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Back in the Saddle again

01-28-2012

Submitted By Michael Virdone

The Mountains & Stats

13 miles with 2900 feet of gain
  • Saddleback (4515 Feet, NY) globe Mountain

People On The Trip

Trip Report

     Drove up to Lake Placid Friday night and stayed at the pine place rental apartment (http://www.pineplacelp.com/pineplace/index.htm). It is a really nice fully finished apartment with 2 bedrooms plus a pull out couch. It is a nice alternative to the cheaper motels when you want someplace nice to stay.

     

      Saturday morning we were up early and hiking by 6:45 out of the garden. We carried every type of traction not knowing what to expect. We slipped on ice getting out of the car, so microspikes were needed to even cross the parking lot. The trail from the Garden to the Interior outpost had a slight dusting of snow on top of solid ice (so solid the spikes sometimes didn't have enough traction). The conditions were fast and slow at the same time. They were fast because the ground was frozen, but they were slow because you weren't sure when your next step might slide out from underneath you.

     

      We made great time to the interior outpost where we signed the 2nd register. I was surprised how few people sign in at the internal trail registers (the way I think about it, if I get a rescue called for me, I'd like for the rangers to know how far I made it in/out so they can narrow where they search). The bridge over the johns brook was an icy mess and I almost fell twice (like full blown slapstick comedy slips with flailing arms and legs, the whole nine-yards).

     

      The trail beyond the interior outpost was a little challenging, the warmer conditions of the past few days had eroded the base of the trail and every now and again the ice would give way into some slush. none the less, we made great time up the trail and soon enough we were at the orebed leanto. From the leanto upwards there was a bit more snow so the walking was a lot easier on the feet/knees plus the traction was better. We kept climbing enjoying the new views of the post-irene brook. After a while we came across the old slide that runs perpendicular to the trail and shortly after we came into the stream bed below the widened slide. The trail was tricky here, with some debris, and a meandering path, but other than concerns about punching through the ice into the flowing water, it wasn't too bad.

     

      Soon enough we were at the debris pile at the base of the "updated" slide (it is quite the pile of trees) and from there the climb began in earnest. By the time we started climbing the slide we decided microspikes were no longer the correct tool for the job. We opted for MSRs over crampons due to the appeal of the televators. The path now alternates between the woods and the slide though it looks like there were plenty of opportunities to stay on the slide proper. We elected to be in the woods as much as possible. Conditions were a dust-on-crust and if you were to lose footing, arresting a fast slide would have been a real challenge. Eventually we were above the slide portion and climbing in the woods again. This type of steep trail usually dictates a nice slow and steady pace and that's exactly what got us up to the Saddleback/Gothics col.

     

      As we climbed from the col we started getting treated to some nice views of Gothics as well as some views through the trees into the ausable valley (where we had the privilege of looking down on some low hanging clouds). The views were pretty sweet and that was enough to motivate me to push for the summit. Eventually we reached the false summit, did the little dip, and were on top of the summit ledges. The rocks at the summit were coated in 1-2" of solid water ice, I can honestly say I would have had no interest in heading over to Basin in those conditions.

     

      The hike out was almost identical to the hike in with a few notable exceptions:

      1) Parts that were uphill on the way in were downhill on the way out (and vice versa)

      2) We stopped for a nice long lunch break on the porch of the interior outpost

      3) Our legs were a bit more tired, and the still frozen trail was a lot harder on the feet and knees

     

      To celebrate another peak, we visited the pub in placid and had an early dinner/late lunch with some of our friends. Overall it was a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

The Good and The Bad

The Good:

Fast trail conditions
Seeing post-Irene damage to the orebed trail area
Great above the cloud views from Saddleback

The Bad:

Dust on crust conditions on the slide
Icy conditions on the garden trail, it was fast, but tough on the legs

The Drive

Got hosed with snow (in both directions) between cranberry lake and watertown. It was a very rough drive (plus it was the first time this year I drove home Saturday night)

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