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Phelps and Tabletop. Highs and Lows. 2017-07-09

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  • Phelps and Tabletop. Highs and Lows. 2017-07-09

    Highlights
    • Started from South Meadows and ​Marcy Dam Truck Trail offered a nice mud-free alternative to the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
    • ​Had summit of Phelps to myself. Cool and breezy day kept it bug-free.
    • ​Mountain Ash is in bloom so Phelps' south side is dotted with compact clusters of white flowers.
    • ​Had Tabletop's summit to myself as well. Watched low-lying clouds graze Marcy's summit. Saw a cluster of hikers appear on it as well.
    • Stopped at Indian Falls to make a PB&J disappear. Stripped off muddy socks and shoes and washed up in the cold, cold waters of Marcy Brook.
    • The view of the MacIntyres never gets old.
    • ​Walked to the base of Indian Falls for a look at the actual waterfall.
    • First half of the Lake Arnold-Indian Falls ​Crossover Trail was surprisingly dry. A very welcome surprise. Second half was wet but plenty of stones and logs to dance across.
    • ​Saw someone's tired dog ("Humbird") curled up by the trailside. It had scratched away the leaf litter so it could be in contact with the cool soil. Looked like it made a nest for itself!
    • Got caught in a cooling summer rainshower. Just enough to put on a hat and refresh you but not long enough to need a jacket or chill you to the bone.
    • Truck Trail felt a bit longish on the return but zero mud.
    • ​Met DennisK at South Meadows and had a good chat.
    • ​While driving along Meadows Lane with windows open (to flush out black flies) something flew into the car and startled me with its unfamiliar thrumming/fluttering sound. It was a dragonfly. They sure are big when they're arm's length away! Got a nice pic of it before it found its way out.
    Lowlights
    • Met far too many hikers with squeaky-clean footwear on a day where that should've been nigh impossible (unless you were meticulously bypassing every patch of muck).
    • Removed four bits of flagging along the Phelps Mtn Trail (was not in the fashion marked by trail crews).
    • Tabletop Trail. Sheesh. The newly-cut initial re-route has already deteriorated into a scarred, muddy mess. The whole thing is now an example of what not to do in the future.
    • ​Dismantled and cleaned two illegal campfires at South Meadows. One party had brought in store-bought wood and the other used charcoal briquettes. Removed the unburnt metal bits for disposal.
    • ​Walked to the edge of a campsite to change my clothes and discovered a pile of unburied feces and sea of toilet paper. Having no shovel, I chose to leave the fetid example of human ignorance.
    Miscellaneous
    • South Meadows parking area was full at 7:45 AM and I had to park along the road.
    • Saw a few more "Dig it!" signs.
    • ​Saw new "No Camping beyond this point" signs.
    • ​Brushed-in three bypasses along the Van Hoevenberg Trail.
    • ​Relocated a rock into the heart of a deep mud wallow to serve as a stepping stone (bypass was already in development).
    • Chipping away at the ADK Grid. Tabletop became peak number 399/552. Only three more to finish the July Grid.
    Looking for Views!

  • #2
    I've only ever walked to the edge of Indian Falls. Never the base. Is there a herdpath leading down or did you bushwhack? Silly me for never noticing a trail down if that is the case.

    Comment


    • #3
      There's a spur trail leading to the base of the falls starting from the IF-LA Crossover Trail. I recently added it to OSM and it appears at high-magnification:
      http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=4...4039/-73.92939

      I believe a portion of this spur trail may be a vestige of an abandoned trail. The 1953 USGS topo shows a trail cutting across Marcy Brook northwest of the waterfall (i.e. below it) and meeting at a junction beyond (south of) Indian Falls. Of course, there's always the possibility the old map was wrong but I seem to recall High Peaks maps from the 70's that showed an official trail below Indian Falls.


      Looking for Views!

      Comment


      • Hear the Footsteps
        Hear the Footsteps commented
        Editing a comment
        The path is pretty obvious. It angles across contours descending in the downstream direction then takes 150o turn back upstream. A little pushing gets you into the open.

    • #4
      Agreed that TableTop's new trail is already a mess. (However, it did at least stop the direct run-off which affected pretty much the entirety of the old trail.)

      Is there a better way? Perhaps a direct connection from Phelps?
      ADK 46/46W, Grid 223/552
      Photos & Stuff

      Comment


      • #5
        From Phelps is a very long way through very thick woods.

        The better way would be to build a proper trail, with switchbacks; smartly find the patches of rocky terrain and use them to gain elevation; and use stairs where necessary to go steeply up over soft soil.

        None of this will happen however. Per the UMP, the Tabletop route is a "Class 2 Path." The "recommended maintenance for a "Class 2 Path" is:
        "Intermittent marking with consideration given to appropriate
        layout based on drainage, occasional barrier removal only to
        define appropriate route."
        This is of course idiotic, but there is a large cadre of folks who regard the UMP as the Bible, so it will not improve.

        Comment


        • #6
          Interesting about the new "No Camping Beyond This Point" signs. I saw two last week, including the one on the Van Hoe near the trail to Phelps. There used to be one there but then it was removed. I had assumed it was removed because it was nowhere near 3500', the elevation beyond which the DEC itself restricts camping. Not following its own regs.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by tcd View Post
            From Phelps is a very long way through very thick woods.

