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Neil

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  1. I had no idea what to expect regarding snow conditions. The temps were hitting the upper 50's all week and I was worried about overly soft snow. So, I chose a safe gamble thinking I could handle whatever Elk Lake threw at me. I recruited Nancy Labaff as a heavy-weight trail-breaker and at 6:00 I pulled in to Clear Pond. She was already there and in short order we were set to go. I had a friend's track log for Boreas, which I've done twice but never by the trail. I noticed that instead of going a 1.5 mi north then south we could cut directly across the brook and pick up the same trail with less than .5 mi of bushwhacking. Well the brook was swift, dark and deep and we wasted time looking for a crossing before going back out to the Elk Lake Road and following the track log across a 20T bridge. Boreas was a gentle, easy hike on very supportive snow all the way. We had superb views of the Dix Range before heading for Wolf Pond Peak. There was no snow on the ground, just icy moss, for about 400 feet of descent and then there was hard, crusty snow all the way to WP. We dropped packs in the col and after picking then up again we headed east and quickly entered an area that had been logged. This gave us spectacular views of Nippletop and the Dix Range from a unique perspective. We finished the day with Sunrise Peak and back at Clear Pond Nancy remarked that her wrist computer showed we had logged 19 miles. So, we had hiked the equivalent of Allen in both distance and elevation gain. 02/23/2018 - Boreas, Wolf Pond, & Sunrise Mtns - Start: 8:03 AM Finish: 4:54 PM Pictures
  2. Neil

    Allen Mtn

    The trail was fast and hard and I made great time in micro-spikes to Skylight Brook where I switched to K-10's and tromped my way to Allen Brook. At this point my progress slowed considerably and I found the hike to be very sinister and almost evil in feeling. The steep brook flows down in a very narrow and steep-walled cut in the mountain-side. The ascent is steep and very wild and rugged. After miles of approach the feeling I had was one of loneliness and malevolent surroundings. My thoughts turned to my first hike of Allen with Dominic which didn't help. The slide was so steep (how could I have forgotten after so many trips up that peak?) and my K-10's barely bit into the hardened snow pack. I was very glad to have brought my ax but once again regretted not having full crampons. Above the slide the trail is so steep! I was feeling my two previous days of hiking and kept putting one foot in front of the other and heaving myself upwards. I used the ax in various ways to aid my progress, including hooking it around trees and pulling. I did not linger on the summit – no views anyway. The descent went much better than expected but, being alone and acutely aware of what a fall could result in, I took great care with every single step. Below the slide I was able to stride manfully and lose elevation quickly. I was at Skylight Brook in a twinkling. I took a different way across and the ice bridge collapsed and sent me sprawling in the deep and swift water of the brook. I was totally soaked from mid-torso to tips of toes. I calmly got my footing and the rest of the crossing was pretty easy! Haha! I was swearing (mentally) to make a sailor blush. On the other side I removed my pack and lay my fresh stuff out. Then I quickly removed my traction devices, boots, socks (2 pairs), shell pants, long underwear and underwear. Standing on the soaked footbeds that I pulled out of my boots I put on 2 new pair of socks, plastic bags (from Stewarts, no less!) and my synthetic puffy pants. With new footbeds inserted I pulled on and laced up my boots. Then I wrung out my wet stuff and shoved it into a plastic bag, put an extra wool hat on and took off up to the height of land. I kept my soaked jacket and base layer shirt on thinking that over Project -100 I had worn them just about as wet when bushwhacking and this turned out to be OK. Also in my pack but not used I had another base layer shirt, a puffy jacket and a heavy-duty synthetic belay jacket plus other mitts and hats. All of my extra gear was inside a rolled up and tightly cinched dry bag inside my pack. The hike out was long of course but the total time was just under 9 hours including the delay at Skylight Brook. I decided that I would not hike Street and Nye the next day. 02/25/2018 - Allen Mountain - Start: 8:03 AM Finish: 4:51 PM
  3. I jumped at the opportunity to do this difficult trio of peaks with two superstars. We met at the Garden at 5:30 and spiked our way across mud and ice to Johns Brook Lodge. From there it was all snow. Our threesome became a quartet when ___ joined us. He was doing Haystack alone to finish his 46W. The rocks on Horse Hill were coated in a layer of verglas so we knew what was coming. Indeed Little Haystack did not disappoint and I regretted bringing K-10's instead of my Black Diamond crampons. The “rock funnel” near the bottom of Little Hay was sketchy but not crazy, although instead of front-pointing down, facing in, I opted for a riskier leap of faith onto a postage-stamp-sized snow patch. My partners, god bless them were, positioned to catch me if I blew it and went sailing into the wild white yonder. We definitely smelled the roses on this ascent, taking our sweet time, appreciating every nuance that the rock, ice and incredible lighting offered us. Back at the junction we had a bite of food and faced our next challenge: Mighty Basin. And neither did it disappoint. The ice was definitely “in” and above the ladder I felt inadequate in my K-10's while the real climbers killed it gleefully and seemingly sans effort. The descent of Basin was easy on snow that had been post-holed miserably from the looks of things. The post-holes we used as stairs and gained the wall of Saddleback with no issues at all. The wall looked fairly dry but I opted for the stress-free Chicken Route and the guys didn't care one way or the other. I needed a helping hand at the crux but otherwise the route was straightforward. Quite amazing the route was as it followed the base of the cliff, rising steeply upwards and somewhat awesome under all that tannin-stained ice. We enjoyed hot cocoa and homemade cookies in the warming hut for 30 minutes before trudging back to the parking lot. As soon as I got back to my “winter home” at 'Scoots' loft I went into getting ready mode once again. 02/24/2018 - Haystack, Basin, & Saddleback - Start: 6:32 AM Finish: 7:42 PM
  4. I had no idea what to expect regarding snow conditions. The temps were hitting the upper 50's all week and I was worried about overly soft snow. So, I chose a safe gamble thinking I could handle whatever Elk Lake threw at me. I recruited Nancy Labaff as a heavy-weight trail-breaker and at 6:00 I pulled in to Clear Pond. She was already there and in short order we were set to go. I had a friend's track log for Boreas, which I've done twice but never by the trail. I noticed that instead of going a 1.5 mi north then south we could cut directly across the brook and pick up the same trail with less than .5 mi of bushwhacking. Well the brook was swift, dark and deep and we wasted time looking for a crossing before going back out to the Elk Lake Road and following the track log across a 20T bridge. Boreas was a gentle, easy hike on very supportive snow all the way. We had superb views of the Dix Range before heading for Wolf Pond Peak. There was no snow on the ground, just icy moss, for about 400 feet of descent and then there was hard, crusty snow all the way to WP. We dropped packs in the col and after picking then up again we headed east and quickly entered an area that had been logged. This gave us spectacular views of Nippletop and the Dix Range from a unique perspective. We finished the day with Sunrise Peak and back at Clear Pond Nancy remarked that her wrist computer showed we had logged 19 miles. So, we had hiked the equivalent of Allen in both distance and elevation gain. 02/23/2018 - Boreas, Wolf Pond, & Sunrise Mtns - Start: 8:03 AM Finish: 4:54 PM
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