A gang of hiking friends on Killburn, #100.
If I was lucky enough to succeed with my recent hiking project it was because the task was lightened by many pairs of hands (and legs!). I often felt as though I was being carried on the shoulders of an entire community of hikers. Many of which were better and more knowledgeable hikers than myself.
The project would never have gotten beyond the dreaming stages had it not been for Sylvie Cartier, my wife, who agreed to live through nearly nine months of it.
When I broached the subject, she knew exactly what the impact on her life would be but rallied to the idea and was nothing but supportive. We found some compromise in going camping regularly and doing some hikes together. Our summer vacation was a hiking trip! We camped often in the Adirondacks and hiked some days together and on others she caught up with her work in the library and followed me on my Spot device while I trained. hikes. Without her uncomplaining accommodation, sacrifice and unwavering support the project would never have happened. Thank you Sylvie!
I don’t believe the project would have succeeded had it not been for Tom Haskins and Doreen Heer, who opened not just their home, but also their hearts to me and Project-100. I didn’t just sleep at the Loft but completely invaded their space and used it as my own as often as 4 nights per week. Some of my hiking partners slept on their kitchen floor, used the shower, got fed and in general were made to feel right at home. It was obvious they were always cheering for me and were generous in so many ways.
My pain was their pain and my joys and triumphs they shared. They were unhesitatingly generous and enthusiastic all through the project, including the long preparatory phase. They supported me totally, whether it was preparing a hot supper, loaning me gear, reminding me to call Sylvie when I got back from a hike, motivating me and dispensing counsel and opinions regarding my peak groupings. It felt as if they were every bit as invested in the project as I was. Tom pushed me when I needed pushing and was quick to bust on me jokingly when he thought I was slacking off. I can never come close to thanking you two great people enough!
In the earliest stages of my planning I sent countless messages to Spencer Morrissey asking him for information regarding many of the bushwhack peaks. Route ideas, approaches and permissions to hike on private property were well-informed by Spencer who never failed to respond to, yet another, of my requests. Here’s to you Spencer, fountain of Lower 54 knowledge and hiker extraordinaire!
Tom Haskins was also big help in the planning, both pre-project and during it. He is one of the few who have done a HH-Winter round and did the entire Lower 54 with Pinpin in a single winter of 2001-02. I picked his brain every time I saw him and often by e-mail. Many of the routes I used were informed by Tom. During the project he kept a very close eye on the weather forecast and made excellent suggestions that helped me match the immediate hiking objectives with the conditions. Thanks again, buddy!
I also leaned on Taras Dejneka (Trail Boss) and his high level of competence of mapping and use of satellite imagery to inform my route choices. I would send him an info request and in very short order he would e-mail links to imagery, and his commentary of the information they contained. Also, he and I have done a considerable number of Lower 54 peaks together and he sent me all the track logs he had recorded. Taras was always very generous with his time and efforts. Thank you Taras!
Also, thank-you Charles Langlois for sending me the Elk Lake and other tracks as well as the time spent in helping me choose a new GPS.
When I re-visited many of the Lower 54 peaks I had only done once or not for a long time I had the pleasure of making a new friend in Lucas Labarre, who proved to be a very strong and enthusiastic hiker and an excellent off-trail navigator. Luc and I did a number of exploratory hikes together and he was always generous in letting me decide where and when. During the project itself Luc was a beast when it came to breaking trail and navigating. He did Saddleback-Jay, Wallface-McNaughton as well as Phelps, Tabletop and TR Mountain with me. Also, while I was recovering from two extremely hard days of hiking he broke out Willmington, which I vultured the very next day! Thanks Luc!
Glen Bladholm has for more than a decade been a staunch hiking ally for all of my hiking projects, be they big ones like this or day-hikes. His enthusiasm never wains and no matter how grueling and never-ending some of our days have turned out be, he always remains upbeat. Glen has been a mentor and my principle source of inspiration and knowledge ever since we met. Some of his areas of expertise that he has selflessly and copiously shared with me over the years include training, nutrition, navigation and of course gear. Glen’s knowledge of the High Peaks and the outdoors in general results from greater than 25 years of steady and frequent visits to the Adirondacks.
