Winter Solstice: Hiking Nippletop and Dial Mountains

Sunday marked the very first day of Winter. I celebrated by hiking with my winter hiking buddy Jona. (Last season we hiked two Winter peaks together, Sawteeth and Phelps!)–this time we were tackling two High Peaks in one day, Nippletop and Dial.

After an early wake up (3:15am!), I met Jona and her friend Paula at Exit 9 Park and Ride to get to the trailhead by 6:15AM. We wanted an early start because we had a long hike ahead of us and the daylight hours were limited! The parking lot for these peaks is in St. Huberts near the Ausable Club. We parked the car and signed in to the register at 6:30AM. It was still dark, so we used our headlamps for the first few miles we needed to walk down Lake Road to get to the start of the trail to Nippletop. We started with the steeper of the two trails, the Gill Brook Trail. I was really glad for that. After discussing it, I realized I like hiking shorter, steep trails rather than long, gradual ones. The same goes when running!

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We put on our snowshoes and started up. Thankfully by the time we hit the trail it was light out! It was my first time hiking in snowshoes since about March, so they took some getting used to. Thankfully, the trail already packed down and the conditions for snowshoeing were great.

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A few miles of hiking later, we hit the clearing, which I assume is some kind of pond, covered with ice and snow! It was pretty to see everything covered in white, a winter wonderland.

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After an extremely steep climb of about 1.5 miles, we finally got to the sign for Nippletop indicating.2 miles to the summit. There was at least two feet of snow up here, above 4,000 feet!

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Sadly, the summit was in a cloud. But, still we felt very accomplished after that. We hit the summit at 11:00AM–4.5 hours after we signed in.

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Lucky #13!

Then we went down, down, down to Dial Mountain, which was a nice walk in the woods after climbing to Nippletop.

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Winter wonderland!

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At 12:45PM we found Dial, still in the clouds. Supposedly these peaks have some of the best views in the Adirondacks…

There’s something peaking through…

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My 14th High Peak, Dial Mountain.

We didn’t stay on top for long. It was chilly. My water turned to slush, but I was still able to drink from it. I need to get some insulators!

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After leaving Dial, we went down the other side, to make a big loop. We had a long way to go to get back to the car, including going over another little mountain called Bear Den.

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My feet were starting to ache after being in stiff boots and in snowshoes for so long. I wanted to sit down and not get back up–but, we had to keep going! We made it back to the road around 3:30, and back to the car at 3:45ish. A long and strenuous –but rewarding day.

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Nippletop Mountain
4,620 ft elevation
High Peak Rank: 17
Dial Mountain
4,020 ft elevation
High Peak Rank: 41
Total miles: ~13
Time including stops: ~9 hours

What I Wore
Ice breaker merino wool baselayers (top and bottom), socks
EMS zip off hiking pants
Long sleeve tech top
Columbia Snow-pocalypse Omni-heat jacket
Vasque Snowblime boots
Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes
Columbia fleece-lined hat
Recycled wool sweater-fleece-lined mittens (hand-made by a friend!)
EMS pack

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