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I Take That Back... Saddleback (10-14-2019)

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  • I Take That Back... Saddleback (10-14-2019)

    From my recent TR of Nippletop:

    I honestly thought that after finishing off the Seward's last month that Pokey Moonshine & I were done with bagging High Peaks for 2019.
    I take that back.

    We started this year with a great warm up hike of Dial and bookend-ed it with a spectacular climb of Nippletop... So cool!
    ( Makwa , you're the stats guy... How many people have done that?)
    I take that back too... Someone else can have that title... I'm cool with it.

    In her recent 46 correspondence letter with Pokey Moonshine, muddybottom wrote that she hoped we would "have some nice weather so you might complete another peak or two before the snow flies."

    The recent weather has been nice. Completing another peak seemed like a nice idea.

    Saturday, I decided to scrap our planned hike for the holiday and attempt Saddleback via the Ore Bed Trail instead.
    I listened to Pokey describe in detail how she wanted to climb Gothics via the Ore Bed Trail all Winter long.
    We hit Gothics via BMF in August as a result of the Garden closure.

    So, why not hike the Ore Bed to Saddleback for this one?

    We rolled into the Garden at 6AM. Shortly thereafter, we stepped onto the Phelps Trail.

    Something was bothering Pokey, I could tell that it was the pre-Sunrise start that bugged her. This was the first time she started a hike in total darkness.

    I assured her that the sun would be up in a "less than an hour."

    We got bonked off trail for a second & quickly corrected our mistake. The Sun slowly started to make an appearance and it's presence quickly cheered her up. Soon, the yellow leaves of the birch trees reflected enough light that headlamps were no longer necessary.

    Peeps through the trees offered some nice glimpses of the Lower Great Range's profile. It was a pleasant stroll to the interior register & outpost.
    We crossed the bridge and took a right on to the Ore Bed Trail. The walk to the lean-to was gentle and we picked up some nice views of Gooseberry Mountain's changing colors and open rocks along the way. Just before the lean-to is a small stretch of trail eroding away on the bank of the stream. The rock hop across was easy & the spot is quite splendid.

    We took a quick break at the shelter before continuing onward. The path follows the Ore Bed Brook and crosses one more stream. The elevation gain was fairly gentle.

    Then we arrived at the bottom of the slide. The wake of destruction was spectacular. We ended up following the yellow blazes through the rubble field to the stairs. Turning around, we were offered wonderful views of Yard & Big Slide. Arriving at the steps, we realized that we missed a newer stretch of trail that leads to the steps through the woods. No worries. Rubble fields are more fun!

    We then put our legs to the test on the StairMaster . The steps allowed us to gain elevation quickly but we did stop once or twice to catch our breath. It's certainly a workout.
    After the steps, we dipped back into the woods and walked up a number of very slippery slabs. Careful foot placement was key. The trail eased up quite a bit as we neared the col.

    We passed a family resting near the junction. It sounded like they had just done Ba-Sa. Their boy (around the same age as Pokey) kept telling his parents "We need to tell them there's cliffs!"
    The parent's told the boy "Shhhh..."

    In spite of the boy's attempts to warn us, we knew that there would be no cliffs for us on this day.

    We eased up our pace and enjoyed the glorious turn around views of Gothics as we closed in on the summit. We could see a number of people climbing the open rock (I'm not sure if that's where the cables are or if that's the steeps). Gothics' summit had a bit of traffic.

    After a few easy scrambles, we were on Saddleback's summit ridge. We arrived at the first lookout and took in the beautiful Autumn vista. There was still a lot of color in the valley around the Ausable Lakes. But, the show stealer was Basin's fantastic slides.

    Basin... By far is Pokey's favorite peak to gaze upon. She absolutely loves it's distinct features.

    It was very windy and cold at the lookout. We layered up a bit and set off for the lookout above the cliffs. This spot has a wider view than the first overlook. The wind kept whipping and the clouds were moving fast. I congratulated Pokey Moonshine on High Peak #34 and we snacked while staring off at Basin, Marcy and the Mac's.

