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Thread: the wilderness kicks city-boy's arse

  1. #1
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    the wilderness kicks city-boy's arse

    Sooooo.. My friend and I planned a trip of approximately 1 week, and finally executed it this past week. The original plan WAS to start at the Loj, take Indian Head Pass down the Upper Works trailhead, check out the Tahawus ghost town and mine complex, head across the MacIntye range via Upper Works along the Calamity, stop at least one night in the Colden/Flowed Lands area, and MAYBE head over to Panther Gorge before going back to Colden, and finally heading thru Avalance Pass on the way out back to the Loj. Hoped to hit Algonquin, Colden, and/or Marcy throughout all this. HA. Don't I wish.... :/

    DAY 1-
    Get to the Loj at approximately 6:30pm on tuesday, hit the trail by 7ish. Hike a few miles in and set up camp in the dark around 10pm just before it starts getting steeper as the trail rises into Indian Pass.

    DAY 2-
    Naturally, we're both still feeling great. Wake up and head through the pass and down to the Henderson Lake area by mid afternoon. We get a bit lost as we're looking for the parking lot at the Upper Works trailhead, which we would need to pass thru if we want to make it to the mining complex. After back-tracking a couple times and wasting some valuable late afternoon time, we find the lot and check the map...... We find out the mining complex is quite a bit further down the road than I'd thought, and both agree it would be too much of a drag to walk the road the ~4 miles in either direction just to see it (carrying packs along paved roads isn't fun!). We scrap that as an objective, and already my enthusiasm for the trip starts to sink (I REALLY REALLY wanted to see that place, but it would have been too impractical for the whole of the trip, soooooo).
    We set up camp not far inside from the Upper Works trailhead, close to the dam. Finally, the bugs become an issue and turn 5-minute chores into 20-minute hassles despite having hats and bug netting, and decent (but not great) anti-bug goo.

    DAY 3-
    We awake to find more bugs, and discover that a chipmunk or some other little creature gnawed his way into his bear bag, taste-testing some of the food but leaving it mostly intact otherwise. I eat some instant Thai noodles I didn't cook properly, and we set off along the Calamity.
    Around 2 miles before we get to Flow Lands, I begin to feel nauseous. A mile later, the contents of the morning breakfast find their way outside of my stomache, undigested and quite unyummy-looking. I'm feeling very ill, but we push on and make it to Lake Colden before finally finding a decent site to set up camp on the S side - across the bridge and across to the south side of the Opalescent. A ranger (Dan, I believe - who proves to be a huge help to us later) directs us to the food cables. I'm still not feeling so great, and don't eat anything in fear of vomitting some more. To make matters worse, it seems my nifty new moisture-wicking socks don't seem to be working well (I'm a sweaty bastage when I'm active!), and in addition to having slightly sore feet since I didn't break my boots in enough, my feet are VERY moist and wrinkled, and it seems I'm started to develop trench foot. I try to drink some water, but I'm feeling too ill to consume much. We set up camp and get to sleep before dark. I awake at least 5 times during the night to vomit, but only do so 3 of the times. The noodles are still looking very undigested.

    DAY 4-
    We'd hoped to be running all around exploring by now, but I'm still feeling VERY ill.. In addition, my feet are feeling very dry and sore now. We finally realize that I must have dehydrated myself (duh!), and after resting for the day and cleaning some clothes and such, I begin to drink more water but still have absolutely no appetite. The same ranger makes an appearance, confirms that I must be dehydrated, and offers a packet of Gatorate mix. Ever thankful, I accept and make 2 quarts, drinking them before sleep. Again, I awake a couple times with a vomitting sensation, but it all the liquids seemed to help.

