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On (the) Couch at Last!

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  • On (the) Couch at Last!

    Late July 2017 Mrs FatMan and I set out bright and early on the Santanoni Range. Not far up the express trail it was obvious we weren’t going to get them all due to my new hiking shoes being too tight and she was having trouble with her stomach. Last year we tried again but this time I was sick and she was gimp. Saturday (8/22) she stayed home (still having knee trouble) and I made my third attempt for all three with my 26 yr old neighbor. Just for the record, I don’t remember being 26 yrs old.

    We got a fairly early start after a better than expected sleep at an unusually quiet Lake Harris Campground. The lot was already overflowing when we arrived around 5:30 and the sky completely clouded over. There was rain on the radar that I thought was going to get us but it never happened. The trail was wet and muddy enough anyway.

    The weather was depressing at first with the low, thick, solid cloud cover that removed any hope of a view from our thoughts as we topped Santanoni. We had the summit to ourselves for a few minutes before a friendly group of three arrived. We would play leap frog with them all day finally hiking the road out together in the end. On the way to Times Square the sun would try to burn through the cloud but never really get through. Just a bit of bright and warmth from time to time. We took a short break at TS leaving toward Couch just as our new friends arrived.

    I have been looking forward to checking Couchsachraga off the list for three years and was never able to get the job done. Today I was not going home without the prize but the swamp and the anxiety it generates through its reputation had to be dealt with first. Then all of a sudden, there it was. A soupy mix of water, mud and dead wood tossed in to form a sort of semi-floating pathway. We went left and were through it in less than a minute. Huh, doesn’t seem so scary from this side.

    By now the sun had burned through and chased away half of the cloud cover and the day was turning out to be perfect. We made the summit of Couch, posed for pics, snacked, met up with the threesome again and were off. On the way back we went straight up the middle of the swamp which I thought was a little more treacherous than going the other way. My GoPro ran from just before the swamp, through it, and all the way to the lookout which provides excellent views of the Sewards. Watching the raw video with my wife last night there seemed to be more grunting and groaning than I remember.

    Heading back towards Times Square my hiking partner started hallucinating which would go on the rest of the day. He kept seeing trail intersections and points of interest along the way that were to be our next target long before we would actually get there. Kind of a different version of “are we there yet?”

    Finally on Panther we took more pics, another break and celebrated his first three peaks with dehydrated ice cream sandwiches. They really aren’t as nasty as they sound and it’s a tradition of mine. Mock if you must.

    On the way down Panther, past Bradley Pond and out of the woods we caught and passed a few groups of people and then at the road we were caught by the same group of three that we had been seeing all day. The five of us walked the road together, signed out and said our good-byes.

    The overall pace for the day was a mere 1.25 mph due to the numerous photo stops and long breaks on the summits. AlpineQuest had the day at 16.5 miles, 5400’ of up and 13:12 for time. My watch counted 50,202 steps. 50,201 of them went “splash”. The amount of mud and bog was on par with the slogfest Mrs FatMan and I had on Seymour a few years ago the day after thunderstorms pounded the area. At least this time I did not have to wade through an over-flowing, fast moving creek.

    In conclusion, getting to Couch wasn’t as bad as I had imagined but, like with Cliff, I see no reason to go back. Once is plenty.
    Me - 42/46
    Mrs - 17/46

    A trail without mud is like a day without sunshine.

  • #2
    Congrats. Every peak is a memorable experience.


    • #3
      Congrats, FMH! Glad your knees are working well, and that you are getting close to finishing!


      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks! The hard bicycling this year (4600 miles so far) has really paid off! No knee pain whatsoever throughout the hike or in the days following. Legs were a bit sore but that's typical. Planning to do Basin/Saddleback a few weeks from now and then the big finish next year when (if?) they open the Whiteface summit again.

    • #4
      Congrats on finally getting to Couchie. I finally did a few weeks ago too, Feels good to have that range not hanging over the head anymore! I’ve also been spending a lot of time on The bike this year, really helps.


      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        Congrats to you as well. Two years ago my strategy was to get all of the hills with bad reputations done in one summer. Checked off the Sewards and Allen without a problem and orphaned Couch. Then bailed out again last year. Was beginning to think I would never get there.