Winter camping and hiking is a fair bit different than in the warm sunshine of summer. After hiking in to the Bradley Pond area with 45lbs on my back I was ready for a warm meal. Apparently I was also ready for some sleep since I was in my sleeping bag by 6pm.
The next day began with a relaxing morning of melting snow before heading up unmarked paths to Times Square, the junction between three of the Adirondack 46. From there I went and visited the summit of Panther Peak before realizing my pace and remaining daylight were not compatible. I thought I would head toward Santanoni but found myself on Cochsachraga instead. These trails are unmarked to preserve some of the wildness of the area. There was at least 6" of new snow since I had started so the trail was fairly well hidden at times, and even more so in the darkness. Fortunately I only took one major wrong turn down a deep gully but was able to climb back up the 40' in about 20 minutes through waist-high snow. I made it back to the lean-to around 7:30pm. By the time I had eaten dinner and melted enough snow for the next day it was 9pm and time to turn in for the night.
I opted to sleep in again before packing my gear for the long trudge back to the car in the additional 4-6" of snow that fell overnight. Breaking trail was pretty tiring and I fell into the snow up to my chest a few times. Fortunately I was able to dig myself out before passing the only people I had seen in 48 hours. (P.S. you dudes need to follow the rules. Your barebooting left postholes all through my 12km back to the car. Not cool. Use snowshoes or skies to make it safe for everyone else on the trails.)
Happy to have completed two new peaks but just as happy to be home in my own warm bed. Not quite 'mission accomplished, but as Meatloaf once sang: 2 out of 3 ain't bad!
The Santanoni range can be reached by taking Interstate 87 to exit 29. From there, head west on Blue Ridge Road for about 48kms where you will turn right onto Tahawus road. The road forks after about 10kms so stay to the left for Upper Works Road. Enjoy the views of the Hudson River on your right until you see the trailhead parking on your left, 3kms after the fork.
Written by Greg
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