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Old 06-03-2019, 09:04 AM   #1
Neil
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Dix bushwhack via East Ridge.

I decided to do another bushwhack round of the 46 and while the forum was under bot attack I began with Dix. I finished a 46-B 6 years ago on Basin and it had been a fun ride. One peak per hike and several years in the making. Along the way I quit using and then even carrying a GPS and honed my navigation skills. I have nothing against GPS and tech in particular but the nav challenge is something I enjoy. I also got into the habit of concocting complicated and what I thought were interesting routes.

The east ridge of Dix is long and curvy. From its east end to the summit there is an elly gain of 1800' and the length is 2 miles. I approached it whacking due north from 2000' elevation on the Boquet Valley herd path to Grace. What follows is a copy-paste of the TR I posted on FB and ADKHP.


46-B2 Kickoff with Dix via East Ridge.

I spun the mental wheel of fortune and it stopped on Dix so I did some research and Sylvie dropped me off at the junction of Rte 73 and the North Fork of the Boquet River. I opted for crossing the N Fork at beautiful Shoebox Falls and continued on the herd path until I was following the South Fork at 590 meters elevation – about 90 minutes out.

At that point I began the bushwhack and proceeded due north sticking to 600M elly and kept a close eye on my elapsed time when I heard what I was looking for: a stream -the N Fork again closer to its headwaters. It looked pretty small but I was 90% sure it was my drainage so I checked the map and switched bearings. Before long I knew something was wrong because my bearing had me side hilling after only 70 meters of elly gain. Then I heard a much bigger drainage up ahead and looked up to see my ridge.

No time or distance was lost by mistakenly using the first drainage as a landmark. After crossing the real North Fork I began a stiff 700' climb to the long and winding east ridge of Dix. The woods were wide open and the sun had the sweat pouring off of me. It felt like I was barely moving with a HR 90 BPM above my resting rate, which is under 50. (aside: I like to keep an objective (ie. instrument-derived) eye on my HR and I continuously slowed my snail-like pace to stay below my Zone 3. This goes a long way to staving off exhaustion on long and physically demanding hikes.) However, my altimeter indicated a rate of ascent of 24 feet per minute, which is perfectly good by my personal bushwhacking standards.


Nearing the crest I saw plenty of cliffs and open rock that I walked around and out to for views. Then I headed due west for a short spell to gain the absolute ridge-crest and get re-oriented. I made a radio call to Sylvie who was now on Giant having a snooze. The woods were very open with beautiful seams carpeted with glowing green moss and I caught an excellent view of Noonmark. The only way to go was up but I used the map, compass and altimeter to keep exact tabs on my position and desired direction. The ridge offered no views now and it was more of a long hill with the occsional knob and single-contour drop. Hence my desire to keep tabs of my exact whereabouts. As I ascended, the open seams became fewer and further between. The black spruce had very long interlocked branches that were extremely gnarly and resilient. You could get impaled on one if you ran head on into its tip. Thus, wide detours were constantly required. It was very enjoyable and I kept finding open seams. The only negative were the swarms of black flies that would not leave me in peace. They gradually fizzled out as I gained elevation.


I got even with the array of slides on my right (the ones whose common base, known as the wrist, the Dix trail crosses) and the slope became very gradual. The woods were delightfully open here and there was a lot of standing water-easily avoided. To my left I caught glimpses of the Beckhorn Slide. A faint but obvious herd path sprung up underfoot and was easy to follow as it wound its way along the line of least resistance. The woods became tighter and my progress slowed. The herd path gave way to the odd scuff mark, which like me, followed the line of least resistance. Snow patches were showing up here and there. At 1:30 I made a second scheduled radio call to Sylvie. I was about 150 meters vertical below the summit and could hear voices. But, I knew it was still a long ways off effort-wise due to thickening, obstructive and tortured vegetation. I was easily an hour out still. The term “open seam” took on a new meaning. I came upon a wicked fir wave directly in my path but was able to deviate around it on its leeward (climber's left) side. Then, over to my right I saw air indicating a steep drop and tried to work over to it for views but the woods were extremely bad and it was descending so I passed on by, not wanting to re-climb through such a mess. At 1350 meters the ridge narrowed to an isthmus and the vegetation had many impenetrable sections that I was able to squeak my way around, scramble up open rocks and catch little “open” seams.


