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Daily Log

Written by The Dog Team

Please note that Daily Log entries are based on a race day, from 4:15 am to 4:15 am.

Day 0

The Dog Team slowly began to join Cave Dog in the Adirondacks starting with Groove Dog on June 13th.  In fact, in the last month, Groove Dog had been keeping a twenty mile a day pace on the 480 mile Bruce Trail in Ontario and had not been in contact with Cave Dog.  He showed up while Cave Dog was in the middle of a seven day scouting trip in the southern High Peaks Region.  Fortunately, he caught up with Adog and Base Dog and took up residence in their lean to.  Cave Dog had been training for thirteen months, increasing the intensity at New Year's; however, in the final weeks, he had been training extremely hard, to the point of depletion.  Groove Dog would begin his well founded reputation as a great cook as he fed Cave Dog numerous delicious meals, bringing Cave Dog back to a healthy and strong stride.

Soon Lady Dog and Ed Dog would come from Oregon, Sea Dog from Maine, and Iron Dog from Pennsylvania.  Eventually Rad Dog would fly in from Cave Dog's home town of Coos Bay, Oregon, Dingo Dog from New Jersey, and Herb Dog from Vermont.  They would join a large local support crew from Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Wilmington, and Keene of Adog, Base Dog, Roque Dog, Dacks Dog, Brute Dog, Slo Dog, Ski Dog, Gold Dog, and Two Dog.

In the final days before the start of the challenge, the support crew had taken over Base Camp at Adog and Base Dog's home.  As always with such large projects, there were countless errands and details to cover.   Many of The Dog Team were bustling about the town or busy at Base Camp getting everything ready in time.  In addition, there were many trips to the Albany airport to pick up newly arriving Dog Team members.

On June 23rd, nearly all of The Dog Team assembled for a marathon organizational meeting.  Cave Dog explained the general tempo, described the nature of backcountry support, and went over many other details.  The team also spent a long time poring over the maps and discussing various strategies.  Surprisingly, the media had found The Dog Team early this time.  A couple of news crews showed up for the meeting.  For many of The Dog Team, this was the first solid glimpse of the enormity of the project.  Suddenly, there was an increased energy as the team hustled around finishing up the last details and prepared for an intense multiday outdoor adventure.

As The Dog Team set off for the initial trailhead of the competition, they had a five mile hike to the starting point at the base of Seymour.  During this hike, they were set upon by a torrential downpour and thunderstorm which caused them to carefully navigate the trail in an attempt to avoid the shin deep mud.  Cave Dog's  first set of clothes got wet before even reaching the starting line.  Occasionally the team had to ford a small creek that was crossing their path.  On this hike, one of The Dog Team members sprained his ankle while stepping from rock to rock in an attempt to avoid the mud and was having a minor asthma attack.  The team doctor, Rad Dog, was on hand to provide medical attention allowing the teammate to slowly continue the hike.  It was getting late so the team split up with Sea Dog and Cave Dog pushing for the  lean tobefore it got any later.  Along the way the team was able to enjoy the company of several frogs, deer, and bats that helped keep their minds off the poor weather conditions.  When they got to the Ward Brook Lean To, the team encountered several volelike creatures that were hanging out and making Rad Dog sneeze.  At one point, these little two inch animals were jumping around across the path with two foot strides.  The team had a stove, pot, bowls, utensils, but no food.  Inventory of resources found the team with six Powerbars and one organic food bar.  However, the car back at the trailhead was quite well stocked.  Cave Dog went without dinner that night.  Luckily, Base Dog and Groove Dog had been feeding him well earlier that day.  Cave Dog finally got to bed at 10:45 pm.

Day 1

The next morning, The Dog Team woke Cave Dog up at 4:00 am and gave him four Powerbars to start the journey.  He was off by 4:15 am.  Sea Dog, Ed Dog, and Rad Dog shared the remaining two Powerbars.

Cave Dog's first summit, Seymour, was completely socked in with fog, but the trees and rocks were crisp and vibrant but slippery.

Unfortunately, all of the brush and trees were dripping and Cave Dog was completely soaked head to toe by the time he reached his next reprovision spot atop Donaldson.  Eventually the Sewards would claim yet another complete set of water soaked clothes that caused a minor run on gear for the next couple reprovisions.  At Donaldson, Groove Dog fixed up a scrumptious high carbo meal of pesto pasta.  The fog was slowly lifting and the views from Donaldson to the next mountain group, the Santanonis, were spectacular.  The rains of the night before had relieved the air of its moisture that had caused a strong haze during the previous days.  Cave Dog reported that the view of Long Lake from Emmons was also good.  On the descent, Cave Dog really appreciated the use of Roque Dog's vast trail knowledge to weave through a bit of new blowdown.  The Caulkins Brook trail is one of Cave Dog's favorite trails and he was riding high as he reached the trailend, an hour earlier than projections.

Upon reaching the first trailend, The Dog Team ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and awaited Cave Dog's return.  Rad Dog waited for Roque Dog and Groove Dog.  The three went to Roque Dog's house where Groove and Rad Dogs got more water for their next leg in the support chain.  Radio contact was made with Iron and Dacks Dogs from Santanoni to Tupper Lake.

