Trailhead: South Meadows, Lake Placid, NY
Date of climb: April 28, 2012
#32: Phelps, 4161 ft.
My intention was to start this hike at the Adirondack Loj and follow the usual route to Marcy Dam and the Van Hoevenberg trail, which would have been a round trip of 8.8 miles. However I learned on Friday that a footbridge near the dam was washed away during Hurricane Irene, leaving hikers to rock hop across a brook for about 15-20 feet. I am not a fan of stream-crossing, especially in the winter when rocks could be icy and hypothermia is a real danger, so I opted to start at Meadows. This added an extra two miles to the hike and followed a trucking/logging path to the dam; flatter and easier to hike than a regular trail, but also not as pretty or interesting.
As it is, even going 2 miles out of my way to avoid a stream-crossing I encountered another smaller section of stream that I had to rock-hop across on the VH trail; it took me forever. If there’s one thing I need to improve upon, it’s my ability to cross streams. It’s by far my least favorite part of hiking, and it seems there’s always one popping up to catch me off guard.
The Phelps trail was covered in snow and ice, and good practice for using my crampons. I passed many people coming down the mountain as I was on my way up; the ones who didn’t have spikes didn’t make it to the summit and had been forced to turn around at some point. The forecast had called for 40-50 mph winds and windchills in the single digits, but it turned out to be sunny and warm. A lot of the glare ice I encountered on the way up had melted by the time I was coming back through, so the descent wasn’t quite as scary as I was anticipating. It was a beautiful day for a hike and I’m really looking forward to future hikes that don’t involve winter conditions.
Something I did this time that made the descent much, much easier: I took 800 mg of Ibuprofen when I reached the peak, and waited for it to kick in before I headed back down. Made it much easier on my knees, and my legs weren’t as shaky.
Going through my head all day yesterday, for some reason: Touch of Grey. I think that song might now always remind me of hiking Phelps.
I’m terrible at identifying the other peaks… I knew I was right next to Marcy, yet I still wasn’t sure which peak it was.