Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Esther Mountain and Mt. Baker

Back in October, Mike and I were supposed to go back to the Adirondacks two weeks after we hiked Colden and Wright. We decided to postpone our trip to the first weekend in November because of weather and we boarded Bernie. I didn't know what the weather would hold for us, and this way it gave us more options without him.

We decided to go for Esther Mountain since it is a short hike and not very intense, compared to some of the other mountains we have left. After seeing the weather, I had ruled out doing Whiteface as well, even though most people do that since they are so close. We'll hike Whiteface at another time and take a different, less traveled, trail to do so.

We woke up relatively early on November 5th and made the drive to the Atmospheric Science Research Center. We parked on the side of the road where hiker parking is located, and got ready to hike. Mike got out of the car and asked some other hikers where the trail was, and they pointed him in the right direction.

The trail in the beginning

We set off for our hike and made our way down the trail. We had about a .3 mile warmup before we started to ascend, rather steeply. This was probably the hardest part of the hike, especially since I got warm almost immediately. We pulled over to the side so I could take off a layer and the other hikers Mike had chatted with passed us.

Mike making his way up

The top of Marble Mountain, no views!

We continued the steep climb for awhile, and then right around 1 mile into our hike we made it to Marble Mountain. We couldn't see anything at all, so we just kept going. We made it to a junction, to the left we could go toward Reservoir Road (another way to hike Esther and Whiteface) and to the right was the trail we wanted.

After this the hike wasn't that bad at all, except the temperature in the higher elevations. We did ascend a little bit after Marble Mountain (well quite a bit, but it really wasn't noticeable at all). Mike and I did have a moment of, "did we pass the herd path", since our watches were over the distance we thought we should be at for the path.

To the right!

Walking the herd path


Mike's "Usain Pole" pose

Right after that, though, we reached the junction for the herd path to Esther and the trail to continue on to Whiteface. We went up the herd path and this is when it started to get really cold and icy/snowy. I put on my winter gloves and my down jacket, and finally warmed up. The only major issue with the herd path was one section where there were some down trees and we had to navigate over them.

 The summit plaque

I kept wondering when we would hit the summit of Esther, thinking we had a bit further to go, and then I saw the other hikers from the beginning of our hike. At first I thought they were just taking a break, and then I saw the plaque that marks the summit.

I said, "oh!" not realizing that we had already reached the summit. The four of us chatted for a bit, about how the summit was kind of anticlimactic and some of our other hikes, and then they continued on to Whiteface.

Obligatory shoe photo 

Us on our 17th high peak!

Mike and I took some pictures at the summit, had a snack and then we went back down the way we came. My feet were really cold and I worried for a little while about them warming up. Since the trail was wet, my feet were wet. I did have another pair of socks, but thankfully after a little while my feet did warm up and I didn't need them.

I thought it was interesting that these were here for an unmaintained trail 

Mike navigating the downed trees

We went through the sketchy downed tree part again, and after awhile (before I thought we would) we were back at the junction for Whiteface and Esther. We kept going back toward the Atmospheric Science Research Center since I worried about the temperatures on Whiteface, and I had already decided we weren't doing it that day.

Happy trails!

The hike down was enjoyable. A lot of the ice on the way up had started to melt and we ran into a few other hikers going up.

Mike pondering life 

Loving the ADK

When we approached Marble Mountain, there was actually a view! We stopped at Marble Mountain and took some photos.

After that it was just one mile back to the car. This hike was really enjoyable, and our shortest hike in the high peaks so far! We finished up back at the car after 5 hours and 24 minutes for a 7.15 mile hike. At the car, some hunters were finishing up their morning and they asked how it was up on Whiteface. We told them we didn't go up that far, but we assumed it definitely had snow up there! (Also, one of them asked who the ultra runner was since I have my 50K and 50 mile stickers on my car).

We spent the rest of the day getting some brunch, going into Lake Placid to get burritos and seeing Dr. Strange. It was a nice relaxing day in the Adirondacks!

The trail sign

On Sunday before heading home, we decided to hike Mt. Baker, one of the Saranac 6ers. It is the shortest of those 6 mountains (and we had planned to hike a second, but we decided to just get some breakfast and go home after the first hike).

Mike making his way up the trail

We didn't see anyone else during this hike until the very end. There were some flurries toward the top, but since we were in lower elevation compared to the day before it wasn't that bad. I was wearing my winter hiking boots and some of the ascent was difficult. I didn't trust myself as much in them and went slower than I probably would have in other hiking shoes/boots.

A marker at the summit 

Sadly, no views 

Pretending there are views

At the top we took some photos, ate some snacks and then went back down.

Somewhat of a view on the way back down

After 1.9 miles in an hour and 23 minutes we were back at the car.

While this weekend was a bit more relaxed for us than normal when we go to the Adirondacks, it was still enjoyable. And one more high peak checked off for 17/46 done!

1 comment:

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