Trip Report – Nov 2011 – Adirondacks – Panther

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A quick overnight trip to climb a few mountains in the Santanoni range of the Adirondacks. It being November, the weather had a different idea than we did!

Day 1 – Getting there and Weather

We set off from Ottawa in a few vehicles planning to meet up some friends at the lean-to at the base of the path to Panther. We brought a few Halloween props to have a few laughs and Gibe and Val decided to bring along their 7 month old Dog. It was early November so we were not expecting it to be warm but certainly not too cold. Of course, the weather had other things in mind and it started snowing a bit before we got to the parking!

Two hikers in snowy weather wearing full packs one of which with a frankenstein and spider prop on top
Burg and Bernard ready to go with their halloween props

This posed a bit of a problem since it was warm enough that the trail was muddy with standing water, but it was also below freezing and snowing. Our hike was therefore fairly slow trying not to slip or get too wet and with loaded backpacks. Sun started to set and we brought out the headlamps to see where we were going which made things even slower. We stopped a few times, wondering if we had passed the lean-to and checking our maps, we had no idea of our pace in these conditions and had not been in this area before. Gibe and Val’s dog also started having problems with her paws since they were wet and cold. We actually crossed someone else who was hiking out with his two dogs saying that while they were used to hiking with him, these conditions were too difficult on them. Gibe and Val kept going as we were past the point of easy return (ie. hiking back was much longer than getting to the lean-to and resting for the night).

Eventually we made it to the lean-to and our awaiting friends (Wissell, Sam and ?). We brought a couple tents and set them up close to the lean-to since there was not enough room for everyone. We bundled up and prepped for a colder night than we were expecting.

Day 2 – Panther and back home

The next morning Gibe and Val made a quick exit to try and minimize impact on their dog. The sleep and warming up in the tent helped her paws a bit but there was no way they were going to keep going. Sam and ? decided they would tackle Santanoni while Burger, Fren, Bernard, Wissell and I decided to go for Panther. We didn’t know how things would go with snow on the ground without having packed snowshoes, microspikes or crampons.

Our first challenge was to cross a beaver dam (half frozen) and try not to slip into the water. The dam is basically part of the herd path that goes up towards Panther. After that a bit of a hike in the woods before starting the climb.

After a few kms of hiking in those conditions, Burger and Fren decided to turn back and head back to the campsite while Bernard, Wissell and I decided to press forward. We eventually made it to the top of Panther but decided not to go for Couchsachraga or Santanoni given the conditions.

We headed back down to the lean-to, grabbed our gear and started heading back. At this point, it had warmed up a bit and we were just in mud. Lots and lots of mud. At first we were trying to step on rocks, or branches and avoid getting wet/muddy but at a certain point we just decided to stop caring and go right through, it was taking way too much time and we would inadvertently miss our steps every so often.

You never know how the weather will impact your plans. On this trip, it shortened our expectations and some had to turn back before we really got there. The important thing though is no one got hurt, we had some fun and a bonus, we hit up a peak!

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