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Climbing Mount Jo – It’s All Uphill From Here #EatPlayLoveNY

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Climbing a mountain has never been high on my bucket list. While I love to experience new places and activities, I’ve never been what you would call the “sporty adventurous type”. I love the great outdoors but, when it comes to taking part in challenging outdoor activities, I’m usually the type to hang up on the “call of the wild”.

AManWhoMovesMountainsPerhaps my reluctance to challenge myself is thanks to my disability. When I was growing up, those with disabilities like mine were considered “fragile”. At school, I was always told to “be careful” for fear I may injure myself. There were many a gym class where I sat on the sidelines watching my classmates perfect their athletic skills.

These days I see things a little differently than I did back then. Attitudes towards disabilities have changed, and those of us with disabilities are encouraged to push ourselves, and reach for goals we thought were never attainable in the early 1970’s.

This brings me to my recent #EatPlayLoveNY adventure where I decided I would challenge myself to become a little more adventurous.

Our week in the Adirondack Mountains and upper New York State was slated to be full of non-stop adventure. Our itinerary included hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and even fly fishing. Most of the activities on our #EatPlayLoveNY adventure were activities that we took part in as a group.

On one particular day we had to make a choice between fly fishing and a hike up an Adirondack mountain. While the fly fishing opportunity tempted me, it was the opportunity to climb a mountain that was calling my name.  As strange as this may seem, despite my acrophobia, I was feeling drawn to the chance to summit a mountain.

SandyHikingMtJoThis is the type of rocky terrain I faced all the way up Mount Jo

I must admit, when I agreed to taking part in the hike up the mountain, I was very naive about the type of hike I faced in the Adirondacks. At home in Eastern Ontario, we don’t do mountains. We have hills, and here in the National Capital Region we even have the Gatineau hills, however, we have nothing like the Adirondack mountains. I love to hike, but my hikes usually consist of dirt trails winding through a beautiful forest – on flat land.

I met Jan, a local guide from Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service, near the entrance to the Adirondack Loj, located on Heart Lake, the gateway to the High Peaks Wilderness Area. According to Jan, that’s not a typo in the lodge name, the correct spelling is “Loj”. It was Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal system, who changed the spelling of the word lodge. Apparently, Mr. Dewey was a proponent of making the spelling of words easier by spelling them as they sound.

The original intention on this day was for Jan to guide me up Mt. Van Hoevenberg. After initial discussions, Jan determined that this “moderate” hike may be a little much for me, and perhaps take longer than the time we had allotted for this hike. Jan is a smart man, and he definitely made the right choice for me.

The rest of the #EatPlayLoveNY team had chosen to go fly fishing, so I was going it alone with Jan. I admit, for a few minutes, I was wondering if I had made the wrong choice. Seconds into our hike, I knew I hadn’t.


Our hike began at the Adirondack Loj Nature Museum, a small building located on the shore of Heart Lake. Taking a short moment to visit this intimate museum was a great way to introduce myself to some of the flora, fauna, and animals located in the High Peaks Wilderness Area.


Surrounded by skulls and skins of all kinds, I got to wondering about the venomous snakes I have read about that inhabit the mountains of the Adirondack region. Thankfully, Jan informed me that there was no need to worry about seeing any venomous snakes on our hike, as there are no known venomous snakes in the Mount Jo area. As much as I like snakes, and actually have two as pets, I’m not fond of the venomous variety!

Apparently it wasn’t the snakes I needed to worry about, but the black bears. As Jan said though, even with the black bears that roam the region, there is little to worry about. They don’t bother hikers…unless you set up camp and have some tasty food hanging around your campsite!

JanAtMtJoMy guide Jan – Mount Jo, NY

My guide, Jan, has lived in the Adirondacks his entire life. He is the true definition of an Adirondack mountain man. While physically he may not represent the image that comes to mind when you hear the words “mountain man”, Jan IS a man of the mountains. He knows so much about the Adirondack Mountains, that he spent almost 2 1/2 hours satisfying my curiosity about this beautiful region by answering the endless questions I had for him, as we made our trip up (and down) Mount Jo.

