I crossed paths with a group of hikers on September 27, 2003 while traversing the High Peaks of the Dix Range near Keene Valley. The cloud ceiling that day was hanging at about 3500’ which put it well below the altitude of the herd paths and the rain was blowing sideways under heavy winds. There were no views, but the enthusiastic hikers were focused on a different goal. They were students from St. Lawrence University and comprised one of many groups scattered throughout the Adirondacks at that time.
Each was playing a role in a collaborative effort to put at least one St. Lawrence student on the summit of all forty-six High Peaks over the course of three days.
The annual tradition called Peak Weekend was initiated by the university’s Outing Club in 1982. and coincides closely with autumn’s foliage peak, either the last week of September or the first week of October (though their first effort was attempted in the spring of 1982). An Outing Club meeting held the week prior enables all the participants to choose their objective, meet the group leaders and discuss logistics.
While autumn’s peak foliage hadn’t quite reached its full spectrum, September 25th marked the beginning of this year’s St. Lawrence University Peak Weekend. The weather during the end of last week made for the perfect autumn hiking conditions with most of the adventure taking place on Saturday. Crisp Adirondack blue skies free of summer’s humidity enunciated the splendor of autumn’s colors. Group sizes this year ranged from two to the DEC limit of sixteen, including some staff and faculty. The total participation was roughly 260 including three St. Lawrence athletic teams. Several groups camped Friday night in conditions below freezing while others met early Saturday morning to day-hike their objectives. Routes included both maintained trails and some less traveled routes including Mt. Colden’s Trap Dike which was ascended by a large group of first-year students. The coordinated effort has not always achieved its goal, though according to the Outing Club’s website, 2009 marked success for the fifth consecutive year.