Sunday, May 29, 2011

Plan B: The Santanoni Range

A couple of women that I met through the ADK met Saturday morning to carpool up to the Allen Trail Head near Upper Works. Our plan was to go with the CNY meetup group and hike to Allen Mountain. We waited with another two people at the trail head for about 50 minutes, none of the other hikers had showed up. We knew that they had all camped about 10 minutes away the night before, perhaps the severe thunderstorms had chased them out? We decided to attempt
Allen, just the five of us. We went about half a mile in on the trail in our water shoes. The suspension bridge over the Hudson had washed out in April and we were expecting thigh-high water to cross. We walked alone the river and bushwhacked further up and downstream from the bridge looking for a place to cross. It looked like the shallowest portion would be chest high at best, as a result of the thunderstorms the night before and the large amount of rain and snow-melt that had occurred so far this season. We decided to turn around, our packs would definitely get wet, and with projected storms throughout the day, the water level would only be higher on the way out.

We didn't drive all the way to Tahawus for nothing! We all needed the Santanoni Range and the trail head is located just down the road from the one for Allen. We were concerned about our late start, it would be 7:15 by the time that we would get started, and it is a very long hike to get all three in one day.

We started off fast, perhaps too fast, down the access road and onto the blue-marked trail. There were concerns that with the late start, predicted storms, and fast start that we'd all get out okay. We nearly missed our left turn off the blue-marked trail towards Times Square where the side trails (well, herd paths) to the three peaks in the range sprout off from. Carefully jumping from log to log we went through the bog by Bradley pond. I'm sure there is a herd path under the water somewhere but the best we could do was jump on logs and rocks and at times be ankle deep in mud.

The path dried out after this point for a ways, twisting through the woods and over blow-down. Our newly appointed leader's GPS assured us we were going in the right direction. At a junction where the path leads left to Times Square and right to Panther, we came across a few men that were climbing the range. They had camped the night before and had just completed Panther and recommended that we drop our packs because it wasn't too much farther. The five of us took their advice, ran over to Panther and took some pictures at the overlook and again on the summit. On the way out, we encountered to people that saw our note in the Register at Allen and decided to skip Allen as well because the river was too high. They told us that some of the group did go do Allen anyway, and nearly lost someone down the river that had to be thrown some rope. They quickly ran up to get Panther while we rested and ate some food and changed our socks.

Our group was now a group of seven and we decided to stick together and try to do all three peaks. At Times Square, we were disappointed at the lack of angry taxi cab drivers and there was no Hard Rock Cafe... We combined contents of our packs and most of us left our packs behind at Times Square while we all headed off to get Couchsachraga. That was a tough, muddy hike to the summit. It had started to rain but we could still see some views from the false summit. We were all excited at Couch and pumped up - we definitely had time to get Santanoni. Besides, after getting Couch it was shorter to head out on the eastern side of Santanoni instead of going all the way back to Times Square to go back down.

The rain picked up considerably between Couch and Times Square. We considered taking shelter under some trees but the rain did not seem like it was going to let up, so we decided it was best to keep walking out. By the time we got back to Times Square there was a few rumbles of thunder, thankfully no lightning. We reunited with the campers at Times Square, they had just done Santanoni and had decided that they were going to skip Couch and go out the way we had come in. We were determined to never have to come back into the Santanonis again - we were going for the third peak - Santanoni.

The rain had let up by the time we reached the summit of Santanoni, but at that point it didn't matter, there was no way we could get any more soaked. We were just hoping that the thunderstorms would not intensify. At the summit, we took some pictures and ate a little to fuel up for the hike down. The short cut trail was not too far from the summit, and we already knew where it was since we passed it on the way in. That may have saved some mileage but it was not really a time saver because we had to move so carefully as it the path was really steep. We eventually ran into a brook from the runoff of the mountain which we followed most of the way back down.

We had to cross a narrow river just before getting back to the blue marked trail. We were warned that it was about knee high, but after the rain it was up to my thighs. The guys helped the girls get across by making a human wall in case we were taken away by the current. The water was refreshing but very cold. We decided not to bother with the water shoes and went in our boots, they could not possibly get any wetter anyway! It took maybe an hour and forty minutes from this part to get back to the car, where we took a group shot and removed our feet from our wet boots - what a relief!

Despite the rain, mud, and obstacles, it was a really good day. Our moods could have been a lot worse, I think that its due to the company that we kept. They had a great sense of humor and kept us laughing through the whole miserable day.

Not many pictures were taken because of the rain, but the whole photoset can be found here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I was honored to ascend Haystack with my friend yesterday as she finished her 46!

Us four girls started in Lake George and picked up our fifth hiker in Bolton before heading to The Garden in Keene. Beginning right at 6am we were right on track. The first 3.5 miles to Johns Brook Lodge were easy. The weather forcast at JBL was 50% chance of showers, temperatures in the low 60s. The sky was still overcast, but we could see some views along the way.

We were somewhat prepared for our first obstacle. We knew Johns Brook just past Bushnell Falls was going to be high, and the rock-hopping there can be tricky anyway. With the huge snowmelt and nonstop rain this spring, we came prepared with large garbage bags to cover our boots with. My feet stayed dry across, even when I slipped in a little. Some scrapped the bags and went across barefoot.

We continued on the Phelps trail to Slant Rock. We took a long break there and "held the rock up" for pictures. After Slant Rock, we almost lost sight of the trail. Who knew that the raging river along side of the brook was the trail under water?!

We had to leave the trail and walk along side of it for a bit to stay dry, and we encountered snow from here on to Little Haystack. The ascent from this point was tough. It was muddy, icy, and post-hole city. We came to a junction where you can turn off to get Mt. Marcy or to Haystack. A sign posted a deceptive mere mile to Haystack. One Adirondack mile is like a hundred real miles! At an overlook we could see Little Haystack and Haystack. We know at this point they were less than a mile, but seemed so far away. Not to mention we had to go down and back up to reach Little Haystack, and down and back up to reach Haystack.

We were surprised at how quickly we actually got to Little Haystack. We ditched our packs there and went on to Haystack. It looked a lot trickier than it was. Though the rocks were slippery, there were lots of natural hand holds to grab onto while scrambling.

We reached the summit, a total of 9 miles from the start at 12:45. There were amazing views of Mt. Marcy, Basin, Gothics, Sawteeth, Dial, and Giant. We ate some lunch and took lots of pictures.

Carefully, we went back down the way we came, back up Little Haystack, and we were on our way back to the car. The post-holing seemed worse on the way down, and my feet were thoroughly soaked. We stopped at Slant Rock, and enjoyed brownies that I had brought, one that was decorated with the number 46 for the newest 46er. I changed my socks, only for them to be wet again in a few moments. Using plastic bags crossing back over Johns Brook did not work as they had on the way in. They did hold the water in nicely, however! We agreed that the brook seemed busier, deeper, and more fierce than it did on the way in. The current was very strong, nearly taking me away a couple times

If I thought my boots were wet before... I had an actual puddle of cold water in my boots, squishing the remaining 4.5 miles back. We detoured down to Bushnell Falls for some pictures about a mile before Johns Brook Lodge. Wow, what a beautiful waterfall!

At Johns Brook Lodge, I took off in front ever everyone, I had to get the boots off!

We got back to the car, around 7:20. I was one mountain closer and my friend was completely done! For her summer 46 anyway...

All the pictures can be seen here.

Redfield and Cliff in Mud Season

My morning began at the Stewarts shop in Chestertown where I left my car and hitched a ride with a fellow hiker. We met at the old Frontier Town Parking lot and followed the convoy into the Upper Works trail head. The trail was marked up to the actual herd path to the summit.

From Upper Works we followed the Calamity Brook trail to Colden Dam, stopping for pictures at Calamity Pond where we admired the monument erected by David Henderson's family in the place of his death. David Henderson, whom Henderson Lake was named after, was a pioneer in the mining industry in Tahawus. One day Henderson, his son, and a guide were scouting for places to join the Opalescent River (which flowed into the Hudson below the Blast Furnace) with the Hudson to divert more water past the furnaces. At this small pond he placed his handgun in his backpack, which went off when setting the pack down on the rocks, killing Henderson. The pond was later named Calamity Pond, and the brook running from it Calamity Brook. After his death a dam was built to direct the entire Opalescent River down Calamity Brook into the Hudson past the blast furnaces. This was later breached by the DEC for safety, creating the Flowed Lands.

