Welcome to the Dead Zone.
If anyone still actually visits this place here's a report on my hike this past weekend. If nobody sees it here, well, at least it'll get picked up by TrailsNH!
A couple friends and I headed to the Adirondacks for the weekend. Sundays weather seemed to be going downhill so we decided to pick a hike with some views the first day and get an early start home Sunday after spending the night. Phelps and Table Top seemed to fit that bill, two of their 46ers that we needed for the 111 as well, so at 7 am we left Exeter and headed northwest. After a quick stop for provisions in Lake Placid we parked at the Loj lot ($10 a day/$5 a half day) and were on the trail around 1 pm. Weather was ridiculous for mid February, 50 degrees and sunny, so t-shirts it was for the two mile mostly flat hike out to Marcy Dam. We got stuck behind a group of 15 or so for a bit but they stopped at the wilderness boundary and it was clear sailing from there to the dam, where we decided to set up in a lean-to, if any were open, before going up the mountains. The first was full, the second had two people in it but the third was a charm, so we set up our sleeping gear and then set out for Phelps.
Ready to roll!
Sign in and strap on snowshoes. Both required in New York
Into the wild
In need of a passing zone
Smooth sailing to the dam
People enjoying the 45-50 degree sunshine in mid February
Colden and Avalanche Mountains
The Van Hoevenberg Trail, as usual, was moderate and easy going up alongside the frozen Phelps Brook. The spur trail up Phelps wasn't so moderate. 1200 feet in 1.0 mile, so steep enough to finally provide a good workout for the day. Mostly snow with one steep 20 foot pitch with ice poking out, but nothing difficult, and before we knew it the trees were getting shorter, the wind picked right up and the views above the trees opened up. A shell for the wind and some gloves came out of the pack before the final stroll to the top. Passing a great view ledge, which gave you a 180 degree panorama of the Great and MacIntyre Ranges, we enjoyed the afternoon light on the mountains for a bit before wandering around looking for the actual 4161 foot high point, which we think we walked over but have no way to know for sure.
Crossing the dam area with Phelps and Table Top ahead of us
Marcy peaking over the trees
First open view out over Tabletop and the Great Range beyond that
Marcy and Colden in the afternoon sun
Best view ledge right near the summit
Great Range from Phelps
Next stop, Table Top, with Marcy behind it
View down Avalanche Pass
Obligatory summit shot/We was here
We broke out the sleds for the trip down, which made long stretches of the trail go by quickly, and soon we were back at the Van Ho Trail where we had a snack before moving along. Back to the easy going trail we marched along as the sun set, able to follow the well trammeled trail without needing the headlamps until we hit the junction with the herd path up Tabletop Mountain at about 3600 feet. We dropped the bags for the spur path up, which climbed about 850 feet in .6 miles under brilliantly starry skies. No moon in the sky so the brightest thing in sight was a planet, Mercury maybe?? And the lights of Lake Placid occasionally visible above the treetops, as we climbed up to the last flat .1 mile trail to the actual 4427 foot top of the 19th highest peak in New York, and clearly just past the high point was a sign on a tree. Normally this peak has very restricted views through the trees, but with 5 or 6 feet of snow on top we could see right out to the Great Range under a starry sky. I was a little disappointed it wasn't daytime but you could see enough and seeing it under the clear, starry skies was pretty awesome too. The cold wind was whipping right along so we headed down, breaking out the sleds again when we hit the steeps back to the bottom of the herd path.
Reluctantly leaving the summit and views behind
Let the games begin!
Start of the herd path up Table Top
Star gazing on the way up was excellent whenever we needed to catch our breath on the steep climb
Nearby view of Marcy under the stars thanks to a deep snowpack
Lake Placid on the way down
Next up was a short trip up the trail to visit Indian Falls, which had a star lit view out to Algonquin. Cold winds whipped right over the top of the falls so we didn't stay long, and back at the bags we broke out the sleds again for the ride down. They worked really well for about a mile or so, all the way down to the bridge that crosses the brook, where the trail got too flat to use them anymore, so the last mile or so was on foot back to the lean-to, where we had an 11:00 dinner of some coldcut subs we had buried in a snowbank before calling it a night.
A little celebratory warm up at Indian Falls for the ride down
Most of the trail was like a luge track and lots of fun!
Back at the dam and the lean-to for dinner and bed in no time
The forecast called for clouds and snow flurries around midnight and all through the next day, which is why we chose to do most of the hiking the first day, rather than put a tent up at 3500 feet (max allowed in the High Peaks Wilderness) and getting Tabletop first thing in the morning. Well, we awoke to clear skies and the sun coming up over the mountains in front of the lean-to. Grrrrrrr!!
After packing up we had 2 easy miles out to the car and we were on the road before ten. We even tried to give away our parking pass for the day since it didn't say non-transferable, but nobody wanted to try it. Oh well. We tried. Off we went for the 5 hour ride home, and even with a 2 hour stop at Worthy Kitchen for some amazing Brisket Melts, Worthy Poutine and a Lake Hopper Cider, we were back home by 4:30. Earliest we've ever managed to return from the Daks. The peaks and hike itself were not the most exciting, but not bad summit views either, and it did bag #'s 89 & 90 on the list. 12.6 miles wih 3750 feet of elevation from what I can figure out. Add in some sledding, a night under the stars, some fun with friends and our first overnight trip to the Adirondacks in almost a year gets a solid B+ of an excursion from me.
Up with the sun
Enjoying watching the world wake up to the sun
Ready to move out
Clouding up, just a tad later than forcasted
No name on the maps for the mountain that makes up part of the backdrop that I can find
Colden & Avalanche Mountains across Marcy Brook
Headed out through a grove of cool pines
The Worthy Kitchen for lunch. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Woodstock VT
Jam packed and an hour wait, so we had a drink on the deck
Amazing, and worth the wait
Pair with a Citizens Lake Hopper Cider and it was an awesome way to end a great weekend