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46er Finish

Finally a 46er! 20 High Peaks in 16 Days, a Recap

Wooo hooo!

There. Just had to get that out of the way.

Because I am… finally… a 46er!

The Adventure! – and I Can’t Count

For those that did not read my last post, or have not been following us on Facebook, the long story short version is that I decided to try to finish my 46 over the course of a 2 and half week vacation.

In the end it amounted to 20 High Peaks in 16 days (10 days of actual hiking). Although, the number of peaks I had to climb was a bit of a moving target in my head. In my previous post about this, I thought I had to climb 21 peaks, and in this Facebook post, I thought the number was 18. I am a stickler for details, ain’t I?

You’d think the actual number of mountains I’d have to climb would be a pretty important part of planning this thing out. But in this instance I think my mind was breaking the trip down into chunks. Days, ranges, and miles – not individual mountains. Thankfully I didn’t accidentally leave one out!

Here is how the schedule played out:

  • Day 1: Allen Mountain
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Disaster! I screwed up big time and almost ended the adventure here (more on this another time)
  • Day 4: Street and Nye (with Jess)
  • Day 5: Santanoni Range (Santanoni, Panther and Couchsachraga)
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Iroqouis and a bushwhack to Marshall (with Jan), camp at Feldspar Leanto
  • Day 8: Gray, Redfield, Cliff
  • Day 9: Rest
  • Day 10: Sawteeth
  • Day 11: Rest
  • Day 12: Seward Range (Seymour, Seward, Donaldson, Emmons)
  • Day 13: Rest
  • Day 14: Rest
  • Day 15: Dix and Hough
  • Day 16: Esther and Whiteface (with Jess, Don, Jon, and Nikki)

The Finish and Summit Party!

I decided to end on Whiteface. It is a fairly easy (and fun!) hike, at least compared to some of the others I had lined up, and I figured it would make for a somewhat relaxing finish. But the real benefit of finishing on Whiteface is that the Memorial Highway would allow non-hiking friends and family to join me there for a… summit party!

It couldn’t have been better. Our families were in town so Jess, her father, brother and his fiance – not to mention our dogs Willa and Esther – joined me on the hike to the top.

There we were met by Jess’ mom, my parents, and three of our close friends (and a tiny future 46er!), along with champagne and hors d’oeuvres. It was really a blast and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate. Jess and I are so lucky to have the family and friends we do.

Speaking of blasts… the cork on the first bottle of champagne damn near took my ear off when it popped itself. Poor Willa got covered in bubbly as a result. We surmised that this happened due to the elevation change the bottle went through. What do you think, any truth to that?

Summit Party

After the summit party wound down, Jess and I packed up and began the hike back down the mountain. No, you can’t catch a ride down the Highway. That would be cheating! So this was technically, officially, when my 46 adventure was complete.

46er Finish

Some Stats and Random Thoughts

Total Distance: 147 miles (135, if you don’t count the mistake day)

Total Elevation Gain: 37,235 feet

Longest Day: Day 12, Seward Range. 22 miles, 6,100 feet of elevation gain, almost 13 hours of hiking.

Shortest Day: Day 4, Street and Nye, was the shortest mileage – 9 miles, a little over 6 hours of hiking. (Sawteeth was the quickest day though, 12.5 miles in a little over 5 hours)

Earliest Start: 7am for Dix and Hough. Most of my days started around 10am, and on day 5 – the Santanoni Range – I didn’t hit the trail until noon. Suffice to say I am not a morning person, and as a result I had to do some headlamp hiking.

Nights spent in the woods: 1, between day 7 and 8, at Feldspar Leanto (because the Uphill leanto area was full, and very wet)

Tent at Feldspar

Favorite Day: Sawteeth – day 10. A perfect day with incredible views, and I was able to bust out the 13 miles in about 5 hours… letting me spend the rest of the day relaxing with family.

Least Favorite Day: My Seward Range mistake – day 3. 12 miles, in the wrong direction, with a full overnight pack. (more on this another time)

Favorite Trail: Beckhorn trail to Dix. A wonderfully pleasant and fun trail. It is steep, but offers stretches of gradual relief. Has good views, is not too rocky, not too rooty, and the payoff at the top is fantastic.

Least Favorite Trail: Couchsachraga trail from Times Square Junction. A narrow, scratchy, rocky, rooty trail with lots of ups and downs, at least one false summit, and little in the way of reward for the effort.

Notable wildlife: A bear on the trail at the end of Day 8. A Coyote on trail at the start of Day 15

Best Views: Sawteeth – day 10. The views of Pyramid, Gothics, Sawteeth and Basin are spectacular. Views from Santanoni and Dix were amazing as well.

View from Sawteeth

Injuries: Nothing substantial, thankfully! Some cuts and bruises here and there, a few nice wipe outs, but the only lingering ache I have is actually in my shoulder. Likely due to how much I use and lean on my hiking poles.

Breaking point: I’m notorious for having moments of miserable grumpiness on really long hikes, so I was expecting a few epic meltdowns on this trip. On the slog out to Couchsachraga I had a ‘why am I doing this?’ moment… and I felt something similar on the way up Seward. However, these episodes were mostly kept in check.

Little help?: On Hough I had to convince a couple that they really were on Hough, and not one of the other Dix’s – not sure they believed me until I pointed out the yellow disc with “Hough” written on it. On Seymour I helped a hiker find her partner who had gotten off trail. And near the top of Sawteeth I gave the rest of my water to a couple who didn’t pack enough.

Hough Summit Marker

Training: I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of training for this. I tried to get out on the trail for a little bit each day in the months before – but these were usually very short runs during lunch breaks, often only about a mile or two at a time. I mixed in a little strength training as well, but not much.

