We started our hike late Friday afternoon under fairly sunny skies though there was some rain in the forcast. Once we got under way, some gray skies started rolling in, getting more and more threatening. The first portion of the hike in is along a road and goes fast. There is a hard right onto the trail proper which started out pretty and got awfully rugged (muddy, rocky and heavily eroded) awfully quick. I think we both had a lot of nerves about our last big trip of the 46ing journey and hadn't seen each other for a few days so we bickered a bit on the way in. I made some sort of smart ass comment about how it was going to rain soon and we both started picking up the pace. Thunder rumbled more and more intensely. About a mile before the lean to, a significant reroute was marked around some even worse trail. We pushed through scrubby pine and swung off of trees to keep our balance while trotting with three days worth of backpacking gear. We started to get kind of giddy in our race to the lean to and any animosity or irritation between us dissolved as the rain started to fall. Before we got too wet we reached the lean to. As we did, it immediately started raining harder. We gleefully settled in for the night. We had passed two guys on the way in who got to the lean to at the begining of the storm too. We immediatly invited them to share it with us for the night but they seemed intent on setting up their tent so we had it all to ourselves all weekend.
The next morning we got it together pretty early and got on the trail. On the way in, at the reroute start, there was a small cairn. I assumed that this was the start of the herd path to Times Square though I was a little unsure as it was pretty small. I was able to rationalize that since there is now a trail reroute, the herd path start probably got a bit rerouted too. Here, me being overconfident got us into some trouble. First off, I hadn't checked any trip reports beforehand which I had been pretty vigilant with over our last handful of trips and the info had been pretty valuable. I might have gotten better info as to herd path start and how it was affected by the reroute. Secondly, I didn't pull out the McMartin map, sticking to the ADK map. The McMartin map has the herd paths and I would have very quickly seen my mistake. I left it in the freaking lean to.
So we headed into the woods at the cairn and quickly lost any sign of a herd path. I was still sure that it was nearby as I thought I remembered that the herd path went south of Bradley pond. So if I took a bearing, stayed south of the Pond and hit Panther Brook, I'd HAVE to stumble into the herd path. The trees, christmas tree sized pines, were heavy with last nights rainfall and dew and quickly soaked me as I pushed through the brush. Jeanette trusted my judgement (oops) and followed but I can't say that either of us were pleased. We followed the southern shore of the pond and got some pretty sights.
|A boat stashed in the woods in what looks like ship shape.|
|Impromptu Bradley Pond bushwack|
|Those are some lovely cascades...lets climb em!|
|Jeanette before and after shots: before finding the herd path|
|After finding the herd path!!!!|
|Almost to Times Square, the view back towards Bradley Pond, the Mac Range and beyond.|
|an ocean of fog|
|Cold River and the Seward Range|
We rested for a while and like Allen, got visited by a summit bird. Jeanette (and I) were very curious about a certain bird song we often herd in the Adirondacks. As a kid, my dad would whistle back to them and convince my sister and I he was talking to them. Which I now do to Jeanette haha. So this little bird with these brown almost hawk like wings, a striped black and white head and a yellow spot on it's cheek hopped around us for several minutes. It took off, perched on a nearby branch and lo and behold, sang the ellusive song! We now had all the identifiers we need to find out what kind of bird it is. It's called a white-throated sparrow. About a month later we decided to climb Phelps for sunrise and while we were completely socked in, we were visited again by WT sparrow and were treated to an extensive serenade which Jeanette managed to film. Such special moments!
|The view from Santanoni; Pure wild Adirondacks|
|Santanoni from Panther|
In the lean to that night we cooked a nice dinner, at some chocolate and drank a bottle of Finger Lakes ice wine I had gotten for Jeanette for Christmas and took in a lovely and restful evening alone in a lean to. I guess I didn't spend much time reflecting on the past because I feel in the middle of a fluid lifestyle more than someone who had just closed a door or finished a chapter. As I sit here writing this, I'm planning several camping and hiking trips for the coming months and beyond. I love these mountains with all my heart and feel so grateful for how they've changed me. I feel like I am finally a man. A man shaped by mountains, mud, weather, exhuastion, exaltation and solitude.