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Hike, eat, sleep, and repeat. 26 Peaks - Jul 1 to 7

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  • Hike, eat, sleep, and repeat. 26 Peaks - Jul 1 to 7

    Curse the day two years ago when I learned what a grid is, or so so my wife, Sue, might say. I like to hike and I've always been a "list" guy, so the grid was right up my alley. In addition to the physical and technical challenges, I appreciate the tactical challenges of route planning and adapting to ever-changing trail and weather conditions throughout the year.

    Sue and I had climbed Marcy in July, 25 years ago but since then, the July account has remained dormant. The time had come to reactivate the account and make a significant deposit. Since our free time in the summer is spent on a lake rather than in the mountains, I decided the best plan would be to spend a week taking a solid bite out of the month.

    I didn't know whether or not I would be up to the challenge. I normally don't string more than two or three big days together. A week of solid hiking would be something new. I have some knee problems and wear braces - would that be a limiting factor? Or would I run out of fuel or mental stamina? As it turned out, everything held together fairly well over 122 miles, 38000 feet and 69 hours. I don't usually eat much on my usual hikes, but with a 6000 calorie daily expenditure over several days, I worried that the deficit would catch up to me eventually, so I did make a point of eating more than usual. Now that I'm back home, fattening back up shouldn't take too long.

    Weather conditions from Jul 1st to Jul 7th were almost perfect with a bit of rain on either end and dry skies with moderate temperatures in between. The blackflies were out in force and ferocious. I only had to stop for a minute before there was a hungry swarm on me. Trail conditions ranged from OK to miserable. The Zander Scott trail to Giant wins the award for best designed, built and maintained. At the other extreme, last place goes to the East River trail towards Allen. What a ridiculous mess that was. I thought Allen would be a bit of a rest day but the endless mud pits made the day longer and much less enjoyable than it should have been. On the return trip, as I was slogging through the especially lovely section around Lake Sally, I met two mountain bikers heading in. It was 2pm! I wonder how their day turned out.

    Although the East River trail was the worst, a lot of others were not much better. After all the rain we've had, it was good opportunity to assess drainage and bog bridging. Overall, my conclusion is that the DEC has all but given up on trail maintenance. With a few exceptions, like the work on Colden and Avalanche Pass, very little is being done to maintain/restore existing trail infrastructure. A lot of it is decades old and is only recognizable by an eight inch nail sticking out of a small rotten wood remnant.

    The refrain of "walk through the mud and not around it" for the most part, falls on deaf ears. You only need to observe hiker traffic on one of the popular tourist routes to prove that point. It's also becoming frustrating to read the same advisories week after month after year while the DEC is "working to find a permanent solution...in the near future". It reminds me of the situation with the road in front of my house that had deteriorated to the point where driving on it at anywhere near the posted speed was dangerous. The municipality's solution? Lower the speed limit! I have an alternative suggestion for the DEC...fix the trails! But that rant is probably threadworthy on its own.

    Overall it was a good week of hiking. I put together some new ( for me) combinations like PTTCIAW, SawBlCoNiDi, a truncated Great Range without Marcy, and the oddball Marshall, Cascade and Porter day. The south side of Sawteeth down to Warden's Camp is still a nice, little travelled area and the deer down there are just as unafraid as they were last time I was there. The Elevator Shaft is still the steepest bit of trail I've been on, 1300' in a mile. I didn't meet the Nippletop bear or the missing hiker, but I hear that, thankfully, he was found after two unplanned nights in the wilderness. I was also happy to find out that I can string together some big hikes and come back the next day. As far as making a significant deposit into the July account...mission accomplished.

  • #2
    Nice Deposit on July Thomas.

    I have similar blocks in August (too much summer competition) and January/February (used to ski in preference to hiking). Taking a week off is the way to tackle this.

    Don

    Comment


    • Thomas
      Thomas commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Don. I too had a challenge getting out in the winter. That opened up once my kids retired from ski racing and I stopped working races.

  • #3
    ​In other posts, I got dribs and drabs about of some of the lengthy hikes you were doing. Now I see what you were up to! Congrats on nailing down the recovery period and tackling all those peaks back to back! Now's the time to go for your annual physical and have the results wow your doctor!


    ​Wait, wut? Mountain bikers on the East River Trail? Priddy sure that route is a designated foot trail (exclusively).


    ​I empathize with your observations about the hopeless trail conditions ... and how hikers continue to make a bad situation worse. There are definitely many trails that could stand improvement because hikers continue to bypass sumps, bogs, and steep slabs.

    Nevertheless, even in ideal conditions, the low level of awareness can become very disheartening. For example, even on the well-constructed Ridge/Zander Scott Trail, hikers cut across the switchbacks in order to, I dunno, save a few yards?!?
    Looking for Views!

    Comment


    • Thomas
      Thomas commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree that the East River trail is foot traffic only, at least the parts that are in the HPWA. Not sure about the designation of the Macintyre East tract though. Nevertheless, I think that natural selection should take care of any aspiring mountain bikers on that trail.

    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      I checked the DEC's State Land Interactive Mapper and the East River Trail is classified as a foot and cross-country ski trail.

      For the Boreas Tract, the DEC announced Gulf Brook Road was open to bikes up to the dam. The DEC has not made a similar announcement about the MacIntyre East Tract. Portions of its roads are open to foot traffic (not bikes) and you have to avoid the leased hunting camps.

  • #4
    How were the trails conditions along the GR? I'm looking for info on Upper/Lower specifically; haven't been up there in a while and I'm long overdue.
    “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

    Comment


    • Thomas
      Thomas commented
      Editing a comment
      The trails up on the Range are generally not prone to too much flooding and were OK. Lower down, like the ugly mile between Chicken Coop and Slant Rock was another story. Also, the John's Brook crossing always deserves some attention when the water is high.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks @Thomas

      I always enjoy reading your death march TR's. Man, I don't know where you find the time or energy for these hikes. Hope to see you out there again this summer!

  • #5
    Wow Thomas...great job and good combos. I had been picking at the grid here and there not always sticking to the list but now I am pushing to get it done, it really is a great goal....how many do you have left?
    Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up. ~Jesse Jackson

    Comment


    • Thomas
      Thomas commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Nancy. I keep raising my own bar and I have you, in part, to thank for that. Believe it or not, I don't and haven't kept track of the overall count. I just look at the holes to be filled for the coming month and go from there. I do have a significant birthday coming up in a few years and it would be nice to be done by then.

  • #6
    You are a machine Thomas. I did Blake via the elevator this past weekend and that just about killed me after climbing Sawteeth. Adding a Nippletop/Dial to that hike is impressive!

    Comment


    • Thomas
      Thomas commented
      Editing a comment
      That's a helluva trail isn't it. Lucky thing that it's so little travelled. I think that with any significant traffic, it would erode into an unclimbable fall-line luge run! Beautiful area back there though.

  • #7
    Originally posted by mbowler View Post
    You are a machine Thomas. I did Blake via the elevator this past weekend and that just about killed me after climbing Sawteeth. Adding a Nippletop/Dial to that hike is impressive!
    Agreed!

    I'd much rather go down the Elevator Shaft than up it. That would be a gutsy day, too: Once you commit to descending the Elevator Shaft, the only way out is over Sawteeth!

    Thomas, great stuff! Amazing week! Pics?
    ADK 46/46W, Grid 228/552
    Photos & Stuff

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