Last week's abject failure on Dial could not be let standing. It was time to take a deep breath and try it again.
We walked very briskly up the Lake Road and reached the turnoff to the Gill Brook trail in no time. The route up Gill Brook was scenic, with lots of frozen and semi-frozen cascades and other water features along the way. Blowdown along this trail all the way up to Elk Pass was fairly minimal. Weather was perfect - still clear, no wind. not too warm nor cold.
The steep ascent up to Nippletop from Elk Pass was in good shape - again minimal blowdown and a good track. The summit presented an excellent view (my first time up here not in the clouds), especially towards the Great Range.
The track over to Dial was not as well-set but was still a help over breaking a
new trail. Blowdown along the ridge to Dial was minimal. A quick stop at Dial's summit's excellent lookout rock, and then we were off - we could see the weather changing from bright blue to dark slate grey! bad weather on the way.
The stretch from Dial, and over Bear den was through the same messy blowdown that had halted us the week before. This time we had tracks to follow, and we knew the extent of the blowdown, so things went fairly uneventfully.
Quickening our pace with the approaching bad weather, we motored through the burn area, down to the road, and made it back to the entrance gate just as the first few ice pellets started raining down from the sky. Squeaked this one through just in time!
(for a more detailed trip writeup and lots of pictures, click on the image gallery link below)
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: January 2006 Nippletop-Dial Mountain Hike
Today's hike was the first of the official 'winter season'. I wanted to kick it off with a couple of winter 46ers that I had not done, and that would also make a couple of winter AND regular 46ers for Jenn. (If you'd like to see this text inline in the image gallery for this hike, follow the image gallery link at the bottom of this page) Initially I had thought about a loop that would summit the Wolfjaws, but, as we arrived near the trailhead, I saw how wonderful idea it was looking to be (as in, clear beautiful skies). I decided that perhaps we should switch to an outing that had more views. I thought perhaps Dial and Nippletop might be a good choice. Similar in distance to my original plans, and with a good view from Nippletop, and from the 1999 burn area, which I had heard about but not yet seen. I suggested the idea to Jenn, and she was agreeable. Progress up the Leigh trail to the burn area was rapid, even with Jenn's pulled muscle. The first glimpses of the Burn area were quite interesting, especially in how almost all of the existing forest had been razed by the fire and was replaced by millions of young saplings of some sort. Up and through the scenic burn area we went, and then down into a deep 300-foot dip between the shoulder of Noonmark (which we were on) and Bear Den Mountain, the sub-summit below Dial. The descent portion was very open and in the burn area, whereas the ascent of Bear Den was out of the burn area and in thick coniferous forest. Blowdown (which I had been a bit worried about) started to rear its ugly, snow-laden, messy head.
Eventually we got to a point where the ATIS trail markers stopped, and we reached an area along the ridge between Bear Den and Dial (about halfway, I'd say) where there was either the mother of all blowdowns, or we got ourselves slightly off-trail (can't be too off trail when you are following a ridge-trail!). We traipsed around for a good 20 minutes and could find no sign of further ATIS markers or the faint snowshoe tracks. Given that, Jenn's muscle thing, the time, and just the sheer annoyance of it all, we decided to call it quits (we were about 1.1 straight-line kilometres from the summit of Dial). As consolation, the clouds had mostly cleared, and the views from the burn area to the mostly clear Great Range were simply spectacular.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: December 2005 Dial Mountain Hike
I have one (1) picture of this entire hike. The weather was, shall we say, crappy, right from the start. Drizzly and low clouds. And the picture I do have is of a spider web. This give you a good idea of what I thought of the views. Anyway, the hike up the Lake road was uneventful and short, since we turned off up to Bear Den early on. This trail really hits you right away, climbing very steeply from the get-go. Tough! Once up on Bear Den, the trail follows the ridgeline westward, and at the time I recall a lot of blowdown on the trail that had not been yet cleaned up. Dial was not a memorable summit, especially with the clouds, and Nippletop had no views either, although I could tell from the way the land dropped off steeply on either side that this was a much more interesting summit. I'll have to redo it one of these years when I can actually see something. We returned via Elk Pass and down to the Lake Road. Quite the wet soggy hike.