For this installation of Adirondack Field Notes, we welcome Brecka Coonradt, who shares her experience hiking the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. Enjoy following along below as she shares her stories and lessons learned throughout her journey. To check out more of her adventures in the mountains, be sure to follow along her Instagram page.
When I first started my journey to becoming a 46er I didn’t know anything about these mountains, the gear needed, how to use a compass, etc. I was just feeling a bit lost in life and knew I loved to hike. After reading a few things online, I set out for Phelps and Tabletop solo one January morning (I didn’t even own snowshoes). I had to ask other hikers if I was going the right way multiple times! I can’t fit into words how much I have learned about hiking and how much I have learned about myself throughout this whole experience. I loved this journey so much, and I was lucky enough to be able to move up to the Adirondacks after the completion of it to continue hiking these incredible mountains.
After my obsession with becoming a 46er began, I reached out to people on Instagram for advice, and for company! My family and friends had no interest or desire to hike, and everyone on Instagram seemed to share my passion. I have met, and continue to meet so many great friends through social media and along the trails.
My favorite day along my journey was solo hiking Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics, and Armstrong. It was a beautiful bluebird spring day, snow and winter conditions on the trails, but warm enough on the summit to spend hours enjoying the view. I was solo hiking, and had started early enough that morning to where I did not see any other hikers all day. The feeling of solitude, peace, and accomplishment was one that I will never forget. I have been back to those mountains many times since that day, and they remain some of my favorite views in the Adirondack Park.
Every single hike presented its own challenges… some more than others! The spring melt up the Allen Slide, breaking trail alone in over a foot of snow on the way up Colvin, unexpected thunderstorms during the Seward Range that cancelled our camping plans, having my dog interrupt a marriage proposal on the top of Mt Marshall…and the list goes on! I think that is the beauty of becoming a 46er, the unexpected obstacles and how you react to them. I feel corny saying… if it were easy everyone would do it. But that statement is true, and it’s one of the reasons that the 46er’s is such a special club to be a part of.
The day I hiked Haystack I definitely should have stayed home! The winds were 40mph+ on the summit and the blowing snow felt like glass hitting your skin. The last 100ft or so to the summit I could no longer stand safely. I crawled the final distance with my friend hanging on to my pack and pulling me to make sure I didn’t fall over. This was the first time I have ever been scared on a hike, and not something I will ever repeat. The mountains will always be there, and are not worth the risk on days like that.
I saw plenty of birds, squirrels, deer, beavers, and fox along my hikes. My favorite was catching a woodpecker and being able to stop for a moment and enjoy his work of art in the trees. The closest I’ve come to seeing a moose was fresh tracks in the mud on the hike out to Allen. That is still a goal of mine!
Stewart’s Apple Fritters! Carbs, sugar… amazing. Those, some combos and a good IPA make the day that much better.
My longest day in the mountains was the Dix range in winter. Between the road closure adding extra miles, breaking trail up the Beckhorn, and the 2 hours of sleep I had the night before, it was one mentally and physically exhausting day. I’m not sure the total hours we were in the woods, but those mountains were well earned!
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