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That's It and That's That!

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  • That's It and That's That!

    Once again the weather forecast encouraged me to move my plans from later in the week to sooner so rather than a Friday hike of Esther and Whiteface I went Tuesday (6/29). I had been planning and anticipating this day for nearly seven years ever since getting hooked on the high peaks after climbing Cascade, my second. Finishing on Whiteface, family and friends at the top to help celebrate, perhaps a party at the ski lodge afterwards had been the goal for quite a while. None of that happened. Instead my wife and her brother, the best support crew anyone could have, hiked with me to Marble Mtn where we enjoyed a good view at a lookout for a few minutes before they returned to the car.

    Alone in the woods again. Some people crave the solitude and I like it too, but I enjoy having the company of one or two others. Two is the limit though. My last hike was only 1.5 weeks ago on Basin and Saddleback. This hike was nothing like that one. The trail was in great shape and it was easy to make good time with little effort. Not that making good time was my main focus. Well, at least not until I spotted a couple much younger than me near the top of Whiteface. Gotta show the kids what grandpa can do, right?

    The weather was warm and sunny when we hit the trail from the ASRC at 5:55am but the summits were wearing hats of cloud. Right out of the gate we took a wrong turn and missed the register. I’m guessing we aren’t/weren’t the only ones. The up was steady and straight at first with remnants of the old ski infrastructure here and there. It was hard to imagine that the woods were we walking through were wide open at one time.

    Before long I was at the intersection for Esther. The sign said the trail was unmarked and unmaintained and straight away there were knee high roots and other obstacles to step over. I remember hoping that the rest of the 3/4 of a mile or so wasn’t like this and it wasn’t. Not much angle up or down and easy to follow. Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of where Whiteface was supposed to be but the cloud seemed glued in place. I made the summit about 40 minutes after the intersection, shot a couple pictures, took a swig of water, a quick snack and headed back.

    Well on my way towards Whiteface it was hard to believe how much easier my experience here was compared to Basin and Saddleback. Opposite sides of the same coin. More good news, the cloud had finally lifted from the summit! I got out my GoPro just before the trail makes contact with the road wall and recorded the rest of the way to the summit.

    The summit was almost completely empty when I arrived in spite of the now clear skies and pile of cars parked at the end of the road. A couple of guys with uniforms and three tourists was it. I marched straight to the summit sign and slowly sucked up a 360-degree view. Didn’t really care if I was taking too long and hogging the summit to myself. I’ve earned this! A few short minutes later the young couple I passed on the final stretch arrived and the 50ish tourists shortly after.

    The way down was optional. Since I was going to need a ride home, it wasn’t really mandatory that I return to the ASRC and I had the idea of descending by way of the ski trails. Many years ago, my brother-in-law and I along with a couple of my kids, when they were very young, took the chairlift half way up and then climbed via the ski trails and a short, steep trail to the summit. Going down that way, minus the chairlift, seemed somewhat poetic. It took a bit to find the trail down which was way steeper than I remembered.

    Once out on the ski trails easy walking turned into thigh high vegetation and very uneven footing that was impossible to predict. Not wanting to turn an ankle I ended up having to probe every step with my poles. Fortunately, this particular ski trail would be the only one like this though it seemed to go on forever. The rest of the way down was a combination of freshly bulldozed gravel, field and woods with a persistent downwards angle. In other words, what at first felt like cheating for the trip down, actually was more work than if I had returned the way I came. No shade, warm temps, the hot sun beating on my neck and running low on water added to the difficulty.

    At a point I thought to be an hour from the bottom, I took my phone out of airplane mode long enough to send a text to my wife asking her to pick me up at the ski lodge. Several emails flood in along with missed texts and phone calls, every one of them related to work. Sigh…it was nice to escape for a while. She wrote back that she was on the way and my phone went back into airplane mode.