Perhaps it’s because I did not stop talking the whole way up that I ended up looking like this:


Don’t worry, you can laugh. For one thing, what the heck was I thinking when I asked to borrow Vanessa’s jacket because I thought I might get chilled on my hike? At this point in the hike (photo) it felt like it was 30 gazillion degrees up there! Also, why did I think this hike was going to be a “piece of cake”?. Before starting out, I was delusional and assumed that this was going to be a hike of gently sloping dirt trails.


Thanks to Jan, who documented my ascent, you can see the “cracks” forming in my determination to make it to the summit.

It was time to take off the coat, cool off, put a smile on my face, and keep going!


While the hike up Mt. Jo, with a summit of almost 2900 feet, is not considered to be a difficult hike, it is a challenging climb for those of us who aren’t used to this kind of hiking. But, that’s a good thing. Despite having to stop twice for a short break on the way up, reaching the summit of Mount Jo is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. After exerting every bit of energy I had, using every muscle that hadn’t been used in years, running short of breath, and dodging a few face plants along the way, I made it!


The views from the top of Mount Jo were spectacular, and worth every bit of effort it took for me to get up there!


Of course, I can hardly compare myself to mountaineers like my brother-in-law, Larry, who has climbed Mt. McKinley, Mt. Aconcagua, and even the magnificent Mount Everest, just to name a few. It takes a whole other type of human to be able to climb mountains like that.

What I discovered though, was how good it felt to climb higher than I ever had before. I faced my fear of heights, and my fear of falling due to my poor balance (a result of my disability). I faced my misguided, ingrained attitude that I can’t do something like this. I faced these fears and conquered the mountain.


My climb to the top of Mount Jo sums up everything that I had hoped for in taking part in this #EatPlayLoveNY adventure. For me, it was about so much more than just a hike up a mountain. While I experienced so many other amazing adventures on the #EatPlayLoveNY tour, like kayaking the St. Lawrence River and canoeing Lower Saranac Lake, it’s my climb to the summit of Mount Jo that gave me the greatest satisfaction.

After such an exhilarating experience, it was only fitting that Jan spotted this rainbow on our drive into Lake Placid.  After less than 3 hours together, he already knew that this blogger would want a photo…so he pulled over to the side of the road to let me get my shot – without me even having to ask.

A huge thank you to Jan, for being such a fantastic guide on my journey to summit Mount Jo. I truly couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks again to @ROOSTADK for giving me the chance to take part in the fantastic #EatPlayLoveNY adventure!

***If you get a chance to hike up a mountain in the Adirondacks (and I hope you do!), I highly recommend hiring an expert guide like Jan from Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service. Not only will your guide help to keep you safe, and make your hiking experience a fun one, they are great company, especially if you are hiking on your own.
  1. August 31, 2015


    Looks like you had a great time up there – you’re smiling on every photo! So good to get out on a hike and be at one with nature when you’re somewhere like the Adirondacks. Must get back there one day!

    • September 4, 2015


      It was such a fantastic hike! Definitely lots of smiles..especially when I reached the summit! You can’t help but smile up there 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. August 25, 2015


    Congrats on getting to the top! Very inspirational! I would love to see the view you saw, so this is now on my bucket list!

    • August 25, 2015


      Thanks Stephanie! The Adirondacks is a great destination to have on your bucket list! Such a great place to enjoy some amazing outdoor activities! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. August 25, 2015


    You are a hiking superstar!! I love the idea of having a guide – I would be so much more relaxed knowing that I had a pro leading the way.

    • August 25, 2015


      Hehehe! Not really, but thanks 🙂 Yes…a guide is definitely the way to go. I felt very comfortable with Jan around. I would not have wanted to do that hike on my own. Thanks for stopping by, Vanessa!

  4. August 24, 2015


    I think I am happy I chose the Fly Fishing option! Steep hikes and I don’t get along, well at least if I’m going against time. I’m more of a leisurely stroll type of gal lol
    The views look awesome and definitely worth it though! 🙂

    • August 24, 2015


      Definitely worth it, but yes, we had to keep up a good pace to get back down to base in less than 3 hours. Glad you at least got to climb Mt. Arab. It had some awesome views too! Thanks for stopping by Cailin!

