Which way? Clockwise!
Ah, the age old question: Dial and Nippletop, clockwise or counter-clockwise? For a change, I decided to hike it clockwise. It was fun. So much so that I added Colvin as a bookend. The trip took me 8.5 daylight hours; headlamp snoozed in my pack.
A completely different kind of hike was planned for Thursday. The ambitious itinerary required an ice-axe, so I rented one. Unfortunately, the other party fell ill. Finding myself fully prepared for a hike on a beautiful day, I spun the Wheel of Hiking and it stopped at Nippletop and Dial.
I left the AMR trailhead at 7:50 AM, shortly after sunrise, and headed up the H.G. Leach trail. Within a few minutes I caught up with two ADK High Peaks forum-lurkers (Charlie and Don) also heading to Nippletop. I'd meet them again later in the day at the Elk Pass/Colvin junction.
The day would prove to be a study of the Great Range from four vantage points. Noonmark's shoulder provided the first view. In early morning light, under a bluebird sky, shrouded in a fresh mantle of snow, the Range appeared vibrant and inviting. By the time I reached Colvin, about two hours before sunset, the Range appeared dark and forbidding.
|The Great Range from Noonmark's shoulder.|
It was a bit chillier than I had expected (-8 C or 18 F) but I was moving at a brisk pace and generating a lot of heat and sweat. The trail conditions improved and by that I mean more snow and ice and fewer rocks and roots. The valley had been a carpet of snow-dusted leaves but the ridge offered wintrier conditions.
Dial greeted me with a commanding view of the Great Range and then some. One could identify all peaks from Skylight to Lower Wolfjaw and even Big Slide through the Wolfjaws col. Face southeast and the bulk of Nippletop rises before you.
|The Great Range from Dial.|
|On to Nippletop.|
|Pristine trail to Nippletop.|
|Nippletop's wintry summit.|
I emerged on Colvin's summit shortly before 2:00 PM. Now late in the day, and under a cloudier sky, the Great Range appeared anything but its earlier, "warm and friendly" self. Thoroughly soaked from the exertion, I didn't dwell on the summit. After a little more food and water, I was down-climbing the Colvin Step and looking forward to the hike out. By pure chance, I met Charlie and Don, taking a break from their descent of Nippletop, at the Elk Pass/Colvin trail junction.
|Lower Ausable Lake.|
I signed out at 4:20 PM and, from the paucity of log entries, noted that I was one of the very few fortunate to have had fun on DNC. I'll be back after December 21st to add Dial and Nippletop to my Winter 46.