    I arrived at the pickup point about 15 minutes before my wife and her brother where I finished my water and popped a couple Advil. The time alone waiting for them gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the journey to tagging all of the big ones over the past seven years. Marcy was my first at 310 lbs. Cascade a couple months later with a little less baggage to carry. Then Tabletop, Phelps, Algonquin, Iroquois, Wright and the rest. Some in perfect weather, some in rain, some as overnight backpacking camping trips, some on a whim, some with my wife, her brother, my brother and/or close friends, but all with excitement and awe. Along the way I lost 115 lbs. I guess you could say the mountains changed my life.

    If you've read this far, I congratulate you and apologize. I really didn’t mean to ramble for quite so long. Thank you for listening.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00813_(2).JPG?width=285&height=175&crop=fill.jpg Views:	13 Size:	15.3 KB ID:	513318
    Attached Files
    Me - Done
    Mrs - 17/46

    A trail without mud is like a day without sunshine.

  • #2
    Great TR! Just out of curiosity, which ski trail did you take down? A lot of Whiteface's trails are really gnarly in the summer (and winter for that matter), but I've always wondered what it would be like to hike down the Wilmington ski trail.

    Edit: and congrats on the big finish! Gotta ask, favorite and least favorite?
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks FFB, I'm glad you liked it!

      I meandered from one trail to another, whichever one looked easier. Not sure if that strategy worked or not. The trail names are on my Strava track and I could send you a link if you would like.

      Favorite and least favorite is tough. I guess least favorite is a tie between Cliff and Gray, favorite is also a tie - all of the rest with a view, particularly Colden. My favorite non-high peak is Pyramid.

      Other catagories:

      Toughest - Marcy the first time.
      Easiest - Cascade any time.
      Longest - Upper Works, Redfield, Gray, Skylight, Marcy, Loj
      Surpisingly Fun - Redfield
      Sloppiest - Seymour with Mrs FatMan the day after several thunderstorms rolled through.
      Driest - Lower Great Range minus LWJ with my brother and a friend.
      Most Tiring - Seward, Donaldson, Emmons. By the end of the hike I was literally using my poles to move forward.
      Slowest - Basin and Saddleback.
      Fastest - Cascade and Porter in the snow.
      Toughest to Get - Couchsachraga (three tries)
      Most Unnecessary - Couchsachraga
      Most Fun Slide - Macomb
      Most Not as Bad as it Sounds - Allen
      Bear Encounter - just one.
      Skunk Encounters - also just one.
      Salamanders Eaten - Zero
      Me - Done
      Mrs - 17/46

      A trail without mud is like a day without sunshine.

      Comment


      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        In my case, the first time in the Santanoni's my new hiking shoes were too tight and my wife was sick. The next time she was gimp and I was sick. The third time I went with my next door neighbor and made it.

      • Groundpounder
        Groundpounder commented
        Editing a comment
        When I crossed paths with you atop South Dix I recall you mentioning that the Macomb slide was not fun

      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        It was a lot more fun the second time!

    • #4
      Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed reading your trip reports as you closed in on your remaining peaks. Whiteface is a terrific choice to finish. Glad
      the skies cleared for you.
      ADK 24/46

      Comment


    • #5
      Originally posted by Fat Man Hiking View Post
      ... over the past seven years. Marcy was my first at 310 lbs.
      ...
      Along the way I lost 115 lbs.
      Congratulations!

      Do you actually feel that it's easier to hike with less weight?
      Have you captured e.g. your Marcy and Whiteface & Esther total times?

      Comment


      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        Dramatically easier. I don't track times much because I'm in "smell the roses" mode every time I go hiking.

    • #6
      Congrats! As a big man who got smaller myself through the 46, though not as impressive a loss as yours, I appreciate the journey you undertook and accomplished, with the extra struggle and satisfaction.
      I love the follow-up post with your favorites, that is a neat idea that would be good way to hear other finisher's favorites and experiences.
      And thanks for reminding us to Save the Salamanders!
      "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
      "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

      Comment


      • #7
        Awesome!!!
        Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
        ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

        Comment


        • #8
          Congrats to you, sir. I know the moment was special when you finished..... coupled with the weight loss..... enjoy the accomplishment now, and the memories forever.

          Next up Winter 46!!!!!!!

          One comment..... Gray is your least fave, over Blake! Ya gotta be kidding me! At least Gray had some views......

