Before starting off at the trailhead earlier this morning, Gordon, a well-known and well-respected winter hiker, happened to stop by and wish us well on our hike. He mentioned that he had been up on these peaks just a few days before, and had chosen a descent route from the col between Hough and Dix down into the Boquet River valley. He had suggested that descent route as a possible exit route for us, which would avoid our need to climb back up the long and tiring ridge over Dix. At the time, I had mentally dismissed the idea, and had intended to fully retrace our steps. Now, upon arriving at the col between Hough and Dix, and thinking back to the effort involved in bushwacking back up almost 800 feet to Dix, over the blustery summit, and back down the other side, I was reconsidering. His suggested descent route sounded more appealing now.
We reach the col between Hough and Dix at around 2pm. The weather, amazingly enough, is starting to actually clear. This wasn't in the forecast at all, but it sure was a nice touch for our soon-to-be-winter 46ers! We stop for a quick break at the col, and we also decide to drop our packs here. Regardless of which return route we would be taking, we would be coming back to this point -- so why lug the packs to the top of Hough?
The climb to Hough is simple and fast. Following my old track log, we ascend up through not-too-brushy terrain to the summit knob of Hough. We gather the three honoured hikers, Mark, Linda, and Peter, and send them on ahead. This is their day, we think, and they should have the untouched summit to themselves before we get there.
Soon, we are on Hough Peak. There are many high-fives, teary hugs, and words of congratulations. It is an honour to share Mark's, Linda's, and Peter's special moment with them. It had been a tough hike to get here, and the achievement was well-earned. A very appropriate way to finish, guys!
The clouds, now virtually gone, meant that we have excellent views in all directions. Also very appropriate!
Andrew and Jenn on summit
The day is getting on, and we were tired and looking to get back out as expeditiously as possible. By this time I think all of us had looked over at the steep, long, and high ridge leading back to Dix, and decided we didn't want to go back up that way. The Dix-Hough col exit route it would be for us!
Mark and Linda pull out their cell-phone, and, in a scene remarkably reminiscent of last week's Grace-Carson-Macomb Traverse, call in a pickup (from a friend) at our new exit point. Must be nice to have people who you can call at a moment's notice for a ride!
Returning to the col, we have a good snack break in the now brilliant sunshine. We then don our gear and head east, down from the col. As Gordon had predicted, the foliage is not too thick, and not long down the slope, we hit a narrow but nicely snowed-in brook bed, and we easily follow that all the way down to the bottom of the valley of the South Fork of the Boquet River. From there, we join with the standard Boquet River approach to Dix, and start following that. Funny - before last fall I had never explored the Boquet River valley, and now this was the fourth time I've been in this valley in the last four months!
It is an easy but long trudge out to the highway. Ed (Mark and Linda's friend) is waiting, complete with a very beautiful supersized winter 46er congratulations card. After ferrying back and forth to the other trailhead to fetch cars, we get together and have a round of very good champagne (or at least it seems good after a long, tiring day), making a well-deserved toast to the three brand-new winter 46ers! Champagne never tasted so good!
Another tough but fabulous hike. And, for most of us, this marked seven peaks in seven days. A great way to finish off the 2006-2007 winter season. I am now at 41 in my own winter 46er count, and Jenn is at 33 in her winter 46er count. I think next year may be our year to celebrate!
Congratulations again to Mark, Linda, and Peter! And although there are few winter 46ers in general (only a few hundred), Linda will definitely be in a rare stratum: in the entire history of the adirondack 46ers, there are only about 60 women who have become winter 46ers. That's an exclusive club!
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Dix and Hough - Click map to expand
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet