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Lower Ausable Loop (Colvin, Blake, Sawteeth) - July 29

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  • Lower Ausable Loop (Colvin, Blake, Sawteeth) - July 29

    With a 1.5 year old at home and another on the way I haven't been able to get up to the high peaks as much as in years past, but when I have I've tried to get as much bang for my buck as the saying goes. I set aside this weekend a couple months ago for a 2-3 day trip with some friends who are about halfway through their 46 and still needed all the peaks accessible from St Huberts and the Ausable Club. Unfortunately everyone backed out for a variety of reasons (work, family, etc) except one friend of mine who has done about 10 peaks but hadn't done much the past few months except for a couple rec league softball games a week. But he is a good sport so we decided to stick with the plan and head up north.

    Arrived in St Huberts around 6:30 PM on Thursday, threw our packs on, and made our way up to the gate. Walking past the golf course we saw one kid playing his round barefoot. Also walked past some folks grilling on their porch - although it smelled great I was hoping the bbq smoke that was heading our way wouldn't stick with us too long or else we'd be sure to get some visitors in the middle of the night.

    Signed in and made our way up the Lake Rd. Lots of activity on the road that night - many people coming out from day hikes and walks and got passed a couple times by the buses (they were running a green bus and a yellow one).

    Caught the Gill Brok Trail (the second entry point for it on the road) and headed up towards state land to setup camp. As soon as we reached state land I began to look carefully to the left as I had read that there was a nice spot in this area but could not find it. Saw a couple herd paths but none lead to anything. Reached the first designated campsite on the right after a few minutes but there was a tent already setup so we continued on to the second designated sight a little bit up the trail.

    Unfortunately this site was small, wet, and uneven. We dropped our packs though and were about to setup when a couple guys came by (they were camped just above us I guess). They assured us that the original site I was looking for did indeed exist and that it would be a much better option. So we went back and looked for it. No luck after messing around in Gill Brook for a long time though, and it was getting dark. So we went back to the first designated campsite and asked the people there if they mined if we setup next to them. They said that as long as we don't mind them getting up at 4:30 AM (they were finishing their 46 on Nippletop the next day) then we would be more than welcome so we pitched our tents and went to sleep.

    We got up around 5:45 AM and shortly made our way up to Colvin. A crystal clear sky greeted us at the summit so we sprawled out on the rock and had our breakfast. Absolutely wonderful views of the great range, back to Nippletop, and down to Lower Ausable Lake.

    After a bit we made our way over to Blake. Pretty steep decline and then right back up again to the wooded summit. Although there wasn't anything to see up top there is a nice little area to sit and take a break. We didn't stay to long and quickly headed down to the col between the two peaks.

    We stopped at the junction with the Carry Trail to catch our breath. At this point I asked my buddy how he was doing and he was starting to get a little sore and tired. I thought he might want to head back over Colvin to chill out at camp in the afternoon but he was game for heading over to Sawteeth so down the Carry Trail we went.

    This trail goes 1.1 miles pretty much straight down to the end of Lower Ausable Lake. It is pretty darn steep and as I was going down it I was happy that I wasn't going up it. About halfway down the trail we picked up the first reliable water source since we left camp but we were doing ok so we waited to fill up. For the next half mile or so the trail stayed close to the water.

    The trail ends at the inlet/outlet between Lower and Uper Ausable Lakes. There is a nice long bridge over the water so we took a break on that and topped off our water bottles. We then crossed the bridge and met up with the road that runs between the two lakes.

    We noticed a tractor sitting over to the right and then saw a young guy apear from behind it. He was the assistant warden. Very nice guy who answered a bunch of questions we had such as How did the tractor get back there? (drove it over the ice in winter); How awesome is his job? (it kicks a$$); and Did he have any burgers or cokes? (no but he did offer water).

    After chatting we headed left on the road to walk the mile to Upper Ausable Lake, the Warden's Camp, and the tail up to Sawteeth. Passed a few folks on the road who obviously weren't heading up Blake/Colvin as they were wearing flip flops and not carrying anything.

    After 5 minutes or so we hear the tractor come up behind us. The assistant warden is driving and he tells us to hop in the trailer in the back. He didn't need to twist our arms at all so we jumped in. It felt good to lay back and ride after hiking all morning. I could have easily taken a nap in that wagon - a nice slow ride through the woods would have been a perfect way to spend the afternoon. But alas we still had to get up and over Sawteeth so when we reached the Warden's Camp we quickly went on our way.

    Couple things stand out about the Warden's Camp. First it is an extremely impressive structure. Looks new, great porch on the front with ricking chairs. It is in an area that had been cleeared out so there is a horseshoe pit, big campfire area, bbq area, and plenty of grassy space. Next is that there is tons of wood piled up and ready for use. And each piece looked to eb exactly the same size. Finally the other thing I noticed is that you canot see Upper Ausable Lake at all from the road/trail. Not sure if that is on purpose so the general public keeps their eyes off it or not, but at the end of the road we looked left through a clearing towards the lake which would have provided a wide open view but the view was blocked by a couple huge boathouses.

    Anyway we thanked him for the ride and got moving on the trail. What we came across next I would have never in my wildest dreams thought I'd run across deep into the high peaks.

    About a tenth of a mile from the Warden's Camp the trail crosses Shanty Brook (pretty much your last chance for water before going up Sawteeth). This brook features wide open rock slabs with the water running through it. As we came out of the woods and entered the brook we heard voices and quickly saw a bikini clad woman frolicing around in the brook. We then saw a couple more women. And a picnic basket full of sandwiches and cold drinks. And then two more women up to the left who were sunbathing. I had finally stumbled across the High Peaks Oasis after all these years and miles of hiking!

    Alas we weren't club members and their father/brother/boyfriends quickly pointed out where the trail went back into the woods so off we went, hearing their splashing and laughter in the distance as we began our ascent sipping lukewarm water from our camelbacks.

    The trail up Sawteeth from here is great - easy to follow on soft rock free trail for the most part. It gets steeps in sections towards the top but nothing too bad. Really get a feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. Great views as well at times.

    Reached the summit around 3:30 or so and had it all to ourselves. As a matter of fact we didn't see one person on any trail the entire day (aside from down on club property). It was a little buggy at the top, first time all day they had been bothersome and I recalled that it was like that the last time I was on Sawteeth. We still ended up lounging for quite some time before descending via the Weld trail I had thought of going down the scenic trail buy my buddy was pretty much spent so we took the easier way down.

    Got back to the dam in good time and topped off our water again. The new dam is pretty impressive. What a nice spot. We sat for a while and took in the views of the long loop we just completed. Headed back to camp for dinner and decided to save Nippletop and Dial for another trip since my buddy could barely move. Instead we woke up, packed up camp, and headed to the Noonmark for breakfast.

  • #2
    Nice report. I did the same loop as a day trip in late May and it was a blast. I didn't see any bikini-clad women though. Here is a link to pictures I took that day.

    http://community.webshots.com/album/388176722AnvqBc?772

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    • #3
      Ahh, I know exactly the spot where you saw the bikini clad maidens. Pity, when I was there a couple weeks ago, there were none.

      BTW, the Carry Trail is the trail between the Upper and Lower lake, not the trail from the lakes to the Colvin-Blake Col. Yes, the trail to the col is very steep, ascending it was brutally fun.

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      • #4
        I always see bikini clad women when I hike. They follow me around wherever I go. You shoulda heard the lewd remarks when I did Nippletop and Dix: sheesh! I daresay it gets a tad wearisome.

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        • #5
          Well, what did you expect on Nippletop, trees?
          Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
          It's about learning to dance in the rain.

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