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Dial-Nip-Dial, Ttop-Phelps, Hoffman-Blue Ridge. A profitable 3 days of hiking!

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  • Dial-Nip-Dial, Ttop-Phelps, Hoffman-Blue Ridge. A profitable 3 days of hiking!

    As I head towards Dec. 21st I'm working away at getting into shape. 3 months still to go and progress is slow and steady. One of my plans is to do a 3-day test push every 3 weeks or so, take a short break (like 2 days) and push the training a little harder.

    With that in mind I decided Dial-Nippletop-Dial would give me a perfect Zone 3 workout so after a 30 minute warmup I turned onto the Leach Trail and cranked it to the Noonmark Shoulder. (1500 feet of ascent) I was interested in keeping my heart rate close to 140 and I also checked my vertical ascent rate (close to 40 feet per minute). I had a short break while descending to the Noonmark-Bear Den col then cranked out another 600 feet and then another thousand or so up to Dial. From the Lake road to Dial took me 1h50m.

    I kept moving and hit Nippletop in another hour. The trail was very wet and muddy for the last 20 minutes or so. It was cold and totally socked in so I kept a move on. I made it back to Dial in 55m and booted it down and across Bear Den, over Noonmark's shoulder and was dropping 50 plus feet per minute to the road. I didn't eat or drink as much as I suppose I should have (didn't want to lose forward momentum) but was hoping I'm sufficiently fat adapted to conserve muscle glycogen for the next day's hike. Total time car to car was 6h30m. It was not a smell the roses outing.

    On day two I was scheduled to do a hike in the Sawtooths but due to a miscommunication my partner and I failed to connect. In any case the weather turned out to be pretty foul so I decided to park on S. Meadows Rd. (Meadows Lane according to the road sign). I was going to bushwhack TR Mtn. from the Marcy Dam-Avalanche camps trail but the steady rain nixed that idea. I decided to conserve my energy for Hoffman-Blue ridge and just hike Ttop and Phelps. Ttop was a real mess and I contributed to it by adding another pair of boots (soaking wet trail runners actually), both up and down. Then I headed up Phelps, which was dryer, although that trail's lower half is high up in the competition for the title of the widest trail in the High Peaks. I could tell my muscles had indeed been somewhat depleted by the Dial-Nip-Dial hike. This knowledge came from the combination of my heart rate, vertical ascent rate and the subjective feeling of difficulty. Ie. it was hard to get heart rates above 135 and it felt pretty hard. But I really wanted to go at a recovery pace so was glad to settle into a steady Zone 1 pace. Whenever you are training for a goal you have to ask the question, is this bringing me closer to my goal or pushing me further away ? Also, feeling lots of fatigue a lot of the time is part of the game when you are building an aerobic base.

    After Phelps I went back to South Meadows and had dinner at randomscooter and Cedar Vale's place in Keene. After picking randomscooter's brain on winter whacking the trailless hundred highest I headed to my tent at Malfunction Junction to meet Trail Boss. He didn't show and I was kicking myself for not checking my e-mail earlier when I had the chance. So, the next morning I got up early and drove back to Keene, checked my messages and saw TB was out but Luc La Barre was in. I jumped right back into the car and drove to where rte. 9 crosses the Schroon, 5 miles south of exit 29.

    By 8am we were under way for a walking culvert under I-87 (Dirgylot Hill) and once on the other side we used the Northway as a handrail until within about one kilometer we reached the brook we wanted. We followed the brook upwards between Wyman Hill and Peaked Hills. The traveling was delightful through open mixed woods close to the creek. We passed next to a choke-point at the base of Wyman and looked down into a canyon-like narrow channel. There was a massive boulder wedged between the two rock walls like a chock stone.

    We found an old road and walked a lot faster upon it on the firmer ground until that petered out and became very trail-like for another 15 minutes or so. Then we followed an intermittant game trail for another 10 minutes and finally crossed the drainage and began the steep ascent of Blue Ridge. We were roughly 1000 feet above our starting pointand now had 1500 feet of straight up terrain between us and the top. It was hard work and we zigged and zagged to find the most open lines but had our share of thickness to push through. It turned out that by deviating to the right we nearly always found better woods. This made me think that for this winter I'll start the big ascent further to the north by a couple hundred yards or so.

