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On July 15th and 16th I had the sincere pleasure of going backpacking with world renowned barefoot badass and bearded wonder: Stephen Slonosky. I was craving some action out in the backcountry so we decided to hike one of the Adirondacks more remote ranges, the Sanantonis.
On Friday I left Syracuse to go up to the Adirondacks around noon and met Steve at the trailhead at 4:30. We hiked 4.8 rainy miles into Bradley Pond Lean-To where upon our arrival the sun broke to welcome us into our campsite. The lean-to already had some occupants despite a questionable looking roof leading to our decision to share my very cozy 1 person tent. Marmot should re-assess how they size these because our butts only touched a little bit while we were sleeping, clearly it was designed for at least two SUOC-ers to fit.
The next morning we were awoken by the gentle footsteps of other hikers leading to the realization that we had accidentally pitched our tent on the trail under a no camping sign (oops!). We broke camp, ate breakfast, bonded with some COCs (Cornell Outing Club members) and headed up to the ridge on the TImes Square Trail. I hadn’t really looked into this hike very much before starting it, my planning process consisted only of printing out a map made on Microsoft paint by some random dude and checking to make sure the motor oil in my car wasn’t low. It turns out that what everyone besides me knew was that this trail is extremely difficult and rugged making the highly maintained trails in places like Marcy Dam look like a paved sidewalk, and I loved it. The unmaintained character of the trails in the Sanantonis makes you feel as if you are really hiking in the footsteps of Bob Marshall, Grace Hudowalski and the other early 46ers.
Once reaching Harold Square we hopped on up to Panther Peak with only raincoats and water bottles and encountered the first of many highly impressive mud puddles we would find that day. At this point in the morning there wasn’t much visibility from the summits, which I didn’t mind so much, the rainy days have their own special kind of beauty you learn to appreciate over time. Then we suited up and headed to Times Square which turned out to be significantly closer than anticipated, (as in just around the corner). There we made some friends, had a quick safety meeting with the aforementioned new friends, left a few heavy overnight items from our packs at the intersection and headed up to Couchsacraga.
The trail from Times Square to Couchsacraga (or “cooooks” as most people call it) is mostly downhill. Cooks is the shortest of the 46, coming in around 3700 feet, but an adventure none the less. In a saddle between the peaks just before the trail starts going back uphill there is a mud bog known for making grown men cry once sucked into its smelly depths, I managed it without going in but others were not so lucky. Honestly though, nothing makes a good story like multiple feet of mud. Once on top of cooks we kicked back and ate some lunch, striked a SUOC pose, and contemplated heavy topics such as the best thing to put Earth Mix into (answer: peanut butter). Then we headed back over the Bog of Eternal Stench and up to the intersection, all the while being followed by a trail dog who decided he liked our pace better than his mom and dads.
Once at the intersection we packed everything back up that we had left and headed over Sanantoni. This section of trail wasn’t terribly difficult, however there were multiple false summits teasing us before we actually reached Sanantoni. At this point in the day the clouds were finally starting to break in a few places and we managed to get a few views of the HIgh Peaks and the mines at Tahawus and the Upper Works. If you don’t know the story of the two mining operations and their abandonment I recommend looking into it, it’s an interesting story about how we use our land and how those uses change over time. I had heard stories of how blue the water was in the pit at the Lower Works but this was the first time I saw it for myself, the bright azure stood out in the landscape even on an overcast day. On the summit we enjoyed some S.W.A.G. and watched a song sparrow dance around us.
The descent down on the other side of Sanantoni was treacherous. At one point we encountered a very large unavoidable face of rock approximately 15 feet high. I thought the left side looked more manageable but Steve went to the right. A few moments into us tackling this obstacle I heard Steve yell and then all of a sudden my hiking partner was sliding down the slope of the rock. He managed to stay standing the whole time despite wearing a full pack and landed safely on two feet. I was astonished that he hadn’t just seriously injured himself. After that the rest of trail back to the car was just a casual stroll.
If you’re looking for a rugged hike that will present just enough challenge to keep everything interesting, then I highly recommend the Sanantonis. I’d really like to go back to experience it all over again in the wintertime.
Until then, Happy Trails,
A special thanks to the sponsor of our trip, Earth Mix for helping us to keep doing the things we love. Earth Mix is a great addition to any backpacker’s pantry with a superfood combination of fruits, vegetables, protein, and much more. Visit VibrationalElixers.com for more information.