The actual hike started out at the gate of the AMR at 7:50am. The armed guard who came out immediately to greet us was pleasant. Asked if we had enough water (which we did, although my father did drink a bottle from Gill Brook unfiltered- he's fine). He told us to do the loop if we planned on doing both mountains because after the steep part of Elk Pass the trail was a nice descent. Soon, we were excitedly on our way. The turn off the Lake Road to start Dial and Nippletop was quickly reached. We began the ascent which was steep but the footing was soft and not at all rocky like most trails. It gave us some nice flat breaks now and then but gaining 4,000 feet to reach the summit was nothing to sneeze at. My father and I took MANY breaks and it was quickly determined that we needed to take our time. We had head lamps if we needed them. The wooded trail was breezy and the bugs were few and far between. A cute group of kids with a camp counselor passed us. The 8-13 year olds were little troopers. They were only going to Dial which they made it to and were on their return before we summited. Hmmm? The mud was present but not terrible. Most spots were easy to get around, however at the end I was one of those hikers who just trods right through it. Nothing was boot sinking deep so that was good. We came upon the first lookout from Bear Den which was just striking. Stayed a few minutes and took pictures with my camera phone. Yup, the only camera I brought this trip. Lack of planning ahead. Anyway, over to the big rock that is near or is the summit of Dial. We didn't see a summit sign or a survey marker. Sat on the big rock looking at the great range for about 15 minutes. Up to that point the hard work of the climb in 85 degree weather was worth it. We left this lookout at 1:30 hoping to summit Nippletop by 3:00. After a lot of climbing back down and into the col and back up we found the junction to Nippletop and Elk Pass Trail. Over the .2 to Nippletop for a quick look and then back to the Pass Trail. It was 3:45 when we got our first look at the STEEP descent of the Elk Pass. At this tired point in the day, I could not believe some of the spots we had to climb down. My legs were quivering quite a bit by this point and I resorted as I usually do to sliding down some of the bare rock on my butt. I prefer doing that to hurling myself head first down the trail. We got a look at the designated sites on this route and I have to say that none of them looked great. Not so much referring to whether they were level but the surroundings weren't that picturesque. Maybe my attitude was problematic by that point? We made it the junction of Colvin and Blake. I looked at it with disgust and my father tried to tell me that it would look better to me on a new day and off we went. It was 5:30 and we had 4.9 miles to the parking area. I can't believe that this post is filled with such disdain. I am usually so thankful and happy to have been able to get out in the beauty of the high peaks. Gives you a good idea of my mental status at hour 9, mile 9 and counting. We stayed on the Gill Brook Trail expecting to get to the Lake Road quicker than we actually did and it turns out that one sign pointed two ways to the lake road and we chose the route to the right which kept us right next to the brook. Normally I would have thought this a good idea except following the brook only led us up and down some very steep, soft, slippery embankments. After a quick look at the map it appeared that had we taken the left trail to the lake road we would have gone away from the creek and made it to the road quicker. Regardless...when I could finally see the lake road and the trail was not leading to it just yet...I traipsed off the trail and onto "private property" to get on the ROAD. Which, I have to say did not feel any better on the four blisters that had appeared on my feet. We took a short rest at the dam of Gill Brook and looked at the fish swimming in the reservoir that appears to provide water the Ausable Club. Finishing out the last bit of the Lake Road at about 8:15, we signed out at the gate still having to make our way through the Club and to the parking lot .3 miles away. At least it is all down hill. We got to the car at 8:30 making the day officially 12 and a half hours long. I peeled my socks off of my feet and was happy to let my father drive my car home. I promptly took an aleve and drank my ice cold green tea that my father so smartly packed in the cooler. The "never again" idea is obviously gone....but it is gonna take a couple weeks to recover.
August 16, 2009
Dial and Nippletop aka..the killer return to hiking trip
It's official...my mother was right. As you all know my last high peak hike was Tabletop back on Memorial Day Weekend. Then in mid June I did Blue Mtn. And that had been the sum total of my hiking this season due the extreme baseball schedule of my son's travel team. Even just walking for exercise in the evenings had come to a complete halt until the last week or so....therefore it suffices to say that when my mother heard of our plan to hike 14 miles to grab the aforementioned 2 peaks....she pronounced us crazy. Her warning that it was going to be hot and that we weren't in any shape to do that many miles was quickly dismissed while we tried to tell her that ALL of the hikes we have left are long. My father and I were just chomping at the bit to get back to bustin' out more of the 26 peaks we have left to do in order to become 46ers. Well...let me just tell you....it has taken me 48 hours to even want to sit here at the computer and tell you about the hike. For the last mile, the voice in my head had brainwashed me into thinking 22 was a good number to remain at... forever. My father was behind me planning a backpacking trip for us to do Colvin and Blake and I was like...are you kidding, I am never doing this again. Just as everyone who hikes the high peaks says...the mountains are always teaching us stuff. This was the first time, I was so incredibly physically exhausted that my mental state diminished to the point where I was severely pissed off at how long the last 3 miles of a hike actually are. Every thought in my head was negative and even the beautiful waterfalls and pools of Gill Brook were not enough to snap me out of it. Before the Lake Road of the Ausable Club came into view...I actually began to cry. For a second, I lost it (but only to myself) and I actually had to tell myself to snap out of it and pull myself together.
at 10:16 PM