I was on the final approach and the scuff marks led me on until I suddenly came out onto the trail. I decided I was too far from the summit so I went back into the woods and began a very slow and chest pounding traverse attempting to get directly under it. The remaining snow patches were of help. However, the cliff walls, vegetation and 45 degree slope got the better of my recklessness and I allowed myself to be led towards the trail. I hit it a stone's throw from the summit, made a quick trip there, eyeballed "my" ridge and called it a day.


I made one more radio call to say I would be out in no less than 3, no more than 3h30 and I began the l-o-o-ong hike out (took 3h20) to Round Pond where Sylvie was waiting. At our campsite cold beer, chips, dinner and our tent beckoned.

One down, forty-five to go.
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Old 06-03-2019, 11:50 AM   #2
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PICTURES
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:05 PM   #3
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Complete story and nice pics, thanks
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:58 PM   #4
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Drainages are great navigation features, but poorly observed/poorly mapped ones will do that to you. Neal experienced a good classic example of making a mistake and detecting it early.

When you get that internal feeling that something is not quite right with your navigation progress, that the landscape features just don't add up to expectations, that is when you are right. Figure it out. Everything encountered has to make sense with everything else in time, distance, and appearance. I call that the process of "great expectations". Know what to expect that you will encounter up ahead. Make sure you are satisfied that it occurs on time and in place. If not figure it out and learn from it. A great lesson for those learning the fine art, as Neil has done long ago.

I will never forge what my first AF flight instructor navigator told me: he said "all navigators make mistakes; the only difference between novices and experts is how soon the mistake is discovered and corrected." I have experienced that great learning effect many times in air and on ground.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:31 AM   #5
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On more than one occasion I have been unsure of my position. This usually has occurred when transitioning from man-made to wild. Ie. from a trail to bushwhacking. It's easy to blindly follow the trail and lose track of your position. My solution has always been to draw an imaginary circle on my map that I must be inside of. Then I pick a definite destination/landmark and walk a very straight line along a bearing from the center of the circle to that landmark. Careful observation of the slope of the land usually allows me to pin-point my position fairly quickly.

This is a different situation from thinking you know where you are. Knowing you don't know is better!
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:34 AM   #6
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Making mistakes, and realizing that you have done so coupled with quickly making appropriate correction measures are the meat of gaining the best experiences in improving your skill in the art and craft of precision navigation.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:59 AM   #7
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Bushwacking is the best way to learn navigation and self confidence and also to experience the wilds.
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Old 06-04-2019, 05:29 PM   #8
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When I began to self teach myself many years ago, I knew where I started from and could follow a bushwhack compass line to end up at my intended destination. But where I exactly was in between was too often a mystery. I became determined to fill in all the blanks, to be able to pinpoint my exact location at any given moment. Intermediate destination points helped a lot. It took lots of practice with dead reckoning, as DR was primary from my AF flight navigation days. Except for my radar scope interpretation I didn't do a lot of out the window visual terrain association navigation from the air. Minimally some may have been useful, probably more so for the pilot (head for that island over there!). DR takes on primarily more importance on the ground.

Lots of mistakes on the ground leading to quick corrections and learning to never make that mistake again. Doing "Sanity checks" with every decision, "does this make sense with that?". Look for change of any kind, as "change is the navigator's friend". I learned far more from my days of mistakes than from any day when everything went perfectly.
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Old 06-05-2019, 07:02 AM   #9
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Valuable discussion.
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Old 06-05-2019, 08:43 AM   #10
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I used the USGS quad for the Eighth Lake area to plot a bushwack to a pond east of there that has no trail (that I have been able to find). I knew that the closer the contour lines, the steeper the slope. What I was unprepared for was that on the ground the close contours could be a vertical cliff face, while from the air (and on the map) the slope appeared less steep, at least during leaf out. The line I plotted went up and over the first hill, then down to the outlet stream of the pond at nearly the level of the pond, crossed and continued over a second hill to the pond. When we finally found a way to get down the "wall" we were off the original line, and while, after some short time, I was confident that I had regained it, and we could continue, my partner for the day decided he had had enough of the hobble bush and baby spruce and the near 90 heat and the skeeters, and we followed the pond outlet back out. When I retry this one, I will likely parallel the outlet stream at the level I come in on to a level crossing and then follow my compass from there, but the difference between the map and the ground definitely threw us off that day.
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Old 06-05-2019, 09:21 AM   #11
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There is a great deal of topography "hidden" between the contour lines of the map. With a 1:25,000 scale that means there are 1,000,000 square meters of land represented by 16 square centimeters on the map.
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Old 06-05-2019, 10:58 AM   #12
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That's true; the scale hides things.

