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FOUND: JoeCedar (Nippletop & Dial, 2013-01-12)

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  • FOUND: JoeCedar (Nippletop & Dial, 2013-01-12)

    NEWSFLASH
    JoeCedar is no longer captive in Baxter State Park.
    He was spotted celebrating his freedom by stretching his legs on CBND (Colvin/Blake/Nippletop/Dial).

    Nippletop and Dial
    2013-01-12
    Saturday, January 12th, 2013


    I had a great time hiking Dial, Nippletop, and Colvin (DNC) in mid-December but, despite the authentically wintry weather, they didn't count as "winter peaks". What rich irony that I chose to hike Nippletop and Dial on an official winter's day in spring-like conditions!

    I had my doubts about Saturday's weather. It seemed like no two weather-forecasters agreed on what to expect other than unseasonably warm temperatures in the high 40's (> 7 C). The possibly of early morning rain showers was not a pleasant thought on a winter's day. The rain showers were a no-show but the drippy spruces, shedding their snowy coats as melt-water, did a fair impression of "light rain". However, the warm weather and yielding snow made the day worth the trip.

    Upon exiting my car, in the AMR parking lot, a familiar vehicle pulled up beside me and out stepped JoeCedar. We greeted one another and I learned that he was heading for CBND. Seeing that our objectives overlapped a bit, I asked if I could bend his ear for a short stretch of the trip. Joe agreed and off we went up the hill to the AMR gate.

    We signed in at 8:05 AM and noticed the handwritten notice, tacked to the wall, suggesting hikers wear snowshoes on the Lake Road "as if it were required" (or something seemingly tongue-in-cheek). Assuming the Lake Road would be paved in compacted snow, we both set off without snowshoes. Within about a hundred yards of what felt like walking in Earth Shoes, we stopped to put on snowshoes.

    Joe set a brisk pace and we marched up the road to the Gill Brook Cutoff. We arrived forty-five minutes later and Joe graded our performance as "good for winter in snowshoes". I needed a minute or two to allow the numbness in my soles to disappear! I offered to cut the 'courtesy cord', that invisibly bound him to me, and let him go ahead at his own pace. Ever the gentleman, he suggested we continue to the Nippletop/Colvin junction.

    Joe impressed upon me the importance of setting a steady pace. 'Dash and stop', when averaged out, is not as fast and efficient as a 'steady burn'. I was mindful of his advice, while ascending Nippletop, but it'll take more hiking before I master the technique.

    We arrived at the junction at 9:45 AM, wished one another a great day and went our separate ways. The route into Elk Pass was, as everything before it, soggy from the 40 F (4 C) temperature. The trail showed evidence of use but some of the tracks were already covered by snow sloughing off overhanging spruce boughs. Everything was melting in a hurry. It was amusing to see small spruces, bent over with their heads in the snow, suddenly spring up. It was as if they were awakening from their winter slumber and wondering "Huh? Spring? So soon?"

    I heeded Joe's suggestion to save a few steps and crossed the first pond in Elk Pass. Although obviously frozen, I remained leery of the surface's condition and chose to cross an isthmus of drift snow as opposed to the exposed, wet ice. Combined with searching the woods for a convenient entry point, I left behind a Z-like path suggesting I was navigationally-challenged. Nevertheless, I chose my entry point well because there was nothing but open forest between myself and the trail.

    While ascending out of Elk Pass I tried to pace myself but couldn't complete the entire ascent without a few pauses. On the bright side, the conditions were superior to what I had encountered in mid-December and the trail is now a paved incline without any icy steps. A few more days of warm weather may change all that.

    I reached the trail junction at ten minutes to the hour and reached Nippletop at 11:00 AM. Between the junction and the summit I met a lone male hiker heading to Dial. Nippletop's head was literally in the clouds and offered no views. With nothing to see or do, and just a cold breeze for company, I took a semi-recognizable summit photo and left.


    See? Nothing to see on Nippletop.

    En route to Dial, I met three hikers heading to Nippletop. One mentioned that the "rest of my group was ahead of me". I learned there were at least two hikers, a male and a female, also heading to Dial. Below its summit, on a steep slope, two more Nippletop-bound hikers zoomed past me, all smiles even after one had an unplanned butt-slide.

    I arrived on Dial at noon and met the lone hiker soaking up the views. Everything south of Dial was engulfed in clouds but we were privileged to see the lower Great Range and Johns Brook valley. We snapped a few photos of one another and then I continued to Bear Den. Winter peaks 31 and 32, and the major ascents of the day, were behind me.


    First good view of the day.

    Descending Bear Den was fast and fun. The snow conditions were ideal for a fast descent. If the trail seemed dicey, one could easily plow through the soft, unpacked snow off-trail . Around 12:40 PM, I arrived in the col, formed by Bear Den and Noonmark's shoulder, and briefly chatted with the female hiker who turned out to be a fellow forum member, veggielasagna.


    Upper Great Range smothered in cotton wool.

    While ascending out of the col, I met two hikers from Québec. They inquired if the peak lying ahead of us was Bear Den or Dial. I indicated the former. They asked how long it would take to get to Nippletop and I explained how long it took me to get here from there. They seemed satisfied by my response and went on their way. Now closing in on 1:00 PM, it seemed like a late start for Nippletop.

