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9/27/17 Nippletop and Dial, #s 15 and 16

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  • 9/27/17 Nippletop and Dial, #s 15 and 16

    Woke up at 4:30 AM on Wednesday morning to tackle a mountain that has tantalized us for close to ten years; Nippletop. We first 'discovered' the Adirondaks for ourselves in 2005 with an accidental vacation to Elk Lake Lodge. We fell in love with the lodge and the area immediately. However, visiting the area once a year, and starting in 2007, trying to climb a high peak or two with no preparation was beginning to make each peak seem more daunting as the years passed. Every year we would stare at Nippletop from the shore of Elk Lake, and each year the task of climbing it seemed more and more out of reach with its 14 miles and 4000 feet of elevation gain (according to the HP guidebook). All of that would change this year with some practice hikes of increasing mileage and elevation gain in the Hudson highlands, and three weekends in the Adirondaks climbing three high peaks of increasing mileage. Having just done Marshall four days earlier, my confidence in my physical abilities was not where I would have liked it. My wife's however was at an all time high. Plus, being just the two of us, I now had to add back in the responsibility of route planning and finding. Even though this is a marked and maintained trail, I would need to be much more aware, rather than just follow the person in front of me. Truthfully, I was looking forward to this in a way. I wanted to stop often, check my map, try and read the terrain, and estimate how long it would take until the next landmark. The only way to get better at this is to practice, right? Arrived at the Ausable Club parking lot at 5:30. Listed to a couple of owls hooting (very cool) on our walk to the register and signed out at 5:50. We decided to do a counterclockwise loop. This would allow us to see more trails than doing an out and back via the Leach trail, and allow us to ascend the steeper section. We were at the GillBrook trail by 6:30. I had forgotten how uphill the Lake Rd walk was. At 6:45 we were at the Gill Brook cutoff trail, which caused some confusion. I thought our trail started closer to the lake, so I dropped my pack and jogged up the road to be sure while my wife waited. Saw the Indian Head/Fish Hawk Ciffs/Colvin Sign, jogged back and were on the trail at 7:20. (When we do Colvin, Id like to start on the Gill Brook trail but not today). Arrived at Fish Hawks Cliff at 8:20. I'm kicking myself for not stopping at Indian Head, but felt an urgency to make up for the 20 minutes we lost on the road. Beautiful views from the cliffs, and the whole walk up was very pretty. I felt like I was walking in a forest out of a fairy tale with all the lush green, roots and rock steps. We got to the Colvin/Nippletop junction at 8:55 and passed by two really nice ponds at 9:25. I was sweating like a pig at this point, but felt really good and strong otherwise. My wife was having some issues with her asthma and took her inhaler a few times. We arrived at the summit at 10:25 and had it all to ourselves for the 30 minutes or so we stayed. I tried to practice some of my map and compass skills up there, trying to pinpoint Colvin (which looked much smaller to me) and Blake. Checked out the cool view of Dix from the other lookout, had a snack and were in our way to Dial at 11:00. Arrived there at 12:15 and had our lunch. Dial was a surprisingly nice summit too. I can't recall reading much about it. We had that tour selves for about 10 minutes before a couple of groups came up on the Leach trail. Stayed about 20 minutes total and got to Bear Den at 1:20. Didn't bother looking for any views. At this point, all I wanted was a cold beer. The hike up Noonmark shoulder was very interesting (and hot). Saw a nice rock past the sign to chug some Gatorade and replenish some sodium with some Fritos. I thought it was hot and humid during the Marshall hike but this was worse. We got to the slake road at 3:05 and signed out at 3:20. The final walk out on the Leach trail was very nice as well and looked to be in great condition. Got back to Elk Lake where we celebrated with two beers (2 peaks, 2 beers right?) and our first ever swim in the lake. I thought we made excellent time for us. Car to car was 10 hours 8 minutes according to the track unmade with my ViewRanger app. So that was 5 trips to the Adirondaks this summer and fall, and 6 peaks climbed for our most active year to date.

  • #2
    Nice trip and glad you enjoyed a good day out.
    Like you I prefer the counter clockwise loop there. There to get to the farthest point first.
    One of these days I'd like to stay at the Elk Lake Lodge. Why I haven't probably has to do with being cheap and also living just north of Albany. Just too easy to day trip.

    Don

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    • #3
      Nice hike. The walk along the Nippletop ridge is one of my favourites. You're right that Colvin doesn't look like much from Nippletop. If you look closely though, you can see the summit rock.

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      • #4
        Thanks Don. I wish I was a day trip away from the Adirondaks. Elk Lake Lodge is such a beautiful place. Can't beat the scenery. The staff is very nice. Really nice trails. Definitely worth checking out for a couple of nights IMO.

        Thomas, thanks for the picture and thank you for confirming that for me. I thought it was me. So, that very next peak is Blake? It looked to me like it was taller than Colvin when I was up there and from this pic too.

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        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          Colvin is ~100 feet taller than Blake. Depending on your vantage point, this small difference may not be immediately apparent.

      • #5
        Perspective is everything. Here's a similar photo from a few feet away...




        and from the summit of Skylight it looks quite different...

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        • #6
          Thank you guys.

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