So the nor’easter that tore through New York at the start of March threw its nasty wrench into many hiking plans. Thus, leaving me to hike 2 peaks I was hoping to save closer to my winter finish next winter. It was ok, though! Another solo hike was just what I needed…I just had to get to Lake Placid first!
Easier said than done.
Friday, March 2nd hailed a Snow Day for just about every school in the state of New York. Apparently there was a road advisory for the NYS Thruway? This girl drove in it anyway. Whiteout conditions, white knuckles, and crazy mid-state weather delivered me to LP after 7 freaking hours! The longest drive to LP eva. Thankfully, some good friends stuck with me via text updates through the hairy sections. Thanks KT and JK! The blizzard gods thanked me as well, for putting brand new tires on my truck.
I drove myself right to the brewery! Haha.
Hike day! There was a bright side to the nor’easter that ripped through the high peaks…the trails to both junctions would be broken out by the time I arrived. I knew of a few groups that were heading out much earlier so yay for that! The popularity and accessibility of Phelps made it a given as well. Tabletop Mountain would be a crap shoot, however.
At 8:25 a.m., I signed into the trail register at the Loj trailhead. Plenty of hikers out and about already! Another gift from the trail angels. I actually love both Tabletop and Phelps so I was happy to be in the fresh mountain air, back on the grand highway of the Adirondacks once again.
As I ambled along, patiently waiting for my legs to warm up, I realized I hadn’t been back here in over a year. The last time was the Skylight and Gray hike that Mallory and I climbed last February. Also following a major blizzard and one of the best hike ever!
Lately, when I hiked solo, my mind has been quiet. It’s strange actually. I guess I’m going through a “quiet phase?” Or possibly honoring the space between no longer and not yet? A silent, peaceful phase…embrace it, I did.
An enchanting silence…
The first warm-up mile down…onto one of my favorite places. I passed a few hikers here and there…
The reroute makes the journey to the dam seem much faster. I can never get tired of winter. The cleansing mountain air and mild temperatures set the scene for superb day.
Less than an hour later, I sauntered over some bridge love. Eric Greitens popped into my head for some reason. “It’s not enough to tell yourself a better story. You have to live your better story.” Live your better story. Those were the words that spoke to me…live your better story.
The rest of the quote goes as follows: “It’s not enough to make meaning out of what has already happened. In light of that meaning, you have live the next moment, the next chapter, the next scene.”
Those were the words that stuck with me throughout the hike. Every once in a while, “live your better story.” Most of the time, my mind was honoring the quiet space between.
Good Morning, World from Marcy Dam!
Another cloud-filled mountain sky. Views would be vacant, wind will be present at higher elevations…but as far as I was concerned, it was a blessing to spend time with Mother Nature and all her glory.
The sweet, little footbridges blanketed in millions of magical crystals as my steps quickened. The legs were finally warmed up!
The last time I climbed this particular trail was about 2 years ago. My memory searched for the benchmarks before the trail steepened. I remembered the sweet, little footbridges. I also recalled this bridge as well. And if memory served me correctly, the trail started gently roll up, up, up soon. That term “gently rolling hills” kills me. There’s nothing gentle about them…other than a gentle pain in my hip. 😉
Give me some rock slabs and straight beelines to the summits anyday.
Oh how I miss those sunglasses! (another story) Why sunglasses on an overcast snowy day, you ask? Downfall of blue eyes. Overcast = gotta wear shades.
Yup…one more bend in the path and then the not-so-gentle, rolling climb began.
Enchantment whispered through its heavenly arms, stretched out, gracing each passer-by with magic. Live your better story and believe in magic.
At 10:40 a.m., the junction for Table Top Mountain appeared! The perfect time to take a quick hot chocolate break, relieved that the trail was already broken out!
Ok…Table Top Mountain in the winter?? Absolutely gorgeous!! Ab.so.lute.ly. GORGEOUS! It was kind of a muddy mess when I hiked this peak during summer. But winter…winter. A must do!
Not soon after I began to climb, I passed the group of 6 that graciously broke out the trail! A big thank you to them! As I wandered on, the woods grew silent once again. And then…a song. The welcomed singing from trail friends. Looking up, I noticed these sweet little birds were directly above me! I just stood there, motionless, listening to their mountain melody. More enchantments. More magic. More moments in the better story.
How long is the mileage of herdpath to the summit? I had no idea. Two miles? A mile and a half? No clue. (insert “shrugging shoulders emoji” here) It didn’t matter. I wasn’t in a rush. I had nowhere to be after the hike. The day was all my own. Because of that, I stopped often on the ascent. Marveling at the winter wonderland. Living my better story.
Pausing to snap a photo of the frozen berries over head. I have to remind my short self to look up! Iced perfection.
