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Return to the Santanonis

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  • Return to the Santanonis

    After I finished the Northeast 111 I realized that I had done them all in my 50s, and I decided to redo them in my 60s. So last weekend I returned to the Santanoni Range, which I had hiked in 2013.

    I had originally planned to just hike into the leanto on Saturday and hike the range on Sunday, but the weather forecast convinced me to reverse that. It was supposed to start raining late Saturday afternoon and continue through Sunday. So I arrived at the trailhead as early as I could on Saturday (which wasn't really very early, actually, given that I worked on Friday). There were over a dozen cars in the lot when I arrived.

    I started the day by hiking the Blue Trail out to Santanoni Leanto, also known as Bradley Pond Leanto (map: SLT, trail sign: BPLT, leanto log book: SLT). The trail follows a road for a while, and then soon after becoming a real trail crosses two brooks where there once were two bridges. The first bridge is now missing and the second one is broken. However, on Saturday it was an easy rock hop where the first bridge was, and not too difficult to use the second one. The trail the rest of the way has a lot of muddy spots, but the theme for the day seemed to be mud pits which did not turn out to be as bad as they looked. The mud on Saturday was thicker than usual, and could usually be stepped on without sinking down into. I met the first of a number of hikers I'd see that day on the Blue Trail, but when I got to the leanto it was empty.

    I dumped some stuff at the leanto, backtracked a little bit, and proceeded up the herd path Bradley Pond Trail. (None of the trail names I used in this report are official; they're just what I think of the trails as.) Bradley Pond Trail passes over an abandoned beaver dam, close to Bradley Pond, and up through the woods under some cliffs. Then it follows a brook quite aways, at times being the brook. Eventually it gets to Herald Square, where I turned right onto Santanoni Ridge Trail. (If you're unfamiliar with the area I made a map of the range back in 2013.)

    This trail soon arrives at the summit of Panther. Just before the summit there's a slab to negotiate, a great viewpoint, and a big mud pit.

    After tagging the summit I returned to Herald Square, and stayed to the right, which quickly brought me to Times Square, where I stayed to the left. I decided to do Santanoni before Couchsachraga because if bad weather hit later I'd rather be on the less exposed Couchie than the more exposed Santanoni. The section of the Santanoni Ridge Trail between Times Square and the intersection with the Santanoni Express was the only redlining I did that trip. Santanoni's a great peak, with excellent views just shy of the summit of most of the high peaks.

    After tagging Santanoni (where the spelling of the sign has been corrected since my last visit) I returned to Times Square, and turned left towards Couchsachraga.

    The Northeast 111 consists of 115 peaks, 114 of which I prefer to Couchsachraga. It's longer than you think it will be. It's mostly the wrong direction elevationwise, so you have to climb to leave the mountain. It has a Vermont grade mud pit. On this trip it also had several major blowdowns. The only thing to commend it is one good viewpoint facing the Seward Range.

    But, anyway, I "climbed" Couchsachraga and returned to Times Square. Around this time I was getting seriously doubtful I'd reach the leanto before it got dark and before it started raining. Neither event would be all that bad; but I'd rather get to the leanto first, especially if there was going to be a lot of people there. At Times Square I turned left and at Herald Square I turned right, and headed down Bradley Pond Trail. Parts of the trail along the brook were a little tricky to follow, but I never really lost the trail. Soon after Bradley Pond I turned on my headlamp. When I got to the leanto there was nobody there. It started raining a half hour later.

    By the time I went to sleep it was raining hard. It was still raining hard when I got up. Since I only had the hike out to the car that day I took my time getting ready, and by the time I left the leanto the rain had stopped. The trail, as to be expected, was a lot wetter and muddier than on Saturday. Santanoni Brook, which the trail follows for a long while, was roaring. I didn't see another person that day. In fact the last other people I saw was while I was on my way out to Couchie on Saturday.

    I was a little worried about the brook crossing where the missing bridge was. I couldn't remember if the brook was the same one as the one I was following (Santanoni Brook) or if it was a tributary. It didn't look like crossing Santanoni Brook would be at all easy. Fortunately, however, it is a tributary, and although it was much to high to rock hop, I was able to wade across with the water only coming up to my knees.

    Panther, Santanoni, and Couchsachraga were numbers 14-16 in my quest to redo the NE111 in my 60s. Now I won't have to "climb" Couchsachraga again until I'm 70.

    Here are the pictures.



    NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
    NE111 in my 60s: 16/115 (11/67, 5/46, 0/2)
    NEFF: 46/50; Cat35: 36/39; WNH4K: 36/48; NEHH 81/100
    LT NB 2009

    "I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
    "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
    - Lewis Carroll

  • #2
    You describe this terrain so well that I felt I was revisiting the Santanonis with you. "I 'climbed' Couchsachraga and returned to Times Square."---Lots of understatement there! Enjoyed your TR.

    "A full appreciation of mountains is not to be experienced by merely looking; that is why men climb." -Francis S. Smythe, British mountaineer


    • #3
      Cumulus, Couchsachraga is like the shy girl in school---once you get to know her better you will find she has a great personality.

      Forget the anxiety of the trip and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jim Gifford View Post
        "I 'climbed' Couchsachraga and returned to Times Square."
        --- or maybe "returned to Couchsachraga and climbed to Times Square"


        • #5
          Originally posted by DougV View Post
          --- or maybe "returned to Couchsachraga and climbed to Times Square"
          I think the return is a shock the first time or two. After that you know what to expect and it doesn't seem so bad.


          • #6
            We missed Couchie when we did these in 2008 due to deteriorating weather conditions. I've been putting off going back, but we have pretty much run out of options. We are heading up next week to pay a return visit . We went in mid May last time, not the best of conditions so I'm hoping it will not seem so bad in comparison this time. Thanks for the update and the photos, makes me excited to head and get this one done.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              I like Couchie in the winter. Lots of fun, especially to break. If you haven't done it, it's a must!!! All of the Santa's are fun in the winter!
              #8335W, Solo Winter 46
              Catskill 35 (SSW) #1235
              ADK Quest #119
              HPWA All-Trails #8 (solo)
              NE 111 113/115

              NPT 2019, Trans ADK Route 2021