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My Santanoni experience

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  • My Santanoni experience

    Because of the way many people talk about this range I was feeling a little bit intimidated about completing this hike. I set my alarm for 2:45am and tried to go to bed early. I woke up at 2, so I made a cup of coffee and had some time to “lighten the load” before I left.

    By by the time I arrived and signed in at the Trailhead, it was nearly 6:30. The March up the gravel road was pleasant in the cool morning air. After turning on to the Panther Brook trail, I caught glimpses of Bradley Pond through the trees, looked nice. Met a nice group at Herald Square who were confused about what trail goes where. Based on my research and trip prep I was able to help them out. I made the quick trip to Panther, where I had clouds blowing past me, obscuring my view. I sat on the open lookout and enjoyed an apple and the sky opened up, allowing nice views of the peaks that lay ahead-Couch and Santanoni. I caught up to my three new friends on the way to Couch, including a friendly 4th grader who is over half way to becoming a 46’er! After a bit I moved a little faster than them and reached the bog first. It’s been pretty dry so it was easy to cross, my laces didn’t even get wet. So much for the hype. Hitting this High Peak that isn’t, and getting back, was quite a slog. I had a tuna sandwich with pickles at the summit, and by the time I hit Times Square, I was pretty tired.

    Based on the suggestion from a new friend who likes tacos, I should do this trip counter clockwise. So I figured even though I had to ascend Santa, I was on my way “out”. Nice views of the Sewards, McIntyres and others from Santa, then I hit the express. My knees were feeling horrible and descending the steep ass slope didn’t help. At that one large rock scramble I had to work my way across the top and lower myself down with a partially separated branch. I felt myself about to fall, so I practically leaped and grabbed the branch. Thankfully it held my weight and I didn’t die. Good stuff.

    Im going to sum up this hike with some “not-so-fancy” adjectives. Narrow, scrapey, stabby, trippy. So many blow downs to straddle over or duck under. I must have walked into 8700 spiderwebs. My hat is off to those with younger knees who are able to move fast through this range. I felt it was important to take my time to prevent injury; beyond the cuts and abrasions that I brought home. Total travel time was about 11 hours. I don’t hate this range. It was difficult, but I respect it as a challenge that I was able to overcome.
    I also think it was kind of ironic that Couchsachraga happened to be my 13th peak. It wasn’t planned that way. Miserable #13.

    The cold root beer from Stewart’s was SO GOOD!

  • #2
    Nice TR!

    Question: If the suggestion was at least partially based on water and logistics, would you make the same suggestion to somebody else or would you tell them to go CW? Your mileage may vary, and I wouldn't be offended
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


    • #3
      I think it was good advice. Climbing the express and THEN going out to couch...UGH!


      • Eddie Fournier
        Eddie Fournier commented
        Editing a comment
        I did it counter-clockwise like you and I found going down the Express was absolutely brutal on my knees (my time for this range was over 13hrs). If I go back, I will do it clockwise.

    • #4
      Clockwise better. Water shows up partway down Panther path, and yes, descending Express is brutal... Nice work, though!


      • gebby
        gebby commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree. Have done it twice and would much rather go up the express!

    • #5
      Thanks for the trip report. The Santas are next on my agenda and I’ve been going back and forth on which way to do them


    • #6
      Nice trip report! I don't recall my exact wording, but I think I likened the Santas to "walking through a herd of angry porcupines". Scrapey and stabby is good as well


      • #7
        My only time up Santa was via the Express, right after it opened, on a rainy May day a few years ago. Don't remember any difficulties, other than trepidation about the rope (long since gone). At the summit, the rain changed to a deluge, complete with thunder and nearby lightning strikes, so we decided to hightail it out of there and skip the rest of the range. By the time we got back to the brook crossing, we were so wet that decided not to remove our boots or try to keep dry (!) but just wade across the now thigh-deep water. On the way out, the stream had crossed onto the trail.

        ADK 46r #8003; 6W
        2nd round: 16
        SL6r #596
        Catskill 3500 21/39; 11W


        • #8
          A nice write up! The Santa's are in my future, glad to hear the opinions on clockwise versus counterclockwise. I would much rather take a lesser grade down too.

          Whats the trail coming down from Panther to Bradley Pond like?
          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


          • FlyFishingandBeer
            FlyFishingandBeer commented
            Editing a comment
            One of my least favs in the region for descending. A lot of it is composed of something like oversized shot rock, that stuff the DOT uses to back fill drainage ditches. Where the express can be a real PITA on the knees if you're trying to brake with each step, I'm yet to find a technique that makes that Santanoni Brook section less miserable.

          • mastergrasshopper
            mastergrasshopper commented
            Editing a comment
            I can fast hike up steep part of express where it goes up Santa ridge. too steep to run down.
            the BP trail I can run down.

          • Groundpounder
            Groundpounder commented
            Editing a comment
            I will just say that going down the Panther Brook trail (or, Santanoni Brook? Maps seem to call it the Panther Brook trail, but list the brook itself as Santanoni Brook) last year with a wrecked knee was not fun at all. Much of it is a stream bed with numerous 3-4 foot "hop down" rocks. I've not set foot on the express, so I can't make a one-to-one comparison.

            I camped at the BP tentsite, up Panther Brook trail, and did Santa, Couch, then Panther and back down. Take my opinions with a grain of salt though. I did the whole range as a cripple, and was sidelined for several months afterward before I was able to walk down a flight of stairs or turn a corner without my knee giving out.

            If water is a concern, I remember there being good water on the PB trail up until around 3500-3600'. The trail crosses over a nice little pool there, and, after that, veers away from the brook.

        • #9
          Sir! Hiked this one 8/3/20 with my father who is 61. Weather was awful - not chilly - just on and off rain. no views from panther or couch. Being at the top of Panther felt like we were in a huge cloud, the wind was whipping! Took us 15.5 hours and we never made it to Santanoni. LOL. We will never make this mistake again!!!!! Hiked the last 3.5 miles on the Bradley Blue Trail in the dark and the rain.