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Old 10-31-2011, 06:53 PM   #1
CPalmatier
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Basin & Saddleback 10/30, With Lessons Learned

I left Schroon Lake about 4:15, hit the Garden and was on the trail by 5:15, headlamp on low. I made JBL by first light. Just a dusting of snow overnight, but by the time I was half way up Shorey Shortcut I got out the microspikes, and left them on until I was half way down the Ore Bed Brook trail. I hit the intersection with the range trail by 11:15, with the sun blazing and a beautiful blue sky, and thought I might make lunch on Basin.

Two hours later I was on the summit (just .7 mi!). I had read a few trip reports and knew that it was a tough climb, but there was just enough snow and ice to make for slow going. I tend to take it pretty easy when hiking solo, slow and steady wins the race. After enjoying the views and taking some pictures, and pushed on. Down the other side was a bit exposed and windy, got down and started up saddleback without much difficulty, although there were a few steep spots. Cresting the ridge, noticing a bit of a dip and then down into the next col, I thought to myself, wow, that was very uneventful, I didn't even see a summit marker. I started looking for the Ore Bed intersection.

As I started back up, I thought I was going up Gothics, and thought I had missed the intersection. So, of course, here is the first lesson. I should have done more research, and know what to expect. About half way up I turned back to check for the intersection, thinking I'd missed it. After getting across the col and heading back up with no sign of the intersection, I came back down and headed back toward what I thought was Gothics, carefully looking for the intersection I was sure I'd missed.

I headed back up what was actually Saddleback peak, and wow, it was hairy. Just enough snow and ice to hide the hand holds, I got about half way up the rock face and stopped. I had convinced myself that this was Gothics, and I didn't think I had it in me to run the rest of the range to get back to the garden. That's when I made the first phone call. Left a message at DEC Ranger HQ (wasn't carrying the dispatcher number), then called my girlfriend. I wasn't sure I could make it over, and really didn't think I should, so I considered going back into the col and try bushwhacking down the valley to find the Ore Bed trail. I was pretty uneasy about this plan, so I was really calling to let someone know about the change of plans in case something went awry.

I got back into the col, checked the map and took a compass bearing. I turned the phone back on, and I had a message from DEC dispatch. I called back and explained my situation, where I thought I was, what I was looking for, that I was prepared to spend the night if needed, but really preferred not to if I didn't have to. After talking for a few minutes Ranger Burns helped me figure out that I was in the saddle of Saddleback (do you see the cables on Gothics? no. ) and I needed to go over to get to Ore Bed, or back over Basin the way I came in. Remembering the climb up Basin, I knew I didn't want to go back down that way. I also was feeling like a bit of a dumba$$ for not knowing where I was, so I decided to give what I now knew was Saddleback another try. It was 4:30 by this point, and I had killed almost two hours dinking around looking for trail that wasn't there.

I was more motivated this time, knowing that this was the shortest route out. and the trip that I'd planned. I made the summit by 5:30, not without a little missing skin on my knees and elbows. It was a tough climb. I could see where this would be fun on a dry sunny day, but given the patchy ice, and snow/ice filled hand and foot holds, it was a real challenge. The second lesson was really knowing that I'd pushed myself farther than I had in the past, and a bit past my comfort zone.

I called Ranger Burns and my girlfriend back from the summit, explained that I'd made it up and was going out the way I'd planned, and promised to call both back when I got out. I got my headlamp back out, had a couple granola bars and headed down. This time the Ore Bed intersection was easy to find

The re-routes on the Ore Bed were a bit challenging in the dark, but fortunately there were footprints in the snow from a group that had been through earlier in the day. The new slide was really awe inspiring, even (especially?) in the dark. I lost the trail briefly just past the ADK property line, but picked it up again near one of the cabins. The rest of the walk out was uneventful, and got back to the garden just before midnight.

I knew that this trip was going to be one of the hardest I'd done since I got back into this a few years ago. I wasn't worried about a long day, I'm not fast but I can go all day. But I now have a better idea of my limits, and I know that I pushed them pretty hard. I should have been a bit more aware of the conditions. There was more ice than I was expecting, and while prepared for basic climbing, I probably wasn't prepared to do the scrambling required on Saddleback. Which leads me to being better informed about the trail. I should have been better prepared for that scramble, but I had also convinced myself I was someplace I wasn't. So convinced I was that I almost started bushwhacking to get out. That would have been a bad decision that time of day with snow on the pines. I'll store that one off for next time.

Thanks to Ranger Burns for not calling me a dumba$$ while I was up there, but he and all y'all are welcome to now.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
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Getting myself misdirected and watching the sun get low in the sky would have turned me into a sobbing, blubbering mess. I am impressed by your abilites to stay cool and to keep on going!
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:16 AM   #3
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Glad you got out safely. Bet you won't forget those lessons learned.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:12 AM   #4
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Great post. Way to keep focused! This report helps motivate me to bring enough gear to spend the night when I am planning on day hikes. I'm curious if you had a bag and tent with you?
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
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Getting myself misdirected and watching the sun get low in the sky would have turned me into a sobbing, blubbering mess. I am impressed by your abilites to stay cool and to keep on going!
Thanks Judgeh. The dark doesn't bother me much any more, with a good headlamp, once I know where I am .
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:42 AM   #6
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Glad you got out safely. Bet you won't forget those lessons learned.
No, I won't. Better trip prep, and not just packing gear! Put waypoints in my GPS so it's harder to convince myself that I'm somewhere I am not.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:59 AM   #7
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Great post. Way to keep focused! This report helps motivate me to bring enough gear to spend the night when I am planning on day hikes. I'm curious if you had a bag and tent with you?
I was carrying a small plastic blue tarp, a pair of duck brown insulated carhartt overalls, heavy wool shirt, an extra fleece, extra socks, a dry base layer, a space blanket, and a bunch of granola bars. I'm always adjusting what I take, depending on the trip and the conditions. I heard someone on one of those survival shows that it's not about being comfortable, it's about surviving. I can survive, but I still don't want to spend the night, so that helps motivate me to keep going .
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:19 AM   #8
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I've had a couple "learning experiences" over the past 10 years - glad you made it out all right. - Congrats

(planning to head up there again later this month - thanks for the TR)
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:04 AM   #9
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Learning experiences usually happen even when everything goes to plan. I find I glean something new every time I hike.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:08 AM   #10
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I've had a couple "learning experiences" over the past 10 years - glad you made it out all right. - Congrats
Thanks Bob.

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Learning experiences usually happen even when everything goes to plan. I find I glean something new every time I hike.
I try to take something away from every trip, too. These were a couple of very memorable lessons
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