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Santanoni Range, Saturday, October 2, 2021

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  • Santanoni Range, Saturday, October 2, 2021


    This past summer I decided to kick my 46-er completion campaign into high gear. It had been a few years since my last multi-peak hike. That was the Dix Range in 2019. Since then, I had knocked off only two High Peaks: In 2020, I did Marcy with my mother-in-law (itself a heart-warming story of perseverance and finding friendship in the most unexpected places). And, in August 2021, I did Marshall from the Loj: in through Indian Pass, back out through Avalanche Pass. Awesome hike.

    So this past Saturday was the Santanoni trio.

    The Hike

    Clockwise: Up Santanoni Express to Santanoni, to Couchsachraga, back over to Panther, down Panther Brook.

    No views or bugs. Cloudy and misty with a very light drizzle basically all day. Decent number of people. I was one of about six groups of varying size out there, based on the register when I signed out

    A couple observations about the route that hopefully someone might find helpful some day:

    The road into the trail was a joy. Very gentle and joggable. I tried to jog it at first, but was still waking up and I am also still not used to trying to jog/run with my larger day pack (as opposed to a smaller, ultra-vest) and so decided to just walk it.

    Once into the woods, it was very muddy, the whole way, all day. I slipped a ton, though fortunately never got hurt.

    I’m glad I went up the Santanoni Express and down Panther Brook. Both had their tricky spots, but I felt like the Express had more straight up scrambles, slabs, and slides, which I personally would much rather go up than down.

    The so-called Hillary Step was a treat. About two-thirds-ish up the Express Trail, I think right at around 3900’ or so. I did not bother with the bypass. I walked the trail basically all the way to the bottom right of the Step, right before the bypass heads off into the woods. There was a really clear and easy crevasse in the rocks that went up on an angle to a spot that was not so steep. I used that for hand holds and followed it up, popped into the trees for all of about five feet, came back out onto another less steep part, and thus was at the top of the Step in a total of about a minute or two. The perfect crime. I personally, however, would never try to go down the Step.

    Even at a no-dawdling pace, it still took me right around 3 hours to do the Couchsachraga out-and-back, Times Square to Times Square.

    I went straight across the infamous Couchsachraga bog and had no issue. It’s an incredibly short distance. I assumed it would be much larger. I just kept an eye on where I was stepping, stuck to branches when I could, used my pole to test the ground a lot. I still wound up going ankle deep on both feet at one point, both ways. However, I had already lost count of the times I’d been ankle deep in mud that day, so this was no different. And I was across the bog in all of about 90 seconds maybe, each time. Really not that fearsome, having picked my route a bit and just got on with it. Though this was my first time there, and I cannot say whether it is more or less wet than usual right now.

    Hardest part of the entire day, both physically and mentally, was coming back up to Times Square from the Bog.

    Panther has quite a nice bog itself, somewhat just past Herald Square, into which I sank just as deep as I had in Couchsachraga’s bog. It was also here that I bent my trekking pole trying to catch myself and prevent a fall sideways into the muck.

    I wound up not drinking much, but had it been hotter I could see one running into trouble with water on this hike. The last water going up was on the Santanoni Express, but not very far up it. And then nothing until the Panther Brook coming back down. So that was probably 5 1/2 or even 6 hours with no place to refill.

    Bradley Pond Trail was delightful. After all the mud on the range, I really appreciated the log cords and the plank walkways. If it were drier, this trail would also be very joggable, both going in and coming out. The clouds, tree cover, mist, and hour of the day all conspired to give the woods a beautiful glow as I came down from Bradley Pond back to the road, and this remains my favorite part of the hike.

    Total time on the trail was approximately 10 hours and 42 minutes. That was at a decent effort, not really pushing it until I hit Bradley Pond and could smell the barn. I also did not spend any time at summits really. Just five minutes or so to take a quick summit sign selfie, to adjust water and food, and call Mrs. NJTom to check in with her and the NJKids.

    Time checks:
    Trail Register: 6:45 am
    Bradley Pond Trail: 7:12
    Santanoni Express Trail cairn: 8:00
    Hillary Step: 9:09
    Santanoni summit: 9:54
    Times Square: 10:50
    Das Bog: 11:38
    Couchsachraga summit: 12:16 pm
    Das Bog: 12:51
    Times Square: 1:48
    Panther summit: 2:02
    Bradley Pond Trail 3:50
    Back to the road: 4:57
    Trail Register: 5:27

    That’s high peaks 18, 19, and 20 down. It was a fun day. Somewhere between Type I and Type II fun. It definitely helped that it wasn’t cold. That would’ve royally stunk had it been cold.

    For what it’s worth, I have long pondered whether the common pronunciation of “Santanoni” is actually the correct one. Basically everyone I have ever heard pronounce the word says it “santa-NO-nee,” except for one guy on YouTube who clearly had no idea what he was saying. I have not researched a “proper” pronunciation extensively, but I have done enough googling to feel satisfied with my effort, though alas unsatisfied with my findings. The Adirondack Mountain Club High Peaks Trails guidebook says the name derives from a mispronunciation of the Christian Saint Anthony. Were that the case, my immediate inclination is to pronounce it somewhat like: “san-TAN-oh-nee.” Anyway, for this reason, I like to refer to the Santanoni Range, to myself at least, as “the Anthonys.” These are the things I think about when alone in the woods.

  • #2
    Was out there yesterday (10-23). After some snow and rain this week (like most weeks this year). Yes, the route is very muddy right now, especially Santanoni and the ridge between there and TImes Square. It's like many of the routes centered on ridges that have been made into clones of the trail to Esther.

    Originally posted by NJTom View Post

    Hardest part of the entire day, both physically and mentally, was coming back up to Times Square from the Bog.
    Climbing out of Couchy is like canyon hiking. The hardest part is climbing out. And it's longer than you'd like it to be.

    We went up Panther Brook and down the Express (our preference to get to Couch ASAP). The Express is one trail has declined a lot and is a pretty rough ride. We avoided the Hillary Step; though the gully, the alternative has gotten picked over. New is one very large tree partly slided down the center wedged in at the bottom of clean rock. We were wearing our boots rather than our approach shoes and we miss the confidence we get wearing them.

    Also noted
    On summit of Panther where the rocks were put into the bog. Some of the sedges are growing in the part that people don't walk over. Liked seeing that. And if you look at the scree wall rocks placed the grown cover has filled in the gaps of the rocks. So a bit of regenerating going on there. Though the rock on the steep climb to the summit is continuing to get widened. It's a tricky climb especially now that there's ice. Another place we missed our approach shoes.

    Approaching the finish of the Express a path has been established through the old beaver dam meadow rather than around the perimeter as it had been for many years.

    Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 10-24-2021, 06:42 PM.