    When we got to the top we couldn't find any indication of the true summit. We both had devices that were recording tracklogs but neither of our devices had maps! We wandered around and criss-crossed the highest point three times according to my altimeter. Then to make sure we crossed over to a more easterly bump, thinking maybe we were not really on the summit. Same elly there but now after an hour of wandering I was confused and completely forgot that I had visited this 2nd bump 9 years ago. So, when we determined the compass bearing to the low point towards Hoffman we were actually 100 yards off course from the get-go. We caught that with the altimeter after 30 minutes of really thick descending and when we took a bearing on Hoffman we pin-pointed our position and it all came together. So, we got an extra 150 feet of elly loss and gain and we also had a beautiful ascent to the top of Hoffman through excellent north-facing slopes that were covered in gorgeous thick, emerald-green moss.

    It was nice to sit down on the true summit for 20 minutes, rest, eat and drink some water. I did Hoffamn in 2007 in April on deep snowpack that was crusted over and had about 6 inches of fluffy powder on top of that. The descent in my MSR's was very treacherous due to the very steep terrain and the conditions. However, now, with no snow pack it was way more treacherous and extremely slow for the first 350 feet of descent. So, when I return this winter I will go back towards the H-BR col for about 200 yards then head down through (I hope) much easier terrain.

    As we dropped the going got easier and when we hit our inbound route with the game trails and then the old road, which we followed a lot longer, we really cruised and made it out well before the headlamp hour. Total time was just over 11 hours. When I got home I overlaid my tracklog onto a map in Basecamp and saw we had indeed hit the summit (3 times!) although we saw no sign of a marker, cairn, tape or whatever.

    I drove back to malfunction junction, heated up my dinner, drank a couple of beers while reading a cop book and before long I crawled into my bag and fell asleep. All in all it was a pretty good weekend of hiking, training and researching one more route for this winter.
    1111111111

  • #2
    Originally posted by Neil View Post
    Ttop was a real mess and I contributed to it by adding another pair of boots (soaking wet trail runners actually), both up and down. Then I headed up Phelps, which was dryer, although that trail's lower half is high up in the competition for the title of the widest trail in the High Peaks.
    I was on TT and Phelps Saturday and both and also last July 4.

    On TT
    -I like the middle section where the trail is worn down to bedrock. Great climbing. But it won't be as easy when it ices up. There's one large birch on the steepest section that is hanging on and will topple onto the trail soon.
    -The top I agree is a mess of puddles with no chance of drainage. Not much different than many of our peaks with paths where the terrain levels out.
    -The start, the newly cut trail, it was better than my last trip.

    On Phelps, by quarter by ascent.
    - The bottom quarter is pretty eroded. I noticed since my list trip the parallel paths here have been brushed in.
    - The second quarter when climbing is a maze of large boulders. I never paid much mind to that before.
    - The top half is more worn down to bedrock and has some short scrambles. I'm much happier climbing there. Of course you will need traction gear there when the ice season starts.

    Don
    Last edited by Neil; 09-12-2017, 06:42 PM. Reason: Fixed quote tag.

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    • #3
      Where the trail is down to bedrock on Ttop or any peak the hiking can be quite enjoyable. But, once it freezes into a river of water ice the side trails will get torn up some more, trees pulled on and their root systems damaged etc.
      1111111111

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      • #4
        Actually what I'm noticing especially on the trail to Phelps is that most of the trail widening and new or parallel paths is occurring along the sections gentle grades but that have bigger rocks to hop or deeper trenches and these are in the lower half. I.e., where you get sore feet rock hopping or where you have to rock hop to avoid water and the woods are more open. On the steeper section and where there are thick stunted trees people stay on track more.

        There is one exception on Phelps that escaped me before. One of the bigger scrambles maybe the next one above the biggest one people are holding a tree and wearing down the duff and this avoids big steps and gives a tall hand hold.


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        • #5
          I find the original post a great & somewhat amusing example of how individualized hiking abilities are. Neil does hikes that sound hair-raising to me, and now talks about trying to "get in shape". I think that's one of the great things about hiking, that each person finds their own challenges.

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