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46 peaks in 23 hikes?

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  • MTVhike
    I have found that difficulty can be directly correlated with time, and that time is directly related to distance and ascent. For me, plotting time vs distance x ascent gave a pretty straight line. (Note that ascent is not the same as elevation gain for some more complicated routes). This also assumes weather is not a factor.
    Every time I have done Gothics, I combined it with Armstrong and Upper Wolf Jaw, no matter whether I went up and down on the Johns Brook or the Ausable River side. Adding LWJ would have been too much, but that's a fairly straightforward singleton.

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  • tenderfoot
    What a great thread!

    Yes - weather can effect joy on the trail, making a trip seem longer. But it is not just precipitation. We tried Wright, Algonquin & Iroquois and ended up with just Algonquin. Weather was perfect, nice temps, no precip but it was April and the trails were still iced over. Even with spikes it took us longer. I am thinking mud, heat and black flies can also sap trail joy. So maybe this is seasonal.

    I enjoyed my first loop. But I also enjoy out and backs because half the hike is on familiar ground. Not just map wise but obstacle wise. We love seeing familiar land marks as we return.

    My daughter and I agree upon a turn around time prior to starting the hike. If things are getting close we may alter our route. We did this with Dix range - started later than expected so skipped Grace. Ended up also skipping Dix due to unforeseen circumstances.

    Seems my daughter is a bit more of a light switch than I am. She can go from enjoying herself to not-so-much really quickly. Food helps avoid this, as do layers. Usually when expectations are not met: Didn't expect we'd be hiking this long, didn't expect temp to drop so quickly, did not expect to be carrying this much. Easy fix for that was to involve her more in the planning. Last time out we expected to be hiking in the dark so it was something she looked forward to - not a surprise. And I pad the expectations - allow 7 hours for 6 hour hike, etc.

    Regarding 23 trips. Our next outing we wish to try hiking peaks both days on a weekend. So will pick one from hard or moderate list first day and one from easier list for second. I can also envision us doing a longer outing, 3-4 days, and just peak bagging from interior location. We enjoy camping / backpacking so doing something like starting Dix range from Slide Brook instead of parking lot was a nice help.

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  • Neil
    My son and I brought his friend to Blake (therefore twice over Colvin). At age 17 he crushed it but was pretty beat after.

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  • DSettahr
    Originally posted by Neil View Post
    The wild card(s) might be the friends you bring along. You will know what your kids can handle but the friends could be unknowns. One solution would be to only bring untested friends on the easier outings.
    Yeah, I usually tend to err on the side of caution whenever I'm hiking with someone I've never hiked with before. I've seen plenty of people who've laid claim to being "experienced hikers" or "in good shape" crap out after a few miles on the trail.

    If you know that someone is definitely a beginner hiker, or are at all unsure of what their ability level actually is, it's often not a bad idea to invite them on a relatively easy hike first so that you can judge their ability level before attempting something like the Sewards, the Santanonis, or Allen with them. Just about any of the fire tower peaks (excepting maybe Woodhull, Snowy, and Lyon) are good for this.

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  • Neil
    The wild card(s) might be the friends you bring along. You will know what your kids can handle but the friends could be unknowns. One solution would be to only bring untested friends on the easier outings.

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  • DSettahr
    Everyone is obviously different in terms of their desired experience. I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment to avoid saving all of the hardest ones for the end, but to me personally that's not as major a consideration.

    More importantly (to me at least) is the advice to save a peak with spectacular scenery to be your final peak. I typically recommend saving one of the top 6 (in elevation): Marcy, Algonquin, Haystack, Skylight, Whiteface, or Dix. Any of these peaks will give you the opportunity to enjoy the scenery to its fullest potential while celebrating your completion of the 46.

    I finished my regular round on Haystack and my winter round on Dix. Several friends of mine finished their regular rounds on Skylight.

    I'm hesitant to rank your list in terms of exact difficulty because that's something that is super subjective. It depends not only on the terrain and the weather but also on your mental and physical health at the time of your hike. As a general rule, though, something that you can do is rank the hikes in terms of "equivalent miles." In figuring out the difficulty of a hike, one rule of thumb is that every 1,000 feet of elevation gain is equivalent to 1 mile hiked over generally level terrain, in terms of time taken and energy expended. Additionally, every 1,000 feet of steep elevation loss (anything exceeding about 5-10% or so) is also equivalent to 1 mile hiked over generally level terrain.

