Panther Gorge
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Panther Gorge (Haystack, Marcy, Skylight attempt), Sept., 2005

This trip was designed to be a 3 day 2 night peak bagging excursion but Hurricane Katrina and a bit of fate had something else planned for us. We hiked in to the Panther Gorge lean-to from Elk Lake and were actually surprised to find someone there. I guess they were thinking the same thing as us; "no one will be there on a weekday". The trail, while long was in good shape and we made decent time getting to camp. A few of the younger members of our crew got there ahead of us old guys but we all arrived safely.
The crew
Yours truly with the Mountain Goat, Brian, Eric, and Bill at the trailhead.
The route to Panther Gorge has some interesting and diverse landscape including many creek crossings as well as Marcy Swamp. The trail was fairly well maintained and most of the water crossings at the swamp were intact so we stayed dry on the way in. It would be a different story on the way out.
Which way do we go George    Checking our location at a trail junction, I think that map is upside down
The Mountain Goat pondering    Bill on one of the newly renovated creek crossings
Well, we reached camp and settled in. Bill and Brian would stay in a tent while The Mountain Goat and I would share the lean-to with Eric and our new friends (Jason, Wendy and Cody). We had hopes that maybe the storm would skirt around us and we would awake to a decent day for peak bagging but the rains came early, came hard and stayed long. That night it poured and the wind howled and I wondered when Brian and Bill would come running to the lean-to for shelter. We awoke to rain as well and realized that it would be much worse up high so we abandoned our climbing plans and decided to hunker down in camp all day. Bills tent faired well in the storm, I think they should contact him for an endorsement contract or something.
An island shelter    Notice the trench that was dug around the tent
There's not much to do when your trapped in camp except swap stories and eat, unless of course your Dad was nice enough to pack your Game-boy
Brendan playing Mario (how retro dude)    Um ..... good
Our campsite became an island that we had to keep above water by diverting the ever growing streams of runoff. The creek near camp that was a typical Adirondack babbling brook turned into a raging torrent and getting water was a dangerous proposition. One slip and you are gone. Of course there's no staying dry when it's this bad so we had to improvise by heating the lean-to with a camp stove. Works nice for drying your shoes as well.
Don't slip Bill    Don't overcook that boot Brian
We managed not to drive each other crazy for a day and when we awoke the next morning the rain had ceased. The creek came down fairly quickly to my surprise. I think because we were so close to the source. After breakfast, we packed up our stuff, some of it still wet and headed down the trail. The trail wasn't as bad as I thought it would be initially. Much of it turned into a small stream, but that is like many Adirondack trails. It was only when we got to Marcy Swamp that things began to get interesting. The elevation here is the lowest in the entire area so guess where all the water went. Initially, the wooden bridges/planks kept us dry as long as we didn't slip off of them but when we reached the lowest point on the trail there was nothing but water. No way around and what was left of the wooden planks were floating. Nothing to do but suck it up and get wet so that's what we did. We walked across the flooded section (about 30-40 yards I guess) with the water up to our knees. When we got to the other side we tried to get as much water out of our shoes as possible but there would be no dry feet for the rest of this hike. In hindsight, we probably should have tried taking off our shoes and going barefoot although a gash on the sole would be much worse than wet feet for 5 miles. The rest of the hike seemed to take forever, but we finally reached the trailhead and some dry clothes. 
Wading    Wading
Anybody have extra socks?    Eric, Brian and Jason wring out their socks as best they can

I mentioned earlier in the report that Hurricane Katrina and a bit of fate had other plans for us. Well, as it turns out, our new friends Jason and Wendy had a very sick dog on their hands when we arrived so our comfort and assistance was needed. I was glad that we were there for them and I know they feel the same.

Tribute to Cody

I met Cody only once and it was in the twilight of his adventurous life. I only wish I had the opportunity to hike with him myself. I did spend a few days in the 'dacks with him and a few of his closets friends and learned of his exploits second hand. It seems that he was quite the traveler, spending time across our nation on the road and in the great outdoors. The outdoors is where he was at home the most, it didn't matter if he was out west or back east in his beloved Adirondack Mountains. To Cody, the back roads and trails were his gateway to freedom. Talk about a great hiking and backpacking companion. Cody never complained about the trail or the weather and could just as easily spend the day relaxing at camp as he could peak bagging and blazing new trails. He didn't care about what peaks he bagged, although he easily climbed 25 of the Adirondacks' 100 highest. He climbed many of his favorites like Dix Mountain over and over again. It was all about the experience and wanting to be with his friends. Like a true friend, Cody would do anything to protect his friends. We heard of the time out west when there was a Mountain Lion close by and if he wasn't restrained he probably would have gone after it. To my knowledge, no bear ever attempted to enter camp when he was around. Courage was something that just came natural to Cody. By this time, you might be wondering what type of man this could be. Of course Cody was not a man, but man's best friend. A canine companion beyond compare, truly a rare breed. If there is a place for mountain climbing dogs in heaven, I know Cody is climbing the best peaks with the best views right now.
Here's to the Mighty Mountain Dingo !

Cody on Big Sldie

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