An unusual twice-in-one-year visit to the summit of Esther and Whiteface mountains, this time on a busy summer weekend.
I was tagging along on one of Julie Moran's trips today. She had originally planned this as a dog group outing, but all of those participants had cancelled, and so it was just myself, Julie, Mike (Julie's lab) and a new hiker from Maine - Ann.
We set up vehicles at the Marble Mountain and Connery Pond Trailheads, and starting hiking from the northern end (the Marble Mountain end) southwards. It was a warm and beautiful late summer day, more than enough to get us sweaty on the ascent up to Marble Mountain.
I hadn't been up Esther in the summer in quite a few years, and was surprised to see all of the pretty extensive trailwork (including a boardwalk) along the herd path. I think we can stop calling it a herd path at this point.
The summit of Whiteface was crowded - expected for a long-weekend summer day - and we were glad to get to the relative solitude of the trail heading south off of Whiteface's summit. We then made a fairly quick descent and hike out, reaching the Connery Pond trailhead almost exactly eight hours after starting out.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: September 2012 Whiteface-Esther Traverse
You could call this a 'Helping Harold' hike: helping him, that is, to achieve his newest goal of becoming a winter 46R.
Originally Brian and Harold were going to do Whiteface and Esther as a there-and-back via the Wilmington Trail. I convinced them instead to go for a shorter and [allegedly] easier loop that started and ended at the toll road gate and utilized a bushwhack route between the auto road and the summit of Esther.
A crisp winter morning saw us briskly walking up the auto road. Things went well, and we arrived at the summit in just under three hours. Beautiful views, good conditions, no wind. Onwards we went on a broken out Wilmington Trail over to the Esther herdpath. The herdpath was in perfect shape - pretty much as good as any hiking trail, really. We arrived at the summit of Esther not long after noon. Motoring we were!
After a good lunch, we set about on the biggest unknown (and potentially the most onerous) part of our day - a bushwhack descent down off of Esther to the auto road. I had done this before, back in 2004 with Markus and Caroline, and remembered as being a bit brushy but not too bad. Well... I remembered wrong. It was bad - thick, difficult, slow bushwhacking. Although the total distance from summit to road was just around 2km, it took us nearly four hours to do it! Something must have been different between 2004 and now, because in 2004 it took us that much time to ascend and descend the very same route. Perhaps it was the depth of the snowpack! Anyway, we made it, in just around 9 hours total. Not a bad overall time, I guess.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: January 2012 Whiteface-Esther Loop Hike
The kickoff to the winter 07-08 hiking season: a ski-snowshoe-ski up Whiteface and Esther Mountains.
Jenn needed these two for her winter 46er list, and the snow conditions were good for cross-country skiing, so we decided to make these two our first winters of the year. Despite the forecast, we arrived to a pretty bright and sunny day. Temperatures were moderate, and there was little wind.
We skiied up a snowmobile-packed toll road to the 2nd hairpin, where we ditched the skiis and snowshoed up the short remaining bit of the north ridge of Whiteface. Excellent views here! At the summit, we noted a neat undercast that was starting to develop over the Central High Peaks to the south of us, and also the busy Whiteface Olympic ski hill directly below us. People trying to get a good day of skiing in before the weather turned, perhaps?
We trudged back down to the 2nd hairpin and then broke trail all the way to Esther's summit. My previous tracklog proved useful for staying on the herdpath portion to Esther. We arrived relatively late, at 3pm. The return trip over now-broken-out trail was much faster, but still not fast enough to avoid dusk falling just as we arrived back at our skiis at the second hairpin.
The way down should have been fun and quick, but the darkness (plus our skinny old skiis and lack of skiing skill) made the descent back down the road slow and awkward. Still, a fine day, all-in-all!
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: December 2007 Winter kickoff hike - Whiteface and Esther
This outing was a Whiteface/Esther combo hike that Jenn and I did on August 6, 2005. Jenn wanted to do these two peaks as part of her 46er quest; I'd never hiked from the lower Wilmington trailhead, nor had I ever done both Whiteface and Esther in a day. And, the weather was beautiful and warm, a situation I'd also not encountered on a previous ascent of Whiteface.. We stayed the night before at the Wilmington Notch Campground, a nice state-run facility very close to the Whiteface ski hill. There is a nice waterfall down below the campground that is worth visiting. We started off our hike not long after 7am, and encountered very few people on our ascent that day. The lower trail, being the longer option, has little traffic and therefore good trail conditions. Higher up, the usual Adirondacks rockiness rears its head once in a while, along with some tiring stretches of muddy trail in the long flat sections at around 4,000 feet. An officially unmarked but fairly obvious junction marked the way off to Esther. and the summit of Esther was reached not long afterwards. This was the first time at Esther's summit in the summer for me, and so it was the first time that I actually got to see the summit marker. Very nice. After Esther, it was back to the unofficial junction, then up over first muddy trails, then the beautiful north summit ridge of Whiteface. The summit views were beautiful, but as a result, also crowded with tourists who have driven up on the auto road. We take a few snaps, then head down the "protected" west ridge route to the castle, where we pop in for a quick snack and new batteries (I only brought one set of half-charged batteries for my GPS, and they were now out). From there, we walked down the auto road to where it intersects the ascent trail, and from there back down to the trailhead.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: August 2005 Whiteface and Esther Hike
The time had come to cross off Esther. We wanted to do a short winter hike (had to get back in time to take Caro out for her birthday). Sunday, Feb 8 presented us with a brief window of clear but cool sunny winter weather (pretty windy, too). The plan was to ascend Esther via the 'north basin' direct route (for lack of a better term). This route starts off from the Whiteface Memorial highway toll road about 800 metres above the toll booth. The road crosses the main drainage down the north side of Esther at this point. The route goes up this drainage on the left side of the stream. We had some relatively good tracks to follow, and that helped immensely. The tracks stayed on the left side of the drainage (when viewed looking up), and, as we got higher, the tracks veered a bit more to the east, through some thick and troublesome foliage, to the east ridge of Esther, about 700 metres from its summit. At this point there is an excellent viewpoint down the other side of the ridge and into vermont, as well as a unique perspective on Whiteface's summit. The bushwack along the east ridge to the summit is mostly pretty nice, with a few craggy bits, some nice views, and generally good hiking (not much tangled underbrush). Near the very summit we lost our benefactor's snowshoe tracks and did a little bit of thrashy bushwacking through some thick stuff. That was soon over, however, and we summitted just before 11am. Many good views in most directions, including to Whiteface itself. We looked around extensively for a summit sign on a tree but could find none (discovered later that Esther has a summit _placque_ on a rock, so that's why we didn't see it). Many summit photos were taken, and soon we were heading back down the way we came up, which went clickety-click, and in no time we were back at the toll road, and then to the car, at around 12:30. Short n' sweet! This marks my 41st 46er peak and my 11th winter 46er peak.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: February 2004 Esther Mountain Climb