I have about a dozen peaks remaining to complete my seventh round. However, Phelps was still needed to finish my sixth round. A quick check of my peakbagging spreadsheet indicated it was also needed for April's Grid so Sunday's hike to Phelps was a twofer.
I chose to combine Colden, Tabletop, with Phelps to close out my sixth round. I didn't realize it at the time but, by strange coincidence, it was the very same combination of peaks I had climbed to complete my fifth round.
|Lake Arnold losing its winter blanket.|
The view from Colden's northern false-summit was spellbinding. The blend of color and texture, white snow, green spruce, and blue sky, was sublime. It was my eighth hike to Colden and yet today it seemed like one of the finest views of the bunch.
|Off to Colden.|
Colden's summit remained sheathed in a substantial snowpack that, to my surprise, was very solid. I was able to walk past the cantilevered rock and directly through the stand of trees to the true summit. The tree tops stood a mere 4-5 feet above the dense snowpack and I didn't spring a single 'spruce-trap'. The snowpack had remodeled the summit so it took me a moment to confirm I was standing in the 'right spot'.
|Snow, snow everywhere|
I met the two hikers again below the false-summit and wished them well. I glissaded down the trail and met at least ten other hikers ascending to Colden. I'd see no one else until I paused at Indian Falls. The Crossover trail to Indian Falls was in a curious state. Someone wearing snowshoes had created post-holes on both sides of the monorail. I couldn't understand why they had difficulty staying in the center of the trail. It was especially surprising given that today's conditions, despite the warm temperature (in the 40's rising to 50's), made it very difficult to post-hole the monorail in boots.
I paused at Indian Falls for a snack and then pushed on to Tabletop. The trail-signs at the junction didn't survive the winter unscathed. One has fallen and lies propped against a tree and the other has been relocated in a hasty manner. Several hundred yards in on the herd-path, I stopped to stash my snowshoes and the inoperative GPS receiver. Despite having a western exposure, tabletop's herd-path was in excellent condition. The monorail was solid and only one sunlit section had exposed some rock and mud. I tagged the summit sign, now edited to indicate "ABLETOP", and continued to the lookout which was completely barren of snow.
During the descent I met two dogs who couldn't decide if they should stand their ground or return to their owners. Their owners caught up to them and settled the issue. I retrieved my gear and continued on to Phelps. Travel on the Van Hoevenberg trail was easy-breezy.
The trail up Phelps was in the most advanced state of 'spring decay'. The first third was a mix of dirty ice, mud and running water. I found a fallen tree and hid my excess gear. The remainder of the trail still had decent snow cover and I just trudged up along the monorail.
I arrived on the summit shortly after 2:00 PM. The two people on the summit kindly agreed to take my picture. I spent about 20 minutes chatting with them. After they departed, I remained for a few minutes to enjoy the warm sunshine and the great view of the two other peaks I had hiked. It felt good to close out the sixth round on such a spectacular day.
|Phelps for my sixth 46er round.|
|Fascinating frost-heave at Marcy Dam.|
PhotosSee all photos.
5300 feet, 17.4 miles, 8h 7m.