Bob Marshall’s Big Hike

1,500 miles on 2 feet

Cave Dog finishes hiking marathon in the Adirondacks

By Phil Brown

Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer did it, though not in the way he planned. Keizer climbed Mount Jo near Adirondak Loj on a windy, overcast morning in late November to complete his quest to hike 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) a day in each of the 50 states.

The two-month adventure took him to North Dakota’s  Badlands, the Grand Canyon, the Ozark Mountains and the Golden Gate Bridge, among other places. For the grand finale, he planned to retrace an Adirondack hike taken by Bob Marshall in 1932 over 13 High Peaks and Mount Jo.

But Marshall did the hike in July. Keizer attempted to do it on Nov. 28 and encountered fierce winds, shin-deep snow and treacherous ice. He turned back after climbing six of the High Peaks. “It was white-out conditions up there,” he said. “I could barely see my feet.”

To log the 50 kilometers, Keizer had to hike on roads and on trails at lower elevation. Like Marshall, he saved 2,876-foot Mount Jo for the finish. About a dozen friends, relatives and media types (including a camera man from the Outdoor Living Network) gathered on the summit to witness the accomplishment, braving 50-mph gusts that almost blew them off their feet.

Keizer, 34, billed his “Hike 50 Challenge” as a tribute to Marshall, an avid hiker and conservationist who helped found the Wilderness Society. In 1925, Marshall, his younger brother, George, and their guide, Herb Clark, became the first hikers to climb all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks (all but four of which exceed 4,000 feet).

George Marshall’s son, Roger, was waiting at the Adirondak Loj when Keizer returned from Mount Jo. Roger was 8 years old when Bob Marshall died in 1939 at 38, apparently of heart failure. “He gave wonderful piggyback rides,” he recalled. “He was just a fun guy.”

The Hike 50 Challenge, sponsored by Duofold, was the latest of Keizer’s efforts to turn marathon hiking into a bona-fide sport. In June 2002, he climbed the 46 High Peaks in 3 days, 18 hours and 14 minutes—breaking the old record by a day. Later that year, he set the records for climbing the 35 peaks over 3,500 feet in the Catskills and the 48 peaks over 4,000 feet in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. In 2004, he broke the record for hiking Vermont’s 270-mile Long Trail.

What’s next?

“A long nap,” Keizer said.

Map shows details of Bob Marshall’s 1932 hike, which Cave Dog tried to duplicate. Map by Nancy Bernstein.

Keizer lives in Portland, Ore., where he works as a legislative aide. Someday, he may return to the Adirondacks to make another attempt to retrace Marshall’s 1932 hike. Starting at Johns Brook Lodge, Marshall climbed, in order, Big Slide, Lower Wolf Jaw, Upper Wolf Jaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Marcy, Skylight, Iroquois, Algonquin, Wright and Jo. In all, he ascended about 13,600 feet in 18 hours and 40 minutes.

Keizer started at the Garden in Keene Valley and turned back after reaching the summit of Saddleback, where the trail descends precipitously over bare rock that was covered with ice. Roger Marshall praised Keizer for having the smarts to change plans in mid-hike. “The hallmark of a leader is knowing when to quit,” he said. Then he added with a smile: “The Marshall record lives on.”

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The Adirondack Explorer is a nonprofit magazine covering the Adirondack Park's environment, recreation and communities.

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