Iron and Dacks Dogs started up Santanoni at a fast pace.  They were afraid Cave Dog would beat them even though he had to do the Sewards first.  Iron Dog had never seen the full magnitude of Adirondack Mud until she experienced this Bradley Pond route.  She was thankful that Dacks Dog loaned her some gaiters.  Unfortunately, Iron Dog wrenched her right hip in the mud.  It would not begin to hurt until much later.  They reached the summit of Santanoni at about noon and it would be a couple hours before Cave Dog arrived.  They put up a bug tent.  A slight breeze made it hard to keep the bottom of the bug tent sealed to the ground and black flies kept getting trapped inside the bug tent.  The black flies were particularly intense and the bug jackets became a matter of sanity.  They tried to read books, but the buzzing was too distracting and soon enough the scrub trees gave birth to Cave Dog.

Cave Dog found the slide on Santanoni to be dry and a lot of fun.  This route, which was discovered late in Cave Dog's training, is quickly becoming one of Cave Dog's favorites.  Unfortunately, on the steeper sections he could not go fast enough to keep ahead of the black flies.  He was happy to see Dacks Dog and Iron Dog on the summit of Santanoni where Dacks Dog then followed him most of the way to Times Square.  On Panther, Cave Dog found songbirds chirping and he also ran across lots of toads on his way to Couchsachraga just like he had in the Sewards.  Without the customary haze, the views of Allen, where he was heading next, and the Sewards, where he had just come from, were crisp and clear.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be hiking!

Meanwhile, Iron Dog was trying hard not to swallow black flies in keeping with her vegetarian diet.  Cave Dog flew in, stuffed some food down, drank heartily, and was off again.  Dacks Dog made the ultimate Dog Team sacrifice:  she gave Cave Dog her bug jacket.

On the way down from Santanoni, Cave Dog got caught in a Black Fly Storm.  Cave Dog reported that he felt like the queen bee in a hive.  His white shirt had become darkened with hundreds of flies crawling around looking for a morsel to suck.  He had desperately tried to stave off the need to go to the bathroom but could not.  Unfortunately, he could not swat fast enough.  In fact, he found himself wiping up more black flies than anything else.  In a span of just a couple minutes, he would have sores in difficult places that would give him discomfort for the rest of the challenge.

Sea Dog and Ed Dog were doing most of the driving support.  It was during the Santanonis that they really felt like prisoners in the cab of the truck as they took refuge from the swarms of black flies outside eager to eat them.  While waiting for Cave Dog, they met up with Adog and Lady Dog at Dacks and Iron Dogs' vehicle.  Gear was rearranged to make up for the wet gear that was hauled out of the Sewards.  Forgotten medication was provided for one of the team and a tasty meal was dropped off.

This was one of the few times that Lady Dog was able to make it away from Base Camp.  Day and night, she was sporadically getting feedback from various Dog Team members spread out all around the High Peaks Region.  It is a difficult matter to keep communication flowing out of the mountains, but it is crucial for a well run team effort and safety.  As information came in, Lady Dog would update the website.  It was a goal of The Dog Team to share their adventures with the public to give the effort a larger purpose than their own.  The Dog Team had no idea that the general public would have such enthusiasm for the challenge.  In the span of just a few days, the website would get more than twice as many hits than it had the entire year before.

Cave Dog saw a nice pale orange sunset over the Santanonis on his way down the slopes of Allen.

Dacks and Iron Dogs headed for the Flowed Lands just after sunset.  Halfway up, Iron Dog's hip, which had been buried in mud in the Santanonis, was now starting to stiffen and ache.  Cave Dog overtook them at Hanging Spears Falls.  They gave him some water and a jacket.

True to form, Cave Dog had a great first day coming well ahead of the training projections on all of his hikes.  In fact, Cave Dog was outpacing the support team.  This caused an unusual phenomenon where the support crew and others started to attribute superhuman qualities to Cave Dog, such as, making projections that he would scale a half dozen peaks in a span of an hour or two.  For the rest of the challenge, these projections would make the support crew wait at rendezvous spots for as much as twelve hours just to make sure they did not miss Cave Dog.  It could be speculated that this was one of the most dedicated support crews ever assembled.  They were willing to hike through the night and the storms and wait for long hours in the midst of dense black and deer flies to ensure that the show goes on.

Originally, Dacks Dog and Iron Dog were going to meet Cave Dog at the Flowed Lands.  Now Rad Dog and Groove Dog were going to split, one covering the Flowed Lands and the other to meet at their original rendezvous at the low point between Marshall and Iroquois.  Both preferred the longer hike than to waiting in the black flies.  The only way to settle the matter was a rock-paper-scissors contest, best two out of three.   First round - both had rock.  Next round Rad Dog scissors, Groove Dog rock.  Next, Rad Dog paper, Groove Dog scissors.  And so it was decided.  The provisions were divided with Rad Dog taking more weight and taking the shorter route.  

New Friends at the Flowed Lands:
Upon arrival at the Flowed Lands Dam, Rad Dog met the Swaggard Bunch.  Groove Dog had the only water filter pump.  Steve, a soon to be Eagle Scout, kindly pumped more water for Rad Dog.  The Swaggard Bunch from Wisconsin and Ohio offered Midwestern hospitality, sharing the Flowed Lands Lean To with Rad Dog as he waited for Cave Dog.  Rad Dog set up a bug tent inside the wooden lean to shelter.  The whole crew escaped the black flies and mosquitoes inside the net while Mary cooked a pasta and sausage dinner, which was generously shared with Rad Dog.    When Cave Dog arrived, the Swaggard Bunch donated Gatorade and two oranges.  The second orange was eaten by Cave Dog on the top of  Marcy.  The Swaggard  Bunch are:  Joanne, Clayton, Jessica, Elizabeth, Steve, Kurtis, Cindy, and Mary.  Rad Dog was grateful to have a hot meal after the lack of food at the start. While waiting at the Flowed Lands, Rad Dog also met a group of Boy Scouts from Tennessee.  They had read about Cave Dog in Outside Magazine and offered moral support.

