The opportunity to climb Mt. Marcy presented itself after we realized how close it was to Mt. Skylight (our original plan for the hike). So the decision was made right there on the top of Mt. Skylight. Our trail map revealed a quick and direct route to Marcy’s Summit at the Four Corners junction just a half mile back down from Skylight’s summit. We definitely had enough daylight to take this detour, so all we needed to do was make a half-mile descent from Skylight, then turn off towards Marcy’s summit instead of the 4-mile trek back to Colden Dam. What could possibly go wrong?
Legend has it that if you fail to carry a rock to the summit of Mt. Skylight, it will surely rain. I’m not sure exactly who to blame for testing that legend, but not only did it rain, a full-blown electrical hailstorm crashed down on us just minutes after we began our detour route up Mt. Marcy. So as the lightning strikes eventually closed in right on top of us, we took the first opportunity for cover underneath this rock overhang shown below.
So now that we were officially trapped on Mt. Marcy, we needed to plan our next move. Remember, there’s no cellphone service, no 3G Netwok, no magic pocket forecaster — only three heads, thinking the same three thoughts:
- So how far away is the nearest hospital?
- Forget that – how far away is the nearest road?!
- There’s no way we’re turning around without pouncing on this summit!
So we played it by ear underneath that rock. We had a little bit of time to gamble with, so whenever the storm had calmed down enough, we climbed on top of our shelter rock (above) to analyze the clouds (below).
After several downpours and a unamimous decision, we finally made our move for the top, maneuvering on a very slick and trecherous trail of bedrock.
The race for the top was quite a blur. Suddenly it seemed a recreational hobby turned into a military mission, and it was all business during our final push (except for Tom, our documentary photographer). But there was one thing that we all took seriously, and was part of the agreement we made back at the shelter rock before deciding to continue on: Any more lighting, and we would quickly reduce our elevation from the highest point in New York State! Besides, this was just a detour hike – it was only 100 bonus points.
The ending comes with a powerful lesson about life. . .
A dramatic mountain climb doesn’t always end like the movies. Life gives you opportunities, but never guarantees success. It’s true that you write your own story, but the pages can stick together on a hot and humid day. So never write your story in a sweltering heatwave; never make a guarantee on an opportunity alone; and never climb a mountain during a lighting storm!
So, in plain English, we didn’t make it to the top. As you can see in the last photo, we were close. But the skies were angry that day, and a bolt of lightning rang down and blasted into the side the summit right before our very eyes. It was a warning we could not ignore. Too bad, I know. But hey – if you were looking for an action movie, that’s why we made this . . .
Go ahead and watch it again!