Arriving Nippletop summit
Although the sun was out and the temperature was not overly cold, there was a gusty wind up here that did put the chill in one's bones, and which didn't promote too much standing around. I took a series of shots of the great peaks visible all around, and especially of nearby Mount Marcy and Haystack, which both looked like they were sporting a perfect coating of fresh, thick winter snow. It looked like climbing conditions up there were superb today.
It was now around 2pm - a bit later in the afternoon than we would have liked for this point along our hike, and it was time to start heading down from the top of Nippletop. I was a little reluctant to leave, what with all the amazing views, but we had to consider that we still had a fairly long walk back along the ridgeline northeast, over Dial, then back down to the cars.
I very much enjoyed the view-flled ridge-walk back down, taking appreciative note at each excellent stretch of scenery afforded by the thick, firm snowpack. There was one final open lookout not far beyond the trail junction up from Elk Lake, and then from that point on, we were in the trees. The trail roughly followed the crest of the ridge, which had become much broader. Primarily the grade was downhill with a few minor little bumps, too small to be called true sub-summits. Generally the understory was quite open, free of brush, and once again - the tread was packed and firm and easily allowed the use of microspikes. However, stepping even a little off the trail was ill-advised, as that could easily invite a 3 or 4-foot deep post-hole.
Although our pace along this ridge section was decent, I was starting to feel the length of today's hike, which was the longest Adirondack mountain hike I'd done since before the pandemic. I was definitely a little more weary than I normally would have expected, and in general, our pace slowed. I was grateful for the generally downhill grade.
Small Clearing along ridgecrest
The final dip before Dial Mountain was more pronounced, and the climb back up to Dial's summit was fairly steep, although not too long. Shortly afterwards, we arrived at the tip of Dial Mountain, which happens to have a conveniently placed erratic right at its summit, providing a good - if limited - lookout to the west. I waited and watched as Brian awkwardly scrambled onto the boulder and took a snap of him and his successful summiting of his 24th winter 46R peak.