Meanwhile, Cave Dog was having difficulty keeping the pace up on Marshall as he passed through the usual time that he would go to bed.  By the time he reached Groove Dog at the height of land in the pass between Marshall and Iroquois, he was glad to find the need to wait fifteen minutes for his hot meal to be finished.  This gave him his first of but few naps during the record attempt.  Groove Dog added to his reputation as a wonderful backwoods chef as he fed Cave Dog tuna casserole.  Groove Dog spent the night on the pass, joining up with the Uphill Lean To support team the next morning.

A Cold Night to Remember:
At this time, a large group of Adog, Base Dog, Gold Dog, Slo Dog, and Ski Dog had amassed at Marcy Dam.  The clear night had drop the temperatures dramatically.  As Cave Dog's slower time on Marshall had pushed back their rendezvous, they ended up spending the entire night trying desperately to keep warm.

Iron Dog's hip was beginning to really hurt; so, Iron Dog and Dacks Dog cached their sleeping bags and tent on the trail up to the Flowed Lands to lighten their load and make better time.  About half an hour after Cave Dog left, Iron Dog and Dacks Dog arrived with more supplies.  At the Flowed lands, Dacks and Rad Dogs practically emptied Iron Dog's pack so that she could continue.  Rad, Iron, and Dacks Dogs then continued to the Uphill Lean To arriving about 3:30 am.  Dacks Dog made oatmeal and cocoa.  Unfortunately, now Iron, Dacks, and Rad Dogs had to share one thermorest, one sleeping bag, and a space blanket inside the bug tent.  They shared stories and jokes and were thankful that the black flies do not partake in night activities.  Only mosquitoes like the darkness.  They were also rejoicing for the warm evening, but that would not last long.  As the night wore on, the temperatures continued to drop.  Iron Dog got especially cold.  In the middle of the night, she could feel Dacks Dog shivering, but never a complainer, Dacks Dog jumped up in her soggy boots and pumped some water.  Iron Dog was impressed at how tough Dacks and Rad Dog were that night.  The group only slept about two hours.  Groove Dog made good time from the pass, joining up at the Uphill Lean To in the morning.

Meanwhile, Cave Dog was rejuvenated by his nap and a full belly.  He picked up the pace and in a just thin shirt, he never noticed the cold temperatures that the idle support crew was suffering through.  Atop Wright, Cave Dog saw one of the most spectacular sunrises in his life.  It started with a fiery red blaze that lit up distant clouds like torches and trended to a nice pale pink.

Day 2

After the rendezvous at Marcy Dam, Ski Dog caught up with Cave Dog on his way back down Phelps and again on his way back down Table Top and yet once more on his way down Colden.  These mountains would go by like clockwork like no others in the challenge because Ski Dog was always there to hand off some more food or clothes.  Unfortunately, the black flies were at it again and Ski Dog had to walk in circles as she waited at the bottom of each peak.  In fact, the provisioning at the bottom of Table Top had to be done on the move to keep ahead of the black flies.  The views atop the peaks were once again spectacular and clear.

The Uphill Lean To team was not able to make contact with Base Camp and started to make plans on their own according to long range plans sketched out during the orientation meeting a couple days earlier.  They split up while Iron Dog found a bit of solace in the warmth of Rad Dog's sleeping bag.  She stayed to feed Cave Dog some spaghetti.  Cave Dog told her she looked tired, but she never alluded to her problems.  In a flash he was off again to summit Cliff.  Iron Dog attempted to take a nap in the black flies for she had no mind saving bug jacket.  After reprovisioning him again at the culmination of Cliff, Iron Dog picked up the heavy group gear and exited through Hanging Spears Falls.  She loved that hike back.  All of the tiny falls and brooks that they had followed the night before were full of life and beautiful during the day.  She found herself at peace and happy.  As she hiked, her hip limbered up and felt better.  She picked up the cached gear and whistled the whole way down.

Iron Dog took the Geo back to Base Camp.  It was on empty.  It rattled, shook, and clicked.  Rad and Groove Dog had warned her that the Geo was acting acharacteristically bad.  Unfortunately, they did not have time to do anything about it.  She zapped herself putting a loose spark plug wire back on and added a quart of oil.  There are no gas stations in the southern High Peaks Region.  Desperate to find the nearest gas station, she flagged down some nice and informative people.  As she took off the gas cap, the gas line gasped for air as if taking a deep sigh of relief.  This gas station put her in unfamiliar territory.  However, everyone at the gas station was nice and accommodating.  She was able to follow another customer until she was back on track.  At Base Camp, she took a couple hours nap and woke up at two in the morning to start her next hike with Roque Dog.

At the same time, Dacks Dog, Groove Dog, and Rad Dog hiked up to Lake Tear of the Clouds, headwater for the Hudson River, and pumped water.  Dacks Dog summitted Skylight while Rad and Groove Dogs summitted Marcy, the high point for the State of New York.  On the bushwhack from Redfield to Skylight, Cave Dog was heard on the radio singing "swimming in the trees" to the tune of Singing in the Rain , which spurred on a whole series of tunes over the walkie talkies that lightened up the mood.

