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Old 04-27-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
Mike S
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The 9

I have been contemplating the 9 for a while now and I figured while I'm at it, I'm gonna see how fast I can do em'. Last week the conditions seemed ideal so I gave it a shot. I know some people will say "why must you go so fast, why run? You don't get to enjoy anything. Slow down enjoy the scenery, smell the roses", etc. Well, I've done all of these peaks on numerous occasions in the smell the roses (balsams) style, now I want to do the "as fast as I can" style. I wrote a fairly detailed description the day after I completed this run/hike/bushthrash. For those of you who don't know...

The "9" is a classic, tough loop hike in the Catskills that traverses 9 high peaks above 3500ft. It is obvious enough on a map, there is a big crescent of trails that covers Table and Peekamoose mountains to the south and The Wittenberg, Cornell, and Slide to the north. The catch is, to connect these sections the other peaks, Lone, Rocky, Balsam Cap, and Friday, are trailless. Each of the summits has a canister maintained by the Catskill 3500 club, that you can sign to show you were there. This trailless sections is extremely thick woods in places requiring experience with map, compass and/or GPS navigation, all the while trying to move quickly. While I know of many people to have hiked the 9 in 12-13 hours, I know of no one who has tried to do it for a fast time.

I started from the Denning parking area at 8:20 and headed up the Phoenicia East branch trail. Shortly after I hit the Peekamoose-Table trail and took a right. The climb up to Table is very steep in places with two flat to downhill runnable sections. I summitted at Table in 56:52. Took the short trip to Peekamoose (1:06:47) and back to Table where I plunged into the bushwhack. I went a little too far northwest and had to side hill to get back on track but once I hit the saddle I picked up a nice herd path that took me to the summit of Lone in 1:40:43.

The trip from Lone to Rocky varies from being nice and open, almost runnable in parts, to being so thick you don't feel like you can move. To avoid the thicker sections I lost a little extra elevation to the north with mixed results. I know there is a decent herd path here but I kept losing it so I thrashed to the Rocky canister in 2:05:58 with a few scratch souvenirs. The Rocky to Balsam cap region is not heavily traveled. Getting down off Rocky isn't bad once you navigate the ledges but then the ascent gets really thick. I got scratched more, got a little disoriented, and walked past the canister twice before I finally found it at 2:47:11. The way down from Balsam Cap is a well defined herd path which I ran down to try and save some time but it is a short lived reprieve. I took a bad line up Friday, climbed some little cliffs and found the canister in its new (and greatly improved) location at 3:13:25.

Here's where the fun begins. The section north of Friday over the Dink is the thickest section of woods I have ever gone through. The little balsam trees are 12 inches apart from each other and pointy. Last time I got caught up in some nasty stuff on the Dink so I went west to avoid it, went too low, and had to climb back up wasting some time. The entire way to the trail is just brutally thick. I finally hit the trial and charged to the summit of Cornell at 4:06:34. I dropped my pack and enjoyed a nice jog over to the Wittenberg (4:24:12) and enjoyed the views for a minute while I emptied pine needles out of my shoes. Back to Cornell, grabbed my stuff and did the big drop down towards Slide. Got some fresh water at the spring on the east side of Slide, which was barely flowing, and hit the summit at 5:16:50.

At this point it was all downhill. I ran down the slide trail and turned left into Curtis-Ormsbee at 5:24:47 and thought maybe I can break 6 hours. I kept going down enjoying good running conditions until I hit the Phoenicia East branch trail again. It is good in places but then deteriorates into loose rocky ankle breakers. This conspired with stomach cramps to keep me at 9:45/mi. pace for the last couple of miles. I got back to the parking area in 6:07:50. The whole loop was 19.6 miles with about 5700 feet of elevation. It might take a while before I do this again.


This was an awesome day in the woods, 9 peaks in a day is a personal high. I also finished my 5th Catskill round and passed the halfway point on my grid en route. I made a couple navigational errors and was having some stomach issues, therefore on a perfect day, I really think I can push 5:30. This means that real endurance athletes might be able get this down to 5 hrs.....any takers?
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Old 04-28-2012, 12:09 AM   #2
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Damn! is all I have to say about that.

If I tried to replicate that time, I'd have blinded myself stumbling into a balsam branch. Would you say that this is a tougher hike than running the DP?
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Old 04-28-2012, 05:39 AM   #3
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That's an amazing feat, but certainly not part of my reality!!! I remember reading somewhere that the record for the Pemi Loop (over 30 miles) in the Whites is 7 hours 23 minutes... took me 4 days and 3 nights to do that one on my second attempt!

Unbelievable & Congratulations!
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Old 04-28-2012, 06:49 AM   #4
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The 9

Great effort and nice report.

I'm thinking of doing that route at some point, maybe just start with "the 6".
I'd be happy to complete it within just one day.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:02 AM   #5
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Good going Mike!!That is one fast time for the 9.Next you will have to try the Moon Haw rt.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:04 AM   #6
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I read that most catskill hikes take around 8 hours, so 6 is better than average. Any pictures?
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Old 04-28-2012, 08:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pathgrinder View Post
That's an amazing feat, but certainly not part of my reality!!! I remember reading somewhere that the record for the Pemi Loop (over 30 miles) in the Whites is 7 hours 23 minutes... took me 4 days and 3 nights to do that one on my second attempt!
Whoever that was, they were a slacker!