The other thing that hides features is the way the maps are made. The basic data comes from spot aerial photos. Obviously the photos do not cover every spot. The maps are drawn (in the old days by hand, today by computer) and then field-checked to some extent. As has been discussed on the forum previously, many newer maps have had far less field checking (it costs money to send people into the woods to actually find out what's there).

An interesting result is that sometimes large cliffs (like 80' to 100' dead vertical walls) may be present in a place where the map does not show the contour lines touching each other. The map says "steep hillside" but reality says "cliff."
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Old 06-05-2019, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky13 View Post
I used the USGS quad for the Eighth Lake area to plot a bushwack to a pond east of there that has no trail (that I have been able to find). I knew that the closer the contour lines, the steeper the slope. What I was unprepared for was that on the ground the close contours could be a vertical cliff face, while from the air (and on the map) the slope appeared less steep, at least during leaf out. The line I plotted went up and over the first hill, then down to the outlet stream of the pond at nearly the level of the pond, crossed and continued over a second hill to the pond. When we finally found a way to get down the "wall" we were off the original line, and while, after some short time, I was confident that I had regained it, and we could continue, my partner for the day decided he had had enough of the hobble bush and baby spruce and the near 90 heat and the skeeters, and we followed the pond outlet back out. When I retry this one, I will likely parallel the outlet stream at the level I come in on to a level crossing and then follow my compass from there, but the difference between the map and the ground definitely threw us off that day.
Severe thread drift here, probably should continue this discussion in another topic, pardon me.

Where did you start from? I assume you were headed toward that small pond across the high ridge east of the road, The current USGS map of the area I have is the Raquette Lake 1:25K scale metric map. If you departed from the road pull-out next to the mid point of 8th Lake, I see what your problem was, assuming you were headed for the small pond with the looping outlet stream (near UTM 18T 525800E 4846200N). Crossing directly over that ridge means going up and over a number of contour lines, each crossing gains/looses 6 meters (about 20 feet).

Contour lines have to be drawn legibly on the map. While it is true that an actual cliff would have multiple contour lines on top of each other if it were perfectly represented on the map, you cannot have what would amount to a single thick solid line of multiple touching lines to indicate that. So there is some spread to make the map readable. You would have initially headed straight up over the ridge then leveled out a bit before descending to the looping stream.

I see two or three reasonable access routes to access that pond. If from the campground area on the southern end of 8th, your idea of starting at the highway, following the pond outlet stream (7th Lake inlet stream) until it branches with the junction coming rom the upper pond would work. You would have two choices there. Follow the stream ( this is called "handrailing") until you see the junction with the branch stream entering from the north (the looping stream). It looks to be a bit of a steep cascade scramble to climb (but could be pretty) before it levels out in to a relatively flat bit of land which may be swampy. Follow higher contours to your right to the pond. A better more gentle choice might be to continue following the 7th Lake Inlet between areas of high land on your left and right (could be steep side stream banks here) until you come to the draw (ravine) with contour lines pointing more gently uphill toward the northeast. You will know you are there as the stream begins curving toward the south, check your compass. If you go too far, the stream heads back toward the northeast (this is your backstop, or catch). The draw will take you directly up to the southern end of the pond you seek in about 20 minutes from the lower stream (assuming the hobble bush is not too thick). Look for a small elevation rise on your left (that small circular closed contour)possibly marshy to the left, dry to the right, as you approach the pond.

Another possible way is from near where the highway loops around the northeast end of 8th Lake. See that draw with contour lines pointing southeast, relative right toward your pond? Walk up the draw, crossing several contours to the 600M contour where it levels out somewhat. Stay left, following a higher contour to avoid the marshy stream at the loop. Catch increasingly higher ground contours. Follow a lower contour set upland from the marsh, but it is not necessary to climb over it the ridge. Circle around the bottom (southwest side) of the ridge that runs on the north side of the pond. You may hit the outlet stream (your backstop). Turn left. You are there!



If the contour iinterval is 6M, then any terrain feature that is up or down by only 5.9M different from its surroundings will not be depicted on the map, as illustrated here:
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Old 06-08-2019, 08:20 PM   #14
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Thank you very much!!

I had planned on 2 as my next route, but 3 looks very interesting and gets to the "better" part of the pond.
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