Biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross-country skiing and mountaineering. To one extent or another, all the Marchese brothers -- Dave, Tom, Russ and Bob -- partook of these activities. It was 1995, after brother Dave invited his three siblings on a backpacking trip, when they first had a go at hiking up a mountain.
"We hiked into Johns Brook Valley and camped at Bushnell Falls," said Bob Marchese. "The next day we climbed Mount Haystack in the rain and fog. At times you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Mt. Haystack (elev. 4960 ft.) was the first high peak for Russ, Tom and me."
Left to right are Tom, Bob, Russ and Dave.
Despite the weather on their first climb back in 1995, the Marchese brothers began frequenting the high peaks when time permitted.
"Nearly 10 years passed before it entered our minds to climb the "trailess" peaks," said Bob, "and go for the '46.'"
Bob informed me there are basically two types of trails on the "46er" mountains -- those maintained with marked trails and those that are "trailess." The latter term at times implies nothing less than a pure bushwhack. The above photo shows the group preparing to scale a cleft in the rocky mountainside.
This photo was taken while descending Whiteface Mountain In the center of the pic and off in the distance is Mount Esther. Weeks later, upon reaching the summit of Esther, the Marchese brothers would have fulfilled their quest, thereby attaining membership in the AKD 46er's.
Fifteen years after climbing Mt. Haystack, Dave, Tom, Russ and Bob Marchese stand atop Mt. Esther......46er's at last.
"It was a combination of jubilation and relief," said Bob. At their feet, atop Mt. Esther, is a plaque set in the rock by the Adirondack forty-sixers. In a bit of irony, just before the above and below photos were taken, friend and frequent hiking companion Eric Wohlers called their attention to the time -- the Marchese brothers had become 46er's at exactly 4:46 pm.
The plaque was set in place in honor of Esther McComb who in 1839, at the age of 15, attempted to climb Whiteface Mountain from the north. In the process she became lost and thus made the first recorded ascent of the mountain so named for her.
That's Eric Wohlers behind the Marchese brothers. Though he had climbed Mt. Esther a month earlier, he joined his friends for their celebratory climb.
Bob Marchese, pictured above, has climbed many a high peak with his own family. Said Bob, "My wife, Terri, and I climbed some peaks with our kids when they were little. When they were 2 and 3 years old we put them in kiddie carriers, backpacks made to carry small children. Today my daughter Olivia wants to be a "46er."
Bob with Olivia. An aspiring 46er, Olivia accompanied her dad on numerous high peak climbs this summer.
Only 13 years old, and already an even dozen high peaks to her credit, Olivia seems certain to keep the family tradition alive -- not only sharing in the common bond of those who have climbed the Adirondack high peaks, but helping promote safe hiking and the preservation of the wilderness for future generations. And to Bob, Russ, Tom and Dave...congratulations!