    So for example, an out and back hike that is 4 miles one way, with 500 feet of gentle climbing, and 1,000 feet of steep climbing is (4*2) + (1,500/1,000) + (1,000/1,000) = 10.5 equivalent miles. The elevation gain and steep elevation loss have added a difficulty similar to hiking 2.5 extra miles across flat ground. This is why rugged climbs in the High Peaks are so often underestimated by beginner hikers. The distances alone may not sound like much, but the steep ups (and even the steep downs) can significantly add to the difficulty.

    If you use these rules to look more closely at the routes for each hike, you can get at least somewhat of a better sense of how one hike may compare to another, given the (super important) assumption that all other aspects (weather, physical fitness, etc.) are equal, and that in reality, these factors are very likely to differ from one hike to the next.

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  • Trail Boss
    Perceived difficulty is highly subjective. Let's see if there's a way to make it more objective.

    For the most part, a route's perceived difficulty is a result of:
    1. Distance
    2. Ascent
    3. Terrain
    4. Weather

    Let's drop "weather" and assume you'll try your best to hike on days with clement weather. What remains is:
    • How long is the route?
    • How much ascent is involved?
    • How much of the route involves challenging terrain?

    The "dimensions" of a route (distance and ascent) aren't difficult to find. I'm sure many forum members here can supply you with the raw numbers.

    You'll need to add "weighting" to suit your family's needs. For example, you've indicated your sons are intimidated by distance. It's possible this factor may wane in the future (when they become more accustomed to disatnce) but let's assume, for now, it's a constant. As a result, a route with a moderate ascent but a long distance will be given more "difficulty points" than one with high ascent but short distance.

    For example, many people find Giant and RPR manageable but describe Allen as challenging. Allen has much less ascent than Giant and RPR but is almost double the distance. Allen's ascent portion is along a very steep slope made more challenging by slippery patches of so-called "red slime" (iron deposits leaching out of the rock).

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  • AvalanchePass
    Thanks TB.

    I've seen advice against saving all the tough ones for last but I think in our situation I'm going to ignore it. The boys are young and I'd like to keep it manageable for another year or two.

    Brothers/Big Slide/JBL loop was a nice step up from Cascade/Porter and they handled it well. If we get to hikes that prove to be too much we'll need to start splitting up some combos or delay things for a year.

    Also, we plan to bring different friends with us and introduce them to the area. We did this with Big Slide and it was a big hit. So keep it reasonable until we figure out who can handle some of the tougher hikes.

    So here's the revised list.
    1. Cascade & Porter (done)
    2. Big Slide (done)
    3. Whiteface, Esther (last, possibly meet family at summit)
    4. Giant, Rocky Peak Ridge (likely a traverse)
    5. Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois
    6. Phelps, Tabletop
    7. Street, Nye
    8. Upper Wolfjaw, Lower Wolfjaw
    9. Colvin, Blake
    10. Dial, Nippletop
    11. Gothics, Armstrong, Sawteeth
    12. Basin, Saddleback
    13. Gray, Skylight, Marcy
    14. Seward, Donaldson, Emmons
    15. Panther, Santanoni, Couchsachraga
    16. Macomb, South Dix, Grace
    17. Dix, Hough
    18. Cliff, Redfield
    19. Haystack
    20. Allen
    21. Colden (likely loop with Avalanche Pass)
    22. Marshall
    23. Seymour

    Does anyone care to take a stab at rating the last 20 from easiest to most difficult?

    I know difficulty is a combination of distance, elevation gain, terrain, and weather so it will be subjective. Generally, the boys seem more intimidated by distance than they do by elevation. They start shaking when I mention Allen.

    We (like most people I think) prefer loops and traverses over out and backs. My wife will be travelling with us about half the time so she'll be able to facilitate the traverses.


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  • Trail Boss
    The ADK High Peaks Foundation has produced a list of 46er peaks grouped into three categories. More about it's purpose can be found here.