    DAY 5-
    I'm STILL not feeling so well, but I didn't come all the way out here to sit around! After sitting around a bit too long deciding what to do, we pack a daypack with the essentials and decide to attempt Marcy, though I have a strong feeling I won't make it. I stop a few times along the way as I try to make up my mind. After only about a mile along the Opalescent, I realize how absolutely absurd I'm being and decide that it's best if I head back to camp and let him hit Marcy alone since I've already held us up too long. He returns around 6:30pm and speaks of the great views, horrible wind, bitter cold, and passing heavy rain showers (which came just as he was on the way up). By nightfall, I'm still feeling slightly disoriented and weak when moving around, but no longer feel nauseous. After he reached his goal, and after I came to terms with my setback, we decided it best if we pack up and head out the following day. It gets very cold that evening, but I sleep well.

    DAY 6-
    I awake feeling greaaaaaat.. We pack everything up and start to head toward the Loj thru Avalance Pass. FINALLY, I'm feeling much better, but even though my enthusiasm as returned, all our talk of getting a big bowl of French onion soup after we get out of here saps his. I'm bouncing all over the trail taking photos around Avalance Pass, but he's trying to hurry me on. Doh.
    We leave, eat lots of food (minus the French onion soup, which they were "out of"), and head back home, stopping at Woodstock to try again for some French onion soup. Success! We eat lots more and head home.






    Sooo, being relatively inexperienced (especially with stays of this duration) we both learned quite a bit -- me much more, obviously. I sweat a LOT, especially when the weather is anything warmer than "chilly" (I LOVE the cold!!!!), and drinking "enough" water isn't sufficient to keep hydrated.....must drink till I'm nearly bloated!!! There's bunches more, but I'm too tired to add any more at the moment. I will however add that I surprised myself big time. I've pushed myself physically much more in the past, with what I thought was less water, and never had any issues. I almost never get sick (I had mono about 6 years ago, and a slight cough this past winter, but other than that......), and I haven't vomitted since I was about 8 y/o. Caught me wayyyy off guard!
    Though it didn't go nearly as planned, I think it was overall a positive experience, as I awoke on day 6 feeling like I could spend another 6 in the woods without any discomfort (I guess the positivity of getting over my illness had something to do with that!).... Previously, 3 days/2 nights was MORE than enough, and I couldn't wait to get back into civilation.. Not this time. I can't wait to go again and do it properly.
    Last edited by insight; 06-22-2004 at 12:49 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Warren's Avatar
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    Had an experience similar to this trying for the Bonds this past Columbus Day. From the time I got on the trail to the time I left any food I ate quickly exited. Dug many a cat hole over three days. Not fun.

    Indian Pass is pretty incredible, ain't it?

  3. #3
    Senior Member SherpaKroto's Avatar
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    My baptism to the ADK's was a bit better than yours, but dehydration reared its head in the Sewards the weekend after Christmas. It took a bit before I realized what was wrong (like nearly a day!).

    Anytime you leave the woods with a smile on your face is a successful trip.

  4. #4
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    Yes, I LOVED Indian Pass! Only the second time I've been through it, but I still loved it. Especially since it's so much cooler going through (as I mentioned, I LOVE the cold!!)..

    I guess it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one that's dehydrated out there. I'm not wildly fit, but I'm also not in bad shape at all, and I've never had any sort of problem like that hiking or doing any other strenuous activity, so it was rather unusual for me. Like you Sherpa, it took me far too long to realize exactly what it was, and since I realized the noodles weren't fully cooked as I was eating them that morning, my first assumption was that..

    But yep - I left the woods with a huge smile, no regrets (other than not drinking more water!), and quite a lighter wallet. I think I'd rather be sick and vomitting in the woods than sitting here on my healthy butt here at home, though.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Charlie's Avatar
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    WOW

    Insight, your experience sounded horrible, there's nothing worse than being very sick and not in a comfy place. Sounds like you had a stomach flu which brought on your dehydration and your downward spiraling physical condition.

    I must say, your trip report sounded like you took it very well though and you kept a positive attitude. Very tough in that situation.

    Hope you come back soon under better circumstances.

  6. #6
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    Speaking of cool, did you climb down into the cavey areas at the base of some of the more accessible rocks. I have found ice down there into the early part of July.

