Last week (I know, I’m so quick to blog about things!) Darcy, Rae, and I set out to get a couple of Adirondack High Peaks in and to stop by the ever iconic Indian Head. I’m almost embarrassed to say, but for all the miles I put on in the Adirondacks, I’ve never stopped there because I’ve been too tired to. Well, not this time! We’re hitting it first!
The AMR parking lot is set up for reservations only now, and they check you in, too. What’s not so great is you can’t decide that morning or even a few days ahead that you want to go hike from their property. What’ absolutely great is you don’t have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to fight for a parking spot and then sit in your car for a few hours or head out way too early for a 9 hour day. I’m a fan of the reservation system, I’ll admit.
So we got there in the daylight, got our stuff together and set out. Forecast called for rain (go figure… it’s been that way all year) but at the moment it was quite sunny. We decided to hit Indian Head first, walking the Lake Road in as far as that as opposed to walking it out. Like I said, we were figuring on rain and also not wanting to stop at the end of the day. I started with my hiking pants but soon unzipped the legs off. It was really a nice walk… weather, peacefulness, conversation. So nice we missed our first turn! BUT, there’s another…
We took the Gill Brook Cutoff trail and headed up. We had a paper map and All-Trails going but yeah, we missed the first turn. We ascended to the intersection heading to Indian Head where we were passed by the first two hikers we saw that morning. After some climbing we came to our first view of Lower Ausable Lake, then popped down to the rock lookout. Clouds were rolling in but the views were breathtaking… I couldn’t believe I put this off for so long!
We took pics and ate a bit, and the wind started cooling us off so we donned a layer of clothing. My running shirt was now a bit damp so I put on an over-shirt, then started off again. Aaaaand proceeded to skip past the turn and headed back down the way we came! Yeah, should have headed up Fishhawk Cliffs and then over.
Now back at the Gill Brook trail, we turned right and headed up to the Elk Pass trail. The trail wasn’t too bad, but soon after the ponds the trail turns and head up… and up and up. It’s like a straight shot up hopping rocks and roots. So at this point, what better way to cool off than to have some rain start! It started sprinkling a little, and we came across another two people resting on some rocks; a dad and his 11 year old son. We chatted for only a minute and then kept going, soon crossing paths with a man coming down and hoping to get Colvin and Blake before the bad weather. He mentioned camping but then said he was changing his mind. I hear you buddy. I’m a fairweather hiker myself!
We finally got to the intersection and it was .2 miles to Nippletop, but damn if these peaks don’t have so many false summits. “It’s just around the corner” is part of the lexicon when you’re hiking these mountains! But we finally summitted Nippletop and got bundled up again. The rain was a bit more steady coming in, and the winds were blowing harder here at the top. We didn’t stay too long, but soon the dad and son came up. We said congrats, took their pic, and headed on over to Dial.
Just past the intersection we came up to a mud…. hole. So far the mud hasn’t been bad, almost a dough like consistency you can (and should) walk through. But this one.. hoo boy! Rae somehow managed to get across the “log” with a bit of mud coming up on her boots, but Darcy went in almost up to her knee after a misstep! I was in the back and of course had to get pics before going around to help. Sooo much mud! Not much help. 🙂
We continued on to Dial as the rain began falling harder. It actually sounded nice and, with the somewhat mild temperature, it didn’t feel uncomfortable. We each took a turn (or two) slipping and falling but with no injuries. The roots are awful when wet. Flippin’ death slides. Soon after I took a turn though, we had a very close encounter with a deer and her fawn. They couldn’t have been more than 50′ from us and didn’t even care. We stopped and watched for a few minutes but momma deer couldn’t keep her tongue out of junior’s arse so we were like “yeah, we’re good. Later guys.”
Finally down to the Lake Road again, we began our walk back to the car. I liked the shorter road walk out… that was nice. We saw a few more hikers closer to the register, so maybe a total of 9 on this gloomy Thursday hike. We got back to the Jeep, dropped our packs, and you know what comes next…
Stewart’s coffee and chicken bacon ranch pizza! This time with milkshake for desert!
The 14.5 mile roundtrip, 3800′ elevation gain hike took us almost exactly 9 hours. Indian Head was great and we had good weather for it, but Dial was soaking mess. Rae made it past her halfway point and now stands at 24 High Peaks of the 46!
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