Ascent of MacNaughton Mountain on 1985-11-02

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:M B Taylor
G Hebert
H Bussey
Date:Saturday, November 2, 1985
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:MacNaughton Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3983 ft / 1214 m

Ascent Trip Report

My very first bushwack, I didn't know what to expect.

Trailless MacNaughton, though not officially one of the ADK 46 Peaks, is climbed together with the recognized 46 Peaks. Martin Taylor organized today's hike (he completed the 46ers on Tabletop Mountain on September 22 - and by coincedence he was coming down from Tabletop as I was going up for my 9th 4000 foot Peak). The group included Martin's friend, Howard Bussey, Guy Hebert and the writer.

We left home at 6hoo hours for the 3 hour drive to the TH at Upper Works, Tahawus, NY. We set out on the maintained trail passing Lake Henderson on the way to Preston Ponds and beyond. At 3.85 miles the trail reaches Preston Pond, having passed a height of land in the picturesque pass between Henderson and MacNaughton mountains. This height of land in the pass marks the watershed divide between the Hudson River and the St Lawrence River. Henderson Lake drains South to the Hudson while Preston Pond drains North to the St Lawrence. For trivia buffs "what is the highest water source of the Hudson River". It's in the ADK "Lake Tear of the Clouds which feeds the Feldspar Brook between Gray Peak and Mount Skylight, elevation about 4348'.

At Preston Pond the trail turns NE then NW around Hunter Pond reaching a height of land at 4.4 miles. This is were Martin started the bushwack, elevation about 2400', distant to summit estimated at 1.5 miles. We would climb up the S side valley of the mountain in a NE direction.

The bushwack was exceptionally difficult at least from a novice point of view. Martin followed more or less a straight line and did an excellent orienteering job in getting us to the summit ridge, a short distance West of the actual summit. The short Easterly bushwack along the ridge brought us to the true summit and the canister, we signed the register. We summitted 5 hours after leaving the TH, the 1.5 mile bushwack took 2 1/2 hours.

The lower part of the mountain was thru chest-high dense evergreen bush, the higher reaches being dense small pruce forest with a lot of blowdown, impassable at places. You had to fight your way and create openings thru the spruce. I overheard Howard talking to himself " How in the f... did I get into this situation". The climb seemed to go on forever and I kept thinking that perhaps we wouldn't make it and how were we going to get down? Once on the summit ridge the woods opened up making for an easy bushwack to the canister.

On the summit we were lucky to meet up with Mike, a local guide, and Chris, an Australian. They came up from the NE side, Wallface Pond, and found it very quick and easy. The Australian had shorts on !!!!

For the descent we followed our new friends down to Wallface Pond, fairly open woods and little blowdown, an easy bushwack compared to what we went thru. At Wallface Pond Mike and Chris went their way to the maintained trail to Heart lake while we bushwacked S, following Wallface Pond Brook to the Indian Pass maintained trail. It was dark by now so the rest of the walk-out to the TH was with flashlights. We got back to our car after a 9 hour day.

The descent down the beautifull brook with fairly open woods was not without problems. Lot of huge slippery rocks, blowdown and very poor footing made for a tough descent. Martin fell in a chest-high pool of water.
During the day we all fell at one time or another, I actually fell numerous of times. I ripped my new pants and shirt as did Martin rip his shirt. Some of us were scratched up pretty good. We would drop/loose gear only to be picked up by the guy behind. A lesson was learned on my part - bring old gear and face protection when bushwacking.

We drove home thru Keene Valley, stopping-in at the Elm Tree Inn for dinner. I arrived home at 23h30 hours after a 17 1/2 hour day, fatigued but pleased with my effort. I must thank Martin, Howard and Guy for one of those days that stays with you for the rest of your life. I would go on to do many more bushwacks, most of them solos.

When I got home my wife Rose and son Michael were waiting for me with a pleasant surprise "Michael announced his wedding engagement with Celine today, they are to be married on September 6, 1986", the date later changed to October 18. Our first daughter Linda who married Robert on October 6, 1984, moved into their new home yesterday (Nov 1). Luckily our youngest Julie is still with us, she would marry Tim in August 1995.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2200 ft / 670 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2200 ft / 670 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2200 ft / 670 m
    Distance:12.3 mi / 19.8 km
    Route:upper works/henderson/hunter pond/wack
    Start Trailhead:upper works  1783 ft / 543 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2200 ft / 670 m
    Route:upper works/henderson/hunter pond/wack
    End Trailhead:upper works  1783 ft / 543 m

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