Glen was all over Project-100. After our off-trail exploration hikes he would send me many maps on which he drew ways in which we might want to tweak the route we had followed. He even found gear for me and sent me the links. Glen was there for the opening two days, which included a rainy second day doing Whiteface, Esther and Morgan. He kept saying what a great cool-down hike it was after a tough first day. He was there for Dial, Nippletop, Colvin and Blake in spite of a major blizzard being forecast, he broke out Couch from Times Square while we were doing Henderson and came back for more punishment for Little Santanoni and Santanoni on what turned out to be a long and tiring day. Thanks Glen, for so much!
Joe Bogardus has always been a solid help. Besides sharing his vast store of distance and elevation data Joe regularly sent me conditions reports of his own hikes while he did his 9th consecutive single season winter 46 round. Joe hiked more of the 100 with me this winter than anyone (18 peaks I believe) and I benefited greatly from his vast experience especially in the Dix and Seward Ranges. Joe also accompanied me on some bushwhacks, including the surprisingly tough Lost Pond Peak and the monumental Sawtooths 4 and 2. It seems it was almost always very cold when Joe came with me, including the -30F start for Redfield, Cliff and Colden! I can’t thank you enough Joe!
Alistair Fraser and I go back a long ways and were Adirondack newbies together, learning at the school of hard knocks. He made sacrifices to help me and was with me for 15 peaks, including the Giant Mountain Rescue episode and the incredibly tough North River. On several days I watched him give of himself selflessly as gave everything he had to helping me reach my goal. Thanks for all of that and much more Alistair!
Marie-Josée Ouellet gets a special mention for her humor and unceasingly up-beat presence and support of Project-100. MJO is a moderator on the French hiking forum, Fousderando, and she plugged the Project on the forum continuously. She was with me on some of the most brutal off-trail hikes and no matter how dire things looked, or how thick the woods late in the day with the summit still not in sight, she never uttered a discouraging word. She also posted some of the most entertaining trip reports I have ever read. MJO shared 15 peaks (12 whacks) with Project-100. Marie-Josée orchestrated the Fishing Brook hike with the “Verbies” and Spike from Fousderando. She knew how tired I would be after North River and suggested I sleep in and start late. I caught up with them on the summit of FB-2. They had broken trail in deep snow for several miles and all Sean and I had to do was leisurely follow it until we caught up. It was thanks to this effort that I was able to finish on Sunday with great company. Un très grand merci à toi Marie-Jo!
Jean Roy was a powerhouse on the hikes he joined me on. He is a perfect example of what I said in the introductory paragraph of feeling like I was riding on the shoulders of a community of hikers. He was often on the same hikes as MJO and when I knew I had those two on my team I got a huge boost in my confidence and felt like anything was possible. On more than one occasion when I was waning I hung back and let Jean lead the way up through difficult terrain. I observed his methods and once I had rested, took my turn on point with renewed vigor. Jean was with me on 15 peaks, nearly all bushwhacks, Merci infiniment Jean!
Sean (autochromatica) Carpenter put me up in Mercy Cabin for a few nights and was a very willing partner when we did the Lower Great Range in sub-zero weather. That early hike (peaks 9-13) was an eye-opener that made me realize that this Project was going to be very, very tough and that either I rise to the occasion or fold my tent and go home.
Besides being extremely cold we broke trail through very deep and completely unconsolidated snow. But, the crux of the day came at the ladder on Armstrong, beside which were ascending. Without Sean’s heroic efforts in the freezing cold helping me at that section I have no idea how I would have gotten up it. What a great day that was! Sean helped break trail up Wallface and he also accompanied me and set the pace in the Fishing Brook Range the day after the North River suffer-fest. Thanks Sean, looking forward to our next hike! (nice eyes by the way!)
Julie Chevalier who I have hiked with going back more than ten years was an excellent partner for Avalanche. That proved to be a colossal bushwhack where it took us two and a half hours to go a quarter mile!! She smiled the whole way, just like in the picture.
