View from Phelps summit.

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.

Marcy Dam view

Phelps trail

Phelps trail

Phelps summit.

view from Phelps summit

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.

19 thoughts on “Phelps

    • Thanks. Yeah, it is a gorgeous time of year to see the mountains up close; until this month I’d never hiked in winter or spring before. I probably never would have thought of Ibes on top of a mountain 10 years ago… it hurts to get old!

  1. Beautiful photography. Sixth picture, peak on R is Colden. View from Marcy Dam is L-R Mt. Colden, Avalanche Mt and Wright Pk. Vitamin “I” is nice to carry in one’s pack, especially for the longer outings.

  2. Pru, GREAT pictures. Looks intense, very impressed you did that yourself. And lol, I was just introduced to a drink at the weekend call the Grateful Dead….which is delicious and crazy strong, with 5 liquors in it. Sounds like your experience was way healthier than mine though 🙂

    • Ha, but yours sounds tastier! Maybe we had a psychic connection… were you drinking it on Saturday?! 🙂 Crampons are my new best friend – could not have made it without them. It’s all going to get harder from here… I’ve been starting with the easier end of the peaks spectrum. Talk soon!

  3. I love the pics, simply beautiful! The trail looks so much fun, especially the slopes and icy parts. You seemed to have gone and begun this endeavor at a very cool time, the transition between the cold and warm weather. The best of both worlds.

    • Thanks, Jeremy! I agree… looking forward to seeing that transition reflected in the pics. I can imagine looking back at the first few in amazement when it’s August and sweltering (and buggy)! 🙂

  4. What incredible shots Pru…it’s an entirely different world from the times that I’ve summited Phelps in the summer months. Just think, no bugs at this time of year!!! No deet.

    • I remember marveling this day that in a few months I’d be dealing with insects and Deet… I’m so glad I did Phelps at this time of year. It is my favorite climb to date; it just seemed surreal, as I’d never climbed a mountain in these conditions before.

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