Date of Hike:
Upper Works to Bradley Pond Lean-to: afternoon of 8/7/09
Panther, Couchsachraga, Santanoni: 8/8/09
Bradley Pond Lean-to to Upper Works: morning of 8/9/09

Trail Conditions: Bradley Pond trail from Upper Works to Bradley Pond lean-to was intermittently muddy for the entire portion that was not on a gravel road, and VERY muddy the last ~0.7 miles to the lean-to. On some sections of the trail there was standing water a foot deep. A combination of careful hopping on submerged rocks, roots, and logs, with an occasional divergence around very large mud pits (some of the divergences are so well traveled they are beginning to look like the trail) allowed passage with only a few steps into calf-deep mud, but with less care the mud could easily be knee to waist deep. Gaiters and waterproof boots are essential.

Herdpaths on the peaks were actually in much better conditions than the Bradley Pond trail. There were occasional mud patches, but these could be crossed on a few well-placed rocks and tree limbs. Even the bog in the col between Times Square and Couchsachraga was only about 40 feet long and 15 feet wide, and could be crossed without going more than calf deep with careful foot placement. The trail up to Times Square was steep, but the rocks were dry and not slippery, so footing was good. The good condition of these herdpaths was a pleasant surprise, considering some recent posts. I think that the past 2 weeks of more sunny days than rainy days has had a good effect on these peaks - now is probably a good window to climb them before the rains return.

Special Equipment Required: gaiters, waterproof boots, trekking poles or a stick to feel for submerged rocks and roots, bug spray (black flies and mosquitos are plentiful in the cols).

Comments: A much more pleasant hike than expected, considering these peak's reputation for mud and rain. Nice views, a beautiful sunny day, and not too much mud (once we got off the Bradley Pond trail). Reports from other hikers met on the trail indicated that the Santanoni Express (new/old) herpath was much muddier than the Panther Brook herdpath, but have no direct confirmation of that (we took the Panther Brook herdpath both ways, since we stayed overnight at the Bradley Pond lean-to).