            The better way would be to build a proper trail, with switchbacks; smartly find the patches of rocky terrain and use them to gain elevation; and use stairs where necessary to go steeply up over soft soil.

            None of this will happen however. Per the UMP, the Tabletop route is a "Class 2 Path." The "recommended maintenance for a "Class 2 Path" is:
            "Intermittent marking with consideration given to appropriate
            layout based on drainage, occasional barrier removal only to
            define appropriate route."
            This is of course idiotic, but there is a large cadre of folks who regard the UMP as the Bible, so it will not improve.
            I climbed TT last Sunday.
            Actually there are now long stretches of erosion down to bedrock on the climb to Tabletop. We don't need to ruin that with switchbacks. Yeah it's a little wet but the traction is excellent.

            And hiking Blake Saturday - daring to change subjects - same can be said for the over and back from Colvin to Blake on both sides of the col. A lot of erosion down to bedrock. Yeah still a lot of mud too. Wear a good pair of shoes geared more to gripping rock and both the climbing, and yes, the descending, the rock is wonderful.

            Somehow people need to learn that - a pipe dream probably - or get shoe companies to change the composition of their rubber to softer and 'stickier or grippy.' and maybe they will figure it out themselves.

            Don
            .


            Comment


            • #8
              Thanks, Don. Yes, I agree. Sections that are eroded to bedrock are excellent, and can be left exactly as is. (I have always particularly liked the trail section up Gothics from Armstrong for that reason!) That's kind of what I meant about being smart enough to use the rock where it is available. Often trail crews mindlessly put in switchbacks based on gradient, without even looking at the resources that the mountain provides. But TT may need some switchbacks, too...and some staircases...

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by autochromatica View Post
                Is there a better way?...
                ​There were at least two things I noticed on the re-route that serve as examples of how to build more erosion-proof trails.

                If at all possible, ensure trail-junctions are on level ground.
                ​They moved the Tabletop/VanHoevenberg junction tens of yards closer to Indian Falls. Another 10-15 yards and the junction would've been on level ground. However, they located the junction on a slope.

                The new TT trail rises about 3-4 feet above the VH over a span of 6-8 feet. That little slope, made of soft topsoil, is now ruined (see photo). It's a slick muddy mess scarred with boot "clawmarks". Hikers have also widened it, to about 3 times its original width, in order to gain purchase on the messy little slope. The tree they nailed the "Route to Tabletop" sign is already becoming undermined and will eventually topple over.




                ​Better days, barely 2 years ago (OCT 2015):



                If at all possible, traverse above, not below, cross-slopes.
                This is bit tricky to describe so its best to refer to the photo below. If possible, avoid traversing the base of cross-slopes where water collects.

                The land on the left is higher and more level. The land on the right is lower. In between there's a (cross) slope that the trail traverses ("side hilling"). It is isn't necessarily bad for a trail to "side hill" unless you run it through the base of a slope which is a natural place for water runoff to collect and saturate the soil. If you run a trail through there it will become churned mud. In response, hikers bypass the mud on the high side of the slope (left side in the photo) and begin to erode it (roots are already visible). In effect, they are seeking higher ground which, in this case, was a few yards uphill on the left.

                Last edited by Trail Boss; 07-11-2017, 09:48 PM.
                Looking for Views!

                Comment


                • #10
                  A really nice trail could be cut from S. Meadows, over Phelps North and Phelps then all along the height of land to TableTop via Ttop East. I've been over that route a number of times and it would be a real beauty! That will never happen though. It looks as though the trails in the High Peaks were historically set in stone, so to speak, so people could bag 46 summits by the most efficient routes possible. This was back in the day when usage was a lot lighter that today. The trails miss a lot of very beautiful terrain and viewing spots (many, not by much) in favor of easier and quicker. Some would say this is good, others would say it's a pity.
                  In any case, all the existing trade route trails will eventually be eroded down to bedrock and will have been widened about as much as they ever will be. Then equilibrium will have been attained. Makes for ugly trails but that's about all. I suppose that where the trails are flatter the mud wallows will remain until they get planked.
                  1111111111

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I have a modest proposal... clear cut the top fifty or hundred feet of Tabletop and use the timber to make planking for the entire trail. It's a solution that could be executed rather Swiftly. Low cost. Improved views. What's not to like?

                    Comment


                    • Trail Boss
                      Trail Boss commented
                      Editing a comment
                      No bad ideas amiright Jonathan?

                    • FlyFishingandBeer
                      FlyFishingandBeer commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I almost spit my covfefe all over my screen before I realized you were kidding.

                    • Makwa
                      Makwa commented
                      Editing a comment
                      If I had also suggested snacking on impoverished Irish children while hiking it may have tipped you off sooner.

                  • #12
                    There's a supply of planks at Marcy Dam. Upon disassembly, all that fine lumber has to go somewhere so why not re-purpose it as bog-bridges along the Van Hoevenberg Trail?
                    Looking for Views!

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