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Misery March in the Santanonis

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  • Misery March in the Santanonis

    On Sunday, my buddy and I hiked the Santanonis. It would be a difficult and memorable hike to say the least. If it were up to me, I would have picked a better weather day, but my friend’s schedule only allowed him to get away that day. I wanted to climb with a partner and I’m trying to close the book on my first round of 46.

    Earlier in the week I kept checking my Weatherbug app for Tahawus, NY. I watched the chance of precipitation climb from 40% to 100% by Friday. My buddy texted me and said, Sunday is what he could offer me. I said, the weather will be miserable. He texted me “Misery March 2017?” I begrudgingly responded, “Fine.” It would be the first time I ever knowingly hiked in on a day that called for 100% rain and also would be in the 40’s.

    Originally, we were going to do a suicide run for this hike. I don’t know if that’s hiker lingo or a term we made up, but basically means for us- driving up to ADKs, hiking, and then driving home all in same day. Coming from North Jersey it takes us 4-4.5 hours each way. We’d probably have to meet up at 3am, drive, eat, hike, eat, drive, and try to stay awake at the wheel. Thankfully we didn’t do that.

    We then decided to try a state campground for Saturday evening, but everything was booked solid bc of Labor Day. At the last minute a friend hooked us up with a place to stay for Saturday evening. So we got decent sleep prior……

    We slept in until 6:45am bc we arrived late the previous night. Woke and it was raining already….Not a good motivator to get out of bed. Parking would be easy today. Cooked breakfast, got ready, and we were off. Arriving at the trailhead, there were 5 or 6 cars, we figured people probably camped the night before and we were basically correct, almost…

    Time to put our big boy pants on…. Start walking 9am, within the 1st mile we saw people who camped and were headed back to their cars. We were using hands-free trail umbrellas to start the hike, that my friend brought. A company called Euroschirm makes them ($70 maybe?). The butt of the handle goes under hip belt and gets fastened by a toggle and then clip pole behind your sternum strap and Voila! We received many compliments on them with one guy in a group telling us it was the coolest piece of trail gear he has ever seen. Another guy in said group looked at us incredulously and asked if we were planning on going up in those hills today? Yes, we said. He said if I were you I would turn around now. I just said, We will give it our best. They were nice and off we went.

    The trail umbrellas are big and work well, but obviously when the trail gets tighter and the climbing begins they had to be put away. We used them all the way to junction sign that indicates Times Square go left. Even on the way to that point, we had to collapse them over our heads occasionally, as we were walking, so as not to rip the fabric. On wide trails and woods roads, they work best.

    We also knew that eventually we would be soaked to the bone. Even with top-of-the-line gear, clothing, and gore-tex, hiking in 11 hours of heavy rain is going to get you eventually. The umbrellas postponed some of the misery that was to come.

    The climb up Panther was good besides heavy rain. I would not say it was torrential at any point, but it never stopped once in 11 hours and mostly was medium to heavy. I think the canopy of the forest, helped buffer some of that rain. Both footbridges are out, by the way. One is gone. The other is impassable. We rock hopped on the way in. On the way out we walked directly through the streams knee deep, not caring.

    I felt good climbing even though I had not done anything physical since Dix Range/Allen 3 or 4 weeks ago. The summit of Panther was cold, foggy, rainy, and otherworldly. The wind was whipping. Giant white bags of black rocks that had been choppered in were there…… to line the summit/ protect alpine grasses and flora from hikers trampling it, I presume. We went to summit marker. Took pic and left.

    On to Hoochie Coochie…. We get kept asking each other how our boots were holding up to the water. Trails were slop and flooded. I was starting to feel a little more wetness in my boots, not just sweat. Obviously, trying to avoid rain also means you are sweating from inside too under rain jackets, rain pants, and gaiters. It is impossible to stay dry on a day like Sunday. Coochie’s summit would not come easy, meaning it didn’t want to show up, no matter how bad I wanted it to be there already. It’s a kick in the teeth, especially when you have to climb all the way back 600 feet. The rain was actually the lightest during Coochie, but by the time we hit summit our gear/ clothing was basically wetted through, especially from the waist down. My new OR jacket held up pretty good, but of course I was saturated with sweat from inside. The mud in the Coochie bog was biblical.

    We did meet one guy out by himself from Ontario to climb Coochie only. It was his 46th. We shook his hand. One other guy signed in for all 3 that morning and got an early jump. We never saw him.

    Climb back to Times Square was long and tiring. The climb up Santanoni was the crux for me. I was gassed. Bc of the rain and cold we didn’t take any breaks except for 30 seconds here and there. We didn’t eat a lot either. When you stood still soaking wet, you could begin to start feeling a chill immediately. Keep moving. So climbing Santanoni was tough. I ate trail mix near top bc I was desperate for calories, salt, and sugar.

