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Old 10-05-2009, 07:48 PM   #1
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Unusual trio. Colvin, Haystack and Sawteeth. CoHaSa.

Glen walked over to where I was sleeping and rang out with, "It's four oh five!".

All I had to do was put my boots on and swig back a mixture of puréed mango, banana and apple watered down with soy milk and espresso coffee and supplemented with home ground flax seeds. I was up and ready to go hiking.

Our initial plans had been to do a moonlight slide climb of the Beckhorn slide on Saturday but the weather forecast was too iffy. What we had planned for today was our consolation prize.

The AMR parking lot was empty but en route thereto we saw 2 vehicles (one with Quebec plates) parked where the North Fork Boquet herd path begins.

We signed out at 5am and began to walk very quickly up the AMR road. Glen had targeted a time of 2 hours to the top of Colvin and his motor behavior indicated plainly that he planned on meeting that target.

It turned out that I had to step off the trail and remain nearly motionless for a spell, not once but twice, and this consumed 20 precious minutes. Also, once we moved beyond the Elk Pass junction the trail climbs quite abruptly and my physiology was no longer able to conform to Glen's ambitions. I found my own pace and arrived on top 10 (moving) minutes past the target, which isn't all that shabby for a guy that just sits around the house inventing trip reports all week long.

It was a beautiful autumn dawn and the various peaks were magnificent with their cloaks of reds and yellows. The Elk Lake and Boreas Ponds lowlands were covered by a sea of fog and here and there peaks randomly broke the surface. There was no wind but somewhere off in the distance a creek was roaring.

We studied the particulars of our route as it wrapped itself around Haystack via Bartlett Ridge, dissappeared around the corner then re-emerged around the other end and went down Haystack Brook. We could also see our route climb its way up and over Sawteeth.

We made it easily down to the Blake-Colvin col in about 20 minutes and once we were past the trail junction we were on what for me was a brand new trail experience, the Blake-Colvin col Upper Ausable lake trail. In the still morning air we could here the faint roar of rushing water far below. We heard water roaring all day long, in fact.

The trail from the B-C col to Upper Lake is seldom used which is a good thing because it is very steep and would turn into an eroded mud wallow very quickly. On this day it was full of water and had sections of slippery rocks and banana peel-slippery roots. From Colvin to Upper Lake took a while, either 60 or 90 minutes.

We went over to look at the roaring Shanty Brook, which we would be crossing on our way out of the deep Ausable Valley later on in the day and it was obvious we would be getting our feet wet. We took note of the water height and debated whether it would drop, rise further or remain the same over the next 5 or 6 hours.

Off we went, up Bartlett Ridge...

The trail from Upper Lake to Haystack starts off moderately then climbs to the summit of the ridge wherupon it flattens out for a stretch. Then it's straight up for about 1200 feet to the beautiful exposed summit rocks of Haystack. The views were spectacular due to the low clouds that seemd to be ripped to shreds by various low lying summits and hills.

After admiring the multi-directional views we slowly walked down to the Range Trail and descended the rocky and slippery slope 500 feet to the beginning of the seldom trod haystack Brook Trail. This trail parallels Haystack on its right and the Brook on its left and descends 800 feet in half a mile. It passes below the magnificent Johannsen face and we scoped it well for a future climb.

Eventually we intersected the Bartlett Ridge trail and followed it back to Shanty Brook. The water had dropped about an inch and we removed our footwear and crossed over.

We ate and drank our supplemented fuel and hydration products, dried our feet, laced up our boots and steeled ourselves for the 3rd and final climb of the day.

During the first 40 minutes of hiking you only gain 800 feet of easy elevation but once you get passed the tributary of Shanty Brook you make a sharp turn to the NE and go right up the nose of Sawteeth's SW ridge.

The final 1300 feet of ascent follow the narrow ridge at a slope of 35%. Luckily, you get fantastic views of Haystack, Basin, Saddleback and Gothics that rise like behemoths of myth above the valley floor. The sound of distant roaring water and gregarious Boreal Chickadees accompany the pounding in your chest as you plod wearily upwards, thinking, "it can't last forever".

Finally, after what seemed an eternity (100 minutes total from valley floor to summit) I made it to the lookout rock on Sawteeth where Glen had been waiting for me for 6 minutes and 23 seconds. (He was doing deep knee bends with a pack full of rocks.)

We were whacked but the views from Sawteeth's summit from Allen around the compass to Gothics were so nice in the late afternoon sun. It was 5 o'clock and we wanted to get to the AMR road before headlamp time so we began the steep 500 foot descent to the Gothics-Sawteeth col.

After spending hours on rarely trodden storybook trails through the woods we quickly adjusted to a trade route up a 46er summit. Ie. deeply eroded and full of exposed roots and moribund trees. We joked about how the 46er concept had ruined "our" wilderness experience.

We didn't break stride at the Gothics-Sawteeth col, just kept moving. We maintained a good pace but due to the accumulated fatigue and the dying light we were extra vigilant and careful as we descended the slippery rocks along the Weld trail. This trail is obviously very well laid out. In spite of very heavy hiker traffic up and down it there is very little erosion or deep ruts. We made it down in 40 minutes.

Finally, we put headlamps on and kept on walking all the way to the parking area. We had been out for 15 hours and had covered about 23 miles and gone up and down 8500 feet. It is a day I will remember forever. Pictures to come soon.
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.

Last edited by Neil; 10-05-2009 at 08:10 PM..
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Old 10-05-2009, 11:30 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Neil View Post
Pictures to come soon.
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:36 AM   #3
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Excellent TR, excellent scoot, excellent photos. Thanks for sharing!
"...he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly"
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:08 PM   #4
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Interesting combination of peaks ! I've never seen those 3 done in a day by anyone.

Tough outing ! Great report and pictures especially #23.

Do people climb Marcy East ? I always wondered that. Looks like a doozy !
What it is is in your head !
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:14 PM   #5
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Pic 23 of 30 is spectacular. I'd like to see the background brought out a little more, but what a great picture.

I thought the foliage would be farther along. When was this? Last week?
He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man; he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the LORD God Almighty is his name.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rookie View Post
Do people climb Marcy East ? I always wondered that. Looks like a doozy !
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.
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Old 10-10-2009, 11:00 PM   #7
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Dude, you can tell a story!

I actually like 2 the best, early morning light on Sawteeth.

We all do the mundane peaks. You do the insane treks!

You are sick, but in a good way.
"The way I see it, you're hooked.Trout have you. Another soul lost." Elias Wonder, The Earth is Enough by Harry Middleton
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great range, high peaks wilderness

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