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Old 09-26-2017, 11:44 AM   #1
Neil
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Sawteeth-Haystack-Sawteeth. Sept. 25.

I am in the process of training for a winter hiking project. I have 3 months of training behind me and three months in front of me. To kick off the start of the 2nd 3-month period I decided to test my current fitness level with this combination of peaks.

I set a goal of 10 hours without reflecting on it but when I broke the hike down into segments and considered potential times for each segment I came up with 11h15m, including breaks.

Something like this*:

Gate-Saw: 2:15
Saw-Uppwer lake: 1:00
UL-Hay: 2:00
Hay-UL: 2:00
UL-Saw: 2:00
Saw-Gate: 2:00

I awoke at 4am in my tent right next to the gently gurgling Boquet River, broke camp and carried my gear to my car. I made coffee and sat in my camp chair reading, sipping and waking up. At 5:30 I passed the gate and began collecting data. (heart rate monitor and altimeter) Even on the road pre-dawn I was hot and sweating. I wondered how my program would proceed once the sun and temperature rose higher.

I found it moderately difficult to summit Sawteeth but made it in 2h10, which I thought was pretty good. After a 5 minute break I took off down the Shanty Brook Trail (2.7 miles) and made it to the brook in exactly 60 minutes. I filled up with 2 liters of water and 6 minutes later was on my way.

The 2750 foot of ascent to Haystack is in 3 parts. First: 820 feet of easy ascent to the Bartlett Ridge-Haystack Brook junction. Second: 830 difficult feet of ascent up Bartlett Ridge and last but not least: 1100 very steep feet to the summit. The middle section was taking it out of me and I noted very high heart rates for the vertical feet per minute. My perceived level of difficulty was very high. I mused that a lot of my blood was being diverted away from working muscle to my skin for cooling purposes. As a result I was doing 2 things poorly. Ie. I was swelteringly hot anyway and climbing with a lot of difficulty. I arrived at the junction in 1h15 and doubted seriously that I would make the summit in 45 minutes – didn't really care and in any case self-preservation was infinitley more important. But, without destroying myself too badly (I had to keep in mind the re-climb up Sawteeth in mid-afternoon sun and heat) I topped out exactly 2 hours after leaving Shanty Brook. However, it was a tough climb, much tougher than I recall from a half-dozen previous ascents. By the way, I think that section of trail should be called the Look-up Trail because you are always looking w-a-a-ay up at what you are about to climb.

I didn't break stride on the summit and enjoyed a very mellow stroll across my favorite High Peak to the junction. Then, feeling the fatigue of about 5400 feet of ascent, I carefully descended my least-favorite trail to the top of Haystack Brook Trail. I stopped and took on a liter of water and slammed a protein drink. The upper part of the Haystack Brook Trail, aka Snakes and Ladders, is not a trail one should attempt to make time on, unless one thinks getting injured in a far-away place might be a lot of fun. I made it back to Shanty four hours and 5 minutes after departing, soaked my feet, washed my head, relaxed and force-fed myself a few bites of energy.

When I got up to go I felt a hundred years old and do believe I hobbled for a few steps. Then I gradually established a sustainable rhythm for the next 40 minutes. I had predicted 2 hours for the ascent but realized I was on target for 1h30 and made it in 1h20. At the 40 minute mark (950 feet above the Shanty Brook crossing ) the trail made a hard right turn and I turned with it and looked up, way up. The next 1000 feet of gain came at a high price but I found it easier than Haystack (HR, feet per minute, perceived exertion). This I attributed to the excellent footing on the seldom-used trail. But it was still brutal, as always.

I didn't break stride on the summit, just kept moving. I was still looking at 11 hours total and 10h30 of moving time. The rest of the hike was uneventful. With sore feet and shredded quads I sauntered down the road taking 10 minutes more than the hike up. My altimeter reported 7860 feet of elevation and my HRM reported a calorie burn of 8850 although that might be too high considering the elevated HR due to the heat. When I got home at 8 that evening I found the cold beer I cracked open tasted so good that I, like Johnny Cash, had one more for desert.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:14 PM   #2
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Awesome report Neil! I'd say you made good time given the heat and massive elevation gains. Still a little unclear as to what your winter hiking project is?
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpencerVT View Post
Still a little unclear as to what your winter hiking project is?
I'm going to try and do the ADK-HH in a single winter season.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:41 PM   #4
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Good Lord!

Has that ever been accomplished before to your knowledge?
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:47 PM   #5
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Two people did it in '03. They had excellent snow conditions and did about half the peaks together and half solo. I'm hoping to recruit fellow HH aspirants who like to break trail.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:44 PM   #6
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Since there are only 90 calendar days of winter, doing the HH in one winter season is immensely challenging. If there's one person who can pull it off though, it would be you Neil!

