Sunday, January 16, 2011

Street and Nye

Street and Nye

DSettahr chronicled the hike best in his TR.

Here's my 'Coles Notes' perspective:

The Windup
Last visit to Street and Nye: June 2010.
Last cold-weather hike: November 2010.
Last winter hike: Phelps, 1980.
Last group hike: don't recall; 1987?
It'd be my first hike wearing snowshoes in nearly 30 years. Yee-hah!

The Pitch
Didn't sleep well; got up at 3:15 AM.
Left Montreal at 4:15 AM.
Fresh snowfall made the highways slippery. Highway 15 was effectively one-lane down the center.
Loj road was unplowed.
Arrived at ADK Loj at 6:50 AM.
No envelopes available for parking fees. Hiker building is closed. Note to self: pay later.

Waiting for Godot
Could not find PhotoBug65 and friend.
Met PackAJacket who was also waiting for Photobug65.
Around 7:10 AM, DSettahr and friends arrived. They wait for one more person.
Forty-five minutes past the designated meeting time, PackAJacket and I headed out.

Chief RunningNose
PackAJacket is easy-going; we agreed on a comfortable pace.
Shortly after signing in at the trail register, I blew my nose and that heralded the first malfunction of the day.
Developed my first nose-bleed during a hike.
Didn't want to stop, apply pressure, and wait for clotting, so I stuffed toilet-paper nose-plug up my right nostril to staunch the flow.
That served to impede breathing but did little else other than make me look foolish.
After about ten minutes, the blood was dripping again. I jammed in a new nose-plug.
Apologized to PackAJacket for falling behind. He was sympathetic and adjusted his pace.
Ten minutes later, I'm trailing blood again.
The nose-plug was wedged and I had to blow it out.
That created a disturbing spray pattern on the snow. Yuck.
I thought: If it doesn't clot, am I going to have to turn back? How much blood can you lose before it becomes a liability?
Stuffed more TP in my nose.

Blood on y'er face
By the time we reached Indian Pass Brook, it was time to replace another sodden nose-plug.
Took a photo of my bloodied self. 
I looked like: PackAJacket and I had a disagreement and he had the last word.
Passing hikers offered me more TP but I declined. I needed a cauterizing iron.

Breathe deeply
Shortly after the brook crossing, we stopped for a snack and I discovered the second malfunction.
The experiment with my hydration system had failed. Despite being encased in neoprene, the tube's bite-valve froze solid.
Drank from my backup supply: an insulated Nalgene bottle. Note to self: the hydration sytem stays home.
I cautiously removed the TP and was relieved to discover that I had stopped bleeding.
Finally, I could breathe through my nose.

A few minutes later we were joined by DSettahr and friends.
I speculated that Danie's dog, Inga, had a great time following the scent of my blood.
Fortunately, Inga did not mistake me for a wounded animal.

The Crew
Up to this point, I was focused on trying to clot blood and wasn't fully appreciating my surroundings.
Conditions were superb. The air was fresh, cold and dry. Temperature was probably in the teens.
The herd-path was packed down and easy to follow.
The sky was partly cloudy. The company was excellent.
Discovered that one of our hearty crew is an official egg-eating champion (28 at one sitting).
At each rest stop, Cool Hand Luke downed another hard-boiled egg. 
PackAJacket, clever strategist that he is, set his own comfortable pace and let us groom the trail for him. 
DSettahr is a veritable hiking machine. Encased in Gore-tex and bristling with metal projections (crampons, ice-ax) and auxiliary pods (four insulated water bottles) he is a formidable sight. He doesn't appear to shed layers either but simply opens and closes various exhaust ports (zippered vents).

Gear is Good
We made good progress. Inga, given all of her backtracking, effectively did the hike twice.
When the trail steepened, I engaged the snowshoe's Televators and, wow, what an improvement. MSR calls them Televators, I call 'em "Calf-Savers".
Some blowdown across the trail; required crawling on all fours. Glad I had a small pack.
I wore polypro liners and micro-fleece gloves. Not the best for crawling on snow.
Otherwise, I hit the sweet spot with my clothing. Aside from an unavoidable damp back, I was fairly warm and dry.
Top: two base layers, polypro and polyester, plus a Rab VR jacket. Bottom: OR softshell pants.
Far more comfortable than what I wore 30 years ago (miltary surplus wool).

Dr. Livingston I presume?
Upon reaching the junction, we met Photobug65 and Doug; they had just descended Street.
If you meet a hiker wearing a Radar O'Reilly hat, camo jacket, shorts, and looks vaguely like John Lennon, you've met PhotoBug65.
We stopped for a snack.
Photobug65, Doug, and four-legged companion Speedy, moved on to Nye.
My wet fleece gloves finally failed to keep my hands warm. Note to self: get something lightweight and water-resistant. 
I switched to bulky, insulated ski gloves.

The third malfunction made itself known: my toes were numb from the cold.
My homemade vapour-barrier socks weren't water-tight and my socks became damp. Standing in damp socks within uninsulated leather boots was, unsurprisingly, uncomfortable. Note to self: get proper winter boots.
Flexing my toes helped but the best therapy was movement. Danie, Inga, and I continued to Nye.

Summit Party #1
Nye is a short sprint away from the junction. Arrived at 11:00 AM.
Eventually everyone arrived and we celebrated with high-fives and photos. Our good spirits made up for the lack of views.
PackAJacket and I returned to the junction and continued to Street.

Summit Party #2
Street was more than a mere sprint away.
I caught sight of Case and Danie who were moving upwards effortlessly. Arrived at 11:45 AM.
Once again, no views on the summit due to trees. Several feet away, Street's lookout offered no views, due to cloud cover, but served as the communal urinal.
Lunch was a fourth Cliff bar. Everyone was sporting Thermos bottles filled with steaming-hot liquids. Note to self: get a Thermos bottle.
The final malfunction was a pair of lazy chemical hand-warmers. During the first hour, they generated no heat in my gloves; I took off my gloves and stowed them. Five hours later, at home, they were piping hot. Note to self: learn more about hand-warmers.
Left the summit around 12:30 PM.

Slip slidin' away
The descent was a lot of fun. As expected, the traction devices, on the Evo Ascent snowshoes, impeded glissading. Shifting my weight far back seemed to help but I felt unstable. More practice is needed.
Sharp twinges, on the side of my right knee, reminded me to avoid hard landings. Fortunately, the shin splints and tendonitis I had been nursing didn't flare up so, overall, it was a pretty good day fitness-wise.
Max and I had a good conversation during the descent and made the time pass quickly.
We arrived at the parking lot at approximately 3:00 PM.
Farewells were exchanged, parking fees paid, and everyone departed.
Good people, good hike, no injuries, no better way to spend a Sunday.

Post-hike recovery
Case recommended Stewart's brand of chocolate milk. DSettahr voted for beer.
Not a fan of cloyingly sweet drinks but Stewart's brand was good. 
Arrived in Montreal 7:00 PM and went out for dinner with my wife.
Post hike recovery continued at the local brasserie with two pints of beer and more protein in the form of a medium-rare filet mignon.
Slept the sleep of the dead.
Felt darn good the next day.
Look forward to more winter hiking.