Santanoni, Couchsachraga, Panther (#32, #33, #34)

Date of Hike: 7/16/11

Santanoni Road / Bradley Pond Trail: 3.4 miles
New/ Old Santanoni Express Herd Path: 1.8 miles
Santanoni / Couchsachraga / Panther Herd Paths: 4.5 miles
Panther Brook Herd Path: 1.8 miles
Bradley Pond Trail / Santanoni Road: 4.3 miles
Total Miles: Around 15.8 miles (4,100 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- After hiking 31 of the 46 High Peaks in nine days in early June it was time to head back to the Adirondacks to knock off a few more peaks.  I decided to head to the Santanoni Range up to Santanoni "Santa", over to my last sub 4,000 footer Couchsachraga (pronounced kook-sa-kra-ga, or called "Cooch" for short), then finish up on Panther and enjoy the views from the summit ledges.
- Bradley Pond Trailhead 6am, Santanoni 8:30am, Couchsachraga 10am, Panther 11:20am, finished 2:15pm.  Temps started out around 50 and skyrocketed to about 80 degrees, no wind, clear skies, hazy but very good views.
- I drove up late the night before and crashed in my car, I got an early start but felt sluggish and my fingers were very cold hiking along the Santanoni Road.  Temps warmed up really fast and I finally felt good once on the Bradley Pond Trail.
- On the way to the herd path up to Santanoni I passed a father and daughter hiking up to Couchsachraga, they had hiked Panther and Santa in June and were off to finish up the Range.
- The herd path for the New/Old Trail was well marked by a cairn and the trail crosses Santanoni Brook and skirts around a beaver pond and heads up a well defined herd path all the way up to the ridge. The highlight of the hike up was ripping a hole in my pants above my knee and a steep rock ledge with a rope to help assist you up safely.  I played around going up and down a few times and found that I could hike up and down the ledge without the rope if careful.
- Once gaining the ridge it was a quick five minute hike over to the summit of Santanoni where I enjoyed some pretty stellar views.
- The hike over to the herd path to Coochy was pretty easy but narrow in places which wreaked havoc on the hole in my pants which kept getting bigger and bigger!  I made it to the three way junction called "Times Square" where I took a break and ran into the father and daughter heading over to Coochy.
- After refueling I headed over to the long out n' back to Couchsachcraga.  I ran into a couple of hikers and a dog along the way all enjoying the great weather.  the herd path to Coochy is known for its world famous mud bog in the col, where one miss-step sends you knee deep into soupy mud, luckily I did pretty well only falling in to my shins while taking pictures.
- The top of Couchsacraga had decent views and the summit sign was the coolest one I've seen yet.  After a few minutes of rest and trying to repair the huge foot long gash on my hiking pants I started the long hike back to times square happy to be done with my last sub 4,000 foot peak on the list.
- I made good time back to the junction of Times Square and then made the minute hike over to the three way junction called "Herald Square" from here I took the short herd path to the summit of Panther where I relaxed on the open summit ledges for a half hour before heading back to Herald Square and down the Panther Brook herd path.
- The descent back to the Bradley Pond Trail went quickly, the lower section passes under some steep cliffs in the woods which was pretty cool to look at and I noticed there were yellow paint blazes on the trees on the last section of the trail, since all of the marked trail have disks and this is an unofficial trail I'm wondering if it was illegally blazed a long time ago.
- The hike back to the car once on the Bradley Pond Trail was slow going to the New/Old herd path cairn because of some awful muddy sections.  From here the hike back to the car was fast and mostly dry, I cooled off in the brook at the crooked bridge crossing and was joined for the last forty minutes or so of my hike by an annoying fly buzzing around my head!
- Once back at the car I changed into clean clothes, took a nice scenic drive through Newcomb, Tupper Lake and over to Saranac Lake, where I relaxed, had some dinner, watched an orchestra play at an outside pavilion on the water before heading to Corey's Road to set up my tent and pass out to get some rest for my next days hike in the Seward Range.

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

 Santanoni Brook
 Panther Peak
 Santanoni Peak
 Seward Range from Panther Peak
Beaver Pond at the beginning of the Panther Brook Herd Path

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