We leave Basin's summit at 9:48am, bound for Saddleback. From Basin's summit, there is a clear view of the cliffy west side of Saddleback less than a kilometre (in a straight line) away (picture with caption Saddleback Mountain
We've had a chat with Ewart (who now comes in much more clearly on the radio, now that we are closer to him). With me standing out on a ledge near Basin's summit, and he standing on a similar ledge on Saddleback, we establish visual contact with each other (picture with caption Our resupply man!!
Just below Basin's summit is what I think is the coolest bit of trail in the Adirondacks. The trail runs along a narrow, grassy ledge atop a high, steep cliff. Very scenic, very cool. I stop to capture the trail and our hiking group along it (picture with caption Very cool bit of trail
, and Very cool bit of trail, no people
). However, little do I know that while taking the pictures, I've dropped my GPS unit - and, this is a bad place to drop anything, since the trail is atop a big cliff with dense brush below. After taking my pictures, I notice that I've lost my GPS and holler for the others to stop. They've gone too far long, however, and so I anxiously look for the GPS, thinking more and more with each passing minute that it surely must have gone over the cliff.
Then, finally, I spot it - held back by a few tiny, scraggly plants right at the brink of the cliff. I am sooo lucky. I carefully pluck it away from the edge, grateful not to have lost my oh-so-cool tracklog!
It is not long at all before we are at the noteable west cliffs of Saddleback. It is a strech to call this section trail - I'd prefer to call it 4th class climbing. Yellow arrows point straight up the cliff, and you really do have to exercise a bit of climbing skill to negotiate your way up. And, you don't want to fall partway up. Pu is quite fascinated and pleased with this section of climbing, and Luc... well, Luc isn't satisfied with the normal route up. Instead, he chooses to free solo an overhanging crack to the summit. Show-off!
The top of the cliffs essentially mark the top of Saddleback. Ewart awaits at the top with his usual cheery countenance. He has been waiting atop the peak for almost two hours. He has his goodies with him, and for that we are most grateful - although our water levels are still manageable, we are starting to run low, and it is in part due to the fact that we haven't been overburdened with weight that we are doing so well. So, again, Ewart, thanks!
Caroline and Markus are a short way back and soon catch up. Markus fails to follow the paint blazes properly (maybe his mind did not want to believe that arrow pointed straight up the cliff!) and so we can see him down below, bushwacking up a non-trail route to the summit. But, he gets to us, eventually.
Markus sits on a ledge atop Saddleback, and we re-create a photo that we took the last time we were atop Saddleback more than four years before. You can compare the photos for yourself by enlarging the picture with the caption Markus - then and now