Many of my hikes are done solo, or with my wife Leesa. On this occasion, I had the pleasure of hiking with fellow hikers "WannabeALJr" and "Commissionpoint". I had planned to go hiking on this day when I heard Wannabe was looking to climb Table Top & Phelps. I hadn't done this pair in winter so I decided to join her. Commissionpoint joined in also and gave us a trio.
The weather was warm and in the mid 30's, but rain and/or freezing rain was predicted starting by 4 PM. We all met in the Town of Schroon Lake and I drove to the High Peaks Information Center to begin our hike.
We got on the trail at 7:30 and hoped that we'd be able to reach both summits before any rain came in. We chose to hike Table Top first since it was the farther peak to reach. The first 3 miles to the junction with the Phelps trail is easy walking and the trail only climbs about 800 feet in that distance.
Just past the Phelps junction, the trail begins to climb in earnest and the snow cover on the ground increases significantly. It really is pretty in the higher terrain with lots of snow clinging to the trees.
We hit the junction with the Tabletop herd path (really looks like a trail, only without markers) at 9:30. From there it's a relatively easy approach to a high peak summit. I believe we were on the summit before 10:30.
|1st view to the west from the Table Top herd path|
The sky was gray, but visibility was ok. You could the the MacIntyre Range quite easily on the way up and the Great Range from the summit. it was windy, but Table Top is treed and quite sheltered from the wind.
|Commissionpoint, myself and Rev|
As we turned to go down Table Top, Commissionpoint proceeded ahead of us. He likes bombing down on the return. I struggled to keep Rev from pulling me down as we retreated down the mountain.
As we arrived back on the Van Hoevenberg trail we were greeted with a little rain and a few drops of freezing rain. We reached the Phelps trail junction and assessed our options. It was just barely raining and it would be an easy out if we needed to turn back. We decided to press on. Good decision. The rain stopped almost immediately and didn't return.
The Phelps is steeper than the Table Top herd path, and although the sign says 1 mile, it appears to be 1.2 miles to the summit. The trail climbs about 1200' in that 1.2 miles. Snow being the great trail leveler made it a smooth trip to the top. As we climbed, we saw our only hiker of the day, a young man who had just summited Phelps and was on his way to Table Top.
The trail in the last couple hundred feet is somewhat exposed, as in the summit ledge. The wind was blowing quite strong, although with temps in the 30's it didn't feel so harsh. We took our summit pictures while Rev hid out of the wind. She's a trooper, but she doesn't like the wind much. If I stand around on a windy summit, she'll start to howl to indicate it's time to move on.
We made it back down the Phelps trail without issue. Commissionpoint went on ahead. Rev was somewhat understanding in letting me hike down at my pace, not hers.
Out on the Van Hoevenberg trail, the snow was getting quite soft from the warm temperature. We didn't have any issues though with the snow sticking to our snowshoes.
We mad it back to the car at 2:30 PM. There were very few cars at the parking lot. Perhaps the forecast of rain scared everyone off. As we drove out, the rain began at 3 PM. Our timing was right!
Thanks WannabeALJr for planning the hike and to both Wannabe and Commissionpoint for the fine company on this hike.
Hike Distance: 12.6 miles
Hike Time: 6 hours, 45 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 3750'