At the summit, cell phone contact was made.  Dingo Dog had arrived at Little Haystack.  He had one of the older radios that does not have an LCD monitor, making it difficult to set the channel.  Unfortunately, he would wait all day on Little Haystack without direct communication with Cave Dog.  Now in contact with Base Camp, Groove Dog realized he was not needed at Little Haystack.  He then left Marcy and hiked out at The Garden to pick up support at the Dix Range.  Dacks Dog met Cave Dog on Redfield and Rad Dog was there on Marcy.

On Marcy, Cave Dog ate a small can of King Oscar sardines, an orange donated by the Swaggard Bunch, pecans, a potato with cheese, and water.  Cave Dog ate inside a bug jacket.  After changing clothes and cleaning glasses, Cave Dog was off to do a long string of peaks culminating at the northern end of the Great Range's high peaks.

The weather on the first two days was incredible, providing wonderful views at every opportunity.  Now the weather was becoming hazy, an ominous foretelling of future difficulties.  The views from now on would be of mere figments of mountains and thick clouds.  The wet conditions seemed to reduce the black flies and bring out even more toads.  In fact, Cave Dog would see more toads on this challenge than can be retold.  Meanwhile, Dacks Dog had no rain on Skylight.  On Marcy, the wind was moderate with intermittent rain then sun.  Thankfully, it did not rain while Cave Dog was on the summit.  The American Indian name for Marcy translates to "cloud splitter", which seemed appropriate this evening.

The descent from Marcy was hard on Rad Dog's feet.  Dacks Dog met him at Four Corners.  Rad Dog's hips, knees, ankles, and metatarsalphalangeal joints ached with each step.  Dacks Dog took some of Rad Dog's weight from his pack.  The lack of sleep, inconsistent food, and miles hiked were quickly catching up with Rad Dog.  Dacks Dog gave him some GU for quick energy, but Rad Dog was beyond GU.  They reached the Uphill Lean To about 8:00 pm and decided to spend the night and hike out the next morning.  Both took a power sleep and were much fresher in the morning.

Dingo Dog was there at Little Haystack and Sea Dog was able to get away from the support vehicle during this twenty one mountain traverse to meet Cave Dog atop Gothics.  Everything went well until Cave Dog left Sea Dog for Sawteeth.  Just as the night before, as the skies darkened, Cave Dog had trouble keeping up the pace.  The route doubling back to Gothics felt intolerably long.  Sea Dog claimed that his bug jacket was a matter of survival as he waited for Cave Dog to meander through trail and consciousness on his way back.  By the time he reached Sea Dog again atop Gothics, he was having trouble keeping clear headed and asked Sea Dog to give him a fifteen minute nap.  Miraculously, this short nap gave Cave Dog an intense boost of energy and the quick succession of peaks in the Great Range were fun and energizing.  Much to Cave Dog's surprise, the new ladder on the north side of Armstrong had been installed.  He did not need to jump down the cliff as he had during training.  The full moon silhouetted the undulating scenery seen from the Great Range.  It was inspiring and fun.  Unfortunately, the good effects of the nap wore off on the descent to the Johns Brook Lodge were Dingo and Sea Dogs were waiting for him.  Cave Dog caught a quick bite to eat on the porch and headed up for Big Slide.

Day 3
Wednesday 6-26-2002

Cave Dog was having an unusually difficult time following the trail up Big Slide as it periodically crossed over the brook.  When the sun came up, miraculously Cave Dog's energy rebounded and the tortures of the night before were forgotten.

The day before, Cave Dog had summitted seventeen peaks.  There were now only eighteen peaks left, albeit longer more spread out peaks with most of the driving for the challenge.  Cave Dog was now feeling great once more and decided to increase the pace to make an eighteen mountain push for the finish.  This would prove to be a strategic mistake as the increased impact to his joints and feet were brutalizing.  It was especially unfortunate that he chose Big Slide to start this push.  After the sun lit up the trail, Cave Dog bounded up the second half of Big Slide and slowly jogged down to The Garden.  The many sections of glacially smoothed, bare, and steeply descending rock on The Brothers slammed Cave Dog's feet into the toe box of his shoes.  This irritated the soles of his feet and numbed the tips of his toes, which would come back to haunt him.

A Fresh Dip:
Dacks Dog and Rad Dog hiked out by way of the Hanging Spears Falls and found a pay phone to contact Base Camp.  The Dix Range was covered, and they were not expected to be needed for a while.  The two took a swim in Chapel Pond to wash off the mountain mud.  Dacks Dog had been out for two nights and Rad Dog for three.  The cool water in Chapel Pond cleaned off the mud and helped reduce the itch from bug bites too numerous to count.  Rad Dog in particular was a favorite snack for the bugs.  He had rather severe bites on his right ankle that got infected and turned the entire region a dark purple.  After the swim, Dacks Dog and Rad Dog had a hot meal at a diner in Keene.  The warm food tasted great.  Each had a treat of a chocolate milkshake.

From now on, The Dog Team was getting a steady supply of people thanking The Dog Team for inspiring them and bring some excitement to the Adirondacks.  Nearly all of the hikers recognized Cave Dog on the trail and were snapping off quick photos as he passed by.  Oftentimes, their excitement could not be contained and they yelled out in good cheer and encouragement.  The website was periodically being overloaded by hits.  Emails of support were beginning to stack up.

