I was so excited to today's hike to start. Hough Peak was my remaining peak for my ADK winter 46er finish, which is climbing the 46 ADK high peaks of "46er" status, between the dates of 12/21 and 3/21, the official dates of winter. Last weekend I tried for the 4 lower peaks in the Dix range, but only got 3: Macomb, South Dix (Carson) and East Dix (Grace). That was OK. Why tag my last peak at the end of a day under gray skies. Why not start fresh and climb it by itself on a blue sky day.
Today turned out to be just that. It was forecast to be cloudy until late afternoon, but the blue sky and sun came out by about 9:30. I did this hike with Bill B, who needed this peak to draw within one hike of finishing his own winter 46. He has Giant/Rocky Peak left and plans to do them tomorrow.
As I was packing my gear last night, I noticed one of my snowshoes was broken. The metal plate under the plastic binding was broken all the way though on my MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes. My only option was to swing by my camp in Schroon Lake and pick up my other snowshoes, an older pair of MSR Lightning Ascents ( the 2 buckle model). So that is what we did. I carried extra straps in case a strap broke.
We got started at the winter trailhead on Elk Lake Road, at Clear Pond, at 8 AM. There was just a dusting on new snow on the ground. We quickly went up the road to the summer trailhead and found the trail to still be well tracked and not drifted over. We hiked past the Slide Brook Herd Path and the Slide Brook Leanto and made it to the Lillian Brook Herd Path at 9:40.
|We think this was a moose scrape|
Before we got to the Slide Brook Leanto we noticed a young tree on the left side of the trail with deep scrap marks on it, about 4 feet off the ground. It didn't look like deer antlers, or porcupine. We thought maybe moose teeth? Moose antler scrapes would have been higher on the tree. Any thoughts?
Once at the Lillian Brook Herd Path, we started up, and found the broken trail to be pretty good. We took our time climbing. It was turning out to be a nice day and the sun and blue sky were coming out! Hurray!
As we approached the col, the snow was at least knee deep, but we were still following the packed herd path, so we moved upward pretty easily.
|Approaching the Hough/Pough Col|
By 11 AM we were at the top of the Lillian Brook Herd Path under full blue skies. This was the first sunny day I had seen on the trail in the last 8 hiking days. I was excited to be close to the top of my W46er peak. We pressed upward and soon were at the rock outcrop just below the summit. The views were beautiful.
|The Beckhorn as seen from Hough|
After a couple more minutes at 11:45 AM, we reached the summit of Hough Peak at 4400', my W46 finish! What a perfect day to finish. The weather was outstanding at this point. We stoppe for high 5's and had some great cookies that Bill had brought. I could have gone for a nice cold beer, but I hadn't thought about it in advance.
|Snowcapped Skylight (L) and Marcy (R) in the distance|
Our descent route was the same as our approach route. We went back down the Lillian Brook Herd Path. Down low near the bottom of the path, I was crossing the brook in a muddy area, and my snowshoe got caught on a route. I managed to only have my right hand and right knee go down in the mud. It could have been a really messy moment. Bill B got a tear in the back of his pants, probably from a butt slide along the way.
Once back on the Dix trail, it was an easy hour and 45 minute walk out. We passed 3 guys pulling a pulk who were going to stay at the Lillian Brook Leanto. I was going to be a great night for them to camp. We later met a father and daughter who were doing the same thing.
When we got back to the Elk Lake Road at the summer trailhead, I took off my snowshoes and we began 2 mile walk back to Clear Pond (winter trailhead). As we were walking, I glanced at my snowshoes and saw the metal plate on the bottom of the left snowshoe on this pair had broken now too. Two broken left snowshoes in the last two hikes. I'll have to call MSR and see what they say.
We made it back to the car at 3:30 and signed out after a great day. My winter 46 are done! Good luck to Bill B in finishing Giant and Rocky Peak on 3/9/13 for his winter 46 finish.
|My broken snowshoe from today|
Hike Distance: ~ 14 miles
Hike Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~2900'
|Our route from today (click image to enlarge)|