Preface - (you can skip to the trip report farther down if you don't care about my dog Rev's 46er journey background)
I had this vision in February 2012 that I could do a good deed by rescuing a dog from a shelter. You always see those postings of dogs waiting to find their "forever" home. Some get put down, others stay in cages at no-kill shelters. Since my wife Leesa and I were empty nesters, I theorized that a rescue dog could complete our home and provide companionship for us as well. Of course, it couldn't be just any dog. I liked the bigger dogs, Leesa liked the smaller dogs, but it had to be a family dog. You know, one that is good with people and other animals. In my mind, a Labrador Retriever would be perfect. I had owned a Yellow Lab in years past that had been a great easy going family dog.
So what happened? I saw an ad for a copper colored lab mix named Honey. She was a year and a half old and was house broken. My grown daughter went with me to take a look at her. We found the dog to be friendly, but quite nippy. I should have taken her, knowing that a little training could easily cure the nipping. Instead, we asked what other dogs they had. I told them I wanted a mid-size dog that would be a good hiking dog. They suggested that I take a look at Rev, who was a 3 year old Harrier Hound mix. I said OK and they brought her out into the play yard. Rev was full of energy and she played nicely with us. She kept flipping a ball into the air and playing with it, then rolling it to our feet for us to throw it. Well that is all it took and my daughter and I were convinced that she was the one. I did the paperwork and off we went.
Rev did fine on the car ride home. We took her in the house and it was obvious that she was not used to being in a house. We gave her a bone and she tried to claw at the floor because she wanted to bury it!
Anyways, Leesa and I found Rev to be a quick learner. We also found that a hound is much different than a lab. She settled into our family life, but she likes to be on the go. She greatly enjoyed going on hikes. She didn't care much for being walked down the street, but she loved the woods. We took Rev on all our hikes.
Rev's 1st ADK High Peak was Tabletop Mountain on March 31, 2012. She did fine with the climbing and hiking, but had difficulty crossing paths with other dogs. She looked like she wanted to attack, and she would bark, but she really just wanted to run up to any other dog she would see. We went through some training with her to work on her dog socialization skills, and while it is still not easy to go past other dogs on the trail, she is getting better (and so are we in terms of how to handle her).
In the summer of 2012, I was focused on finishing my goal of climbing the ADK 46 high peaks. Rev accompanied me on most trips. I completed my goal on July 8. 2012, and Rev had 24 by that time. We continued to hike in the high peaks and I kept track of Rev's progress. As we got into the winter of 2012-2013, I was re-climbing many of the peaks for my winter round of the ADK 46. Rev came with me when I thought it would be safe and prudent to have her along. She was climbing many peaks for the 2nd time, although she had some she hadn't done yet.
When I finished my winter round of the 46 on March 8, 2013, Rev had 31 of the 46. We continued on after that time, working to climb the peaks that she had not visited (not that it matters to her). Since dogs are not allowed on the Ausable Club Property, we had to take longer routes on 3 of our trips. To get to Sawteeth, we started at the Garden and climbed the Orebed Trail to Gothics, then went over Pyramid to Sawteeth and return. For Blake and Colvin, we climbed from Elk Lake. To climb Dial and Nippletop, we parked at the Round Pond trail head and followed the Dix Trail to Gravestone Brook, then followed the brook to the trail for Dial and Nip.
In the fall, Allen became number 44 for Rev. She continued to have no problems negotiating anything. It was rare that I had to lift her up and over anything. Only tall vertical ladders or slick ice presented any problems. For ladders, I lifted her by the handle of her Ruffwear Webmaster harness. On ice, I made sure to hold onto her via her leash.
Finally I decided it was time to complete her 46. The weather for December 1st was in our favor. It was around 32 degrees with very little wind. It was overcast, and there were flurries all day, but very little precipitation was expected. I knew we would be in snow and ice all day, but we were prepared. We got on the trail from the Garden at 6:23 AM. I was the first one to sign the register for the day. There was about 2" of snow on the ground. I used my headlamp for the first 15 minutes. After 1 hour and 10 minutes we passed Johns Brook Lodge (JBL). The walking was easy and we continued at a fast clip. Near Bushnell Falls we saw the only person we would see all day. This guy had slept overnight at the Slant Rock Lean-to and was now headed out.
|Rev is on the trail|
We arrived at Shorey's Short Cut Trail in 2 hours, 30 minutes. Still a good pace after 7 miles. I put on Microspikes at this point and we began the steep climb to the Range Trail. There were no new foot tracks from this point on. No-one had climbed Basin or Haystack in the last few days. Our pace (my pace) slowed on Shorey's. It took 50 minutes to go the 1.1 miles to the Range Trail. At the high point of Shorey's we got a view of Haystack. The sun was trying to come out but it never did break through. In any case, visibility was good even though skies were gray. Once on the Range Trail we turned to climb Basin first. It is a steep ~ 800' climb in 0.7 miles to reach the summit. About 2/3 of the way up is a ladder. I used the handle on top of Rev's harness to help get her up the ladder. Once at the top of the ladder, there was a sloping patch of ice that we had to climb onto and walk about 5' before we had any tree limb we could grab. This was the scariest part of our 46er journey together. I lifted her up onto the ice and held onto her while I got up on the ice. I then dug in my spikes and got us both to the trees. If my spikes failed to grab, we would have been in tough shape.
|Looking down at the ladder from above (note the ice)|
Once past the ice section, the remaining ascent was easier to the top. At the top we didn't linger long. There was enough breeze above treeline to make Rev want to go back down. We retraced our steps back to the ladder, and managed to negotiate the ice once more. I hoisted Rev down the ladder and we continued downward. It is tough descending 800' to the col, only to reclimb plus more to get to Haystack. I bogged down a little more than usual going up the Range Trail towards Haystack.
|Haystack from a viewpoint on the shoulder of Basin|
Soon we got to the open rock on the final approach to Little Haystack. We didn't follow the true course of the trail in some locations due to drifting snow. Rev was having no problems so we continued on. The backside of Little Haystack can be tough under wet or icy conditions, but it was windblown to dry rock and that was good. The wind was a minimal as we had our way up the final exposed section of Haystack. I was glad for that. Finally we tagged the summit. I gave Rev some "Duck sticks", which are her favorite treat. That was all she cared about. Once again we didn't linger. I wanted to get back to the car by dark if possible. Trail walking by headlamp always seems like it takes forever (probably because you don't have much to look at.).
|Little Haystack and Haystack|
Going down the Haystack Trail was tough on unconsolidated snow. I was post-holing, but I didn't want to put on my snowshoes and catch them on roots or rock. It was a welcome sight to get back to the Phelps Trail. We managed to regain our quick pace at Slant Rock and were able to get back to the car by 4 PM. I was happy with that. Rev got more duck sticks and I gave her a meal in the Garden parking lot. There was only one other car in the lot at 4 PM on Sunday afternoon. Only 5 groups had signed the register after me, and all 5 were headed for Big Slide.
I'm sure Rev doesn't know that today was a special day, but it felt like one to me. It's been good having her as a trail companion, especially when I am hiking solo. Sometimes she pulls a little too hard on the leash (always a concern on the downhill) but her company is great. I stopped at the Noonmark Diner in Keene Valley and got a burger and fries to go and Rev slept in the car on the way home. She has climbed 168 peaks with me in the last 20 months!
Hike Distance: ~ 19 miles
Hike Time: 9.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~4800'
|Rev - 2 hours after the hike|
|National Geographic map showing the route (click to enlarge)|