Nancy Labaff who has always been a big supporter of the ADK High Peaks Foundation is no stranger to tough hikes. A huge favor, she and Claudia Warren with friends, broke out McNaughton for me from Upper Works. This was so awesome! Luc Labarre, Sean Carpenter and I first did Wallface following in their footsteps to the low point between the peaks. After our challenging hike of WF we were treated to a well-packed and broken trail to the top of McNaughton. Nancy came with me on Lost Pond Peak and most notably she joined me for the 3 Elk Lake peaks, whose combined distance and elevation were equal to Allen! For everything, thank-you Nancy!
I wanted to hike alone as little as possible for safety, company and trail-breaking reasons. Many other people joined me on hikes and whenever I was organizing a weekend and someone communicated to me that they were available it gave me a boost.
Brian Merriam joined me on several peaks, including Saddleback, Jay, Lost Pond Peak, Calamity, Adams, Panther, Buell and Brown Pond. Bill Brizell helped Glen and I break out the Santanoni direct, hiked the Dixes, Blue and Panther, Buell, Brown Pond with me. Christina Nash brought her cheerful self to Calamity, Matt Marsh was a huge help in the McIntyre Range, especially on Marshall. Maude Langlois was a strong partner on a tough hike of Gray, Skylight and Marcy. Butch Braun and Mike Spranger came on the Twin Blue Ridges (90 and 99). Cory Delavalle was a great route finder for Blue Ridge-Hoffman as well as the Twin Blues and surprised us all when he ran up Killburn in just over an hour to join the party.
I know David Gomlak would have loved to get out on the project more but he had a very full plate this winter. He was on the opener of Moose and McKenzie and on the roughest hike of them all – Stewart and Sentinel. I was very glad to have Kevin “Mudrat” MacKenzie and Allan Weschler as partners for Haystack, Basin and Saddleback on a very icy route. (Thanks for the lift Allan!). I finally got to meet Adam Crofoot who joined me for a very wet hike of Averill. Adam refused to let me break trail on the short but soggy bushwhack from the tower to the summit, he said he was going to be riding the ski lift the next day while I was hiking. I didn’t argue! Last but not least Thomas Penders was a bull on Saddleback-Jay. Tom would have been on many more hikes and I was very sorry to lose him when he was sidelined by surgery. To all of my partners, thank you from the heart!
On the technical side Geoff Day came up with and implemented excellent ideas for allowing people (and myself) to follow my progress. I consulted the peak progress map dozens of times over the winter as the red balloons gradually turned to green! The routes map idea with the drop-down menu was perfect! Geoff also put a nifty map together that shows the peaks as they change color one by one in the order I did them. Thanks Geoff!
Craig Joseph volunteered to take care of the blog and post links to it on Facebook and the forum. I sent him raw text, Tom Haskins uploaded my day’s pictures to Dropbox and with those materials Craig put the blog posts together. Craig was extremely helpful and willing to do whatever it took to get the word out. The fund-raising arm of the project was totally dependent on Craig’s behind-the-scenes efforts. A huge thank-you goes out to Craig for his consistent and always rapidly executed efforts.
Of course without Jack Coleman there would be no Foundation. Jack has been the Foundation’s backbone now for years and has run the fund-raising arm of all three of my projects, which includes sending tax receipts to all who donated, compiling the statistics and appraising me regularly of the results. Jack (and Craig) read the drafts of everything I wrote that was related to the Project. This included everything from short permission requests to the LOCALadk article. They always made suggestions for improvements. Jack has always been my go-to person whenever I need to get feed-back for some idea I might have cooked up. Thanks Jack for being so solid over the years.
And now a very special thanks to Sam Perkins, who I met by chance on Catamount Peak in the fall of 2017. He decided to make Killburn his gift to me and spent 9 ½ hours breaking it out all alone after a two-foot snowfall. I was flabbergasted by his generosity! I felt that his gesture epitomized the team effort I had hoped for when I first planned the project. He opened a beautiful route and it was obvious that he had worked very, very hard. His efforts made it possible for me to finish in grand style and I will never forget what he did. Thank you Sam, very , very much!
Finally, although I have done so privately, I thank again here all those wonderful people who encouraged me by making donations to the Foundation. We raised greater than $6000, which will keep the Foundation afloat for another year!