Today was a "Jenn outing" day. That meant doing a 46er peak that she had not yet done. I had a further restriction, which was that I wanted to avoid re-doing any 46er peak that I had not yet done in winter ('cause I am sort of unofficially working towards being a winter 46er). All of that, and we didn't want a super-hard hike. So... all of these criteria narrowed the field of potential candidates down to just a few, and we ended up choosing.... ta-da...Tabletop.
Tabletop. Ah yes, that wonderful, excellent peak - full of fantastic views and pleasant hiking. Now, for those of you not in the know, I'm being very sarcastic. Tabletop, even though it is relatively high at 4400+ feet, has a very thick crown of trees on its summit, with very few views. Not only that, one of my previous climbing attempts at Tabletop was in the winter and had us off the established herd track and had us bushwacking through some of the more unpleasant brush in the Adirondacks. Still, Tabletop fit the bill: Jenn hadn't yet done it, it wasn't too long, and I'd already done it in the winter.
Snowy Start at So Meadows TH
So, off we went from South Meadows on a crisp and clear morning (about -10C). There was a few inches of fresh snow on the ground, but not enough to warrant snowshoes. We had a pleasant walk to Marcy Dam, chatting along the way about this and that in the world today, philosophical issues, and house-buying (Pu was house-searching at the time).
Marcy Dam was beautiful, as usual - the day was clear and still, and fresh snow still clung to the trees, making for a very clear and refreshing scene.
Another beautiful Marcy Dam morning
We decided to do Tabletop as a loop, by heading up the Lake Arnold Trail, cutting across to Indian Falls, and then, on the way back, taken the main Van Hoevenberg trail back to Marcy Dam. This, incidentally, was the same way Markus and I did our notorious failed initial attempt on Tabletop back in 2004 (click here
if you want to see an account of that outing). Little did I know at the time that the similarities between that hike and this one would extend farther than simply the same itinerary....
Trail to Avalanche Lean-to
The walk from Marcy Dam to Avalanche Lean-to, where we had our mid-morning snack, was quick and uneventful. I was noticing the beginnings of an approaching weather system start to cloud over our nice clear skies, and I hoped that we'd be able to get to the top of Tabletop before it got completely socked in (there _are_ some limited views on Tabletop).
I was hoping that the Adirondacks had received enough snow at higher elevations to cover what I like to call "typical Adirondack trails". These are the eroded, uneven, boulder-filled trails that are annoying in summer. The Lake Arnold trail is one of these trails, and, well, it turns out that there wasn't yet enough snow. This meant lots of careful stepping and controlled slipping on rounded, snow-covered boulders.
Upon reaching the cutoff trail to Indian Falls, we decided to don snowshoes, as we expected that the cutoff trail would have had little to no recent traffic. Pu and Jenn got out their shiny brand-new MSR denali ascent evolution snowshoes, and I took a picture to preserve forever their initial condition.
Hiking along the cutoff trail
There was probably only about 6-8 inches of snow on the trail, and while the snowshoes were good for traction, I felt we were putting them through horrible abuse, since they were grinding on the stone of the boulders under the snow, and getting twisted and flexed every which way. I was glad when we finally made it to Indian Falls.
I think this was the best views I'd ever had from Indian Falls (which isn't saying much because most other times it was clouded in or it was night, and I didn't see anything). I think Indian Falls offers one of the best perspectives on the MacIntyre Range. Now and again a small rent in the clouds would illuminate Algonquin or Iroquois. Beautiful.
The Macintyres from Indian Falls
Start of semi-official path