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Feb. 18, 2023 (Sat.)
Elevations: 4020 feet; Order of Height: 41
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Brian Connell
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Brian's 23rd and 24th winter 46R Peaks: Nippletop and Dial Mountains.

A kickoff hike to start the work to help friend Brian achieve his Winter 46.

Day was crisp and sunny; overall trail conditions unknown, so we brought all of our aids, but started off in microspikes on the thin hard-pack at the trailhead.

Walk up the Lake Road was rapid. We chose to do the loop counter-clockwise, so we headed up the Gill Brook Trail. The warm weather meant that there was a lot of flowing water and interesting water-ice features along the Gill Brook Trail. Visually very nice. Snowpack increased from barely anything to a good 3-4 feet by the time we reached Elk Pass. The tread of the trail's track was extremely firm and perfect for microspikes, so we had no need to switch into snowshoes. Had a nice lunch in warm sun out on the snow of one of the pass's frozen ponds.

Steep trail up to Nippletop's ridgeline was made easier by continued firmness of trail. Microspikes worked perfectly. A high overcast had blown over during the ascent, muting views.

Five to Six feet of snowpack at the ridgeline meant the trail signs were almost buried. On the other hand, this provided a handy elevation bump that made the final 0.2 mile hike along the ridgecrest to Nippletop's summit extra scenic. Views in all directions almost at all times. The high overcast had started to blow away by the time we arrived at the summit, and as a result, views were super excellent. Fresh snow on Marcy and Haystack made them look great (and probably meant climbing conditions up there were great, too)

Time was getting on so we soon started back down, heading now back northeast along the ridgecrest towards Dial. We were starting to get a little bagged and our pace slowed. We reached the summit of Dial at about 3:20pm, spent a few minutes looking at the changing weather, then continued on. The final two ups and downs along the ridgeline took most of our remaining energy, and by the time we started our final descent down to close our loop at Lake Road, we good and tired and our feet were getting sore.

Hike back along Lake Road to the parking lot was fairly quick and uneventful. We managed the entire 22-ish km loop in just under eleven hours, which is decent but not particularly fast. We could definitely do better.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2023 Nippletop-Dial Loop Hike

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