    When choosing your next combination of peaks, I suggest you progress through each category before moving on to the next level. For example, the peaks you've done are all in the "Easy" category. The third one on your list "Giant & RPR", spans two categories. I suggest your third outing should continue with "Easy" peaks, like Phelps and Tabletop, Upper and Lower Wolf Jaw, or Street and Nye.

    Lower Wolf Jaw
    Upper Wolf Jaw
    Big Slide

    Rocky Peak


    The peaks are NOT sorted by difficulty within each category.
    Combining multiple peaks is, of course, likely to increase the overall difficulty beyond the stated category.

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  • AvalanchePass
    Thanks DSettahr, good advice.

    I'm probably the kind of person that needs to hear that once in a while, I'll take it to heart.

    It's the exact approach we took with Cascade/Porter. Plan was to do Cascade and Porter was optional. When we got to the junction I let the boys decide. They enthusiastically chose to add Porter. However, I insisted that we do Porter first so that it didn't seem like a "chore" after Cascade.

    We'll take a similar approach to Marcy while doing Gray/Skylight when the time comes. Same for the other combos you mentioned.

    So we'll have a game plan but we'll be flexible. The goal of course is to enjoy ourselves and stay safe.

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  • DSettahr
    Overall, seems like a good list. A few suggestions:

    Marcy can definitely be done with Gray and Skylight, but I'd also make sure to keep in optional. Make the decision whether to do Marcy after you've already done the first two. It doesn't seem like it should be much when you're standing at Four Corners, but it's still a substantial climb from there to the summit.

    Wright/Algonguin/Iroqouis is a pretty long day, especially for kids. You might consider splitting that up (again you can make the determination during the hike if needed, just keep aware of how well everyone in the group is doing).

    You could maybe add Sawteeth on to Gothics and Armstrong.

    If you did them as overnights, you could maybe add Seymour on to the rest of the Sewards. And again, S/D/E is a long day for young kids, even if you use both approaches to avoid doing Seward twice.

    I would maybe consider doing Grace separately, as to combine it with the others in the Dix Range means either doing a through hike, or repeating South Dix/Carson.

    One final thought: You're going to need to pay attention to how well everyone is doing in your group (especially with kids) on every hike to ensure that you're not pushing anyone beyond their ability level or comfort zone. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point, you're probably going to end up not getting a peak or two on a particular trip as indicated by this plan. It's pretty much a guarantee that you're going to have to turn back before summitting at least once, somewhere along the way- it happens to pretty much everyone on the journey towards becoming a 46er.

    So my best advice is that while this list can be useful for helping to plan trips, I would accept now the fact that you're likely not going to be able to stick to this exact itinerary the entire way through becoming a 46er. Trying to plan out exactly how many hikes it will take to become a 46er this early in the game is a potential recipe for disappointment (or possibly pushing yourself outside your ability level if you're not careful).

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  • SpencerVT
    Originally posted by TCD View Post
    Quick fix: Throw Arm, Goth and Saw in with upper and lower WJ. You are on the ridge already, just stay up there and keep going.
    That's what I did. You're already up there, it just makes sense.
    It's a long day, but definitely doable. Killer views everywhere.

    Another idea is to put Seymour in with Seward, Donaldson, Emmons.
    Again, a long day, but it makes sense since you're already out in that area.
    That's what I did and it was fine.

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  • Hoser
    The list of 23 above almost match my approach. Question on the Dix range: What are the pros/cons of doing Hough with Dix, vs Hough with the other three, leaving Dix solo? Current plan is one day Dix from 73 (round pound TH), and a seperate unjoined second day for the other four, from the Elk Lake trailhead (once reopened, seasonal and parking challenges understand). Seems many do all 4, but others do Dix + Hough.....

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  • AvalanchePass
    Gothics, Armstrong, Sawteeth

    And that's 23.

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  • AvalanchePass
    Gray, Skylight, Marcy

    Thanks. Down to 24.

    Looks like 17 miles so we'll save that for a couple of years.
    Last edited by AvalanchePass; 10-20-2016, 12:27 PM.

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