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Old 03-18-2019, 10:48 PM   #1
Billy Bogroll
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Wolfjaws (plus bonus second hand HaBa trip report)

The Steve and I were heading up to Slant Rock for two nights on a very warm Friday the 15th to assist a friend and two others in grabbing some of his last couple of winter peaks (Haystack and Basin) the next day. We were an hour or so ahead of them, but while we were approaching Bushnell falls, we were stopped by a relatively high water side stream with steep banks with no obvious rock hop. We would have gone knee deep if not careful. As we were hitting snow/ice with our poles to find the actual banks, we suddenly heard and saw a small (12-18 inches) rush of water and slush quickly moving down Johns Brook over and under the ice. The brook water quickly rose 2-3 feet in less than a minute and even the side stream went up 6 inches or so. We hauled our packs up about 10 feet above the brook and waited to see if there was more to come. Nothing else changed, but we were a bit spooked and worried about what the crossing would be like at Bushnell falls, so we decided to head back to JB lodge. The sudden rise in water had washed out our earlier snow track in a few places, so we had to go high to avoid the water and slush. On the way we soon bumped into a group of 4 who were heading to Slant Rock and we told them about what we observed, but they proceeded. A few minutes later we bumped into our friend’s party and we told him what happened. He wanted to go see the side stream for himself and we told him we would wait at JBL, if he decided to come back. He did not come back. We proceeded to Wolf Jaws lean-to wondering if we had been to timid about not proceeding to Bushnell Falls and feeling guilty for not supporting our friend’s efforts.

I have never been to Wolfjaw lean-to, but in the winter it has an amazing view through the trees of lower wolf jaws and some of its slides. We could hear the rush of Wolfjaw brook, which lulled us to sleep. The next day, it was colder and very windy and the rush of the brook could no longer be heard. We headed up to the WJ col with an easy to follow, but blown in, track and tackled UWJ first with Armstrong as an aspirational goal. Much tougher climb than I remember, with some route finding and very strong winds. Had to put on rain pants and hard shell. It took us so long to get to UWJ (almost 3 hours from leanto) that we decided to turn around at the actual summit (after admiring the views) and grab LWJ instead of Armstrong (and UWJ again). When we got back to the false summit of UWJ, we saw a single set of postholed tracks that turned around heading back to the col. Visual evidence of the many people who probably think that they just tagged UWJ. We were hoping to catch up with the person to not only (gently) chastise them about not using snow shoes, but since we don’t like postholers, tell them (gently) that they did not actually summit UWJ, however their tracks went back down towards JBL and we never caught up with them. We slowly summited LWJ (we were tired). On the way down, near the col, we bumped into the most energetic little girl (10 years old?) and her proud father, who were staying at JBL with rest of their family. They were going to summit LWJ—her second winter peak. She had one of those little plastic sleds with a handle and planned to sled down afterwards. We told them about an old snow fort/igloo that had been built near our leanto and wished them luck on climb as we went back to leanto. After what seemed like only 30 minutes back at the leanto, the father and daughter stopped by the to see the snow fort. She must have been motoring up LWJ!

After another night in the leanto, we had a quick walk back to the Garden on Sunday. The water levels in JB had dropped several feet. On the way we passed the girl, her sister, and parents again and chatted briefly. The girls seemed so excited to be out in the woods in the winter. Noonmark for their onion rings and then home.

One of the lists I am now working on is my Steve 46r list. We have done 40/46 together and after LWJ and UWJ 33/46 winters together. Hopefully, next winter we will be able to accompany our friend to actually summit HaBa in better conditions.

Postscript: Later that day after we had returned to our homes, we heard from our friend and his attempt on HaBa. They were able to carefully cross JB at Bushnell on Saturday, but super strong winds and route finding turned them (and others) back at little haystack. They said that they could barely stand up and expected it to be worse on Haystack. They also mentioned that that first group of 4 we bumped into on Friday, who told us they were headed to Slant Rock, tried to cross JB on that above freezing Friday and one of them fell waist deep into the water. They abandoned that effort and headed back to JBL to warm up by the fire.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:25 AM   #2
Eddie Fournier
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Thanks for the report. Too bad about the water crossing. The DEC had warned about potential flooding for Friday and Saturday, so now I know that their advice is not to be ignored.

On Sunday, the water levels seemed fined, but it was very windy higher up and there was fresh snow. Someone signed in for a solo HaBaSa and I met someone aiming at a solo SaBaHa. I don't know if either made it, but I sure hope they did not take any risks - I certainly expressed my concerns to the guy I met on Saddleback.
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