In late June, when Justin Todd hiked Cascade and Porter mountains, he had no intention of becoming an Adirondack Forty-Sixer, let alone the ten thousandth. But less than four months later, that’s exactly what happened when he climbed Whiteface Mountain on October 15.
Todd found out in January that he had the honor of becoming the ten thousandth person to hike all the High Peaks and register with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
“That blew my mind,” said Todd, who lives in Potsdam. “I’m only going to say that because of the Facebook page [Aspiring Adirondack 46ers]; everyone on there was talking about it, who it was going to be, and it was just such a topic of conversation. … There were people actually posting fake certificates of them being ten thousand. That’s how insane it got.”
Todd was one of 712 people last year to register a High Peaks round with the Forty-Sixers, a club that is becoming more popular every year. There were 10,136 Forty-Sixers registered through the end of 2016. The new members received certificates at the organization’s annual banquet in Lake Placid during Memorial Day weekend.
A thirty-seven-year-old physical-education teacher at St. Regis Falls Central School, Todd has his summers off. He usually spends his free time in the gym, lifting weights or playing basketball, but last summer, he had a shoulder injury. At the urging of a friend, he took up hiking and became hooked right away.
Prior to hiking Porter and Cascade, he had climbed only a few smaller mountains, including Arab and Azure, and had little experience in the woods. After he started hiking the High Peaks, he resolved to complete the round that summer. Often he would leave home at 4 a.m. and not return until evening. His wife, Melissa, was very supportive of his endeavor.
He has fond memories of hiking ten or so of the peaks with players from the basketball team he coaches. He also is proud of hiking twenty-three peaks by himself.
“A couple of the high points weren’t even High Peaks,” he said. “Indian Head and Pyramid are two of the most amazing parts of the whole journey. They are just awesome.”
Todd hiked to Indian Head, which overlooks Lower Ausable Lake, on a day he wasn’t bagging any of the High Peaks. He took his two-year-old son, Decker. “Our plan is to take him there once a summer and to just get a picture there for every year of him growing up,” said Todd, who also has a one-year-old daughter, Paige.
His toughest day was in the Seward Range. He briefly got lost and became separated from his hiking partner. Overall, he hiked twenty-eight miles. “It was so muddy. It just wasn’t the greatest experience that day,” he said. “I tell people I don’t see myself going back there.”
But there are plenty of other High Peaks he plans to visit again, and he’s encouraging others to get out in the mountains. “I took a field trip with a class to Porter and Cascade to try to open up their eyes to the High Peaks because it’s kind of in their backyard,” he said. “They really enjoyed it.”
Photos provided: Top, Justin Todd on a summit. Bottom, Todd’s 46er certificate.