At The Garden, Cave Dog met Slo Dog who gave him a ride to the Ausable Club.  At the Lake Road, Cave Dog jumped out to do the long road walk to the Gill Brook Trailhead.  As he took off, he could hear the attendant about a tenth of a mile behind panicking because Cave Dog had not signed in.  Cave Dog was thankful that Slo Dog went back to solve the problem.

Cave Dog joined up with Iron and Roque Dogs at the headwaters of Gill Brook.  Iron Dog had a wonderful nap on the rocks while they waited for Cave Dog.  Cave Dog did not spend much time as he continued to push for Colvin and Blake, again doing a slow jog on the downhills where terrain allowed.  By the time he came back to Iron and Roque Dog's rendezvous spot on his way to Nippletop, Cave Dog was beginning to realize his mistake of pushing too early.  The soles of his feet were screaming and his knees, especially his right knee, were beginning to hurt.  It was now Iron Dog's turn to notice that Cave Dog was looking tired.  After leaving them, he eased off his gait to a more sustainable pace, but unwilling to let his pangs slow him down, he would have to push through pain for the rest of challenge.

On their way out, Roque Dog, who has done nearly three rounds of the 46 and almost all of the trails in the High Peaks Region, told Iron Dog that she should see some of the beautiful places this area has to offer.  So they went out by way of Indian Head.  There was a gorgeous view of Sawteeth, Gothics, and Lower Ausable Lake.  They also went down Rainbow Falls, which offered a gentle mist against their faces as the water fell down a deep wall of rock.  It was absolutely beautiful.  She was thankful for Roque Dog's knowledge and love of the mountains.  She was also thankful that her feet were dry the entire day.

Cave Dog had found that the left side of his tonsils was sore.  There were also several growing spots of dead tissue on his tongue.

As Cave Dog descended off of Dial in light showers, he made dozens of attempts to reach Groove Dog at the next reprovision spot.  This was the only rendezvous during the challenge that was not at a clearly definable location; hence, communication was key to the meeting.  They were to meet each other around 3,200 feet elevation on the trail to Dix.  As Cave Dog neared the reprovision spot, it became clear that either Groove Dog's radio did not work or he was not there.  Being an accomplished hiker and a very dependable friend, it seemed extremely uncharacteristic of Groove Dog to not be there.  Cave Dog began to hear distant yells.  He doubled back on the trail a few times trying to locate Groove Dog.  However, every time he called out in reply, the ambiguous yelling would stop for a few minutes.  In addition, this peculiar yelling was not conforming to The Dog Team's emergency signal code.  As he began to near the source of commotion, it became clear it was an owner calling a pet.  So, Cave Dog abandoned hope of finding Groove Dog.  It had been a long time since he was reprovisioned by Iron and Roque Dogs.  As Cave Dog reached the delightful slide on Dix, he was getting hungry.  He was not looking forward to the famished hike over to South Dix to meet up with Dingo Dog.  Then busting out of the trees was Groove Dog with an incredible egg dish loaded with fresh vegetables.  Groove Dog's preeminence as a backcountry chef was reaching legendary proportions.  Atypical for Cave Dog, he decided to take his third and final fifteen minute trail nap during the daylight in an attempt to turn around his mood.

As it turned out, during Groove Dog's twelve hour wait for Cave Dog, he had not heard radio traffic; so, he ascended Dix to see if he could reach any other Dog Team members.  Unfortunately, the radio fell out of his hands and slipped down deep into the cracks of the summit rock.  He worked hard to try to retrieve the radio but to no avail.  Suddenly, bellowing from under the ground came in Cave Dog's radio transmission stating that he was descending Nippletop.  Groove Dog abandoned the radio to make sure his fine meal was ready in time.  After Cave Dog passed through, Groove Dog again ascended Dix, this time with a hand picked L shaped stick.  As he was working on retrieving the radio, a thunderclap blew in and gave Groove Dog a run for his life.  The radio is now part of the rock.

The Dog Team has always been focused around good radio communication.  Not only is good radio communication key to a well run support crew but it is inherent to safety.  Yet, now Cave Dog found himself on top of Dix without radio contact with Dingo Dog.  The lack of radio communication would prove a focal point for the upcoming interminable night in the Dixs.

On return to Base Camp, it was discovered that Cave Dog was not going to finish the Dix Range before dark.  Dingo Dog had given Cave Dog his extra headlamp at Little Haystack the night before.  He had to go directly to South Dix without resupplying at Base Camp.  Now it was approaching dark and he did not have another headlamp for Cave Dog.  Therefore, Rad Dog hiked up the trail from Elk Lake to the Slide Brook Lean To bringing an extra headlamp and batteries.