If another hiker walked past me at this point, what he or she would see was me…with my nose practically touching this tree. Jack Frost’s personal art gallery right at our fingertips. An exquisite masterpiece. For me, this is what life is about. Simple beauty. Appreciation for creation, on every level. So many “wow” moments. Just wow.
Seriously! Look at this view!! Breathtaking…as in literally took my breath away.
As I approached the summit, I met up with another hiker. He was waiting for his friend, who was finishing his Winter 46 on Table Top! His friends went to Phelps first and were going to meet him on Table Top. He and I chatted for a few minutes before I hiked on.
After 45 minutes since I left the trail junction, my 24th winter high peak was nabbed! It was around 11:30 a.m. So 3 hours to reach the summit. Not too bad.
Not a view to be had or a sign for that matter! The sign was stolen back in the fall and has since been replaced actually. Still. My heart hurt. It makes me sad when people do that.
While I ate my pb & j sandwich, the gentlemen caught up with me. We chatted some more about summit signs, Western NY, and hiking the 46 in winter.
A meeting of the elders…
I would settle for a summit picture with the yellow disc of yesteryear. 🙂
Now. If the hike couldn’t get any better…let’s talk buttsliding down Table Top. THE BEST!!!! I slid down the entire mountain. The ENTIRE mountain…and I didn’t even have my buttsled this time! I’m laughing as I type this. I am becoming the spokesperson for the least-liked peaks. Haha! Marshall…Couch..Allen…Cliff & Redfield…Table Top. Well maybe Table Top gets a little more love than the others.
I kid. But still…I’ll cheer those aforementioned peaks on any day!
An hour later, I was down from Table Top and back at the junction for Phelpsie. One more swig of my hot chocolate and it was time to tackle Phelps. This trail would not be the smooth sailing that TT was…it would be a constant climb for 1.2 miles. Up. Up. Up.
My heel lifts on my snowshoes were a lifesaver. Even though there was considerably less snow on this trail than the rest of the hike. Like I mentioned earlier, Phelps is a popular mountain. Not all hikers were wearing snowshoes or even spikes. At 12:45 p.m., this trail was pretty beat up already.
Enchanting and magical as ever though, My hip appreciated the softer hike than in summer.
LOVED this trail marker. It immediately caught my eye. This handsome, elder guy had stories and secrets in his memory, I was sure of that.
The path was extremely busy. I welcomed the change of pace to be honest. The silence was starting to get to me, just a little. There were only a few sketchy spots with ice present, towards the summit. But nothing that my snowshoes and some tree trunks couldn’t handle.
Live your better story….
Smiles were plentiful now. Everything I saw made me smile. It was a truly magnificent day to be in the mountains. I encountered many new hikers as well. Full of joy and glee and excitement to be climbing their first high peak! Instant joy. When I’m in the presence of Joy, it’s contagious!
The trail meandered out of the treeline and I knew the summit was near. I could hear even more voices up ahead.
This was the section I remembered well! It was a shame I met a completely socked-in summit. There were majestic mountains that lived out there. Colden. Marcy. The Macs. All of them.
There was a party on Phelps when I arrived. A few gentlemen, a group of girls and a couple of guys. They were hysterical. I came up to the summit, dragging my poles behind me.
“Look at that view!” I exclaimed. “Isn’t it just magnificent?” Oh Phelps. You are truly extraordinary but today, nothing but a buzzkill. 😉
Still, Phelpsie was my 25th winter high peak! The young college kids were cracking me up. They had a winter picnic going and could care less about the absent view. It was everyone’s (including the older gentlemen) first time up Phelps and the boys’ first high peak.
So naturally, I began to give them the tour of the peaks that lived in the mountain thickness…Marcy, Colden..
One of the boys took my picture. And when I returned the favor, I could have sworn they said, “Thanks, Mom!” But they really said, “For Mom!”
Haha! It was all good though because I’m a mom. I told them Mom would be proud and that I was proud too.
After the party picnic was over, I bid the kids farewell and I was on my way. My goal was to be back at the lot by 4 p.m.
I was hustling, until I heard the soothing sound of trickling water.
The color of the ice grabbed my attention as well. So incredibly beautiful.
Onward I plodded. My legs were tiring and my hip started its typical end of hike antics.
One final shot of Marcy Dam on my way out and I made back to the lot by 4 p.m
This, right here, is enchantment at her finest. The quintessential picturesque scene that makes the Adirondacks so darn special. #exhale
The nor’easter made some trouble getting to the peaks…but this day was perfect. Simple beauty. Jack Frost and Mother Nature working hand in hand. Enchanting. Magical. These mountains.
Honor the space between no longer and not yet. Live your better story. And love winter!! Winter is where it is at!
Onto the next chapter,