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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.