We were on the trail around 8:30 making our way carefully along a very muddy north side trail. This trail is always pretty muddy but the not-stop rain over the past few weeks, while good for the corn, has not been great for the trails. We reached our temporary home, the Goodwin Lean to at JBL, around 10:30 and dropped off our sleeping stuff and bear can.
|Recently added Tram sticker. Best coffee shop in Utica (or anywhere possibly)!!!|
|the fam getting ready|
1) Jeanette's knee was giving her some trouble with a strange "snapping rubber band" feeling on the hike in.
2) By the time we hit JBL to fill up from the spigot (such luxury..thanks ADK!!!) it was 11. While I knew we had ample daylight to reach Haystack, I was wearing my packable daypack which has limited capacity and it was too small to bring our dinner/ cooking stuff. It started feeling like we didn't have enough time for the 10 miles to Haystack.
3) We mulled over our options (maybe Saddleback or Big Slide?) but decided to give it a go anyway. It's still hard to work these things out for us. I often have a very gung ho attitude (to a fault) about big hikes while Jeanette is more cautious and prone to anxiety. While this is not nearly as much a problem as when we were working towards the 46, sometimes it still creeps in and makes things tense and less fun....which is stupid!!! We are doing this for fun remember?!?! Oh well, brains and humans are far from perfect and we do the best we can.
4) The trails were pretty rough and the water was moving very fast and high. By the time we reached Busnell Falls, excitement for the mountain was NOT the feeling in the air. Not too far after the falls, the trail crosses Johns Brook. The water was very high and fast. All of the crossing rocks were completely covered in fast water.
That was the nail in the coffin. Jeanette didn't want to cross but encouraged me to go ahead anyway. I thought about climbing Basin instead (I wanted to scout it for winter because I'm nervous about the dog on the final steep section) but decided I'd go for Haystack anyway. Diverging from what you planned always seems to open the door to trouble. Despite some relief something still felt kind of off. I started the cross with Koda and felt pretty queasy about dragging him across the brook. about 2/3 of the way across, the water was well over the top of my boot (I was still dry inside thanks to my gators and a recent re-waterproofing of my boots). The next move looked to put me about knee-deep. That was it for me. I turned back just as Jeanette was walking away.
Finally that bad feeling (maybe it was instinct...at least I'd like to think so) in my gut was gone. I had made the right choice. Of course it took trying to make the right choice. The words of one of my favorite bands in the world, Cloud Cult, comes to mind: "Some of us can't change til every bone has been broken". I have a hard time doing what's right first. I often have to mess up before I learn my lesson. At least, these days, I don't have to mess up nearly as bad as when I was younger.
With the pressure off, we both chatted and felt much better and closer. We decided to visit Bushnell Falls since we skipped it on the way up, pressed for time. I'm so glad we did! It was a raging torrent and I was able to enjoy it much more thoroughly then when we climbed Basin and Saddleback since we didn't have anywhere we needed to be. We poked around a little, took a lot of pictures and laughed at Koda. He really wanted to swim but recognized that the water was too serious for his liking so he just poked around gingerly at the shore. Jeanette found a nice open spot on the side of the falls we hadn't noticed before so we hung out there for quite a while and shared some amazing Barkeater chocolate and some coconut water.
|flowing real good|
We got back to camp and I dropped a few more things to lighten my pack and we divied up the food. It was around 1 as I began making my way down the south side trail towards Bennies Brook. In about a mile of rock-hopping solitude we reached first Wolf Jaw and then Bennies Brook. I'm told Wolf Jaw Brook is worth exploring too. Another day....I knew that Koda would be able to climb anything on the BBS so that was the plan. We reached the new massive cairn and I paused to refuel and take in the massive power of the earth.
|lots of work went into this one|
|I like this|
|no big deal|
|around the corner|
|can you see the small wormy thing in the drop?|
|climbing into the fog|
|love this spot|
|a view only an ADK enthusiast could love|
The decent went quickly (as it always seems to) and I enjoyed the sport of rock-hopping all the way down. The trails were very muddy and wet and I tried to stay off them as much as possible so I wouldn't make it worse. I had concerns about the Upper Wolf jaw ascent for Koda in the winter but all the tricky parts I remembered were not a problem for him and i knew they'd be even easier in the winter.
The summit was socked in as well so we stood long enough to take in the deep solitude of the place and time. I could here birds singing and feel the breeze swirling the water vapor over the mountain range. This was Koda's 13th and 14th high peaks. I was very happy for our day as I made my way back down the trail. On the spot where you can see across the col to LWJ from Upper we were blessed with a fleeting glimpse of lush green and gray rock.
|Upper Wolf Jaw|
|a fleeting glimpse|
|"short job, short job, short job"|
|views below the fog|
Back at camp, Jeanette had been lulled into a trance like state by the babble of the brook and had nodded off several times and dreamed of our return. We cooked quinoa, broccoli and some really nice natural nitrite free andouille sausage. Threw it all in a pot with some spice and olive oil until the quinoa absorbed the water. Variations on this meal is our favorite trail dinner. We fed the dog, read and relaxed. He was a little more stimulated than the last time in the lean to and walked around a little bit this time. He still settled pretty quickly and was asleep by our side. At some point in the night he went out and slept on the ground for a while (his tie-out is 20 ft so he can move around quite a bit) which bodes well for future hikes where we don't have a lean to. I know he's a dog and it's natural for him to sleep on the ground but every time something like this goes well it makes me happy.
The next day we were woken at day break by super enthusiastic doggy kisses and blue sky. We quickly broke down camp with dreams of a leisurely Sunday in Albany (including brunch with friends) dancing through our heads. We passed several people on the way out heading in to Haystack including Biji from the message boards who was climbing haystack for his 46th!!!! I was glad for everyone that they'd have a nice day and did warn them about the creek crossing. I knew it was cross-able, but for us, it was one too many risk factors.
We stopped at Stewart's for some much needed/ desired coffee and breakfast and made our way back home. Sometimes things don't go as planned and it's really nice when you're able to make the best of it. I keep trying to be a more patient person and not have to constantly do the biggest and hardest but the struggle against my inner meat-head is still there. Each time though, I feel like I learn a bit more. Here's to the journey....