The 46th Peak
Guideposts|August/September 2021
We decided to do this last hike of the challenge together. Partway down, I heard my husband scream
REBECCA BENJAMIN
I did it! Last November, I stood at the top of my forty-sixth Adirondack peak in less than four months, the breathtaking beauty of New York State’s Keene Valley spread before me. I raised my arms in triumph and took a deep breath of crisp mountain air. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Over the years, I’d summitted every peak taller than 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks, joining a group known as the 46ers. What made today special was that I’d set a goal to do all 46 again in less than a year. Then nailed it within just a few months. A personal best!

I’m big on focus and commitment. I’m a full-time literacy teacher, a Ph.D. student in education and a church organist. In my free time, I tackle hiking challenges. I like to push myself, to accomplish things. It’s how I feed myself, physically, mentally, spiritually.

I looked over at my husband, Mike, and friends Emily and Katie-Jean, who’d joined me on this climb to the top of Dial and Nippletop Mountains. They were all fit, experienced hikers, though not as gung-ho about it as me, Mike especially. He’s more of a tech guy. We’d set off in the morning, dressed in layers to ward off the chill. It took us just less than five hours to cover the five miles to the 4,620-foot summit of Nippletop, with more snow and ice on the rocky trail the closer we got to the top. It was almost 1:30 p.m. now. We’d have to head down soon, while it was still light out.

A friendly young hiker waved to us. “Hey, want me to take your picture?”

“Absolutely!” I said. I put my arm around Mike. Emily and Katie-Jean squeezed in next to us.

“Thanks for doing this for me,” I whispered to Mike.

“I’m so proud of you,” he said.

I gazed out over the sweeping vista. The purple mountains in the distance. The crystal blue sky that seemed to stretch on forever. This was the best part. I felt such gratitude for being able to experience the beauty of God’s creation, a blessing for all the work I’d put into this. Thank you, Lord, for being with me in this challenge.

Mike gave the hiker his phone, which had a better camera than mine. The other guy snapped a few pics.

“Okay, let’s get going,” I said. “I want to take a different trail so we can get down before dark. It’s steeper but shorter.” It would still be a good four hours before we got to our car, which was in a parking lot three miles from the base of the mountain.

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