    Hit the summit after a couple bumps and I was relieved that we would be descending. My legs were cooked and I wanted to get lower and out of wind and rain.

    We took the express down and it was a rugged freaking trail. My friend named it as one of the top 3 worst trails in the Dacks. There was water shooting off one boulder that looked like a “real” waterfall, but was really mountain/ trail runoff. Incredible. Also, a huge beautiful patch of red and green sphagnum moss (I think) was covering that boulder….Very photo worthy. The whole express was a stream. We were soaked.

    My friend was laughing at me because I was stepping straight through mud and water. I was jumping with 2 feet into mud puddles, sometimes above my boot cuff line. He was still trying to gingerly avoid water/ mud. I told him, “We can’t get any wetter!” Just go straight through it. It will be less tedious and easier on your mind. Eventually he gave in 30 minutes later.

    We plowed through everything and finished at 7:45pm. 10 hours 45 minutes

    Soaking wet, physically exhausted, and mentally tired we went back to our hook-up and showered. We threw our wet crap in a garbage bag, packed up, caught dinner at Flanagan’s in Schroon Lake and drove home. I arrived at 3am with 3 more mountains checked off and a story to tell, with beautiful photos.

    Even though it took a certain mental toughness to do this hike, it was incredibly beautiful. I hated it and loved it at the same time. Things look differently in heavy rain and fog. Summits are otherworldly and flora is dripping wet and vibrant. Fair weather hikers are missing out on that.
    Catskills: 39/39, 26W/35W
    ADK: 46/46

  • #2
    Great description of those hikes where you end up squelching & splashing along, totally surrendered to the wetness. But to have to drive 4 or 5 hours after - !!!

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. I wished I lived closer to ADKs, but I don't. That's why we spend a lot of time in Harriman and the Catskills....proximity.

  • #3
    Nice report. Congrats on knocking off these 3 in harsh conditions.

    I do the suicide run every time I hike... but only from Albany and back. Kudos to you guys all the way from NJ.

    Love Flanagan's. Good food. I recommend it to those who haven't eaten there yet.

    The hands-free umbrella for those interested... http://www.euroschirm.com/schirm/Swi...rache_land=usa

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. We do it every time we drive to the Catskills, but we don't refer to it as a suicide run for that distance. Driving 2 hours each way in the same day is a lot easier for us than 4 hours. We only refer to it as a suicide run for the ADKs. We actually have yet to do it. We always try to stay somewhere the night before.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      Same here. Suicide run from a little north east of 'Cuse. My other options are either to backpack, find a spot on S. Meadows, or pull over and catch a cat nap in my car on the way home so I'm alert enough to drive.

  • #4
    Wow, that sounds like a challenging day. Sorry that you didn't get to hike these peaks in better conditions. We went in July and the trails were still quite wet, but the overall hike was beautiful, with some great views. I hope that you get to go again at some point. Congrats to you both for wearing the big boy pants, and finding some enjoyment in the experience.
    We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Deb. I will go back on a better day.

  • #5
    I hated those, and the trail there.
    46er #9404
    Pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145945713@N02/
    http://www.athikerpictures.org/syste...jpg
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      I hear ya. Ill try it again on a better day

    • bud
      bud commented
      Editing a comment
      I've had many challenges and difficult hikes but I can't say I ever hated a mountain or trail.

  • #6
    Heck of a day and great report. Ever wonder why you don't take up some other hobby? Like refurbishing antique cars or pinochle.
    1111111111

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks..... Pinochle rules!

  • #7
    Congrats on a big day in less than desirable conditions. I hate that hike out to Couch, but for some reason I really like that weird little summit.

    Regardless of your description of the hiking umbrella (you did a good job), I couldn't get this image out of my head: http://www.taghats.com/wp-content/up...brella-Hat.jpg

    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. That hat would rule if it's diameter was 3x longer

  • #8
    Originally posted by Nivek View Post
    .... Giant white bags of black rocks that had been choppered in were there…… to line the summit/ protect alpine grasses and flora from hikers trampling it, I presume.....
    I've been hoping these bags of rocks would get dumped into the mud pit guarding the summit of Panther.

    The line the summit trails thing is what happened on Gothics after a helicopter deposited super sacks of stone....in the meantime big puddles are still there on Gothics summit and people are still walking on vegetation to go around. In other words the biggest scars get ignored. I shake my head in disbelief.

    Don

    Comment


    • Nivek
      Nivek commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, they weren't laying on the exact summit surrounding the summit marker.... They were on an area of bedrock before the summit, I believe. I'm not sure if this helps/ clarifies it. Also, I'm just guessing what they'll do with them.
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