Friday, June 7, 2019
Trailhead: Adirondack Loj/High Peaks Information Center
Elevation gain: 1366′
Camp: campsite by Colden Dam
I arrived at the trailhead around 3:30. I talked to the ranger at the information center to rent a fancy Adirondack bear-proof canister (different than anywhere else, aka the expensive one which I am not going to buy for the 2-3 backpacking trips I have planned for the ADK) and paid for my parking. The ranger made me a bit nervous, with talk about how I should set up my tent site at Colden and stay there all weekend because it would be so busy this weekend, there would be no space where I planned to camp tomorrow. He also said other people reported a 5 foot wall of snow blocking off Redfield. None of this helped sooth my anxiety.
I suited up, packed up the bear canister (just barely fits horizontally in my bag) and was on trail before 4pm.
As I was leaving the parking lot onto the trail, a ranger was waiting by the trailhead, wanting to chat. He said that it was very late in the day to be hiking “all the way to Lake Colden.” Perhaps I should consider Marcy Dam. It was incredibly irritating, because unlike the White Mountains, the names of the mountains here don’t slip off my tongue with cherished familiarity, but with stuttering and hesitation. I’ve hiked more than 3,000 miles, and I still find myself horrifically anxious and verbally tripping over myself trying to explain my intricately planned topographical map in my head to someone else who is insinuating that I should change my plans because I don’t know what I’m doing. Imposter syndrome is so real and it makes me feel shameful. What was I doing wrong, that this man didn’t read me as someone who knows what I’m doing?
Despite needing to adjust a few things at the beginning, the mud, and my shame spiral, I made good time, arriving at Lake Colden via Marcy Dam and Avalanche Lake by 6:30pm. I got situated, set up camp, filtered my water while chatting with three teen boys from Buffalo out for a 5 day adventure, and then made dinner. The caretaker stopped by as I was cooking and checked in; he was able to alleviate my fear that Feldspar wouldn’t have room tomorrow. He said that based on how quiet it was here, he couldn’t imagine any trouble and gave me a tip on a quieter campsite there that people tend to forget.
In the quiet here (there are only 2 other tents and the 3 boys in the lean-to), I reflected on my anxiety and loneliness. This really should just be a weekend where I unplug and enjoy my time in the woods, with no one making demands on my brain space. With my writing, I also realize that so much of it is imposter syndrome sneaking in. It’s only my second weekend backpacking this year, and it’s completely unfamiliar territory nearby places that made me very uncomfortable this winter. I’ve spent years in the Whites and I’m only now realizing that I took for granted my level of comfort there. The signage is well-done, frequent and easy to understand; that is not the case here. I worry that my discomfort here will directly translate to unhappiness during my big hike in August. They’re very different things, but my brain keeps trying to conflate them. “Why are you out here? What if you don’t like backpacking anymore? What will you do if you hate it now?”
I’m bedded down in my very warm Enlightened Equipment quilt, in a Big Agnes Flycreek tent that I put up despite everything in me screaming for me to do the comfortable thing and set up in the lean-to. I’m hopeful that I’ll have a restful sleep and wake up refreshed. My plan is to get up and slackpack Marshall, leaving my tent set up here. Then I’ll pack up and head to Feldspar, via Cliff and Redfield, setting up my tent at one of the sites there. And then I’ll head over to climb Colden from Lake Arnold.