Tabletop, Phelps & A little rabbit
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Unfortunately Nicole was sick for Dom event a few weeks ago so we decided to head back and get Tabletop and Phelps to keep her caught up with me for the 46. We drove up to the Loj campground Friday night and paid for the site for Friday and Saturday nights (sleeping in the car). We slept OK, although I found out that the LCD on my new travel alarm clock doesn't work in the cold which was a downer. We woke up the next morning trying to get an early start but the time it took to warm up and get the gear together slowed us down a bit. We were on the trail by 8 am. Today we were trying our new Karhu Metas (120 cm xc skis with an integrated skin and a universal binding http://www.orssnowshoesdirect.com/karhu_meta_skis.htm) to see if we can save any approach time getting into the backcountry.|
We started off on the trail to Marcy Dam and nearly killed ourselves going down the first steep hill on the ADK property. From there the ski was far more manageable and we made respectable time to Marcy Dam. I took the obligatory pictures of Mount Colden and then we continued our climb. After a little while longer we crossed Phelps brook on a snow bridge and eventually reached the Phelps trail junction. Here we switched to snowshoes (since we're not very good at controlling the skis downhill) and continued the climb to the tabletop junction. Here we noticed that the trail had around 4-6" of fresh powder but luckily the snowshoe trench was plenty deep and I had done the trail recently.
We began our climb and got the unpleasant surprise of having many of the trees bent over from the weight of ice and snow. Nicole's ice axe was getting caught on everything so she took a quick break to stash it along side the trail. I continued on since she easily catches me on the uphills. As I was hiking along I heard a "Beep Beep" behind me and I turned to see the one, the only, pin pin. This was a great surprise for me as one of my biggest motivators for starting winter hiking was to finally meet pin pin. I yelled back to Nicole to come and take a picture but she was too far behind. Alain said he would take a picture on the way down when he caught up with us again.
Nicole and I continued the climb eventually up onto the summit plateau. Here pin pin caught us again and we took our pictures. He warned us that the trail to the summit contained many little holes that only a rabbit could fit through, the rest of us would have to crawl on our hands and knees. We reached the spot pin pin was telling us about and I seriously considered inventing snowshoes for my hands as I was sinking in up to my elbows every time I put my hand down. Eventually we reached the top and I got a picture of Nicole with the summit sign. I began to get very cold and wet at the summit and so I layered up and began the descent, I was trying to keep a quick pace to warm up and didn't feel like dealing with the crawling so a running start at the downed branches managed to free enough snow and ice to allow me to hunch underneath rather than crawl.
We made a quick descent back to the trail junction where we had a brief chat with Ranger Jim G. (we previously met him at ADK warming hut training). We had a bite to eat and then descended back to the Phelps junction. Here we took a nice 10 minute break to get off our feet to prevent blisters and relax our legs. After this nice break we began the climb to Phelps, as usual I bonked pretty badly (I hate 2nd climbs in a day ). The steep section near the top was well snowed in and easier to navigate than last time. After a while we reached the summit ledge and were treated to spectacular views of the high peaks. There was a good half dozen people just sitting on the ledge enjoying the view, the atypical calm weather, and the bluebird skies. After tons of pictures we began our descent back to the trail junction.
At the junction we put the skis back on and attempted to descend safely back to the Loj. It turns out that we're not very good at xc sking and we both took our share of falls (for the entertainment of the other hikers on the trail). I was amazed how easy good xc skiers make it look. When we got back to the trailhead we went into the HPIC to warm up. It was at this point I decided to be a big wuss and go to a Motel since I was in no mood to be cold and wet all night. We stayed at the Cascade Inn (One of the best Adirondack motels I've stayed at for a cost/amenities ratio).
The next morning we woke up (barely) and were on our way to climb Hurricane Mountain for the fire tower challenge. We stopped at the Cedar Run Bakery (Keene, near the junction of 9n and 73) for the first time and were surprised to find the prices quite reasonable and the food delicious (I was surprised because from the outside it looks very fancy) We made our way to the Hurricane trailhead but the parking wasn't plowed out so I used this as my excuse to not hike because I didn't want to park in the road (I was too tired). Nicole and I then went to Cascade xc ski center and had them thermo fit my new tele boots before driving home.
This was another great weekend in the mountains, especially with the awesome surprise of meeting a hiking legend. Thank you to pin pin for taking the time out of your hike for the pictures.
The Good and The Bad
Meeting pin pin
Being too tired to hike on Sunday
|Up and back on rt 3, driving home was tough because I was so tired|