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Old 04-15-2019, 02:45 PM   #1
SpencerVT
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brattleboro, Vermont
Posts: 140
Finished the Adirondack 100 Highest Saturday

Southwest Snowy - Snowy - East Snowy, Saturday April 13th 2019

With eternal wisdom and great planning, I started out for Southwest Snowy Mtn at the reasonable early-morning time of 1:30 in the afternoon on Saturday.
I parked on the side of Route 30, near Poplar Point exactly 3 miles south of the Snowy Mountain trailhead.
From there, I began the Llllooong whack up Southwest Snowy following the Willow Brook most of the way. The snow at lower elevations was mashed potatoes and I sunk in considerably. Higher up, where it was colder, I floated much better.
I encountered a marsh from hell one quarter of the way up which is marked on the topo. (see marsh photo)
Harry Houdini would have had trouble getting out of this marsh. It was an endless maze of little streams through clumps of grassy muddy marsh and snaggle brush. I zig-zagged through this Dante Inferno matrix with 40" snowshoes on for what felt like forever before I finally found a route to the other side. I snagged so much debris trying to get across this sucker, I had like a live Dolphin, a pre-Baroque stringed violin, and beer cans attached to my snowshoes dragging when I got to the other side. When I finally emerged crawling out the other side looking like the Creature From The Black Lagoon, I could only think to myself that this must have been the black hole that scientists published the first photograph of last week.

From there I continued the ascent following to the south of the Willow Brook until I hit some cliffs going up the southeast shoulder of Southwest Snowy. I found some notches and chutes in the cliffs which I was able to use mostly my arms to conquer the cliff bands. Trying to climb cliffy-mountain sections in 40" snowshoes is like trying to play soccer in flippers, or knitting with boxing gloves on.

The good news is that once I surmounted the last cliff band, it was a short distance to Southwest Snowy. The woods were open and I reached the summit at 5:30pm. I was concerned at this point being so late in the day about what it would be like on the traverse to Snowy and whether I should just descend back down the way I came up.
Snowy looks like it should have all the hallmarks of a brutal Adirondack mountain. Snowy looks like the Captain in NH. One face of it is all cliffs, which usually means thick krummholz-y conifers and would make for a steep ascent coming from the Southwest Snowy on the ridge. So I had a lot of trepidation about trying to head over that late in the day.
However, the weather was warm, sunny and absolutely perfect. I was warm and comfortable all day, it was a perfect day to climb in the Adirondacks so I decided to keep going over to Snowy. This turned out to be a great decision because the approx. 1.3 mile traverse over to Snowy from Southwest Snowy was incredibly easy. Higher up the snow was colder and more supportive so I never postholed at all. The woods were wide open and the cliffs I had feared I was able to avoid and I never once encountered thick conifers. It was refreshing and awesome. I reached Snowy in
1 hr and 20 mins, completing the Adirondack Hundred Highest. I had always wanted to end on Snowy, and I was thrilled I made it happen.

As I began the descent down from Snowy I heard two voices. It was a man and woman in their mid 40s wearing jeans, little boots, with no backpacks, no shoeshoes, nothing. They were postholing everywhere and the guy was carrying a giant branch to try and help him stay afloat. I asked them: "Do you have any lights?" and they said "No."
They looked like they had never hiked more than a half a mile in their lives. They told me they had just decided to climb Snowy spur-of-the-moment when driving by. Wow. I made them take my extra headlamp because I knew they would be screwed on the descent since it was already getting dark. I was shocked at their lack of preparation.

I continued down and then side-hilled over towards East Snowy. I took an awesome open route that required almost no re-climbing. I reached East Snowy at 8:30 in the dark. I had tons of gear though, enough to spend the night in the woods and I even carried an extra pair of snowshoes on this trip.
Descending East Snowy I hit my only thick woods of the day for about 50 yards which quickly let up and re-opened up into wide open woods the rest of the descent back down to the lower part of the Snowy trail. From there it was only .8 or so back to Route 30.
When I got to the road, I had a 3 mile road walk back to my car where I had parked to embark on Southwest Snowy.
I got to my car and drove back to the Snowy trailhead where the man and woman WERE JUST GETTING OFF THE MOUNTAIN!
I was able to climb an entire additional mountain, plus have a 3 mile road walk in the time it took them to get off Snowy. They would have been so screwed had I not given them a headlamp. They were very nice and appreciative people, but hopefully next time they will think to carry the basic necessities of a hike with them!!
I made it back to Brattleboro VT at 2:30am. The entire hike took me almost 10 hours. Warm, beautiful weather and a great day.

This marsh was like being in a corn maze in Venice, Italy


The High Peaks in the distance from the Snowy Mtn firetower Saturday April 13th 2019
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