As Cave Dog summitted Hough, the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse.  Thunderclaps and lightning flashes were becoming a constant reality.  This evening, Cave Dog would eventually spend a significant amount of time on one foot balled up in lightning position rocking back forth trying to keep warm and swearing that he was supposed to have left the lightning back in Colorado.  The trail was becoming particularly slick.  On his descent of Hough, Cave Dog slipped and fell down on a small stump giving him a charley horse on his left thigh that would give him pangs for the rest of the challenge.  At one point, as Cave Dog was ascending South Dix, an enormous bolt of lightning struck the top.  A chill of adrenaline ran down Cave Dog's spine for Dingo Dog was supposed to be on top of South Dix and there was no radio communication to know if he was still alive.  Cave Dog began running up South Dix, yelling out for Dingo Dog.  Luckily, it turned out that the lightning bolt actually struck a secondary knob of South Dix.  At the top, Dingo Dog shot out from around the scrub trees full of life and as animated as ever.  Cave Dog was enormously relieved to see him.  Unfortunately, some miscommunication made Dingo Dog's restocking between The Garden and Elk Lake less than satisfactory.  He had no radio, scant extra clothing, and only one headlamp.  Darkness was just around the corner.  Both Cave Dog and Dingo Dog were drenched from the torrential showers.  They were both clad in just a shell, a tee shirt, and rain pants.  Dingo Dog gave Cave Dog the only headlamp and the only extra pair of clothing, a light weight fleece vest.  Dingo Dog took off for the summit of Macomb to beat the sinking daylight and Cave Dog took off for East Dix.

This night would prove to be one of the hardest nights of Cave Dog's many adventures.  As night took over, Cave Dog's character recognition became deadened.  He had to look at everything twice with a steady gaze.  Cave Dog once more proved his uncanny and seemingly contradictory ability to make well thought out decisions under states of delirium; however, it was painfully slow.  It was difficult for him to proceed fast enough to keep his water soaked body warm.  On other slow peaks, Cave Dog had found that a short transmission with other Dog Team members would give him a sudden boost of energy, almost like bringing him back to reality.  Unfortunately, without radio communication, he had no way of talking to others to break the monotony of the long night.  The night slowly crept along uneventfully.  When he did finally reach the summit of Macomb, he found Dingo Dog practicing various cold weather survival positions.

Cave Dog wore Dingo Dog's headlamp as the two went down the Macomb slide to the Slide Brook Lean To.  Dingo Dog displayed his proven mountaineering talent by descending the loose slide without a light or moon.  They found it fitting that the two accomplished Colorado mountaineers would hike together the only section of the course that was similar to a Colorado talus slope.  On the herd path below the slide, Dingo Dog stuck close to Cave Dog, blindly stepping in Cave Dog's steps.  In Cave Dog's reduced state of mind, he found it remarkable that Dingo Dog could more easily follow the meandering herd path in the periphery of Cave Dog's light than Cave Dog could in the direct light.  This descent slowly continued on well into the night.  Cave Dog was very thankful to have such an accomplished mountaineer as Dingo Dog with him that night.

New Friends at Slide Brook Lean To:
Originally, The Dog Team thought Cave Dog and Dingo Dog would reach the lean to at about dusk, around 9:00 PM.  Rad Dog waited at the Slide Brook Lean To until approximately 2:40 AM when the two arrived.  Meanwhile, characteristic of Rad Dog, he made new friends at the Slide Brook Lean To.  Robert and Debbie were there with their dog Daemon.  At first, Daemon the Dog did not like Rad Dog.  After a while, they made friends and Daemon snuggled up to Rad Dog as he rubbed Daemon's tummy.  Debbie made gingerbread in her camping oven.  She also gave Rad Dog Koolaid.  Cave Dog left the Slide Brook Lean To about 2:50 AM after an uncharacteristically calm reprovision.  Cave Dog announced that this was a ten minute respite before the final push for the finish.  Now all that was left was four sets of double summits with driving in between, which allowed for some much needed rest.  From now on Cave Dog was shooting for an unsustainable pace.  Dingo Dog continued to join Cave Dog as they ran to the trailend, both now with headlamps.  Rad Dog picked up supplies and left about 3:00 AM.

At the trailend, Cave Dog was given chocolate chip cookies baked by his niece, Karen LaGesse.  These chocolate chip cookies would soon become a focal point for Cave Dog's motivation to strive for the finish.  He was also given inspirational art work from his neblings Laura, Karen, and George LaGesse.  

Day 4

Rad Dog followed the group to the trailhead for Giant, cheering on Cave Dog.  Slo Dog and Ski Dog stopped, on their way out of town, but just missed Cave Dog by seven minutes.  Rad Dog returned to Base Camp for some much needed sleep.  At this point, he had been up for twenty two hours.

The spots on Cave Dog's tongue appeared to get worse every time he drank Gatorade; so, he stopped using Gatorade.

Cave Dog pushed hard on Giant and Rocky Ridge making good time despite having to do about as much vertical as required to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back.  Unfortunately, Cave Dog's pain was reaching epic proportions.  He stiffened up in the drive over and could barely walk.  After about five minutes on the trail, an incredible relief hit Cave Dog and he was able to get a full range of motion from his joints again.  However, on the descents each step felt like a blowtorch was being fire on the soles of his feet and his knees were beginning to show more signs of the strain.  The pain had a bizarre nature since it was caused by the conscious choice of continuing to take more excruciating steps.  Yet, Cave Dog jogged down nearly all of the descents on this mountain group anyway.  Dingo Dog showed up in good cheer just as Cave Dog finished up this trail.