Let's make a list of some of the toughest ones (besides all of them haha)

Sawtooth 4
Sawtooth Northwest peak
Couchsacraga
Allen
Grace Peak
North River
Hoffman
Stewart
Blue Ridge West Peak
The upper reaches of Calamity are a tough bastard too.

These are mostly long tough whacks and in deep loose unconsolidated powder winter conditions would be next to impossible I would think.
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Old 09-26-2017, 04:25 PM   #7
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Until the snow settles I'll focus on the trailed peaks (60 peaks). I might get lucky and it'll be a late snow year, in which case I'll hit the Sentinels and Sawtooths hard right off the bat. Been thinking about the 'Tooths a lot. Could do 4-2 on one hike and if lucky do 1-5-3 on a 2nd hike. The guys did 3 trips for the Sawtooths back in '03.

I just scouted BR-Hoffman and think BR will be the harder of the two. Also just scouted CC and N. River and will approach from the North.

Moose River Plains will be closed, which adds a layer of complexity to all the peaks in there. Something like 8 peaks. Quite an approach to Pillsbury in winter also. Permission will be required for Wolf Pond Peak and Dun Brook (possibly 2 permissions depending on the route I decide to take).
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Old 09-26-2017, 04:48 PM   #8
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Here's some info I have man:

-You shouldn't need permission for Wolf Pond. Ski/showshoe up Gulf Brook Rd towards the Boreas tract approx 2 miles to a bend, then approach Wolf Pond from the southwest. I did it very quickly earlier this year and I think that western side is not owned by Elk Lake Lodge, if it turns out it is, just get permission and do it the same way. Not a bad whack in my opinion and pretty short. I don't think you'll have much trouble with that one.

For CC and N. River couldn't you ski/snowmobile into the Boreas tract on Gulf Brook rd and then approach via the eastern side?

Isn't Cedar River / Moose River a snowmobile trail in winter? So if it were me, I'd snowmobile in there, and then whack to the summits, otherwise it would be a gazillion miles and I would think not even possible, at least not without a multi-day expedition. Same with Pillsbury.

Sawtooths will be hard, but I would think not much harder than that nearly 24 hour compass-only hike you did in the 'tooths; you madman!
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Old 09-26-2017, 05:13 PM   #9
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Elk Lake still owns the top of WPP. Check out the map on the DEC's Boreas Ponds page.
I'm going to try and hire a snowmobile ride with all my gear and get hauled in and out to Wakely dam, where I'll camp for a couple of nights. Ditto for a day trip to Pillsbury.

For CC and NR you would have a 6 mile trip just to the pond, then another 3 miles to where the whack would begin. That's 18 miles of skiing on top of the two peaks. I think the approach from the EastRiver TH will be a lot shorter. The road will be legal.

One of my friends has offered to break a trail in to the foot of Saw-1 the day before I hit it. That and some other peaks as well.

Should be interesting. Having done the 46 in 10 days in Feb. I plan on copy-catting many of the days I did in 2014. That will leave a lot of time for the trailless peaks. I plan on hiking 3 days in a row every weekend and on the 3rd day I can do very long days because the next day I will neither be working or hiking, just sitting around in a daze.
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:59 AM   #10
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Oops on WPP. I just looked at the map - it's Boreas mountain where the boundary goes across the top, I had thought the Elk Lake Lodge boundary went across the top of WPP too. Doh!
The (with permission) approach from Gulf Brook Rd is definitely your best approach imo.

Are you taking a northern approach to Saw1 from Averyville Rd? That approach is so much easier than any other in my opinion.

If you can knock off the 46 and trailed peaks relatively quickly, then that will free you up for the harder trail-less peaks and give you some time flexibility with the weather. Keep us posted on the Board as to your progress, I'll be interested to know how things are coming along, we'll be rooting for you!
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:32 AM   #11
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Definitely going in from Averyville for Saw-1. Ideally, I would do 1-5-3 and exit via Moose Pond and the Old NPT. Depends, as always, on the snow conditions.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:02 PM   #12
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I dislike that "new" section of the NPT. It feels like it rambles on for an eternity and is longer than it should need to be to get to Averyville Rd. I read some old posts which said the old NPT still gets use and is fairly easy to follow except for one beaver area. I want to take the old NPT trail out to climb SW Street Mtn, it would shave off a few miles, hopefully it's fairly easy to follow with not too much blowdown, even though it's been re-rerouted since like what, '84??.
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Old 09-27-2017, 01:14 PM   #13
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The Old NPT gets a lot of use and is easy to follow, even through the beaver area.
Also, the old NPT follows perfectly the dashed line on the 195x survey topo maps.
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Last edited by Neil; 09-27-2017 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:00 PM   #14
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Great to know! I'll take that on my way to SW Street.
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