Jay Peak: A challenging icy ridge

My close friend Cole and I decided the day after Christmas that we’d hike Jay Peak. We knew this mountain had a ridge and desired to climb it since this summer. Considering we were both busy, we never really had the time to do it. Hiking in the winter has its challenges and it was well represented throughout this one. Here’s to my last hike of 2019 and let’s get right into it!

Does the trail head exist?

I think part of this has to deal with my friend and I both on about 3 hours of sleep. We always use AllTrails to find directions to our hikes but it kept taking us to the right of where it was. We didn’t realize this until 20 minutes later. The positive about this was the fact that it brought us down a windy road to a huge open field. It was a bunch of farm land and the sky was lit in pink which created a wild scene. Once we found the trailhead, we jumped out of the car and started as soon as we could.

Trailhead for Jay Mountain

Before the ridge

I found this part of the hike very easy and my friend did as well. Although icy, it wasn’t too bad for a climb. It was a gradual incline and there were multiple switchbacks. Without the use of my Kahtoola, I fell a handful of times. I specifically remember an area on the trail that had a dropoff to the right with a little coverage of trees. I had fell right next to it from the ice and I’m happy to say I fell where I could catch myself away from that dropoff. Adrenaline shot through me but in the end it’s a risk that could happen through any winter hike. There were many falls after that as well, but they were in locations without the potential of any dangerous injury. It became even more interesting once we reached the first false summit.

Rock scrambling

Reaching the first false summit, my friend and I had to navigate a very narrow area of the trail. We began climbing up the side of the trail adjacent to another drop off but clung to the wall for safety. We both look after each other so we made sure nothing would occur that we were actually putting ourselves in danger. One of the last false summits was even tougher due to more ice and snow. We continued to rock scramble a bit and when we reached the last false summit it appears to be the highest point. I must admit that it felt a bit demoralizing. Once we hit the top though…we were very happy to complete a new mountain.

Looking at Jay Mountain from the last false summit

A quick stop

We didn’t stay at the summit for too long since my friend had to get back in time for work. I ate the amazing PB & J sandwich from Stewart’s, took some photos, and began to head down shortly afterwards. Understanding that we had to go up and over a couple false summits was definitely discouraging. We took our time and once we kept descending, we took frequent breaks to hydrate. When we were near the car I had to sign us out and I realized all of the destinations said “Jay Range”. I didn’t realize it was considered a range before we went, but I’m glad we did it. It’s one of those adventures that I’m sure both of us won’t forget any time soon.

View of Adirondack Mountains from Jay Mountain
Clouds rolling over below the ADK mountains
Looking at Whiteface Mountain from the summit

Thanks!

I really hope you enjoyed this blog and maybe found some parts useful for your own reference. I always put in mistakes that have occurred without certain gear to emphasize in a way that it is useful. Especially crampons. These adventures and photos mean everything to me and I can’t to see what’s in store for 2020. I’ll be going away soon and I’ll be covering a blog on that as well! To everyone out there, keep adventuring as we get closer to 2020!

-Alex

Reflecting on 2019

I must admit, 2019 was a year of triumph and tragedy. There wasn’t much in between for me. But if I had to go back, I’d do it all again. Why? Because it was something that made me grow as an individual and I think tough times are vital for anyone’s life. But the adventures…they made me realize I was just getting started.

Acadia National Park

One of the highlights this past summer was going to Bar Harbor, Maine. Visiting my first National Park was really special to me and I created one of my “many” favorite photos there. Entering the park with my brother, I was ecstatic to climb the Beehive Trail. It’s a trail that features a handful of ladder rungs and exposed areas while climbing. In my opinion, it’s a bit different from a casual hike and I wouldn’t call it family friendly. My other great adventure was taken on the famous Cadillac Mountain. During the hike, a thunderstorm was taking place over the ocean. You can guess that…yes, we got nailed with rain at the summit. Moments afterward, the sky opened up and revealed a beautiful scene. This is one that I’ll always remember.

Egg Rock Lighthouse
Rainbow after storm near Cadillac Mountain

Creativity

A little different from an adventure but, near the end of 2019 I realized that my creativity began to soar at a level I’ve never seen before. I invested a lot of my time into photography and learning new perspectives. Putting myself in a chat with other creators inspired me too. When you put yourself among others with similar aspirations, they will help you grow. I opened up my own print shop and had someone help me with creating shirt designs. Making a logo for this website was exciting as well but nothing beats Polaroid recognizing my work. I have many goals within the photography realm for 2020 and I can’t wait to see where it leads me.

Winter vibes from my first snow day
Polaroid photo that I had recognized!

New Hampshire

My brother and I decided this year we were going to tag one of our most sought after peaks in the Northeast. Standing at 6,288 feet, Mount Washington awaited us in New Hampshire. This would be our first “real” mountain together. What I mean by that, is the fact that this hike was deadly and it was a new challenge that faced us. The prominence on Washington is almost near the height that it stands at. I remember waking up with excitement but made sure I was focused, especially for the icy areas. Although nothing happened, Washington made it apparent to us why so many fatal injuries have occurred. Out of 365 days a year, 65 of those days are clear views on the mountain. We were blessed to experience one of these days and I’ll always remember it. Going to bed that night, I knew I achieved something great for myself and can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Views from Hermit Lake Shelter
Mount Washington summit

The Adirondacks

For this year, I didn’t bag as many High Peaks, but I did a lot of hikes throughout the changing of seasons. I was able to see the peak foliage in the Adirondacks with close friends on Hurricane Mountain. I started getting into winter hiking after my brother and I tagged Esther Mountain. My all time favorite though, is hiking a range. Being out in the wilderness throughout the entire day is something special. I didn’t really hit any ranges this year except for Jay Range. It was one of the tougher hikes in the Adirondacks in my opinion, at least in the winter. I’m excited to see where this year takes me in the ADK’s and hopefully I’ll tag many high peaks! My brother and I plan to become 46er’s this year and well…we might need to grab more mountains in New Hampshire.

My brother and I near Phelps Mountain
Beautiful scenery from summit of Jay Mountain

As for 2020

There’s a lot of goals that I have for 2020 and I’m stoked to keep pursuing my dreams. For photography, I’ve always hoped to be published in a magazine so I’ll keep contacting them until I get one yes because perseverance is key! I’d like to to create more beautiful photos for everyone and hang up some work in public. Creating a small shop for this website would be very cool as well. My brother and I are considering a lot of hikes when we’re in Washington and I can’t wait for all of the new stories to blog to you about!

Thank you

The support in 2019 is just the beginning but I’m very grateful for each and every one of you. If you have any recommendations on blogs you’d like to see, feel free to reach me at travelersandhikers@gmail.com. I can tell you that there’s many exciting things coming in 2020 and I’m happy to share them with you!

-Alex