Cave Dog's joints once again stiffened after the next drive to Cascade and Porter.  This time the seemingly magical relief took fourteen minutes to suddenly appear.  Iron Dog met Cave Dog at the junction between Cascade and Porter and the well known photographer, Nancie Battaglia or Two Dog, snapped off some quick shots of Cave Dog near the top of Cascade.  Iron Dog had a great night's sleep and her sneakers on.  She felt full of energy again and enjoyed the vast views on top of Cascade.  Rad Dog had planned to meet Iron Dog, but he needed more sleep.  Rad Dog got to the Cascade trailhead about ten minutes after Cave Dog had started.  Ed Dog and Sea Dog said there was no need for Rad Dog to go up the trail to meet Cave Dog on the decent, as Iron Dog had everything well covered.  Rad Dog returned to Base Camp.  Cell phone contact from Cascade to Base Camp indicated that Cave Dog was having joint pain.  In the couple minutes it took for Iron Dog to reprovision Cave Dog at the trail junction, Cave Dog once again stiffened up.  This time the complete relief would not come as he hobbled all the way to Porter and back.  During the next Iron Dog reprovision, Cave Dog walked in place as he ate and drank, so that he would not stiffen up again.  Iron Dog followed Cave Dog down and he was able to get in some slow jogging in the latter part of the trail.   She asked him what he wanted on top of Whiteface.  He said the only thing he wanted at the finish line was a chair.

Rad Dog returned to the Cascade trailend with enteric coated aspirin but Cave Dog refused to take medicine during competition.  After a second day of periodic rainstorms, Cave Dog had developed blisters that were engulfing entire toes.  Ed Dog lanced the blisters in an attempt to stop their growth.  Cave Dog had said he was thinking of ice cream.  So, Rad Dog drove to Lake Placid to get Adirondack Bear Claw and Black Cherry flavored Stewart's ice cream, ready for Cave Dog.  Unfortunately, in the confusion of the fast turn arounds between mountain groups, Cave Dog would not find out about the ice cream for several days.  The homemade chocolate chip cookies made by Cave Dog's niece were a godsend.  This would be all that Cave Dog would eat on the remaining drives.  Hiker, Dan Yokum, saw Cave Dog on the trail between Cascade and Porter.  He waited at the trailhead to cheer on Cave Dog.

Ed Dog gave Cave Dog a massage during the drive from Cascade and Porter to Street and Nye.  This relieved Cave Dog's cramping and he felt completely loose as he set out for his fortythird and fortyfourth peaks.  Dacks Dog was at the junction between Street and Nye waiting for Cave Dog.  More rain came, filling the trail with water and mud.  Cave Dog hiked nearly all of this trail in wet shoes as he had for many of the hikes during the last two days of the challenge.  Cave Dog was having difficulty keeping focused; so, The Dog Team began telling jokes on the radios, which was a big help.  For some reason, Cave Dog could not communicate with Dacks Dog, yet Ed Dog could reach both of them.  Ed Dog became an impromptu dispatch on the long ascent.  When Dacks Dog found out that Cave Dog was having difficulties, she descended down and hiked the rest of the way with Cave Dog.  Having Dacks Dog to break the intense monotony of sleepy and muddy trails was much appreciated by Cave Dog.  Much of this hike was highlighted by torrential downpours and distant thunder.

On the descent back to the Adirondack Loj, Cave Dog was no longer able to lift his legs over the hundreds of fallen logs over the trail.  He would have to stop and carefully throw his legs one at a time over the logs oftentimes using his arms to lift his legs.  Rad Dog went up the trail to meet Cave and Dacks Dogs on the descent.  At times the trail resembled a creek.  The trail crosses Indian Pass Brook, which Dacks Dog was able to skip across the rocks on her ascent.  On the way out, the brook was knee deep in places.  Rad Dog met the two across the river.  Cave Dog was on an energy low.  Rad Dog told corny jokes to keep Cave Dog moving.  The false information that the chocolate chip cookies were eaten up sent Cave Dog's morale plummeting.  He had been using those cookies as motivation to continue.  As they approached the trailend, Rad Dog gave The Dog Team howl.  Ed Dog and Sea Dog returned the howls.  When Cave Dog heard the howls, his pace doubled.  The howls became louder, and Cave Dog increased the pace to a jog.  The team reached the trailhead and whisked off to the final two peaks with Cave Dog unconsciously stuffing cookies in his mouth as Ed Dog massaged his beaten legs.

Rad Dog and Iron Dog returned to Base Camp to get a folding chair for Cave Dog to use at the finish.  While at Base Camp with a two mile range radio, Iron Dog was able to make contact with Ed Dog who was at the summit of Whiteface about ten miles away.

Most of The Dog Team and some spectators were assembled for the last trailhead at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center.  Cave Dog had such a hard time on Street and Nye it was decided that Dacks, Herb, and Groove Dogs were going to make the final two ascents with Cave Dog.  Since Cave Dog was going to have company for the rest of the challenge, he did not carry anything.  He told The Dog Team that he did not know what he had left but that he was going to "dig deep and see what he could find".  They started out with a slow jog up the mountain.  Cave Dog's right knee was pounding with pain and his feet felt like they had no skin left, just raw meat and fired nerve endings.  Each step was a whole body pain experience.  Yet, he was now completely focused on the final goal, the summit of Whiteface.  The Dog Team followed along and made light talk in an attempt to try to break through the intensity.

Much to Cave Dog's surprise, as he reached the top of Marble Mountain, there was a sudden, complete, and total relief of all pain.  To The Dog Team's surprise, Cave Dog took off in full stride and none of them could catch up.  Herb and Dacks Dogs returned to the trailhead and only Groove Dog continued.  In this unexpected turn of events, for the first time during the event, Cave Dog did not have a radio.  Neither did Groove Dog.