    I left the clearing atop Noonmark's shoulder at 1:00 PM and arrived at the Lake Road at 1:30 PM. It was one of the most enjoyable descents imaginable (and without a single butt-slide). I thought descending through fresh powder was fun but soft wet snow is a close contender. The snow off-trail was especially fast; it felt like it was greasy underfoot and provided the kindest surface for old knees. A few sections were riddled with post-holes but I either plowed through or around them. By the time I reached the road, my legs were achy in all new places but I was still smiling.


    Spring-like day in January.

    I took off my snowshoes just past the gate and immediately felt like I was walking on air. I signed out at 1:45 PM, five hours and forty minutes from departure, soggy and achy from the effort, but oh-so-happy to have experienced a spring day in January.

    Photos
    Looking for Views!

  • #2
    nice report, a few more paragraph break would be appreciated

    Comment


    • #3
      5:40 is a quick pace for these two, sounds like the 'steady burn' philosphy is working for you and that you made great time despite the strange conditions. Good work.

      Comment


      • #4
        Nice sighting on the JoeCedar, he usually moves too fast for humans to identify!
        Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

        Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
        Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
        Past President Catskill 3500 Club
        CEO Views And Brews!

        Comment


        • #5
          Trail Boss, you are too kind in trying to make me into some kind of celebrity, which I am not. By the numbers, lowly unrecognized CBND is a more difficult hike than the highest two peaks in Maine, with 1200 feet more ascent in about a mile shorter distance. I assure you, however, that the 12 hours procook131 and I spent on Katahdin/Hamlin were more difficult (physically and especially mentally) than 9 hours on CBND.

          I enjoyed your company for our brisk 1:37 walk to the Colvin trail junction. Like you, I could have done without the sloppy snow and drippy trees, but it was a good warm-up for the real climbing. I was impressed by your stamina; I didn't even hear you gasping for breath (or were you concealing it very well?).

          It was great that we passed the four barebooters (and sometimes post holers, all inconsiderate Americans I must add; one even sported a 46er patch) so I had a nice smooth trail to Colvin and Blake. Coming down Blake I encountered the first pair and had to endure their postholes and later those of the other two when climbing back up Colvin and down to the junction. I must point out that three of the four were carrying snowshoes. I hope they enjoyed carrying them and hope they really enjoy the sore ankles/knees/legs today.

          In contrast, the American and Canadian hikers doing Dial and Nippletop all wore snowshoes--nice people all. I did notice that one descending hiker often strayed off the trail and made snowshoe-postholes. It looked like he was having fun but my legs were a little tired and I stayed mostly in the track. I made it back to the gate at 5:02, a little slower than planned but considering the wet conditions it was a good hike.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JoeCedar View Post
            I didn't even hear you gasping for breath (or were you concealing it very well?).
            Oh man, I knew it was a test!

            I've learned how to breathe hard, very very quietly.

            I did notice that one descending hiker often strayed off the trail and made snowshoe-postholes.
            Guilty as charged! Whereas I consider the snow-packed trail to be "an endangered species", to be treated with respect and conserved so it can be a safe and navigable snow-spine for all, the snow outside the bounds of the trail is fair game for snowshoes. Oh boy, the conditions were good for a fast descent!
            Looking for Views!

            Comment


            • #7
              The insertion of pictures between paragraphs is a good TR technique for breaking the content of each paragraph. As for the pictures, one less of you would have been enough.

              Now all kidding aside, nice report, good read. Hope to bump into you some day out there.
              What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

              Ralph Waldo Emerson

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RTSpoons View Post
                As for the pictures, one less of you would have been enough.
                Oh, I try my best to keep it down to just one self-portrait per peak.

                If I ever hike the Great Range Traverse, you might want to skip the photos.
                Looking for Views!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Nice TR! Hope to see on the winter trails one day.
                  Love all wilderness!
                  Trying to hike and XC ski as much as possible.

                  ADK 46/46 still not official.
                  W 27/46

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
                    Oh, I try my best to keep it down to just one self-portrait per peak.

                    If I ever hike the Great Range Traverse, you might want to skip the photos.
                    Is there an expression in English for the visual equivalent of the "wordy version"?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoeCedar View Post
                      By the numbers, lowly unrecognized CBND is a more difficult hike than the highest two peaks in Maine, with 1200 feet more ascent in about a mile shorter distance. I assure you, however, that the 12 hours procook131 and I spent on Katahdin/Hamlin were more difficult (physically and especially mentally) than 9 hours on CBND.
                      I would have to agree, although the first time I did CBND back in 12/2010 (with the famous/infamous JoeCedar) I might have thought differently. Both can be herculian hikes; conditions change, fitness level, etc.

                      Originally posted by JoeCedar View Post
                      I was impressed by your stamina; I didn't even hear you gasping for breath (or were you concealing it very well?).
                      That's the test......at least the one I am always trying to pass. Or cheat on
                      “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

                      "Not the kind of "fun" you have to force yourself to remember you're supposed to be having, but the kind where you realize for the last half a day you've had this idiot grin on your face that you just can't seem to shake." -Mirabela

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Nice TR Trail Boss. Hope to see you out on the trails again sometime
                        -veggielasagna

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