December 8

Training hike of Dial, Nippletop, Colvin, Blake and Sawteeth.  5 Adirondack 4000 footers.

The best way to prepare for Project 46 is to go hiking!  From now until February I’ll be focusing on hikes that include peak combinations similar to those I will be doing for the Project.

Yesterday, December 8, 2013, I got out of bed in Montreal at 3:30 and at 4:00 am. was in my friend Taras’ car en route for the Adirondacks.  We were planning on a big hike for purposes of training and information gathering regarding Project 46.  We had planned a route that crosses a total of 5 summits using a route combination that was new to me.  The total elevation gain was 8,500 feet and the distance approximately 30 kilometers.  (Note the mixing of feet and kilometers!).

We began hiking at 7am and soon put on our micro-spikes, which are mini-crampons for use on icy hiking trails.  The trails were pretty much covered in ice with varying degrees of powdery or crusty snow on top.  This caused some tricky passages on the downhill segments and twice I stepped unsuspectingly onto glare ice that was hidden by a quarter inch of snow and fell instantly, without any warning.  Wham!

After arriving at our 2nd summit of the day (Nippletop, the first was Dial) we began a long and steep descent to a pass (Elk Pass) and had to proceed very gingerly down many sections that were flows of water ice.  Mostly, we stuck to the sides and hung onto trees as we carefully lowered ourselves down.  In the Adirondacks the trails don’t switch back and forth even, when the mountain is steep.  Instead they go straight up and quickly become eroded and rutted deeply. Tree roots and rocks make for uneven footing at the best of times.  When covered in ice descending these trails can be very treacherous.

We completed our 4th summit (Blake Peak) and turned around and re-crossed the 3rd summit and descended 2000 feet to a private road in order to begin the final ascent of the day.  It was getting dark, we had been out for 9 hours with no breaks and there was a 2200 foot ascent between us and that final peak (Sawteeth).  Or, we could turn the other way and walk out, downhill, along the road and be in the car in an hour.  However, this final peak was the most important one of the day for Project 46 research purposes so up we went.  Taras was a great partner because unlike me he had no specific need or purpose to complete this grueling hike.  Nevertheless, he cheerfully tagged along (after privately thinking about going down the road and waiting for me in the car).

We put our headlamps on shortly after beginning the climb and were on the summit 90 minutes later taking pictures with the flash.  It was cloudy but there was a quarter moon and we were able to discern the massive peaks that make up the Great Range.  Two hours later we were back in Taras’ vehicle headed for home.  I crawled into bed at midnight, 21½ hours later including 131/2 hours of nearly non-stop hiking.

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