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Old 08-08-2013, 07:51 PM   #1
Adirondackiteer
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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The Great Range July 26-28

First off, most of my nice panoramas and other pics I've uploaded here: https://plus.google.com/photos/10459...21279546542961

So this was my first trip back to the high peaks in many, many years, I think since maybe when I was around 20? I'm 35 now, fwiw. A few years back I really wanted to get back into the things I used to love that I lost sight of in my 20's, hiking, paddling, running, country life, etc. Made some local trips here, and to WV, Smokies, etc but always wanted to get back to the mountains I remember from long ago (Whites are on that list too). Last year I started gathering all the gear I would need for solo trip, and was determined to climb some peaks soon. Well it didn't happen soon but an opportunity came up on short notice (long story) and my dad had already suggested what to do... The Great Range. So between my dad and what info I got here (thanks everyone!) I threw a trip together quick, probably too quick - I lacked a lot of details!

It would be a 3 day/ 2night trip. First and last days were cut short since I had a 3.5 hr drive from my folks house (stopped there on the way and back). I was a bit nervous... it would be my first solo trip period (let alone 3 day trip), I was on all completely unfamiliar trails, almost every piece of gear I had was brand new and untested on the trail, and I didnt have a good trail guide or even map showing campsites (other than what I pieced together from the forum).

I made some slight changes to my plan but here is the trails I took, captured by my gps from the trip:



Day one ended up being 12.2 miles, 4678' ascent / 3407' descent.


First time using my new pack and poles.

I hit the Garden parking lot a bit late, and had to pack my bag, left the trailhead at 11:08AM. Wasnt sure where I was going to setup basecamp, and eventually decided on a tent site near the Ore Bed Lean-to. Was a perfect setting, the brook nearby for water and soothing sounds, and I had the place all to myself the first night. After dropping off my tent and downsizing to a daypack, I head out at 2:30PM for Gothics.


Cables on Gothics, what fun!

First time I ever used cables. Probably unnecessary in good weather but it was fun. And yeah, I did this trip barefoot... mostly. The first day was all barefoot. The view was so nice on Gothics, and I had waited so long for that kind of view, that I almost cried.


Chillin' for a bit on Gothics.

Though I would have like to just stay there for a day or two and then be done, I had to get up and hit some more peaks and make my way back. I was getting nervous about time, I wasn't sure of the trail length and hiking barefoot did slow my pace down. I've never hiked in the dark and with as dangerous as some of the spots where I didn't want to try! But departing Gothics wasn't until after 5pm. I continued on to Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw. I had planned on doing Lower Wolfjaw as a quick out and back but didnt hit the trail junction until quarter till eight, and it would be a mile trip. Decided to save for next time, and took the trail back down to the campsite. Good thing to, since it was already getting dark. And I couldn't escape it, hiked into twilight as long as I could and then pulled out the headlamp. My upper medium brightness was sufficient even for barefoot where I was closely watching the terrain to find the best foot landings. Luckily I was low enough the trails were not dangerous or very hard. I was still nervous though, even though they were easy to follow, it still was very reassuring to glance up and see the trail marker blazing back every once in a while. And glad I brought the gps since I debated leaving it due to me not knowing how to use it. But I figured it mostly out, and had marked the Lean-to, and was nice to see it on the gps ahead of me. Didn't arrive back at basecamp until 9:40PM, and quickly went to make some dinner and finish setting up the camp.


White Box alcohol stove, and GSI Ketalist.

First time using my new alchy stove and cookset. Well I did practice multiple times at home to figure out the fuel burn and water boil times. The stove and heatshield and windscreen only weigh 2.1 oz! And they worked great.


The best trail desert ever... Freeze dried ice cream sandwich!

It got pretty cold that night, into the upper 30's I think, and my new enLIGHTened Equipment down quilt and 2.5" air pad did great. They had some help though, I did put a baselayer on, socks, and hat.


