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Hough. Tough Chewing Against the Grain.

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  • Hough. Tough Chewing Against the Grain.

    Using Caltopo mastergrasshopper and I went back and forth a few times honing this route. I would draw in a route and send him the link to the map. He'd download it on his phone, take a screen shot and draw in a variation with his finger and email the file back. We’ve both bushwhacked around and slide-climbed in the Dix Range a number of times (but Glen has done way more than me.) He wanted us to visit a special bump that was comprised of open rock. He had oriented me to the same bump years ago (2019 report here) when I bushwhacked Dix but I made a nav error and missed it. Plus, we both wanted to re-visit another bump from many years ago and by the time we were done with the route we would be crossing 4 ridges en route to Hough. We knew we had an epic (in the positive sense of the word) lined up.

    The ultimate goal was to bushwhack Hough but the journey itself was the bigger goal and we wanted to visit specific spots and face various route-finding and physical challenges along the way.

    So Wednesday morning found us departing the Boquet River herd path at 580 meters elevation and following a compass bearing NNW and sticking to an altimeter reading until we were under the first bump. Gaining this first bump entailed crossing multiple swaths of open rock until the extravaganza 360 degree views from top. Here we paused for good 20 minutes taking it all in. Then we dropped down, crossed a drainage and ascended to the next ridge/bump. The obvious attraction of these ridges were the swaths of open rock with their killer, in-your-face views of the Dix Range and everywhere else the eye fell. Each time we bust a new ridge we picked up some more elevation. The way it worked out was that the greatest amount of sustained ascending we did all day was 750 feet. This was a well-laid plan we both appreciated because the ascending was always heart-poundingly and thigh-burningly steep.

    We navigated mostly by compass in order to keep on a straight line but used the altimeter extensively, probably more than on any whack before. The compass was often out, held in hand and altimeter checks were easily every 100 feet of elly or more often when side-hilling. (the only sure-fire way we know of to avoid unconsciously ascending while side-hilling is to keep our eyes on the altimeter and stick within a 10-meter range.) The route plan was also loaded into CalTopo on my phone and we checked it between check points to avoid straying to far off. Hough, when it first came into view seemed very far away and was behind several ridges.

    Eventually though, we were on our final approach to Hough, 750 feet above us. The woods were wonderfully open but it was killer steep. We would get views of the summit and it seemed to tower directly above us. The final 150 feet of gain was through the worst blowdown and thick re-growth we’d seen all day and it began raining just enough to soak the vegetation. We wanted to come out directly on the summit but the conditions pushed us to the right and we intersected the trail less than 50 steps from the top.

    When we were sitting on the summit I checked my watch: 8 hours 30 minutes. A new record for Hough! The skies made the view of Elk Lake and the southern, “Little High Peaks” absolutely gorgeous. However, any uplifting feelings that may have been engendered by such views were tempered by fatigue, satisfaction and thoughts of the hike out. I tallied up the times for the drop off of Hough (on-trail), the stiff little climb up Pough, South etc. etc. and came up with a 4 hour 30 minute exit for a 13-hour day. It took 4h20 and we were out at 8:50 pm.

    Photos and sketch of route.





  • #2
    I love your last pic of the map, and chuckled when i first saw it: knowing how relatively close the bouquet herdpath will get you to the base of hough (and how much "easier" the hike would have been if the target was primarily or just the summit), your route line is a very graphic example of a journey being more important than the mountain peak itself.
    Thanks for the report and pics, more super neat areas that a lot of us would have had no clue about, and showing some excellent adventurous options other than just the trails.
    "...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


    • #3
      Something that doesn't go into these TR's is how hard we have to work to be able to do these hikes and how beat we are afterwards. I missed two years of ADK whack-fests due to the pandemic. I stayed in what most people would consider excellent shape but when I returned to the Adirondacks in December 2021 it was very hard (and still is because I keep upping the ante). Glen missed a year due to a fractured ankle and he's still climbing the fitness hill.
      Between hikes we train hard and at my current level I think a hike like this one "de-trains" me. After 2 days of recovery I'm back at it trying to gain another increment. But at age 66 it's a lot harder than when I was a spritely 50. And, we have to be ever so careful to avoid overuse injuries. I temper my training when I feel a hot spot coming on which avoids injury but delays progress.

      Comment


      • Bunchberry
        Bunchberry commented
        Editing a comment
        Exactly! And it gets harder when you have projects and family obligations.....

    • #4
      The Beckhorn slide has overgrown a wee bit in the middle! Way different from 2014 version we did together.

      BTW, do you fill the arriveCan form everytime you go down south?
      8000m 0/14

      Comment


      • Neil
        Neil commented
        Editing a comment
        Every time. ArriveCan will end June 30th.

    • #5
      Great trip, Neil and MG.

      Note Don Mellor's old climbing guide book speaks to the steep approach to Hough: "Check the map (and your sanity) before heading out."