          Congrats!
          Catskills: 39/39, 35W/35W
          ADK: 46/46, 1W/46W

          Comment


          • Fat Man Hiking
            Fat Man Hiking commented
            Editing a comment
            Everybody's experience is a little different. I was with good company on Blake and the trip as a whole was a lot of fun. Learned how to backpack camp on that trip as well. I found Gray to be way more rugged than I was expecting and got into a situation where I was in over my head and should have turned back.

        • #9
          Congrats FKA Fat Man!

          Which peak are you looking forward to returning to first?

          Comment


          • Learning The Trails
            Learning The Trails commented
            Editing a comment
            I think I remember your TR. Correct me if I'm wrong, you saw a set of eyes in the dark?

          • Fat Man Hiking
            Fat Man Hiking commented
            Editing a comment
            That's the one. Good memory. People working at the JBL tried to tell me it was a deer. There's no mistaking deer eyes for bear eyes even in the dark. My run-in hardly compares with the one you had though. Glad there was a happy ending.

          • Learning The Trails
            Learning The Trails commented
            Editing a comment
            I believe you Fat Man Hiking . They are two distinctly different set of eyes with different spacing. JBL was probably trying to ease your mind.

        • #10
          Big congrats on the finish! Well done. And amazing transformation along the way. Good for you. Inspiring story for anybody hoping to make any kind of change in their life.

          And it appears that salamander reference will never die on this forum! I still giggle every time somebody brings it up.

          Comment


          • #11
            Congratulations Fat Man Hiking I guess you have to change your name though!

            Comment


            • Fat Man Hiking
              Fat Man Hiking commented
              Editing a comment
              Thought about it but I'm going to leave it for now. Call it incentive.

            • Makwa
              Makwa commented
              Editing a comment
              Definitely leave it. Now it's an ironic name... like calling a bald guy Curly.

          • #12
            Excellent TR! Congrats on a great mission. I’m battling the weight, as well. Down over 30 pounds, but much more to go. The journey continues....
            Nothing like being in the woods.

            http://www.gerardsadirondackpics.shutterfly.com

            Comment


            • #13
              Congratulations!

              Its been a pleasure reading your reports and following along on your journey.

              I’m sitting at 8. I hope to get them done before 60.

              "That sounds like a terrible idea.... What time?"

              Comment


              • Yury
                Yury commented
                Editing a comment
                Craig, what is your next planed hike?

              • Craig
                Craig commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm on the disabled list until November, at which point I'll start working up my endurance.

            • #14
              I recall you saying a year or two ago that you were done with hiking the high peaks and were happy riding your bike...

              Very happy to hear that you finished!!! Congrats, and have fun hiking on your own schedule in the future

              Comment


              • Fat Man Hiking
                Fat Man Hiking commented
                Editing a comment
                Good memory! I kind of expected to be called out on that one. I'm sort of done, sort of not, with hiking. I very much enjoy it but the combination of my spent knees and the politics surrounding hiking in the high peaks (or anywhere else for that matter) have wrecked it for me. Cycling has become a great way to stay fit without pounding my knees. Just for fun I rode my bicycle from home in the Rochester area to Lake Clear for vacation last week. Three days, 273.75 miles and 11,115' of up.

            • #15
              Fat Man Hiking Great Trip Report as usual. I have enjoyed reading your posts. I am also in Rochester and my wife and I head up and do a couple day hikes on long weekends when we can. We did 7 peaks last year and are heading out this weekend to add 5 or 6 more (Colvin, Blake, Dial, Nippletop) on Saturday followed by (either Phelps, Tabletop or Colden) on Sunday. I'm 55 and IF we decide to go after all of them I would like to be done before 60. Congrats on your epic achievement!

              Comment


              • Fat Man Hiking
                Fat Man Hiking commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you! I was inspired by a friend to get them all by 60. I remember thinking at the time that I needed to average 7 or so mountains per year which seemed like an aggressive schedule given the long drive from Rochester. I was lucky to get way ahead early on and only added one high peak last year (Couch) and then needed just four this year. Good luck tagging the rest and send me a PM if you ever need a hiking partner.
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