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Today was planned as an 'intro day' for any new hikers wanting to be introduced to Winter Hiking in the Adirondacks. As it turned out, only seasoned veterans showed up (ok, well, Graham isn't a seasoned veteran yet.... let's call him an honorary seasoned veteran).

As we drove down to the High Peaks region, I kinda drifted away from our initial 'easy hike' idea (which was going to be Noonmark and Round) towards doing a 4000-footer. The clouds looked low and thin, and if there was a chance of getting above them, I wanted that. Jenn and Graham had expressed an interest in doing a 4000-footer, and neither Noonmark or Round satisfied that. And we needed something not too long, because we were going to be starting at 9:30am at the trailhead and it was practically the shorted day of the year. So.... the mind wandered to Giant - right next door to our originally-intended trailhead, had a beautiful scenic ridge ascent, was fairly high (to hopefully get above clouds if it came to that), and was a 4000-footer that neither Jenn nor Graham had done. So there it was: our new objective: Giant, via the ridge trail.
courtesy GAshford
Lookin' kinda gloomy
Giant via Ridge trailhead
One up, Two down
Chapel pond area cliffs
Cliffs above Rte 73
Andrew gets the shoes on
Fortunately for us, the weather improved dramatically at the trailhead. The day was looking promising. There was also a lot of fresh, new snow from a recent snow dump. Snowshoes were in order right from the start. Good stuff!
Nice new signs
TIme sync
Signing in
courtesy GAshford
courtesy GAshford
Nice water shot
No cuttin!
Round from the trail
courtesy GAshford
First Lookout
Round Mountain
One o' those stump guys
courtesy GAshford
Nice Ice Climb
Scenic Cliffs
Andrew surveys lower Great Range
I'd say there was about 6-10 inches of snow on the first part of the ascent, from the highway to the top of the first cliff bands. Mostly ok, but a few rocks, branches and boulders still poking through. Another foot should take care of that!

The day was turning out to be glorious, with about 60 to 70% of the sky a clear, solid blue. And no wind, either!
courtesy GAshford
Graham at first lookout
Hmm... now where's that dang wallet?
Trailhead from above
courtesy GAshford
First Junction
The Giant will be dirty!
Getting steep
Ewart on a steep stretch
First lookout on ridge
Graham nears lookout
It did not take us very long to get onto the ridge proper, and soon thereafter we were hiking up through the many open and extremely scenic open spots on the ridge. This is a very very scenic bit of trail, especially with the beautiful weather conditions we were experiencing today. Good snowshoe conditions, not very cold, no wind, and almost completely clear!
courtesy GAshford
Subzero beauty
Dix Mountain
The lower Great Range
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(last message posted on Sun. Jan. 01, 09:43 EST 2006 by Andrew)
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