  5. August 24, 2015

    Emily Marie

    I cannot believe you were the only one to opt in for the hike, but I am SO glad you did! There really isn’t anything like summiting a mountain. Way to push past all the doubt, and fear, and exhaustion! If you ever decide to hike another mountain, give me a shout, it’s even better with a little team. 🙂

    • August 24, 2015


      Sadly, Vanessa was supposed to hike as well, but she spent the first couple of days of the trip sick, so she could not do the hike. I’m definitely glad I chose to do it. I summited another mountain two days later but it wasn’t as difficult. Thanks for your kind words, Emily, I appreciate them! Yes! We will have to do the Gatineau Hills one of these days 🙂 Not as challenging, but still fun! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. August 24, 2015


    Amazing view! I’m afraid of heights so I’m not sure if I’d go up there but those pictures may be enough for me to give up that fear!

    • August 24, 2015


      You are talking to the Queen of Acrophobia, Amanda, lol. I have a huge fear of heights. I also have a strange desire to put myself in high places. Weird, I know. The view was well worth the sweaty palms! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. August 24, 2015

    Bonnie Way

    Good for you!!! I grew up climbing mountains so I LOVE doing that. I’d totally pick the mountain over fly fishing! My girls would also totally go for that type of trail – they like anything involving “rock climbing” or a bit of scrambling. That’s cool you had a guide, too; I’ve hiked a few trails with a guide and it’s always fun to learn about the local plants and such. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • August 24, 2015


      I’m envious Bonnie! That’s fantastic that you’ve been able to do a lot of climbing! Even better that your kids have a love for doing it too. Yes, a guide is well worth it. I learned so much from Jan – I wish I had recorded him as he spoke! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. August 24, 2015


    Lovely photos and I can’t imagine the trek! Good for you, that must have felt rewarding. Do you think more hiking like this in the future?

    • August 24, 2015


      Thanks Leila! Yes, very rewarding! More hiking? Definitely…I need to get more exercise and it wasn’t more apparent than during that trip! No real mountains to climb here though. I’ll just have to head west one of these days 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

  9. August 24, 2015

    Jenna Em

    Beautiful photos, Sandi! It looks and sounds like you had a fantastic trip. I love scenic nature excursions like this one.

    • August 24, 2015


      Thanks Jenna! I sure did! One of the things I loved most about this trip were all the outdoor activities and exercise I got. It felt so good to be outside, off my butt, and away from the computer 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  10. August 24, 2015

    Aeryn Lynne

    WOW, what an incredible journey! Love that photo of you among the rocky terrain, so cool. 😀 Congrats on making it to the top, that is quite a beautiful view!

    • August 24, 2015


      Thanks Aeryn Lynne! Yes, that photo that Jan took of me gives you a great idea of what the climb was like…all the way up! Making it to the top was so worth the climb. I only wish I could have spent more time at the top. I loved it up there! Thanks for reading!

  11. August 24, 2015

    Julie D

    Way to peservere! Thank you for sharing such the gorgeous view. Which mountains will you move next? 🙂

    • August 24, 2015


      Thanks so much, Julie! Hehehe…no other mountain moving plans…at least not yet 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!!

  12. August 24, 2015

    Erin Marie at The World Wanderer

    Amazing! I am so proud of you and loved ready about your adventure. I wish I had time to do this hike and fly fishing. You were quite the hiking rockstar on Mount Arab. I think you have a natural hiking talent. It’s fun isn’t it? Also, it gets a bit addicting. Even after something was hard, the feeling of getting to the top feels so good, that we want to climb more mountains!

    • August 24, 2015


      Awww 🙂 Thanks so much, Erin! Me too…wish I could have done both. I would have loved to have tried the fly fishing…but I probably would have sucked at it, lol. Hehehe…Mt. Arab felt like a walk in the park after Mt Jo. I’m just glad I didn’t do the two in reverse. You’re so right…this makes me want to climb more! Thanks for stopping by!

    • August 24, 2015


      It really is, isn’t it, Linda? I had no idea how beautiful the area was until I finally had the chance to visit. I’ve been missing out on so much all these years!

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