This was the first of my 2006-2007 Winter 46er ascents. It was new year's eve, so we wanted to do something that wasn't excessively long (so that we could get back for New Year's Eve stuff), and I wasn't in the mood for doing a peak that I'd done many times before (like Big Slide, which I have not yet done in the winter but which I've done many times). The only peak that satisfied these criteria was Sawteeth. I'd done Sawteeth a long, long time ago, back when I was a hiking newbie. I remember that that was the hike where I learned that if you don't eat anything, a thing called the 'bonk' comes along and makes your day unpleasant. I took no pictures that day and my memory of the ascent was spotty. So, doing this peak again would be kind of 'new'.
We decided to do a loop, ascending the more rugged aspect from Lower Ausable lake and descending the more standard and easier Weld Trail.
I am getting somewhat tired of the trudge up the Lake Road. I try to use skiis when I can, but we felt that because there was so little snow at the gate (a dusting, really), it wasn't worth it. As it turned out, a little higher up there was enough snow, but we'd made our choice and so we had to go all the way up to Lower Ausable Lake in a somewhat tiring snow trudge. Shoulda brought the skiis!
We crossed over the bridge at the end of the lake and soon reached the junction of our loop. We chose the left fork (called the 'scenic' route).
The trail follows the lake pretty closely for quite a while. The going is very rough, though - this is not a smooth flat trail. There was about 2 to 3 inches of snow, so not enough to warrant snowshoes, but enough to make things a bit slippery. The views along this section are pretty, though!
Eventually the trail started a rising traverse up into the steep hillside above the lake. There are a series of signed 'outlooks' along this section, stopping at the various excellent viewpoints along the way up. The route the trail takes is very convoluted, winding back and forth and up very steeply. Often the trail will climb very steeply, then suddenly flatten out and traverse horizontally below steep cliffs, and then will exploit a weakness in the cliffs and switch back up. This is pretty much how the trail ascends for most of the initial 1300 feet up from the lake.