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Ascent of Mount Wilcox on 2007-09-08

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Date:Saturday, September 8, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Wilcox
    Location:USA-Massachusetts
    Elevation:2106 ft / 641 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day #108 - A DAY TO REMEMBER
Shortly after leaving I got to the Mount Wilcox-South Lean-to, feeling pretty good I decided to take a side trip (trail and road about 2 1/2 mile RT) to the Mount Wilcox summit with its tower (I left my bag behind in the woods).
Today was the usual AT day with a number of people on the Trail - not much excitement until I neared my cabin for the night with 2 1/2 miles to go. On this Summer's trip, rains have usually come in mid-late PM and it was evident that today was no different.


I went over Baldy feeling good, the trip all but over. As I climbed the short hill, after Goose Pond road, I could feel the rains coming as I neared the top. I still had 2 1/2 miles to go and I knew that I would never beat the rains to the cabin, which was on the other side of the Goose Ponds (just ahead). I looked at my options, ONE - continue on the AT, as it makes a U around Upper Goose Pond or TWO - do a half a mile bushwack, a straight line to the cabin passing the isthmus between Upper and Lower Goose Ponds. I opted for the second option, without thinking about "What connects the Upper and Lower ponds" ! ! ! This decision would turn out to be "A BIG MISTAKE" ! ! !

After a short 15 minute bushwack I got to the south shore of Upper Goose Pond, where a herd path to the left, led me directly to the isthmus. The rains started lightly as I reached the pond, I put on my poncho.
Pouring heavily & very shocked to see the answer to my question ! ! ! a 20-30 foot wide, ominous looking river ! ! ! holly shit ! ! ! what the f am I going to do ! ! ! I could actually feel the cabin, welcoming me, thru the trees, as I looked N from the S side of the river. The option of backtracking with a 1 1/2 plus hour hike was not in me, " I'M GOING TO FORD THIS THING".

I removed my backpack, wrapped it in my poncho & put it under a tree. I took off my boots and socks and started surveying the challenge. I walked up and down (about 300 ft) the river edge, trying to find the shortest & shallowest crossing. I was in for an iffy and dangerous situation.
I decided to do a test crossing without my backpack. I slowly and carefully entered the water, using poles for balance, quickly discovering, that the river's depth was above my waist, extremely slippery rocky bottom and a steep entry/exit. I forded to the north side, the slippery rocks made it extremely difficult to keep your balance, especially at the entry/exit. Luckily the air and the water was warm.

Pouring rain ! ! ! it was time to take action ! ! ! I put my poncho covered backpack on my head and held it with both hands, leaving the poles & boots behind. I crossed at a turtle's pace - it was physically demanding and extremely difficult to keep your balance with both arms up, holding the 30# bag and trying to keep it from falling. As I neared the other side, I knew that I would not be able to climb up the steep, slippery, exit, without falling ! ! ! With 5-6 ft to go, I SHOT-PUTTED THE BAG w both arms, as hard as I could, to solid ground ! ! ! It made it ! ! ! I shouted outloud "YES'.

I swam back to the south side, threw the poles and boots across, and swam back to my gear on the N side. I put on my boots and gear and walked to the cabin, 5 minutes away. Two kayaks quietly went by and the rain ceased as I left.
I was VERY LUCKY to have done a safe ford --- "I should have opted for the 2 1/2 mile AT hike around Upper Goose Pond". A DAY TO REMEMBER.

17h00 I arrived at the 2 story cabin, a super place c/w caretaker, Kevin - 4 others sb'ers in for the night. Kevin made burritos for everyone , had a beer.
Anxious for tomorrows reunion w Rose.

"ITS CHOICE .... NOT CHANCE .... THAT DETERMINES YOUR DESTINY"
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1106 ft / 337 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1106 ft / 337 m
    Distance:19.1 mi / 30.7 km
    Route:AT day #108 nb-Rte #23/Upper goose pond cabin
    Start Trailhead:MA Rte #23  1000 ft / 304 m
Descent Statistics
    Route:AT nb to Baldy mtn
    End Trailhead:upper goose pond cabin  



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