The 46er Diet: According to the GPS I burned 12,530 calories. Who knows how accurate that is, probably not very. But I can say that I lost 11 pounds (171 to 160) over the course of these hikes. Part of this was obviously the physical exertion, but a big part of it was also the fact I wasn’t sitting in front of a computer, stuffing my face all day.

Thankful: My good friend Jan helped me map out this adventure, provided advice and encouragement along the way, led me on the bushwhack from Iroquois to Marshall (something I never would have done by myself), and then celebrated on Whiteface with us. My parents drove 2 hours just to watch our dogs one night. And my wonderful wife Jess hiked 4 peaks with me, handled the house and our crazy pack of dogs while I was off playing in the woods, and saved the entire adventure (when I almost quit) by saying just the right thing to me at just the right time… like she always does.


  1. Rick

    Congratulations! I’m heading up that way from Virginia in two weeks and hope to get 7 of my remaining 14 among other things.

    • Dave

      Thanks Rick, this is a wonderful time of year to hike. Might be my favorite. Let us know which mountains you tackle, and how you make out. Have fun!

      • Rick

        Dave, Rick here-
        Our recent trip was a success, overall – though we either failed or missed on several things.

        We weren’t able to squeeze in St. Regis, Crane, or Pok-a-moonshine.

        Didn’t manage to complete our version of the Great Range Traverse (starting at South Meadow but including Gray and Skylight) due to a recent ankle injury of Peter’s flaring up but gave it a good go nevertheless, still doing 23 miles and 7,200′.

        Didn’t get Seymour, the Santanonis, or Allen due to our schedule getting out of whack – and the weather. Did pick up Street and Nye though – which we hadn’t intended to get.

        But nevertheless we did some 26 summits, hiked 98.6 miles (29 of that on herd paths), and did 32,972′ of elevation gain.

        2012-10-13 Snowy Mountain

        2012-10-13 Blue Mountain

        2012-10-12 Street Mountain

        2012-10-12 Nye Mountain

        2012-10-11 Seward Mountain

        2012-10-11 Donaldson Mountain

        2012-10-11 Emmons, Mount

        2012-10-10 Big Crow Mountain

        2012-10-09 Marcy, Mount

        2012-10-09 Haystack, Mount

        2012-10-09 Skylight, Mount

        2012-10-09 Gray Peak

        2012-10-09 Little Haystack

        2012-10-08 Cascade Mountain

        2012-10-08 Porter Mountain

        2012-10-08 Belfry Mountain

        2012-10-07 Dix Mountain

        2012-10-07 Beck-horn

        2012-10-07 Hough Peak

        2012-10-07 Macomb Mountain

        2012-10-07 South Dix

        2012-10-07 “Pough Peak”

        2012-10-07 East Dix

        2012-10-06 Whiteface Mountain

        2012-10-06 Lyon Mountain

        2012-10-06 Gore Mountain

        2012-10-05 Helderberg Mountains HP

        2012-10-05 Rutsen, Mount

        Peter picked up an additional 17 46ers and I got 5 new ones. I only need 9 now. And we got several COHPs, P2Ks and P1Ks, firetower peaks, etc.

        Had an awesome last day on Blue and Snowy before driving all night to get home.

        And it sounds like we are already in agreement to go back next Fall (instead of to Colorado), perhaps a week or two earlier. If all goes well, I may even finish the 46ers.


  2. Sean

    Congratulations on a great accomplishment.

    As for the calories burned: it’s way, way more than 12,000. 11 pounds roughly translates into 38,000 calories – this is NET of what you ate along the way. Adding in what you ate, I’d guess that you burned closer to 50,000 calories.

    • Dave

      Thanks Sean!

      Great info about the calories. Not sure how the GPS attempts to calculate that. It is also very possible that my starting weight was not 171. I didn’t actually weight myself right before the hike, the 171 came from a few days before when I last looked at the scale. It is very possible I was a 2 to 5 pounds lighter the morning of the start of the hikes.

      Either way, doesn’t seem like the GPS was very accurate in this regard.

      And I wonder how fast I end up packing those pounds right back on!

  3. Sophie

    Dave it’s so awesome that you completed those mountains. How long did it take you to do the other 26? To become a 46er is one of my two life goals and my other is to hike the northville placid trail and i have found your other website very helpful for planning my upcoming trip. The Adirondacks is my favorite place. What mountain has the best view? I’ve heard it’s algonquin. Thanks!

    • Dave

      Hi Sophie, those are fantastic goals! When do you plan on hiking the NP?

      Best view is a tough one, there are so many great ones. My favorite from these hikes was from Sawteeth… that perspective of Pyramid and Gothics is really amazing. The view from Dix was outstanding as well, with a really nice profile of the Great Range.

      I tend to prefer peaks that give me framed views of other peaks… for example, I think the view from Gray, looking up at Marcy, is actually better than the view from Marcy itself. But so much of this is personal preference.

      Check back in this summer and let us know how your adventures go!

  4. Todd

    Congrats! My daughter and I finished on 8/31 with Whiteface as well. We had champagne as well, but only 1 bottle – we still had to hike down! I don’t recall any major explosion when uncorking the champagne though. See you at the dinner (?)

    • Dave

      Thanks Todd! And congrats on your accomplishment as well. What are your plans for this summer now that you have the 46 done?

  5. Julie

    Hi Dave,

    Enjoyed reading this article of your ventures several months ago, and thought I’d come back and ask a question…. I’m about half-way through the 46, with mainly the trail-less peaks left. How difficult are they to navigate? I’d rather not pay for a guide or have to rely on the schedule of a meetup group, but definitely do not want to set out on a hike and never find the summit, worse yet get lost. Any tips? I see someone else mentioned a second site you have….? Thanks.

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