It has been over two decades since “The Trip,” and yet I still quiver with a mere memory of it. Although I retain fond memories of the journey, my heart begins to palpitate as I put these words on paper. It’s likely a case of mind over matter.
The Trip occurred in the early days of my career as a guide. It began innocently enough, with a request from an old friend who asked if I would be willing to guide a group of aspiring Adirondack ‘46ers. They were concerned with a proposed plan to knock off three trail-less peaks in a single day, including a round trip of more than 20 miles, over wet and muddy trails.
My friend assured me, the ladies were all in good shape, and they had aspired to become members of the fabled Adirondack '46ers, an organization of outdoor enthusiasts who have climbed all of the High Peaks.
Their plan was to climb Panther Mountain, Santanoni Peak, and Couchsachraga Peak, located in the southern reaches of the High Peaks Wilderness Area.
Santanoni, the highest of their proposed peaks at 4,607 feet, is believed to have been named after the Abenaki pronunciation for Saint Anthony, a common term among the French traders and missionaries who once traveled the region. By the time the group eventually reached the mountain summit, I was busy doing some praying of my own.
Couchsaraga, which is considered a High Peak despite an elevation of only 3,820 feet, draws its name from an Algonquin term which roughly translates as “dismal wilderness.” By the end of The Trip, it was a most appropriate description for a guide’s view of the hill.
Panther Mountain’s moniker speaks for itself, and although its elevation is listed at 4,442 feet, it proved to be the easiest of the batch.