Return to Couchsachraga

My goal for 2017 is to complete my Adirondack 46 – that is, to climb the 46 peaks of the Adirondack Mountains that are (or were once thought to be) above 4000′.  I began this quest some forty-plus years ago, and decided to polish off the list.  In March I set off to conquer the remote and entirely uninteresting peak of Couchsachraga, in beautifully perfect winter conditions.  Much to my disappointment, I was forced to turn around just a bit short of my goal.  Breaking trail through several feet of fresh powder, and following the unmarked informal herd path, turned out to be too much for me that day. This weekend I returned to make another attempt, catching a window of beautiful summer weather. Check the photos, and read on.

David on the Couchsachraga summit.

Couchsachraga summit! finally.

Thinking perhaps that this 15-mile rugged round-trip hike might be too much for a single day, I backpacked into Bradley Pond Shelter, dropped my pack, and left the marked trail to follow the muddy herd path to the summit.   I reached the “Times Square” junction on the Panther-Santinoni ridgeline around noon and the Couchsachraga summit an hour later.  In winter, I had pushed hard from Times Square toward Couch for an hour and a half before turning around – this time, I reached that turnaround point after only 20 minutes!

Despite their obscurity, Couchsachraga and the Santanoni range were a busy place this weekend.  I passed 16 people along the Couchsachraga ridgeline, including four small children – all dayhikers bagging all three summits.  I was tempted to bag the other two, but I’d done them before and my knees were reminding me that 10 rugged miles might be enough for one day.  I spent a quiet and pleasant summer evening at Bradley Pond Shelter and scooted out early on Sunday morning.

What a contrast three months can make!  Check out these March-June pairings.

Couchsachraga Ridge comparison

Comparing Couchsachraga Ridge in late-March and late-June 2017; the view in March was better because I was standing on 3-4′ of snow!

Bradley Pond Trail comparison

Comparing Bradley Pond Trail in late-March and late-June 2017; notice the trail marker at center, which is 6’5″ off the ground.

 

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