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Two days in the Whites. October, 2017

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  • Two days in the Whites. October, 2017

    I finally made it back to the Whites. Took me 4h30 to drive to Barnes Field where I set up a tent. Then I took the Pinkham B shortcut road back to Rte 2 and geared up for a hike I've been wanting to do for years: Castellated Ridge to Jefferson. The upper elevations where totally socked in and snow clad. The forecast called for afternoon sun and it was 11am. I carried spikes and wore Tingleys over runners. The trail climbs through the woods and at about 4000' it gets very "interesting" very fast. The fresh snow was slick, the wind was blowing and the trail was very craggy. My base layer was soaked under the rain jacket I put on because of the water pouring down off the trees as the sun hit the snow. I wore thin mitts under shells. Eventually, I was far too cold out in the open with the wind sawing away at my core temperature so I stopped and slipped into something way more comfortable and kept moving. I thought to myself that this wasn't anything like the Adirondacks. I was liking it while feeling intimidated. Spikes on for a while now, I stepped carefully and mindfully of the descent. I wanted to able to trust each footstep and use it on the way down.
    At one point a thick dark cloud rolled through and totally killed my visibility for a few minutes, which was sobering in spite of having my footprints and some cairns. I watched the time having decided to turn around at 3:30. I wanted to be below tree-line before dark. I made it up at 3 for a four-hour ascent. Everywhere I looked it was white so now I know where these mountains get their name from.
    The careful descent went well except I stepped into a hole and wrenched my knee. (No pain until the next morning and then a fair amount.)
    I got out at sunset and was soon back in camp reading while my supper heated.

    On day two I met Dunbar at the Great Gulf parking area at 6:30 and my knee was pretty sore so instead of playing around on Washington's steeper gullies we opted to try my knee out on the Osgood Trail to Madison. The knee seemed OK as long as I avoided tweaking it so we headed to Adams via Star Lake and the very impressive Star Lake trail that I once hiked 12 years ago. We descended the same trail and I found it to be brutal going always being extra careful and mindful of my knee (pretty sure today by the pain that I tweaked a meniscus when I fell). Then we took the Buttress Trail (that Dunbar maintains) down to the Great Gulf Trail and that too involved traversing a huge pile of big rocks. But, what an awesome bluebird day of hiking we had! Long walk out along Peabody Brook for a 12 hour day. I repeated the reading and eating routine at my campsite and decided not to hike on day three.

    Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.

  • #2
    Gorgeous pics!

    That broken, snow-plastered landscape looks darned forbidding; very unforgiving terrain!

    Sorry to hear about your knee injury. I hope it's not severe and I wish you a speedy recovery!
    Looking for Views!


    • #3
      Nice set of hikes!

      It is in fact intimidating in these conditions. There is just so much of it above treeline, and the terrain does little to help you with orientation when it's foggy. Once we leave the woods we need to seriously up our game. I attempted an expedition style southbound presi traverse 2 winters ago. Aborted down the cog on the second day due to >80mph sustained winds (reported on Washington at the time) and exhaustion. OTOH, backpacking in these conditions is an amazing experience and I'm going back in February.

      Hope your knee heals quickly.


      Last edited by Natlife; 10-31-2017, 07:28 AM. Reason: Typos


      • #4
        On day one I inadvertently had the ISO speed set to 400 and it really shows in the picture quality. The edges seem smoothed or blurred out.
        When I hit tree line on Jefferson and saw how rough it was I contemplated turning around. Then I gave myself a little pep talk and kept going.
        My knee is pretty sore today, feels very mechanical. When I fell, it was actually very bad. My leg shot into the hole up to my knee which became fully extended as my body weight kept going downhill. The fulcrum was about at my knee cap and I thought for a second I was going to completely blow the joint apart or sustain a broken leg. I attribute the happier outcome to dumb luck and also to a lot of very hard training both on the trail and in the gym. My thigh and calf muscles contracted violently and saved the day. They are still quite sore today. The good news is that I was able to do the hike on day 2 but I'm going to take a week off all training I think.

        If and when I hike in the Presi's in winter I think I will always carry a gps in my pack. Definitely a different game compared to the Dacks where you mostly just scamper quickly over the exposed summits. Haystack, Marcy and the Macs being the most notable exceptions.
        Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.


        • #5
          Great photos! I esp. like the inquisitive looking Spruce Grouse.
          The Castles are great fun in warmer seasons when I hike, but they must be really challenging in that kind of weather.
          Hope your knee heals fast.


          • #6
            Great pics.... Interesting. Speedy recovery
            Catskills: 39/39, 26W/35W
            ADK: 46/46