Mileage: 14.8 miles (loop)
Elevation gain: 4,482'
Hiked with Ed today. We planned to hike Dial and Nippletop, then get Blake and Colvin the following day.
Sunny and warm, the day held a lot of promise. We headed up the road toward the tennis courts around 8:15, passed through the gate and started the walk on Lake Road.
|We got the road walk done in the beginning.|
|Didn't go here.|
Instead of taking the H.G. Leach trail, we decided to hike the loop counterclockwise approaching Nippletop via Elk Pass. We bypassed the Gill Brook trails as well, opting for the Indian Head trail to Fish Hawk Cliffs route.
|Sign from the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society.|
The trail is steep and got our heart rate up very quickly. Views from Indian Head are breathtaking and after the short, very steep descent to Fish Hawk Cliffs, views there aren't too bad either!
|View from Indian Head.|
|Steep descent to reach the cliffs.|
After a few photos we continued on the trail to the junctions of Gill Brook trail and Mt. Colvin.
It seemed like such a long slog. The trail is rough, steeper than we were ready for and we had to stop to rest several times. Finally we got to the junctions.
Someone had dropped their backpack on their way to Colvin (and possibly Blake). I briefly contemplated suggesting we hike these two today instead of Nippletop and Dial but we were so excited to do this loop with its reputation of being such a nice hike... Colvin and Blake? not so much. We continued on toward Nippletop.
|4.9 miles into the hike we were feeling it.|
Elk Pass was a much needed break from the steeps. We enjoyed the scenery and flat terrain - looks like a great place to camp!
|Flat, sweet area with ponds.|
It's not that we were out of shape; we both had some significant hikes under our belts. I guess we expected cooler temps and more pleasurable terrain. Looking back, if a sweeter path was what we were looking for, the better option would have been to go clockwise, starting up the H.G. Leach trail.
Finally we reached the spur to the summit of Nippletop. Seriously, we are certain it was longer than .2 miles! But beautiful it was!
|Path to the summit.|
|Clear day, lovely view - what more could we ask?|
It had been a tough morning and well into the afternoon we had just about 6 miles more to go with some not-so-insignificant elevation gain left to do. We headed toward Dial Mountain.
Burnside's book emphasizes the steepness when descending the way we came up. Perhaps that's why a group we just met on the summit decided to return the way they came, going back over Dial, Bear Den, Noonmark. Their decision lulled us into thinking the path before us would be much easier, more doable, with less grousing.
|Trail's much nicer this way!|
|Kids on the summit of Dial Mountain.|
We stayed about.....90 seconds and off we went, anxious by this point to get off this mountain. It was almost 3 pm - we couldn't believe it!
We got to Bear Den and wasted no time heading down. Back ascending again to Noonmark's rocky viewpoint which is very nice and on another day might be a destination in and of itself. It's a little tricky here on the rock slabs. We searched around for a cairn and found the trail with the sign partially hidden by a tree branch.
|View from the side of Noonmark Mountain.|
|Love this new growth of birches on this portion of trail.|
Hot and tired we stopped alot to regroup, drink and get a fresher outlook!
Finally we were descending toward the beginning of the H.G. Leach trail. The Lake Road was a welcome sight and we quietly headed toward the AMR gate and down to the parking lot. We finished at 6:30 p.m. too tired to do anything but fall into the car and drive to the Inn.
The Dial-Nippletop loop requires that one climb three smaller peaks to get the two high peaks. What was supposed to be a spectacular day in the woods was more often than not a chore, the stifling of a whimper each time the trail gained elevation.
There are times when we recognize the need to step back from our thoughts. Plans to hike Blake and Colvin were scrapped and the next day we took it easy. I spent the rest of my week playing in the region, bagging a few lesser peaks, enjoying the trails and the weather.