    A few people popped up from the cliffs and told us that they were very hard and intimidating. Some of them seemed flat out freaked.
    We were quite happy to have dealt with a stress free climb to this enchanting peak. We endured the wind and cold and enjoyed 40 minutes on top of Saddleback before making our descent.
    A hundred feet below the summit ridge, the chilly winds were non-existent. We ditched our extra layers at the junction and enjoyed a fairly warm hike out.

    A group of French Canadians that we met at the summit passed us just before a large red slimy slab. We were at the top of the slab when one of them lost his footing and slid 20-30 feet downwards. There was a downed tree at the bottom of the slab and he was headed right for it! Fortunately, his head missed the tree and his backpack took the entire blow. He popped up and shouted "C'est Bonne! All good!" It was pretty scary watching him fall. We were glad that he walked away unscathed.

    We took careful steps down the wet, slimy slabs and were soon back at the stairs. We enjoyed the "goodbye views" of the slide and Saddleback as we walked down the steps to the base of the slide.

    From there, it was a long but enjoyable trek back to the Garden. Pokey & I discussed that this may have been our "Easiest High Peak of the year... Although, Nippletop is another contender" for that title.

    Kailee made friends with a woman on the Garden/Phelps trail who had just completed Ha-Ba-Sa. They chatted about different peaks and Pokey hit her up with numerous questions about Basin. Pokey told her that she started her hike in the dark with headlamps for the first time. That had initially made her nervous... Now, she seemed to take pride in that.

    We arrived back at the car just before 5PM to a mostly empty lot. I congratulated Pokey with a high five and said "We've only got 12 left!"
    After some stretching, it was time to head home and hit up Burger King to pig out on Whoppers.

    This was a fantastic way to spend the holiday. We finally got to check off the Ore Bed Trail and Saddleback delivered in spades. We couldn't be happier!


  • #2
    I usually like to check in with someone to get a little beta before our High Peak hikes. This climb of Saddleback was fairly last minute.
    Sunday night, I saw that gebby was online on Facebook. I messaged him and he gave me some info. I would like to thank him for that and congratulate him on his recent finish of the Northeast 111/115!

    If pictures are not showing up on the forum. Here is the direct link:

    Rubble field:


    Beautiful Basin and colors in the valley:

    Chilly Summit Time!


    • debmonster
      debmonster commented
      Editing a comment
      We need more than a Like button for this photo. <3

  • #3

    My son and I climber Saddleback the same route as you. While our views were socked in the clouds, it still made for a great father/son hike.

    You guys rocked it, in style!
    If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled ~ Red Skelton


    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      It's a fantastic route!
      Glad you both enjoyed it as well.

  • #4
    I love your pictures and your silly faces!


  • #5
    Those are beautiful photos bringing back some fine memories-thanks and congratulations.


  • #6
    That's awesome you guys grabbed one more this year, great job not letting that opportunity slip through.
    I'm down here in the tier just itching to get up there so bad, and i dont know whether everyone's pics with the fall colors help or make it worse for me. Your pic with Basin with its balding amphitheater and with Pinnacle Ridge across the valley with its sawteeth is so cool. I think Basin and gothics are probably my favorite peaks to see in person and in pics
    35er #3133
    46er #11779

    "Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds"


    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Biker Hiker. We're really glad to have gotten it done.
      I agree Basin and Gothics are fantastic to gaze upon. So much character to them. Thoroughly enjoyed the views of Big Slide and Yard from the slide as well.
      High Peaks are supposed to get at least 6 inches of snow tonight. Shoulder Season is officially upon us.

  • #7
    Excellent pics and report. Congrats on #34

    So what's left for the final dozen? And where are you two leaning toward for a finisher?


    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Makwa.

      Our dirty dozen:
      MSG, Ha-Ba, Santas, Allen, RPR, C&R.
      Pokey is confident that we can get em done next year.

      I messaged you about the potential finishers that she and I have discussed.

  • #8
    I love the stories and pictures of my favorite feisty little hiker Pokey Moonshine!
    Leave No Trace!