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Photo Credits to Sean Callahan

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This adventure was the brain child of Dan, who was also a leader on the Gunks trip and invaluable in kick-starting COE's student leadership capstone project. Due in part to my absence during planning, we settled on the Flowed Lands in the Eastern High Peaks of Adirondack State Park as our destination. I know the area well, so it was nice not to have to think about navigation when it was light out.

Thursday: Today Sean and I finished our schoolwork for the semester early and frantically picked up some noms from Wegman's and stuffed everything into our bags. Fitting 0 degree (F) sleeping bags and lots of puffy things on top of a week worth of food proved challenging. Sean wisely left his x-country skis in the living room, and we swung up to Dan's parents house to grab him, Binji, and Mark, and then got the hell out of Dodge.

We drove into Upper Works, past the old furnace, and waited for Anna and Shay to arrive from NH/VT. It began to rain harder after the sun came down, and we revised our route to head to lean-to 1.8 miles away on Hermit Lake. The trail was wet and at one point a new stream literally appeared. Mark and I were to first to approach it; as we did, a large beaver slapped his tail and became a black blotch in the beam of our headlamps, disappearing behind a wide old sycamore before the others could spot it. That night, we sealed the Hermit Lake shelter with the flies from our tents and brought our packs in to stay dry.

Friday: Dan and Shay set out early to attempt Wall Face, but the bridge was out from Hurricane Irene, like so many other bridges in the Dacks. They eventually caught up to us at lunch on our way to the Flowed Lands lean-to. The hike was very scenic and the ground became snowy as we climbed the first hill. That night we set-up camp and made dinner in the dark. Everyone was eager to climb into their bags, and we started a nightly tradition of reading Slaughterhouse Five out loud (I had brought it along).

Saturday: The crew got up rather lazily and made hot breakfast on our then-working stoves. We set out to hike Marcy (the highest peak in NY) and were surprised by how slow the hiking was going despite our efforts. We had even left the majority of our gear at camp. Dan and Shay were going to try to climb the Panther Gorge route, but couldn't move fast enough to make it safe. We eventually caught up with the two climbers, who unfortunately never got to use the Shay's doubles which they had lugged in.

Binji, Mark, Anna, Sean, and I were still well within the trees when Sean and Mark decided to go for the summit since we were moving too slow together. It was during this lunchtime decision that we saw our first other hikers. Binji, Anna, and I kept hiking and made it up to the summit of Marcy at about 4pm, half and hour after Sean and Mark. Dan also joined us, but Shay was feeling sick and waited for us at the Skylight fork. The majority of our return trek was in the dark. We had to ford a cold stream, but only Binji and Sean got wet boots. We all agreed that night was the coldest of all.

Sunday: Today was designated as a rest day instantaneously after achieving consciousness. Anna and Shay headed for home and the remainder of us took a leisurely stroll around the marsh and river. We took some photos and became very amused with hurling ice chunks onto the frozen body of water. When testing whether it was safe to walk on or not, we had the best idea ever. Pond Hockey!

Binji fashioned his broken gaiters on the bottom of x-country ski poles for sticks, and Mark wrapped z-lites around his legs for goalie pads. The lid of my FaireShare was utilized as a puck until it was in too many pieces to continue its true purpose in live. RIP. We played 2-on-1 with a goalie on a cleared section of the Flowed Lands until it was too dark to see. Dan put one boot through into the muddy marsh and we all couldn't stop laughing. "I'll eat it as long as it didn't go in the pooper," someone said.

After hockey, we made rice, olive oil, mild Italian sausage, and tomato sauce, which turned out spectacular. Mary and Carry rolled in late and set-up shop in COE -20 degree bags (we were a little jealous). We continued our tradition of reading Slaughterhouse Five.

Monday: On Monday Dan left early to summit Colden via the Trapdike on Avalanche Lake. The rest of us traveled the traditional route. Mary and Carry stayed on the flat and headed to Avalanche Lake. Binji turned back with Dan (now descending) about half-way up. Sean, Mark, and I attempted the summit, but had to turn back at the alpine zone due to the wind speed. The trail to Colden was one long frozen waterfall, the worst conditions I've ever seen on a "trail". One could literally ice climb it. Though we didn't have crampons, we did all need a tool each.

Tuesday: We convinced Carry and Binji to stay for an additional day. Dan and Mark succeed on Colden with better weather and some fresh snow for grip on the ice. The rest of us took a leisurely stroll through the snow to Avalanche beach. That morning by boots were especially frozen and I choose to wear wet socks. Unable to warm my feet after an hour of hiking, I was forced to abandon the socks and succumb to blisters. My toes would not regain full feeling for another week. That night I made Mark, who was suffering from fluid in his lungs, Tuna and rice. Each night I periodically got into my sleeping bag earlier and earlier.

Wednesday: Today everyone woke up and was eager to return to the world of artificial warmth. We clipped most things to the outside of our packs, skipped lighting up the stove, and hit the trail back to Upper Works. Thankfully it is mostly downhill and we got started well before it started to rain again. On the hike, Dan taught Mark and I the Battle Hymn of the Republic to pass the time. We all went to Dinosaur BBQ to eat a real meal, an interesting choice considering half our group was vegetarian or vegan. Binji and I ordered the Traditional Sampler and Dan and Mark split the Sweetheart Platter.

Gear Review. Things Not to Bring: A bladder/camelback, a trowel, as much food. Things to Bring: Down booties, double or hardshell boots (left them in the car), crampons, enough socks to have one pair for everyday, a better puffy, spare toes. Things that worked: The canister stove boiled water an order of magnitude faster than the bottle stove. People brought enough toilet paper to share. Having at least one ice tool/axe was very helpful in climbing Colden.