It was pretty late when I finally went to bed, and took me a while to get to sleep. I didn't have an alarm clock other than my phone and gps neither of which I wanted to leave on over night. And I knew I was exhausted and had a long trip ahead so figured I'd sleep in. Got some good rest, sleeping in a little too long! It was after 9!


Checking the feet after the most rugged 12 miles they have seen.

My feet seemed to hold up well. This was my first truly barefoot climb in the mountains. I did a few mountains in minimalist shoes, and I run barefoot but not many local trails are rough at all. This is way more rugged. And I usually give my feet a day after any strenuous activity to recover. So far so good. After some rehydrated scrambled eggs, and filtering water I head out a little late at 10:45AM.


Letting gravity do the work.

This is so much easier and lighter than my pump filter. The Sawyer filter is only 1.8 oz, and between a couple of the fittings it comes with and the stuff the Platypus Big Zip bladders come with, I put together a complete gravity filter that uses all quick connects, and can still work should one bladder leak.


Stopping quick at every stream was a must!

It was very nice to step into cold water, soothed the feet and help keep my whole body cooler. I just loved stream crossings.


Boulders as far as the eye can see.

The trail would go from lots of mud, to roots, boulders, logs and ladders. A little of everything. The feet did it all surprisingly well.


Climbing up Haystack.

My first peak of the day would be Haystack, and what a wonderful hike it was. It was a long ways there, I didnt even make it for lunch, opting to break out some PBJ on whole grain pita on Little Haystack. Eventually made it up, and man what a view. That has got to be one of the best I had ever seen aside perhaps from the day we had 80 mile visibility on Mount Washington. Was 4:30 already, so another late day. I went on to Basin and Saddleback. At some point the trail got really rough, and my pace was so slow that I decided to put on my minimalist huaraches. These are custom made by a fellow out west based on tracings I mailed in to Unshoes.


Unshoes Pah Tempes.

They are just thin flat piece of rubber (6mm) with a knobby pattern on the bottom. They worked really well, but barefoot still had better traction. The sandals would tend to roll too on side-angles. With the straps a little tighter than I typically wear them they worked fine, just had to be careful in spots.

Darkness fell once again, but this time my descent was on the trail I ascended yesterday so I felt a bit more comfortable. But again, about an hour using the headlamp to get back to camp.

Day 2 was 11.4 miles, and ~4600' ascent/ descent.

Day 3 I got up a bit earlier, and got going since I wanted to visit my parent by dinner time. I was going to hike back down to JBL and up to Yard, Big Slide, and The Brothers. Packed up basecamp and hit the trail at 9AM. That night I had company, but it was a Friday night so to be expected. Still was very nice though with some distance and trees between the sites. Passed a lot more folks on the trails. The first two days I only passed just a few people and had all the peaks entirely to myself. It was wonderful. Saturday though, I didn't even bother to check out the view from Yard as it appeared to be shoulder to shoulder. I kept on, and hit Big Slide around noon. I was making good time even barefoot, smoother flat-ish section of trail I picked up to almost a jog. At some point after Big Slide I put my huaraches back on, my feet were finally feeling the wear of over 20 miles or rock, and I wanted to make the best time I could since my folks go to bed early. The views from The Brothers were great too. Made it back to the truck at 3:30 and home for dinner.

Day 3 was 8.6 miles and 2650' ascent / 3630' descent.

It was a great trip and I can't wait to do some trips back there. Got to finish up my 46, my mom is working on getting me a list of what all we did when I was younger, I may be half way there. But I'll have to start over with this trip for the 46-B list (barefoot)

And dont forget to check out my pics at https://plus.google.com/photos/10459...21279546542961
most of my good ones are there. They took a lot of work to edit, was my first time with an dSLR in the mountains and my results were rather dissapointing. Major exposure issues, but I salvaged many pics.
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:00 PM   #2
hman
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Looks like you had a good trip. I'll put Gothics on my list.

Last year, I replaced an old mess kit with the same GSI Ketalist. It's superlight and cools off in seconds. I love it. I have one of those tiny MSR folding burners and with it and an 8oz MSR ISO bottle, I can boil 16oz of water in the Ketalist in 3 minutes.

To eliminate any further exposure problems with your DSLR in the future, I recommend shooting manually from now on. You'll learn to take much better photos. It will be slow and weird at first, but you'll become a better photographer.

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Old 08-09-2013, 07:43 AM   #3
Adirondackiteer
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Thanks hman, and yeah Gothics should make any peak baggers list. You could do it out and back but I'd try to do it as an overnight trip along with the other peaks there unless your a fast hiker with an early start.

Yep I really enjoyed the Ketalist, works great as long as boiling water is your main concern. And it pairs perfectly with the WhiteBox stove I was using which needs a wider than average pot not to waste flame. Of course the alchy stove was slower, but when your spending the whole day in the woods whats an extra two or three minutes? I'm in no big rush that a couple minutes matters, I have other things to do in the time anyhow, if not just enjoying the moment.

As far as the camera goes, its not so much manual vs program or Av, as I shoot manual a lot too (I have a full manual lens actually with no electronics, just not on that trip, so I'm quite familiar with it) its knowing what is the best exposure... I mean I metered off the middle of the mountain for many shots, the light meter was good, and I thought the shot looked decent on the small screen. I know now I'll have to try and underexpose. I took a lot of panos and I think they spanned just two great of a range of light. The other thing is it looks like the camera is doing most of the damage in its processing. What I mean is some shots I set it to take jpg+raw. The jpg's are blown away but the raw actually looked decent. I'm very inexperienced when it comes to raw but the few raw pics I took prior to this trip didnt look nearly that much different than their jpg counterparts. I can post up an example when I get home and see if you guys think its normal. Probably should take the camera discussion to a different thread though.
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:14 PM   #4
SummitHat
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Thank you for this interesting and well-written account of your return to the high peaks! Thoroughly enjoyed the prose & pics. It would be a great addition on the ADK High Peaks forum as well if you post it there - no doubt a lot of the ADKHP mountain hiking folks would also enjoy it.

Have fun on the trails ahead!
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:42 AM   #5
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Awesome trip and excellent photos! Congrats!

Wow! I wish I wasn't standing so far back in line when they were handing out feet! Barefoot hiking is a pipe-dream for me; trail-runners are as minimalist as I dare to try.
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Old 08-17-2013, 03:43 PM   #6
Adirondackiteer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SummitHat View Post


Thank you for this interesting and well-written account of your return to the high peaks! Thoroughly enjoyed the prose & pics. It would be a great addition on the ADK High Peaks forum as well if you post it there - no doubt a lot of the ADKHP mountain hiking folks would also enjoy it.

Have fun on the trails ahead!
Thanks! Oh why do they have to have multiple forums on the Adirondacks! I'm on too many forums already! Maybe sometime this weekend I'll check it out and sign up on that one too. Would be nice if they were combined.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
Awesome trip and excellent photos! Congrats!

Wow! I wish I wasn't standing so far back in line when they were handing out feet! Barefoot hiking is a pipe-dream for me; trail-runners are as minimalist as I dare to try.
Thanks Trail Boss! Well my feet were about as week and whimpy as most a couple years ago. After having some foot and leg problems while I was trying to get back into being a runner I gave barefoot a try. It took a long time to transition and toughen up my feet. That was 2011. By now I've run several barefoot races from 5k's to half marathons. I would never advise anyone to go barefoot after they have acclimated to shoes unless they do it wisely by transitioning slowly, hopefully with guidance from a good book or barefootrunners.org for example.

Obviously some conditions require extra protection, like below freezing for example. I'm not sure if I'll always try to go barefoot, as it does slow me down in more difficult terrain, but I think for most trips I'll lean that way.
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