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Santanonies - June 22, 2005

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  • Santanonies - June 22, 2005

    Started at the Upper Works Trailhead with my son at 6:10 under post rain, misty skies. The weatherman promised me sun by 8, and I believed him, although I've been fooled many times in those mountains. Hit the Bradley Pond trail at 7:45. Trees were wet, so we got wet. Trail, as many of you know, was mucky and got progressively worse as we approached the "beaver meadow/marsh" to the herd path turn. I didn't wear gaiters, but at no time on this hike did I go in over my boots. My hiking poles did a lot of route finding for me. There was a huge blowdown just before that sway back rock that indicates the turn. I bushwhacked around it and found myself on the other side of the rock on the herd path. By this time (8:00) the sun was out. Crossing the marsh into the woods, I lost the herd path. It is a pretty open area, and there was evidence that people have camped there. We bore left towards the pond and found the path within a minute. Turns out there is another that heads to the right, which we followed on our way back because it was more distinct from that direction. Didn't matter because within five or ten minutes they meet up under the cliffs anyway. From there, the herd path is very clear.

    The path leads right to Panther Brook, where you cross immediately. It is well marked by a sizeable cairn. The path along the brook is a nice one and you start doing some climbing. When it comes time to cross back over the brook, then the climbing becomes steeper, sometimes in the rocks, sometimes to the right. As the brook peters out, keep a heads up on your water situation, because this will be your last opportunity for a while. We hit the three way intersection at about 9:50. The old herd path is still discernible straight ahead, and I would have probably followed it, except some scratched an "S" with an arrow on it to the direction of Time Square. This is not an "open" area as you might think, but the herd paths leading left to T/S and right to Panther are quite clear. We decided to head to Panther because we needed the psychological boost of a peak. After a short descent, the climb to Panther took us 10 minutes. Nice summit ledge with great views towards Santa, Couch and the Sewards. The Sewards actually looked gentle from this angle. The actual summit marker is a bit into the "woods".

    After some summit time, we headed back to T/S, arriving at 10:40. Mostly sunny skies by this time and we were encouraged. Times Square is a unique looking place. I had envisioned it as being much larger than it actually is. The herd paths to Couch (left) and Santa (right) are quite distinct, behind that big boulder. After studying Joel's map, Tim's reports and assorted trip reports so many times over the past two years, I knew this place as well as I know my house.

    By 10:45, we were on our way to Couch. Now 2.8 miles round trip can't be more than an hour in and an hour out, right? I'm talking normal pace here, not race pace. That might be 2.8 miles r/t in a straight line, but that hike ain't no straight line. It is a nice walk in the woods, for about 30 minutes, then it gets tedious. The herd path is very clear. The descent from T/S seemed very long. Before we got to the cliff, we noted the walk around to the right. In fact, It is now clearer than the original herd path over the cliff, so we followed that automatically. The cliff I would estimate to be 20 to 30 feet high, and the legendary rope was nowhere to be seen. Couch swamp was under water. (I guess it wouldn't be a swamp, otherwise). After spending a few minutes looking for a green Jedi to raise a bridge (or X-wing fighter) from the swamp, and then looking for a moss covered humannoid to carry us across, we decided to feel our way through. We started left, and managed to get through, but we knew we were too far left to pick up the herd path (which is 12:00 from the cliff, probably 2 or 3 o'clock from the end of the walk around path), so we felt our way along the edge until we caught the easily visable herd path. On the way back, we discovered that it would have been easier to go right. The climb to Couch was forever. Every once in a while you would think "ah, here comes the summit", then you would discover it was not to be. You literally do walk until you run out of trail. I have a theory about this mountain. She requires you to walk at least an hour and a half to her summit from T/S. This isn't negotiable. If you happen to be approaching at a faster pace than that, she moves the summit to compensate. Once you have worked the proper amount of time, she allows you to summit. Trust me, I know these things (and I'm not going back to that hospital, no matter what you say :? ). I believe that Couch has an inferiority complex and is taking it out on everyone else. In any case the sign was down, laying on the rock. The screw was either broken off, or very short. I nested it up about two feet up in the branches of some dead spruce. Oh yeah, nice view of Long Lake.

    After some summit time and the appropriate 1 1/2 hours of hiking time, we arrived back at T/S at about 2pm. Five minutes later, we were on our way to St. Anthony. Trail was mucky in spots, but easily traveled. I knew about the three false summits going in, but it didn't make the joke any less cruel. We summited Santa in one hour, and the views are stunning! Not 360, but they look exactly in the right direction. Crystal skies at this point and views of the Sewards, McIntyre's et al that I will never forget. The summit is not large and the sign was up. Even so, the eye-bolts in the rock would have been a clue. Started down at 3:30 on aching knees and, to make a long story short, descended endlessly to the car. We arrived just before 8. The road, by the way, also shifted while we were gone. It was uphill going in and uphill coming out.

    So, that was numbers 43, 44, and 45 for me, with Big Slide left for the next day. Tune in next report. Oh yeah, please forgive all the typos. My hands are sore, my body aches, and I still can't see straight.

  • #2

    And Congrats
    "The forest is the poor man's overcoat. " Old Northeastern Proverb


    • #3
      Mike, when you told me you were going to do all 3 in one day, I got shivers down me back. Last summer it took me 11 hrs just to do Couch, so the two of you must have been movin'.

      I never thought about your theory of the moving summit, but I think you may have something there. Bob must have gone up there and gotten his rope.

      So what did your son think of the trek?


      • #4
        Originally posted by masshysteria
        Mike, when you told me you were going to do all 3 in one day, I got shivers down me back. Last summer it took me 11 hrs just to do Couch, so the two of you must have been movin'.

        I never thought about your theory of the moving summit, but I think you may have something there.

        So what did your son think of the trek?
        Tom, another two hours plus summit time for Santanoni and 20 minutes plus summit time for Panther, and you would have did about the same time as us. We're steady and we don't rest long (which, being on the dark side of 50, I should learn to do more), but we are not blitzkreigers. Couch knocked the snot out of me, but that day I was on a mission. Tell you what, I was a lot slower going up Big Slide the next day. My quads were not all that ready to fire up.

        Uh, I wouldn't repeat that theory about Couch, if I were you. It's ok if I get locked away, but I'd hate to take another one down with me. The rope may have been there, I just didn't notice it. I can't imagine someone going back there just to retrieve a rope, but then there are some pretty tough hombres on this board.

        Dan loved the hike, but like me, he found that hike out from Bradley pond to be more than a little bit tedious.

        The really nice thing is that this hike will be a memory we'll share forever. You can't buy that kind of thing, it has to be earned. One of the many reasons I love this game!


        • #5
          Couch got the better of me when I hiked the range. Couch beat me up so bad I was unable to reach Sant. I now one day have to go back and reach Sant. I will be hoping for clear skies as I hear there are awesome views!!!!!!! Right Mike?

          Congrats BTW and I would have tagged along with you guys if it wasnt for being my 3 year anniversary with my wife

          A great 3 years it has been too

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          • #6
            If I'm not mistaken, Bob was going to re-climb Shepards Tooth to retrieve a camera. Yes, there are some tough hombre's out there.

            I remember sitting on Panther, and having the wind taken out of my sails when I looked at Couch, out and down that long ridge. But, when you're motivated.........

            Adam, you newlyweds have to make your own priorities, and take care of business at home. Gotta keep Momma happy.But after 20 years of marriage, she'll be pushing you out the door to go hiking, get ya out of her hair!