Just another trip report from out of NH. A couple friends and I headed to the Adirondacks last weekend to hike Nippletop and Dial. Left Saturday morning, grabbed lunch at the Ausable Inn right near the trailhead and headed out under bright blue skies. Needed to use a few miles of the Lake Road Trail, which was covered in a fresh 3 feet of snow but broken out by the people who started before us. This is like the Lincoln Woods Trail of the Adirondacks, long, flat, boring and nothing really of interest but it gets you to the the "real" trails so it's a means to an end.
Ausable Club, where the fun begins
Gated road with a fresh 36" of snow
A windy but enjoyable warm up
Few miles of this
We split off up the trail towards Elk Pass, which was pretty moderate, eventually entering the Dix wilderness and reaching the upper junction with the Indian Cliff Trail. Since it was still relatively early and we didn't have much farther to go to set up camp at the pass we decided to drop our packs and make the 1.5 mile round trip to the cliff to get the clifftop view out over the Ausable Lakes. Well worth it IMO, and after that we finished off the hike up into Elk Pass.
Finally starting to go up something
Into the wild
Checking out Indian Head Cliff
Upper Ausable Lake surrounded by a handful of the 46ers
Just a little bit of snow remaining at the end of winter
Working our way up to Elk Pass
Elk Pass has a couple small Lakes, and in 4 feet of snow nobody was following the trail, the tracks from the previous hikers went right across it. There's a campsite somewhere on the shore but we couldn't find it, so we went 150 feet off the trail and set up the tent on the frozen lake. We thought we were minimizing our impact by staying on the ice but forgot you can't be within 150 of water also, which I assume includes frozen bodies of water. So the site was probably not technically legal, and it would have been plenty easy to find a legal one if we thought we were doing anything wrong, but we didn't, and there's not much I can do about it now. So, we set up, had a quick dinner, watched in horror as the clouds quickly rolled in and swallowed up the stars we were hoping to gaze at, and called it a night.
Stamping out a spot on the lake
Stars. Now you see them...
...now you don't
Dinner. Luckily the sub didn't freeze solid before I could enjoy it
We awoke at sunrise with temps around-3 degrees and had a quick breakfast before packing up and going on our way. The groups we passed he day before asked why we were doing this loop hike counter clockwise instead of clockwise like everyone else apparently does. Well, first we were planning to camp at the pass and second we didn't know any better. They all thought we were crazy to be going up the steep side of the mountain, which was indeed steep, but not excessively so, with about 1600 feet of climbing in the last mile and a half or so. Buttsledders had plowed off the snow down to the crust that must have been there before the last big storm, so it was pretty easy going with mountaineering snowshoes. Views opened up of the Great Range and then we arrived at the spur trail to the summit, which did a 100 foot or so dip before gaining the 4610 foot high (13th highest) summit in the Adirondacks under cold but cloudless skies. A good breeze and lots of miles left kept us from saying too long, but the views were spectacular of the Great Range in one direction and the Dix Range in the other. Actually you could see most of the rest of the High Peaks region too.
Wake up time!
Moon was still hanging around while I warmed up
Good morning Gothics
Great Range coming into view
Top of New York
Looking ahead to the summit
Dix Mountain across Hunters Pass
Success! 4610 feet and 13th Highest in NY
Expansive view to the east
Crown jewels of NY
From there it was back down to the junction and other than a few hundred feet here and there to hit the next summits mostly a steady but not steep downhill jaunt. A couple miles later we were on the Summit of Dial, which at 4020 is another of the 46ers. Likely it will be our last new 4000 footer in our 30's, as my hiking partner and I both turn 40 in early May and April is looking pretty booked up at the moment, so we soaked it in, had lunch in the sunshine from the viewing summit cliff before moving on.
Just have to follow this ridge down and out now
Steep final climb up to Dial's summit
Enjoying the view
Looking back at Nippletop
Skylight, Haystack, Marcy and Basin
Steven, Ryan & Derek
Enjoying the view with brunch
Steak & Eggs for brunch BTW
More spectacular ridge walking in a beautiful pine forest brought us to the wooded summit of Bear Den Mountain and then we went steeply down into a notch before climbing up the shoulder of Noonmark Mountain, which was a fine example of viewscaping, having been burnt bare in 1999. More great views back at Dial and Dix as well as the Great Range, and by then the temp was up to about 40, softening snow and letting us shed layers for the final descent. The last 3-4 miles went pretty quick, as it was mostly steeply downhill with lots of snow so you could just bomb along. Unfortunately we forgot to bring sleds, but still made great time back down to the Lake Road, which left us with a flat mile or so back to the car.
Noonmark Mountains bare shoulder ahead
Burnt bare 18 years ago by fire it is now starting to recover
I think it will be unfortunate if these views are lost
Dix & Dial
Exiting through a beautiful old growth hemlock forest
I thought this was a great hike. 16 miles with 4000 feet of elevation, plentiful, varied views and perfect weather to finish off winter. It got us halfway through the 46ers and to 92 on the Northeast 111. The Adirondacks have never disappointed me and they sure didn't start here. We made the usual stop at Worthy Burger and were home by 8 that evening. A pretty excellent trip in my book!
A Worthy reward after a weekend in the woods