Hiking on a nice day (Whiteface & Esther)
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Initially we didn't want to hike this weekend. However the forecast looked great from Monday on so I started planning a hike. At first I wanted Haystack, Basin, Saddleback. The JBL and the Leantos were booked and we didn't feel like fighting for a campsite, so that plan was off. The next plan was to do the Santas, but I didn't feel like packing for an overnight. Finally a plan was established that we would go up to South Meadows and decide there. Our final plan was to do Whiteface & Esther. By the time we left Friday night the forecast called for a 30% chance of rain after 2pm.|
We got to the trailhead (Wilmington Reservoir) and were on the trail by 8:15. The trail starts gradually, however, footing was tricky because of the leaves covering all the roots that were ready to trip us up. The gradual section ended after a little while and the steep section began. The climb up to Marble Mt. was pretty steep but the trail and footing were good. At the trail junction on Marble be sure to go down the other trail and check out the views from the slab (less than 20 yards).
After a brief level section the trail climbed again to the junction with the Esther herd path (very obvious w/carin). Since the forecast was questionable for the afternoon we wanted to get up and down Whiteface before anything blew in. We continued the climb up and eventually hit the auto road. I was feeling pretty slow today so I opted for the road/stairs to the summit since the views were socked in anyways.
We climbed to the summit and enjoyed lunch in the summit buildings and then headed down. It had been raining on and off since we hit the Esther herd path on the way up. By the time we got back to the trail/autoroad junction the weather turned sour again and the rain started coming down strongly. Shortly after the thunder and lightning began. We were counting 4 seconds between lightning and thunder for the closest strikes. The storm blew over just before we got to the Esther herd path. We made the decision to hike Esther quickly and then get off the mountain.
The trail over to Esther had some blowdown to deal with, and the start up Lookout mountain was somewhat steep, but we were able to make very good time out and back from the trail to the summit. From the summit we climbed down. The weather cleared up for a little while below Esther and we were able to sit down for a break on Marble Mt. on the way down. Halfway down to the trailhead the rain started up again (this time harder than ever) thoroughly soaking all of us before we got to the car.
Luckily when we got back to the car the weather broke again and we were able to change into dry clothes. The overall hike was pretty rigorous (more than I had expected). I definitely plan on doing Whiteface again some winter via the road. I'm sure we would have enjoyed the hike more if it had not ended up in the rain for the majority of the time.
A note about the other route up Marble Mt. if I were to do this hike again I would definitely use the other Wilmington trailhead. The High Peaks guide says it's not well marked and not well used. On Marble the other trail was VERY WELL marked, plus it saves you 700 feet of gain and 1.3 miles.
The Good and The Bad
The views off Marble and a few views from Whiteface
Being in a thunderstorm at 4000'
|Uneventful, we drove up Friday, Hiked Saturday, and got some Lumberjack on the ride home|