We decided on a different approach for the Santanoni Range: fast and light. We'd hike the ~15.5 miles with ~4,900 feet of elevation gain over 3 trail-less summits in one day. It worked fantastically well, and I think I'm going to push for this approach more in the future.
6:12 a.m.: We hit the trail, headlamps blazing. First ones to sign the register today. Ate homemade breakfast bars while we hiked.
7:11 a.m.: Dangerous bridge. Someone needs to start a hipster band with that name.
7:53 a.m.: Dave sees the fork in the trail and tries to eat it. (TRAIL BETA: this is the start of the Santanoni Express.)
8:16 a.m.: Yes, the start of the Panther Brook trail does cross right over the top of a beaver dam. (TRAIL BETA: As you're hiking along the blue trail, there are two trail bypasses. Take the first one. Don't take the second one - bear left on the old trail instead of right on the newer trail. Look closely for the path across the swamp.)
8:17 a.m.: I am not expecting views today.
9:49 a.m.: Times square trail junction.
10:54 a.m.: Couchsachraga! That wasn't as bad as I expected.
12:12 p.m.: Back to Times Square. Turn left for Panther.
12:28 p.m.: Panther Peak. RAWR!
12:29 p.m.: We are pretty darn muddy. Yeesh.
2:00 p.m.: I know we cross Santanoni Brook right before the Express joins the blue trail. I hear rushing water a knee-crunching, soul-destroying hour before reaching the blue trail. Fake out!
2:38 p.m.: I engage in an extended verbal dialog with the trail in an effort to get it to end. I offer it food in exchange for ending. I also threaten to pee on it if it doesn't end.
3:03 p.m.: The trail ends when I threaten to have Dave fart on it. Works every time. We're back at the blue trail.
3:04 p.m.: We realize we have a shot at completing the hike sub-10 hours. Now we're really cruising!
3:41 p.m.: We are not tired enough, so we trail-run the last 1.8 miles along the jeep road.
4:03 p.m.: Laughing and gasping for air, we tear into the parking lot 9 hours and 51 minutes after we left. Excellent marriage advice: marry someone of equal crazy.
4:04 p.m.: We notice the guy who signed in right after us, and who passed us about 5 minutes down the trail, finished in 7 hours and 10 minutes. Mike from Clifton Park, you are a beast!
P.S. 40 down, only 6 to go!