The Ultra Challenge of Lake George.                                       

The hiking challenges of the Adirondacks. There are so many to choose from. The options are endless here in the Adirondacks, from hiking the 46 high peaks to walking through towering waterfalls. But here we are discussing the Ultra Challenge! A challenge that is done in 24 hours!

Onyx, her dog. Photo by Madelyn

Hello, again there, fellow readers. If you are new, welcome! My last article discussed the Lake George 12ster hiking challenge and the Lake George Ultra 12ster challenge. The challenge is available in four variations. There is the regular 12ster challenge, the 12ster Ultra challenge, the winter 12ster, and the winter 12ster Ultra. 

To be an official 12ster, you must hike the specified peaks listed on the challenge sheet. (You can do them in any order) In the winter 12ster, you complete the same 12 mountains but must do them between December 21 – March 21. Then when it comes to the Ultras, you must climb all 12 peaks in 24 hours.

In my last article, I mentioned I had difficulty finding someone who has completed the Ultra challenge. There are only about 50 people that have completed the challenge. But luckily, with some research and snooping around, I have found someone that has done this hardcore challenge! 

Madelyn Vankirk. A strong and determined 23-year-old female from Fort Anne, NY. Completed the Ultra Challenge in June of 2021. That is 12 peaks, 40 miles, and about 9,000ft in elevation completed in just 24 hours! She did the challenge, just her and her sidekick, her dog Onyx. She never goes on an adventure without him.

In the Adirondacks, you often encounter wildlife when hiking, especially during the spring and summer. During her trek across the trails, Madelyn made friends with a minx.

Madelyn:  I had a little mink come out and follow Onyx and me, and we stopped and chilled with it for a bit. Eyeballing me as I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I packed a lot of PB and J’s and a couple of waters, but I had my sawyer straw and filtered water a few times when I got low. I also had a ton of energy chews and some energy tablets, which worked like a charm. 

Doing 12 peaks in 24 hours takes a lot of discipline and concentration. Training is always a good idea before starting any challenge. Madelyn knows this as she had prepared for it by climbing and timing herself on Cat and Thomas mountain before hitting the challenge.

Finding a place to rest is critical to hike all those peaks in such a short time. When Madelyn trekked her way through the Tongue Mountain Range, she found a fantastic spot on Fifth Peak for her and her pup to take a break. 

Madelyn:  I also took a quick breather on top of the 5th peak and loved every second of that. With the fantastic views of the clear blue water of Lake George down below and surrounded by so much natural beauty, resting on a nearby rock or log, there was never a dull moment.

When the sky was starting to get dark, and the air smelled like rain Madelyn, and her dog were towards the end and had a feeling they were about to get rained on. 

Madelyn:  The weather was great all morning until I hit the last six on the Traverse, and it poured in us the rest of the night. Always bring rain gear because the mountain weather is unpredictable. 

Suggested Hiking Gear for Hiking Trips with Rain:

  • Garbage bags- Always come in handy on a rainy day hike.
  • Gaiters or rain pants.
  • Lightweight dry sacks. 
  • Extra dry socks. 
  • Raincoat.
  • Always stay away from cotton.

On June 11, 2021, at 5:40 pm, she and her four-legged sidekick Oynx finished the challenge. Wet but safe. I asked her for a final word on tips she had for solo female hikers. 

Madelyn:  I’d just say stay safe and always trust your gut! Always pack stuff if you get lost and need to hunker down for the night, and always let someone know your plan. 

Madelyn now lives in Queensbury, spending her time hiking, kayaking, trail running, and having a newfound love for woodburning. 

Looking to try this hardcore challenge? 

Madelyn’s Suggestion- I always suggest doing the whole Tongue Range first, have someone pick them up and bring them to do Cat Mountain, and Thomas then heads over to do Buck, Sleeping Beauty, and Erebus and end with Black Mountain because it’s out of the way and its a fire tower, so it’s pretty neat to end on. 

Rules To Become An Ultra:

  • Summit all 12 peaks in 24 hours.
  • Register at your first sign-in and your sign-out when finished.
  • When you sign in at the trail register, sign in and out as “Ultra 12ster.
  • Include times, photos, notes, GPS. Any kind of proof to receive your certificate and patch.

Thanks for reading! Come back soon for another fun adventure.