They pushed on as the final leg of this incredible journey was growing into epic proportions.  Downpours unloaded an enormous amount of water from the skies and thunder reminded them of the serious nature of the mountains.  As Cave Dog turned on to the Esther herd path, he realized that he was going to be caught after dark without a headlamp or moon.  He was also in just a tshirt and soaked through and through.  He gave out a vigorous yell and in the distance he could hear Groove Dog yell back.  A tremendous relief hit Cave Dog to know that the faithful Groove Dog was once more pulling an enormous burden for the effort.

The herd path to Esther was a meandering pond.  At one point, for ten steps Cave Dog's left leg was up to midcalf in mud and his right leg was up to the knee.  It was a struggle just to lift his leg out, only to see it get swallowed up again.  Cave Dog periodically yelled out and Groove Dog could always be heard in the distance.  By the time Cave Dog reached Esther, the trail was getting obscured by darkness.  Cave Dog was momentarily confused because the plaque on Esther had been removed for repairs.  He had been there many a time before, but now there was no summit plaque.  He got down on his knees and, in the dim light, he could feel the markings on the rock where the old plaque used to be located.  Pushing to get back to the trail up to Whiteface, Cave Dog was slamming his body into limbs and fallen logs.  Just when Cave Dog was barely able to negotiate the trail, he doubled back on Groove Dog.  Cave Dog shouted out, "I need a headlamp and fleece, now!"  In a moment, Groove Dog produced the goods and after a thirty second stop Cave Dog was off running again.

It had been postulated that it was possible for Cave Dog's time to come in a full day ahead of the record.  Cave Dog's motivation on this last hike was centered around this goal and at no time was it more apparent just how close it would be then those final miles of the ascent up Whiteface.  Thousands of steps were made without any knowledge of what could be under the surface of the water on the trail.  Step after step sank into the depths of the mud and puddles without regard.  As Cave Dog neared the final treeless ascent with just minutes left before the goal, an intense fog was lit up by his headlamp.  On many occasions, he had to crouch down and feel ahead because he could not even see the rock that was under his feet and cliffs lay to his left.  Now, just moments before the deadline, he could see some distant lights.  He yelled out and the crowd that had formed at the summit responded in kind.  As he approached the last fifty feet, he was stopped in his tracks by the sudden unleashing of the blinding floodlights of the various news crews.  He dodged back and forth trying to weave through the reporters and cameramen to get to the summit.  With only fifteen feet left, he slipped and made a final lunge on all fours for the summit.  It was over.  Three days, eighteen hours, and fourteen minutes of nonstop intensity.  The record was broken by twentyfour hours and four minutes.

Day 4+

Not used to the fanfare, The Dog Team was taken aback at the frenzied nature of the summit finish.  Media crews and reporters were crowded around to ask questions and get footage of the event.  Cave Dog had microphones shoved in his face and spotlights beaming down.  This frenetic finish seemed such a stark contrast to the intense but scenic and often solitary outdoor experience they had just experienced.  It was a remarkable but odd finish to an amazing adventure.

It was now time to celebrate, party time Dog Team Style at the home of Dacks and Brute Dogs:  Brute Dog's specialty, a barbecue.  The weary pack celebrated until 2:00 AM, sleeping in late the next morning.

At the finish, Cave Dog could not believe he was completely pain free.  Not surprisingly, this would last only another five minutes.  For the rest of the night, Cave Dog's entire body was lit up in pain.  He experienced even more pain than he had when he broke his back in five places seven years earlier.  He could barely walk and had to lean on furniture or Dog Team members to get around.  During the celebration, he fell asleep while Ed Dog massaged his legs.  He woke up periodically during the night exuding pain from every aspect of his body.  This pain would continue through the next morning until Herb Dog came to the rescue with some herbal foot baths and Ed Dog worked some more on his legs.  After the foot baths, Cave Dog's feet and legs swelled up to his knees.  He was able to get around a bit more and the pain was dramatically reduced, but the swelling provided an odd internal pressure against his skin.  After three days, Cave Dog's pain was gone and he again had full range of motion.  The only pangs that persisted were a charley horse on his left thigh that lasted a week and the nerves on the tips of his toes, especially on his right foot, that remained deadened for a couple weeks.

The rains of the last two days would once again open up the skies for beautiful views.

The Dog Team would spend a week cleaning up from the event.  There were many trips to the Burlington and Albany airports as the numbers of the team slowly dwindled.  The long process of updating the website would continue for weeks to come.  Cave Dog also noticed that The Dog Team had developed a compelling maternal instinct that did not stop at the finish line.  The Dog Team could no longer keep track of the news coverage.  Reports were coming in from friends from around the country of national radio and internet broadcasts.  Groove Dog and Cave Dog reminisced about how on the final hike on Whiteface and Esther, they both got stuck in the same mud pit and were both skewered in the chest by the same hidden fallen log.  The Dog Team spent time swimming, canoeing, and enjoying the splendors of the Adirondack region.

Awards Banquet:
The day after the finish, Adog and Base Dog held a celebration party for The Dog Team. The Dog Team saw themselves on the local news broadcast.   A wonderful shish kabob dinner with vegetables, hummus, berries, wine, and cheese was enjoyed by all.  Rad Dog presented an engraved plate to Cave Dog.  Cave Dog spoke about each member of The Dog Team and presented each of them with a pictorial book of the Adirondacks.  He also presented an Adirondack Style swinging bench seat to Adog and Base Dog for their hospitality and support with Base Camp.  Many people came to the gathering to show their appreciation of the magnitude of the endeavor.  It provided a wonderful time to debrief and reflect on what had just transpired.  Closure was now achieved.

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