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Old 06-07-2017, 04:28 PM   #1
Neil
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Moose North, Alton, Sawtooth 3-North, Sawtooth 11.

The genesis of this trip was like most others. An e-mail to a hiking bud. In this case it was, “what's left on your Adirondack list”? When you ask this question of a 777 hiker you better be ready for anything. Gérald is nearing the end of this mammoth list and my eyebrows arched when I saw he needed Alton and Moose North along with Sawtooth 3 North and Sawtooth 11. Obscure but tough and scrappy little 3K peaks for sure.
I enjoy being on the water so I suggested we take my canoe and paddle northbound the length of Lake Placid to Echo Bay. Gérald was game so at 12:30 pm on a Friday we set out into high winds and whitecaps coming at us from the west. It was also raining so until we got into the lee of Buck Island we took it on the chin and our latissimus dorsi muscles got a serious workout. Rounding the NE point of Moose Island we really took it on the chin until we were deep into Echo Bay and then we landed, emptied and flipped the canoe and followed a compass bearing all the way to the top of Moose North, which turned out to be a steep little beggar of a peak. The woods were never very tight but it never ceases to amaze me just how tough it is hiking uphill off-trail. Our MO for navigation all weekend was to be me with map, compass, and altimeter and Gérald with the GPS letting me know when I strayed too far off-course. Worked well for us.

A 12:30 departure from the public wharf in a canoe for this itinerary was a late start for sure and as such I pushed the pace non-stop. I was now seeing the weekend's itinerary as one long hike with a catnap in the middle.

We made it to Moose North in 2 hours, which was my predicted/hoped for time. From there to Alton we planned on traversing a mile-long ridge prior to dropping into the col. Would the ridge be open? Would it be blow-down hell? Only one way to find out. Turned out to be mostly open with one memorable hellish section of blowdown with interlocked new balsams. We crossed most of the bumps (there 5 or 6) but decided to go around the last one to save some elly gain. I think this was a false energy savings because the side-hilling we had to do through fricking and hatefull whitch-hobble in order to get back on track sucked away greedily at our limited energy supplies.

At the foot of Alton we noticed lots of impressive cliffs and generally steep terrain. The climb was a grind and a grunt but we always found weaknesses in the cliffs that saved us from having to deviate too widely off-route. We made the summit from Moose N. in our estimated time of 2h30m, took new bearings and kept the forward progress going. I wanted to be off the water with daylight left over but more and more the numbers weren't adding up.

The drop off Alton was steep and then it was a long walk out through fairly open woods and along the edge of two big fens. I guess we were tired because we kept tripping over sticks and branches that littered the forest floor profusely. I may have uttered a few curse words whenever branches, tangled between my feet, sent me sprawling. At 8:05 we were on the water a-paddling so the whack took us 6h20m (I had predicted 6 hours flat). We hugged the eastern shore and gandered at some ab-so-lute-ly incredible multi-million dollar summer homes before total darkness enfolded us. There was a glowing purple sunset on Kilburn that was to die for. There were no boats on the water but some Loons brightened up our paddle home.

As soon as we landed I began to shiver fairly hard so once we got the canoe on top of the car and aimed for Stewart's chile I set the car heater on max. The chile was just to hold us until we got back to our already set-up camp at South Meadows. There we consumed adult beverages and ate real food before hitting the sack 'round midnight.

At 5:30 am. mother nature's bird-song alarm clock got us up and we slowly got our act together (coffee, cereal, pack the day-packs, get in the car etc.). After a slow hike in to the Moose Pond Lean-to (hiking hang-overs) and a rest stop for vittles we began the whack to Sawtooth 3 North. Compared to the day before there was no feeling of urgency and we eased back on the throttle but then when we sat in the giant fen under the Saw-One-Saw-One East ridge we noted that we had been hiking for 5h30m and were only now about to commence ascending our first peak of the day. It was past 12. I said to Gérald that the day before we hadn't started the actual hike until an hour later so we were surely OK time-wise.

Turned out that hiking the two mountains only ate up 2 hours but nevertheless, sitting atop Saw-11at 2:30 eating lunch we were now at our furthest point from the car. Still, the time looked good and anyway, the hike out from the LT was trailed. Instead of re-climbing 3N we decided to go around its north end through a col. This saved us 300 feet of elly. Was it worth it? For the incredible upward views and subjective feelings of awe and deep pleasure that I felt, yes. Energy savings? Not sure because getting through that very gnarly col was a bear of hard work. We saw a surprising amount of snow and ice though,which was interesting.

Once past the col summit the woods opened up and we sailed back to the Moose Pond lean-to where of course we stopped for about 20 minutes to freshen up. We then hauled ass down the trail and after a 13-hour hike (Where the time goes on a bushwhack I'll never know), hit Stewarts for pizza, beer and chile before heading back to the campsite for an appreciated sit-down, chow-down, beer or two before crawling into our sleeping bags and falling asleep within seconds.

And that's it!
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:01 PM   #2
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Great write up, Neil!
I enjoyed reading along, looking forward to the photos.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:02 PM   #3
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very nice write-up of a TR, "almost" don't need pics!
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Old 06-08-2017, 07:07 AM   #4
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Love your TRs; following along on a map is enough to deplete my energy supplies. I know that you are a "Do what thou wilt" kind of guy but what is a 777 hiker? Are there 777 3K summits to be surmounted in the dacks?
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Conk View Post
Love your TRs; following along on a map is enough to deplete my energy supplies. I know that you are a "Do what thou wilt" kind of guy but what is a 777 hiker? Are there 777 3K summits to be surmounted in the dacks?
Thanks!
The 777 list covers the entire NE and is comprised of every known peak over 3000 feet elevation with 200 feet of prominence. When the elevations of the cols or summits are unknown I believe one arbitrarily adds half a contour interval. This means some peaks are included that are just shy of the criteria.
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Old 06-08-2017, 03:41 PM   #6
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Awesome trip report Neil! Always enjoy your posts and adventures.
I'm sure I was the last person up on Alton as I just did it a few weeks ago. My scent of balsam oil and sweat was probably still lingering on the summit! hahahaha.
Sounded like a great trip, and awesome you got to canoe the lake again. I'm going to do that when I head to North Moose. I'd like to canoe across the lake and do Moose,
N Moose and Loch Bonnie in one long day.

Conk: There are a few of us 777 hikers right now working on completing the mother of all lists. I think there's about 6 of us that I know of actively working on it and to my knowledge 8 have completed it. I'm just passing the 550 mark out of 777. It's a lot of fun and a great challenge!
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Old 06-08-2017, 04:38 PM   #7
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There are 6 people I know of from Montreal who are above 500 on the list and my partner from this trip is at 703 currently. Two have paused and 4 of them are hard at it. I believe one person from Mtl. has done the 777-W if you can believe that.
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Old 06-08-2017, 04:55 PM   #8
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There are 6 people I know of from Montreal who are above 500 on the list and my partner from this trip is at 703 currently. Two have paused and 4 of them are hard at it. I believe one person from Mtl. has done the 777-W if you can believe that.
Is that Oncomon or PinPin? I know Oncomon did all the NY3K's in winter which is mindblowing enough. PinPin is legendary - hasn't he climbed the 46ers a jaw-dropping 100X total??
I can't even imagine trying to access some of those Maine and remote ADK peaks in winter once access roads are gates, unplowed, etc...

Your buddy could almost finish this year!

Have you done all the NY3Ks Neil?
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:09 PM   #9
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... I'm just passing the 550 mark out of 777. ...
Quite obviously, my suggestion to use satellite imagery was directed to the person least likely to need it!
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