      Thought you would like that quote.

      Comment


      • Neil
        Neil commented
        Editing a comment
        We did check the map (but forgot our sanity).

    • #6
      What a tough but cool way to do Hough!

      Comment


      • #7
        like Christmas
        checking the map not the list. The "gifts" were the sights and places we took in.
        we snuck up on Hough in a roundabout way that looks crazy but was carefully planned. We had three main objectives. 1) The little sub ridge that runs due west from 650 to 820 meters.
        we left the trail around 600 meters and used an altimeter to stay on course till the crossing of the south tributary of N. fork of Boquet. we then angled up 50 meters to a little rounded knob and turned west. we immediately encountered open rock. we followed lines of open rock to 820 meters where there is a distinct "bump" that falls within the 10 meter/30ft contour lines. we had 360-degree views. The view that I remembered, and how I found myself on the map the first time I was there, was seeing the Beckhorn slide appear to rise up out of the coll formed by the 1052 meter ridge and main NE ridge of Dix. 2) Our next objective was the 1082 meter ridge that has the whole west face covered in open rock with in your face views of the Dix range. A most worthy objective. I call this ridge "listless mt" due to it not being on anyone's list and only is visited by people with time on their hands to loll about listlessly on the summit. From this vantage point we could see the rest of our route up the way to Hough that looked quite distant after about 5 hours of hiking. 3) Hough the tough was next and we started to climb it by dropping down 200 meters to a double stream crossing at 800 meters. So I might point out that we left the trail many hours ago at 600 meters and so had only gained 200 meters overall, not a very "sane" or efficient way to climb Hough. On the other hand our route included many long sections of staying on contour that gave us a chance to recover from the climbs. We went from 800 to 1000 meters then stayed on contour until next ridge and then bumped up to 1,100 meters and stayed on contour around a small cirque to set up final climb of about 250 meters that was steep and gnarly. I was "seeing" the summit as a singe point when it is really a small ridge with 2 small rises. The true summit was to the left and we kept getting pushed right in the last few meters so we came out about 50 steps from the summit rock. It was lightly raining and we were wet and beat. The rain let up as we headed for home via the well used but in good shape paths up on Pough and South Dix. We then followed the much less used path down Grace and into the beautiful Boquet valley. We stayed on trail by remembering landmarks along the way. A great 14 hours well spent.

        Comment


        • #8
          Click on the thumbnail and you will see that this hike had its ups and downs.
          Last edited by Neil; 06-20-2022, 05:19 PM.

          Comment


          • mastergrasshopper
            mastergrasshopper commented
            Editing a comment
            just like walking upstairs
            energy efficiency at it best

        • #9
          Neil, were you required to have a recent Covid test when coming back to Canada?

          Comment


          • Neil
            Neil commented
            Editing a comment
            No. Tests are not required any more and haven't been since the end of March. You can still get randomly popped to do a home test in front of someone on-line. Hasn't happened to me.

        • #10
          I vividly remember reading about you two climbing Beckhorn Slide back in 2014, and though I did not climb it, your trail report was the main reason I later backpacked in on the herd path with my two dogs to climb Grace. Not nearly as daunting as your climbs of course, but it was still a great three nights out in the woods.
          It's not about winning, but the rivers you cross.

          Comment


          • mastergrasshopper
            mastergrasshopper commented
            Editing a comment
            "Great three nights out in the woods" that says it all!! The Great slide on Grace was also my first introduction to the area. I was on a three-day backpack and camp trip with my 6-year-old son to explore and test my map and compass skills. We spent first 2 days finding very faint herd paths and determining our route then climbed Grace on third day and packed out. That was 36 years ago as of this fall.

        • #11
          The first part of the route you took was quite like that Glen and I used when climbing the Beckhorn Slide a few weeks after Irene in 2011. That hike started before sunrise and ended after sunset. We took six hours to reach the base of the slide, probably because, being lazy by nature, I threw off Glen's plan by saying: "No, Glen, I'm not climbing over that ridge, let's stay on the level and go around."

          I likely crossed the end of your route a year later when whacking Hough from the South Fork, although I was content to emerge closer to the Dix-Hough col and use the trail at the end. It wasn't nearly so bad that way.

          Comment


          • mastergrasshopper
            mastergrasshopper commented
            Editing a comment
            You were mentioned in our planning and on the hike
            Your idea of staying on contour was well used on this hike.
            That hike was first time I tried that, and it took some adjustment but I'm finding it a very efficient way to cover a lot of ground. Also adds to overall sustainability of my ability to hike more miles with older joints and body. We had to gain elevation on Hough but broke it up into increments. Up to a ridge then wrap around on contour for 1/2 mile or so. Worked really well.

          • mastergrasshopper
            mastergrasshopper commented
            Editing a comment
            About 4 years ago I bought an altimeter watch
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