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Thread: Saddle Up! Saddleback (2/12/11)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Scotzman's Avatar
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    Saddle Up! Saddleback (2/12/11)

    Trails: Phelps, Orebed, State Range, Southside

    Hikers: Scotzman + 8

    Equipment: Snowshoes, poles, wind gear




    On our way north from the Albany area, we made our usual pit-stop at the High Peaks rest-stop for a quick bathroom break and bumped into BillB and ADKJack and I'm sure a few more on their way to the AMR parking lot. It's a neat experience being out at the crack of dawn and bumping into other hikers gearing up to do the same thing you are; it gives you that community feeling. Driving down Rt 73 past the Bouquet there was a group of hikers headed in and I honked the horn at the group gearing up in the AMR lot as I zoomed by to the Garden. We made it to the lot by 6:45 and by the time everyone was there and changed we hit the trail at 7:10.
    Bridge over Johns Brook


    We played leap frog a couple of times with a group of Canadians who I believe were doing Haystack for the gathering but when we crossed over at the Interior outpost we split ways. The trail from the Garden was the obvious well packed highway and when we switched over to the Orebed it was still well broken in, just not quite as packed. We had a fairly consistent and sometimes heavy snow for almost all of the day and as we were making our way up the Orebed we could hear the wind howling through the ridgeline above us and were thankful that we were not doing one of the real exposed hikes today!
    Up the slide


    The Orebed was smooth traveling and mostly packed down with the exception of where I believe the current path diverted up the slide rather than following the actual marked trail for the length of the slide. This section did lead to some fun butt sliding for most of our group on the way down, although I still can't manage to do it efficiently. There were a few blowdowns along the trail that did require crawling under or skirting around but caused no real delay. We took a little lunch break in the col between Gothics and Saddleback and Gothics was just peaking out of the snow and clouds to get a silhouette view. The trail up to the cables looked not to have been used in a little while. As we climbed up to Saddleback we stopped and a few ledges and turned around to enjoy the best views of the day, back at Gothics which was mostly visible through the snow. What a sweet mountain! Just before the first summit we met up with a foursome (I think Packmule from VFTT) coming down from the summit, who warned us of the strong, cold winds on top. Thanks for breaking the trail and the info. I threw on the goggles and zipped up for the last little push to the summit ledge. Sure enough the wind was howling and the snow blowing. We spent maybe 5-10 minutes on the top, snapped some pictures and retreated back down the the Gothics col to snack and drink for our return trip out. This was my third winter high peak, but the first overall time really experiencing the blustery summit conditions that can be quite prevalent on top in the winter. It was a cool experience! haha
    View of Gothic's Western Buttress from Trail up Saddleback



    Just before the lean-to we passed two guys getting a later start on their way up to the summit, and as we passed the lean-to two guys were setting up camp for the night. Also on the hike out we crossed paths with four guys who were bushwhacking back to the base of the north face of Gothics for some climbing action! I was definitely not envious of the size of their packs and all that rope they were carrying.
    Summit of Saddleback


    We had decided to take the Southside trail on the way out to give us a little loop action and a little variation to our trip. This was the first time I have been this trail and it was really pretty walking along the river and seeing all the huge icicles and flows coming down off the ledges.



    We made it back to the TH by 3:30 and I was relieved to change into some dry clothes and warm up for my drive over to the Ark for the Winter Gathering and to meet so many of the people that I have seen post on the forums. I had a super first time and am already looking forward to doing it again!

    Full trip pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/1106416...10352419399890
    Last edited by Scotzman; 02-14-2011 at 01:47 PM.
    Scotzman
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    excellent report and pics, congratulations. great meeting you at the Gathering.
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  3. #3
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    Nice TR and pics. I really like the first picture Nice meeting you at The Mountaineer...
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