Ballston Lake dad, kids hike all 46 Adirondack high-peaks

October 01, 2018 05:48 PM

In this day and age of video games and smartphones, it can be hard to get kids outdoors, but it can be done.

When a local father got his kids to put down their devices, it started them on a journey that took them to all kinds of new heights.

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Try telling a kid today to put their smartphones down and they may ask you what else is there to do? In 2015, Mat Garrand of Ballston Lake helped his sons find an answer.

"When I was a kid, I loved camping. I loved hiking. I see these guys and their friends. They're always on the phones, on their video games, those types of things," he explained.

Dad's big idea was to tackle the high peaks of the Adirondacks.

"I don't think he even said that. I think he was just like, 'Hey you want to go outdoors and do something cool with me since all you do is play video games nowadays,'" recalled his son, Brandon.

That was good enough for 12-year-old Brandon - then 9 and 10-year-old Logan - who was just 7.  On his first day out, he was hooked.

"I liked how it was out in the woods and there weren't cars going all around you and you got away from civilization," explained Logan.

It quickly became clear the boys wouldn't settle for one and done.

"We did three in one day and he just wanted to keep going and I think that kind of set us on the path - let's see if we can do them all," recalled dad.

That would be 46 high peaks. It was a lofty goal. They would encounter hungry bears and physical challenges like Allan Mountain that seemed insurmountable.

"When you get near the top, it's like a half-mile of a 45-degree angle, steep rocks, water running down the rocks and algae growing on the rocks. So it's like walking up an ice skating rink," pointed out dad.

Did they ever feel like they wouldn't make it?

"Pretty much every hike," admitted Brandon. "But our father kept us going the whole time. Every time we felt we were going to stop, he kept us going."

"There were times when I was tired and these guys got me up," acknowledged dad.

That was the magic that happened on their adventure. Away from screens, games and social media, they found each other.

Just last month, the boys and their father became Adirondack 46ers - scaling their last peak September 8.

Up next? Maybe the 48 peaks of New Hampshire. Whatever it is - it won't take much to convince this crew.

"It was beautiful out there. We loved being together. I think it was a real father-son bonding moment between us. I felt like we all got to know each other just a little better during that hike," pointed out Brandon.

Dad and his boys say they'll be attending an upcoming ceremony to get patches officially commemorating their achievement of scaling all 46 high peaks.

It goes to show there may be a lot you can do with those devices, but there's a lot more you can do without them.


Jerry Gretzinger

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