Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fast and Light: The Santanoni Range

Our typical strategy for hiking ADK mountains is to pack in, establish a base camp, hike some mountains, and pack out.  The upside to this approach is that I get to sleep in the woods.  The downside to this approach is that sleeping in the woods = larger pack = harder, longer duration hike.  It's like big wall climbing - as soon as you haul, everything gets harder!

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.

 1:38 p.m.:  We zing across the ridgeline to Santanoni.  Really cruising now.

1:45 p.m.:  Down the Santanoni Express.  

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!


  1. Day-hiking is the way to go! I just finished #46 last week and did them all as day trips. As much as I love sleeping in the woods, I'll save that for my kayak camping trips. Floating everything in is much easier than carrying it all in :) Congratulations on reaching #40! What's left?

  2. Good for you! Congrats on the finish!

    Still remaining: Marshall, Allen, Colvin, Blake, Sawteeth, Nippletop. I will probably try to finish on Nippletop for the views. :o)

    Allen in a day in the winter is going to be meh. That's a start-in-the-dark, end-in-the-dark, don't-see-anything-on-the-summit type of day.

  3. I've heard that Allen is an excellent butt-slider in the winter, though :) And if you get a clear day, the views from the summit outlooks are surprisingly good! I did Allen solo last September and I actually really enjoyed it! The Colvin-Blake hike is pretty great too, even though a lot of people complain about Blake. They are fun little climbs, and Colvin has great views. If you have time, take the side trip to Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs. WELL worth it. Good luck with your remaining hikes!