From Colden Dam we followed the Opalescent River Trail through the Flowed Lands to the Uphill Brook Lean-to. The fun began here as we followed Uphill Brook to the summit. The ascent required rock-hopping most of the way, and avoiding several sections of ice. We were post-holing through the snow and slipping into the brook. It took much longer to climb Redfield than expected, so we didn't stay at the summit for too long, but there were views of Colden and Allen.

Heading down Redfield was just as muddy, icy, and dicey as it was going up. At one point I tripped into a dead tree which jabbed me in the arm with a stump of a branch. Bleeding and bruising instantly, I continued on with that throbbing feeling in my arm. At the bottom it was decided that those without headlamps should not continue. One hiker, who had a headlamp but also had hiked Cliff and Redfield several times decided to go back to the Flowed Lands Lean-to to meet us later. The rest of us went up Cliff. My branch stump injury already looked like I had been sucker-punched.

Cliff's heard path started where we had split off for Redfield earlier. It was soon apparent why it was called Cliff. We had to scramble up several cliffs to reach the top, a tough task for someone with short legs. Using roots, branches and a rare handhold formation in the rocks, we made it up to the top. Our tired, muddy crew looked like we had been through war. At the summit we could see Colden a little. Normally there is now view, but the winter's blow-down had opened up the summit some.

All those spots that I wondered how I got up, I then had to go back down. It wasn't as hard as I had expected, but my butt was complete soaked from sliding and my feet were tired of squishing inside the boots that went in the Uphill brook numerous times on Redfield. It was also obvious that my boots had a leak because I was not going in water above the boot, yet more muddy water seemed to be seeping in.

At the junction we decided that if we booked it we might not need our headlamps to come out. We split up a little, agreeing to meet at the Flowed Lands where our other hiking mate had headed back to. We regrouped at the Flowed Lands, had a snack, and some water. I changed into my last dry pair of socks, my feet were deathly white, pruned, and blistered. The leader gave a pass to anyone that wanted to go on to the car, instructing us to be careful. Some stayed behind with the leader a little while longer.

Those of us in front stopped for some pictures at Colden Dam now that Colden was out of the dense fog and headed out to the car, getting to Upper Works after sunset but before the need for head lamps.

About 45 minutes later the second group emerged in head-lamps - without the leader. He had let them go ahead stating that he'd catch up. We waited, and waited... There was discussion that they had heard us blow a whistle - but that was not our half of the group. We did not blow a whistle or even hear a whistle. It was decided that the leader had blown the whistle and needed help (He had actually blown the SOS three whistles). The groups strongest hiker went back in with just a head lamp to find our leader. We waited a while and neither one had come out, so a car was sent into Newcomb for cell service to call the ranger.

While on the phone with the ranger, the leaders wife was also on the other line. By the time the car that went for help returned, our leader and hiking mate emerged slowly. He had hit a wall and couldn't go any further. He rested and drank water until he finally had the energy to slowly walk out eventually meeting up with our hiking mate who carried his pack out for him. We had to wait for the ranger to come to tell him that we were all okay.

I finally got home 21 hours after I had left the house that morning. Lessons learned: Stay within a whistle's earshot from your other members and three blows to the whistle means SOS.

All other pictures can be found here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vegemite and Copyright

As I am enjoying our spring season, with longer days and warmer temperatures, those in the southern hemisphere are experiencing autumn. The EtsyBloggers team is blogging about the Land Down Under this month. I have never been on the other side of the equator, but when I think of the Land Down Under, the first thing that pops in my mind is Men at Work. My first cassette tape was Men at Work's Business as Usual which included the famous song, "Down Under."

Here is a video of the song, in which nearly every verse of the song is acted out in a literal fashion.

Re-watching the video for the first time in years led me to a Google search of the word vegemite. Vegemite is an Australian food paste spread made of brewer's yeast extract left over from beer production with salt, vegetables, and spices. Yuck, I'll stick to peanut butter, thank you!

In my online search for a definition of vegemite, I found out that in 2010 a federal court ruled that the flute rift in the song infringed copyrights on a children's rhyme, "Kookaburra", written by Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition in 1935. What do you think?