    My first overnight into the Adirondacks high peaks was up Indian Pass. What a great beginning.
    We ain't where we oughta be, we ain't where we wanna be, and we ain't where we're gonna be....but thank goodness we ain't where we was.

    Sojourner Truth

  7. #7
    Senior Member Warren's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Tahawus
    My first overnight into the Adirondacks high peaks was up Indian Pass. What a great beginning.
    That was my beginning too!

    Little Indian Pass love fest we have going on here...

  8. #8
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    Funny story about coming over the pass. I was hiking with a group from school(anybody ever hear of AMS?); about 6 or 7 of us around 15 and 16 years old and a teacher or two. We had gone in from the Upper Works and Hiked Marcy and Skylight if I remember right. Then headed out to Marcy Dam and back to the Upper Works via the pass. Two nights sounds out is how I remeber it.

    Well we were all real eager to get back to the trailhead and civilization, so eager in fact that I clearly remember flat out running the last mile or so with a loaded external frame pack and heavy Technica boot. Not the kind of lightweight boots we use now, but boots with full Norwegian welts for those who remember such things. Just thinking about it makes my teeth ache in symphathy for the jarring that kind of pace would cause.

    Of course we started to spread out a bit with the gung ho loony's like me arriving back at the van first then a few of the more sensible strong hikers arriving and finally the slower hikers and our teacher pulling in. This all took place over about 45 minutes. With the last hikers in and our teacher bringing up the rear we took stock and realized we were missing two hikers, lets call them Stewart and Glenn( I may be confused about the names as it has been 26 years but I doubt that they are reading this and probably wouldn't raise their hands to say, "that's us" even if they were).

    Now this was pretty confusing since Stewart and Glenn were both strong hikers when they wanted to be. Those of us in front had been sure they weren't too far behind us while those in the rear were positive they had always been ahead of them. If you are familiar with the trail you might begin to see what had happened. Or maybe not since it seemed to us and maybe to you too that the trail is so clear that not even a baby could get lost.

    After about 20 minutes of waiting, discussions, dithering and imagining all sorts of bizarre accidents; not to mention visualizing the possibility of the duo somehow headed toward Duckhole our teacher girded up to make a search back up the trail. Before he could get down the trail and out of sight the two came staggering up looking a bit haggard and very relieved.

    It turned out that deep in conversation and separated from the rest of our group by a few turns of the trail they had somehow managed to take the side trail over the shoulder of the MacIntyre range that connects to the Flowed Lands trail. Somewhere along the way they started to get nervous about not seeing any of the rest of us. Plodding along as they were doing in their uncertainty, it seemed that even the laggards in back should have caught up by now. being uncomplicated and straight ahead kind of guys and perhaps with just an inkling of where they might have gone wrong they chose to plow ahead and hope for the best. They quickly started to pick up the pace. Naturally as fast as they went they never did catch up to us. But given the extra mileage they logged they arrived at the trailhead in a very reasonable length of time after we did.
    We ain't where we oughta be, we ain't where we wanna be, and we ain't where we're gonna be....but thank goodness we ain't where we was.

    Sojourner Truth

  9. #9
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    In another few days, your experience will have been even better. In 3 weeks, it will be a great epic, and a sheer joy to have lived through.

    damn i love backpacking.

  10. #10
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    wilderness kicks

    Glad you left with a smile & likely be back for more. A week is a big first trip in the 'dax. Panther Gorge is deep. I think it's faster to go over Marcy than thru Panther Gorge to get from Four Corners to Haystack. Upper Works mining ghost town is quite close to trailhead, less than a mile. Big old stone kiln or furnace is farther south, just past Allen trailhead, maybe 2 miles tops. On my second High PEaks trip (1975), there were still fire hoses in the sheds by the hydrants. Gone now. Ray Murdie in Newcomb, who ran a B&B until recent health problems interfered, used to be the barber at the mining town.
    "Open the pod bay doors, HAL."

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