Dear Grace: Climbing Sawteeth on 10.12.15

Dear Grace,*

I’d had a rotten cold all weekend but figured it was nothing the mountains couldn’t sure, so I kept my hiking date to climb Sawteeth Mountain this morning. As you must know, to get to the trailhead for Sawteeth, you park your car, hike half a mile up a road to the very private, very exclusive Ausable Club, which lets hikers pass through. It was beautiful with the bright leaves in the hills over the golf course. Some very fancy cars passed us on this road.



The Ausable Club dates back to 1886, when a group of Keene residents and visitors were concerned about lumbering in this area and bought 25,000 acres to preserve it. Much of that land and subsequent acres purchased have since been conveyed to NYS to maintain as “forever wild.” Once we went through the main gate, it was fun seeing all the smaller trails that lead into the woods from the Lake Road.



I’m guessing this “Ladies Mile” sign dates back to the earlier days of the club, when the women would take shorter hikes in their skirts while the men went exploring. All the ladies I saw today passed by this dainty bridge in favor of the high peaks beyond.

Once we were past the club, it was another three and a half miles of flat walking on the Lake Road to get to the beginning of the Sawteeth Trail. Along the way, we listened to the sound of the brook and watched for beavers. There was no sign of them, even though their activity was evident.


Our next million-dollar view came at the dam, overlooking Ausable Lake.





It was hard to leave the little bridge that afforded us this gorgeous lookout, but there was climbing to do – and lots more to see along the way.










The summit of Sawteeth has limited views, so we decided to take the steeper, scenic route down. It was such a good decision.




This ended up being a longer hike than we’d planned – just over 13 miles RT – but it was so, so worth the sore feet and tired knees. The views were as stunning as anything I’ve seen, anywhere. And you know what else? My head cold was a whole lot better at the end of the hike. Sunshine and leaves are magic that way.


Good climbing!



* Grace is Grace Hudowalski, the first woman to climb all 46 high peaks. She was a founding member of the Adirondack 46ers, the group’s 1st president, and later on, its secretary and historian, roles she filled until she died in 2004. It used to be that if you wanted to be a 46er, you had to log each climb by writing a letter to Grace. And Grace would write back. She answered thousands and thousands of letters, with encouraging words and sometimes, her own reflections on a climb, too.  Today, the 46er application process is simplified; one only needs to keep simple climb records on a club form that can be downloaded. But I wish I’d had the chance to climb these mountains and write letters about them when Grace was around to read them. I love her story and her strength and the way she urged others to get outside and explore and tell their stories. So I’ve decided to write the letters anyway. I think Grace would have liked that.