Pemi Loop:
- Adam Wilcox
- 6 hours, 46 minutes, 10 seconds
- 6/19/11
- http://adamiata.blogspot.com/2011/06...p-6192011.html

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Old 04-28-2012, 10:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudhook View Post
I read that most catskill hikes take around 8 hours, so 6 is better than average. Any pictures?
And since there are places in the Catskills so dense that you can hike all day and only go four miles, I'd say getting through that four miles and going an extra 15.6 is pretty good too!
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:45 AM   #9
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I'm hoping someone will go out and challenge the time. I think you need to have a really good combo of skills to do it fast. I know people are out there that are better than I am so lets see if they are interested

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Originally Posted by mountainmeijin View Post
Damn! is all I have to say about that.

If I tried to replicate that time, I'd have blinded myself stumbling into a balsam branch. Would you say that this is a tougher hike than running the DP?
Not as physically hard as the DP (i ran that in 6:40) but more annoying and frustrating with the bushwhack.

Quote:
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I read that most catskill hikes take around 8 hours, so 6 is better than average. Any pictures?
No, I almost always carry a camera but when I'm going fast I never use it, so I just don't bring it anymore.
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Old 04-28-2012, 10:47 AM   #10
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Huge effort, great run, Mike. You must've really been in the zone. Congrats on 1) completing this classic Catskill loop for the first time 2) doing it solo and 3) recording such a fast time. This is a very impressive feat of speed, endurance, and navigational ability. Way to go.
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Old 04-28-2012, 07:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TFR View Post
Whoever that was, they were a slacker!

Pemi Loop:
- Adam Wilcox
- 6 hours, 46 minutes, 10 seconds
- 6/19/11
- http://adamiata.blogspot.com/2011/06...p-6192011.html

Wow, that record has been broken! I originally read about the 7hr 23Min time in 2009 or 2010 after I had been up there.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:26 PM   #12
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Awesome, awesome, awesome. I was out there today and you beat me by over an hour. But I started in Woodland Valley which is a much deeper valley than Denning, so there. cough, cough I never left a trail and only hiked Wittenburg, Cornell and Slide cough . So I think I pretty much win.

[QUOTE=Mike S;190082... I think you need to have a really good combo of skills to do it fast.... [/QUOTE]

Yeah, that is what appeals to me about this kind of hike. Not that I am fast or will ever come close to setting a record of this type, but I the combo of savvy and skill and willingness to bleed just a bit that is required to do this in one push makes this a special hike.

Congrats, man. Great job and great recounting of it. Really cool stuff.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike S View Post
. I know some people will say "why must you go so fast, why run? You don't get to enjoy anything. Slow down enjoy the scenery, smell the roses", etc.
As I have said previously I am no speedster, in absolute terms, but as you surely know there is a serious joy to be had in spending a day out of breath in a beautiful place. There are many great ways to spend ones day and quads burning, sweat beading, breath speeding and eyes gleaming is definitely one of them.

You can definitely sit in the woods reverently when you're 30 but you might not be able to haul ass across the DP when you're 80. Push it while you can.

Besides, the idea that one cannot appreciate beauty while moving quickly is ridiculous and you really cannot move all that fast while on foot. Especially in the bushwhack range
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:43 AM   #14
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Let me add my congrats. Totally awesome.

And Snav3, I have done the 6 a couple of times -- with navigational errors and other spazz-outs I think it took us about 11 hours.

So who holds the record for the longest time? because that's the one I think I might be able to beat...
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:01 AM   #15
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Let me add my congrats. Totally awesome.

And Snav3, I have done the 6 a couple of times -- with navigational errors and other spazz-outs I think it took us about 11 hours.
Thanks, I always like to add some extra time for those spazz outs
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:25 AM   #16
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As I have said previously I am no speedster, in absolute terms, but as you surely know there is a serious joy to be had in spending a day out of breath in a beautiful place. There are many great ways to spend ones day and quads burning, sweat beading, breath speeding and eyes gleaming is definitely one of them.

You can definitely sit in the woods reverently when you're 30 but you might not be able to haul ass across the DP when you're 80. Push it while you can.

Besides, the idea that one cannot appreciate beauty while moving quickly is ridiculous and you really cannot move all that fast while on foot. Especially in the bushwhack range
Exactly. The only people that have told me I shouldn't run are those that can't.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:36 AM   #17
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Great job Mike! I've been meaning to ask: how much time do you think you spent on navigation (read: pausing to think "where am I again")? Did you use a compass or GPS, or just remember your route really well from previous expeditions?
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Old 05-02-2012, 04:56 PM   #18
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I hiked the 9 on Monday, April 30th...... but it took me 14 hours ... It was my first time hiking the bushwhack range, and I wasted some time finding an optimal view between Friday and Balsam Cap, and some time at the absolutely spectacular "secret view" on Table. I started from the Slide Mountain parking area, hiking up the Ormsbee Trail first. Next time I'll start from Denning, but still hiking up Slide first to catch sunset from the glorious Table overlook- it's like the view at the summit of Peekamoose, only with a more north aspect, so the mountains are in full view.

Below is a picture of the view from between Balsam Cap and Friday. I'll take a picture of the view from Table and post it once I see it on a clear day. Every time I visit it, it's crappy and cloudy, Of course, 5 minutes after I left it, the sun came out on the mountains, but at that point I needed to keep hiking if I wanted to maintain daylight. One of these days... one of these days....
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:28 PM   #19
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DUDE, youre nuts.
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Old 05-03-2012, 04:31 PM   #20
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Nice work! That view is spectacular huh?
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