Andrew Skurka’s superhikes got me thinking about making my own hike across my old territory in the Adirondacks Mountains in Upstate New York. And while I was at it, why not hit all 46 of the High Peaks in one long linkup route?
For a little background, if you hadn’t heard, I’m a repressed alpinist that would settle for a good hike now and then. I’ve been thinking about this hike for several weeks now. Part of it is probably because I just bought a new pair of trail runners. But I know the truth about them. On me, these sturdy track shoes will spend way more time beating pavement in my neighborhood here in Peaklessburg than blazing backcountry routes.
Then I learned that the great High Peaks linkup has been done. It was first done supported, then supported again and again. Finally, in the fall of 2002 it was done in proper style Jim Kobak of Peru, NY and the late Ed Bunk of Voorhesville, NY in 10 and a half days! Then in 2008, Jan Wellford of beautiful Keene Valley, NY and Cory DeLavalle of Albany, NY went in Kobak’s and Bunk’s footsteps and covered the same 196 miles of the improvised route on trail and by bushwhacking in seven and a half days.
No offense meant to those that have gone before them, particularly to Ed Palen, but the approach they took wasn’t about speed or records (though DeLavalle helped Wellford set a record in 2008) but hiking without support! In fact, when Wellford and DeLavalle hiked in 2008, they gallantly turned down a freshly-baked pie in the middle of the linkup, or so the legend goes.
So here is what you need to know in case you want to do this hike:
- First, it’s been done. Unless you want to break Wellford’s speed record of three days 17 hours and 14 minutes, I suggest you set a more reasonable pace.
- Practice your backcountry navigation skills with map and compass, GPS and perhaps at altimeter.
- Do some shorter practice runs in the region. Also note that some of the peaks in the linkup quest are trailless, so be ready for some bushwhacking.
- Pack appropriately (preferably light), but pack and carry a bear canister. Those bear proof containers are required in the High Peaks Wilderness.
- Consider taking one lighter daypack to share to take up the peaks while leaving the heavier peaks stashed at the base.
Here is the general idea of the route if you are familiar with the High Peaks Region. This way you can linkup all 46 of the High Peaks in one weaving loop:
“The Wellford Way”
- Seward Range
- Heart of the Eastern High Peaks
- Great Range
- Giant, Porter and Cascade
- White Face and Esther