was completed the gentle shower became a deluge.
Still, we were snug and dry under our improvised shelter and from the larders of each camper appeared delicacies for our communal meal, some ready to eat and some needing warming up on our Coleman Stoves. Meanwhile three or four members set to work to build a campfire in the pouring rain. Miraculously, after consumption of at least a year’s subscription of the New York Times, the rain let up a bit and we circled our chairs around a cheerful blaze. Whoever said that newspapers were on their way out?
At five the next morning, hikers, lured by the aroma of perking coffee came stumbling out of their tents. We had scheduled two climbs, the larger group, led by Roger headed out to climb Algonquin, and if time permitted, Iroquois and Wright. Dianna Morris has been climbing all summer in the High Peaks and needed only one mountain, Tabletop, to complete her coveted goal of 46 peaks. I will let Dianna’s Blog describe that triumphant endeavor.
I set out with the Algonquin group, but a nagging foot injury forced me to turn back after only a couple of miles, so I can’t personally describe the adventures of that group. All of them reached the summit of Algonquin, second highest peak in the State, and several others crossed on over to climb Iroquois, while a few others braved a brief rain shower to complete the slippery climb up Wright Peak, site of a fatal plane crash a number of years ago.
The last hikers came straggling in from Iroquois as darkness and more rain were falling and another feast was in session.
We devoted Sunday morning to folding up wet tents and tearing down the pavilion and its improvised roof. Another year, another successful High Peaks Weekend, and another battle against the elements, but we look forward to next August when we will do it all over again. Who knows? Maybe the sun will shine!
Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois
On the Trail to Algonquin
The Trail back to the Loj