I lucked out as our guide, Ryan, was amazingly nice and had so much knowledge of the trails and the woods in general. We were joined by just one other person, an older gentleman who was a marathoner but had never done an ADK high peak before and, I think, was a bit surprised by all the rock-hopping.
We didn’t luck out as it was a really rainy day. But, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something that was hard and I wanted to try to find that part of myself that could stay constant, even when conditions were less than ideal.
Long story short, that time a few years ago was good (heck, it's always good when I can be outside!), albeit wet. The trailless part of the trail was like a stream. Well, actually it is a stream and it was running at full-tilt that day. I experienced my biggest hiking injury ever during that hike, too—a painful branch jabbing deep into my right knee. Doesn’t sound too bad but I still have repercussions now and again. That darn stick hurt bad.
Spring forward about 30+ high peak hikes later and I’m hiking it again. This time, I was with my kids and my husband. And my good buddy from Syracuse, Tracey, and her two sons, Thomas and Michael, joined us as well. I met Tracey a few years ago when I participated in the only other guided hike I’ve done with the ADK. That one was a ladies’ hike up Giant and my other good buddy, Baylie, was there, too (we befriended the very friendly Lauren then, too!).
One thing I’ve learned about the mountains is that they are like music. If you know someone who likes a certain type of music (and it’s what you like), then you have a special language between you. Tracey speaks that language and we have a bond because of that. Plus, she’s just a cool person and a mountain-mentor (she’s a 46er). Also, when you spend a full day hiking with someone, in quiet and in conversation, you learn about their essence and that experience, for me, is like magical kinship fire.
We had hoped to hike Dial and Nippletop that day, but the weather forecast was iffy. With that in mind, and knowing Tabletop is a relatively short hike that all our boys would have to do for their 46, off we went, hitting the trail around 6:30 or so.
Like Allen, I think Tabletop gets a bad wrap. I really enjoyed the hike this time around, especially with good weather and no injuries. To me, it’s like three separate hikes in one: the first is the “walk in the woods” to Marcy Dam—easy peasy, and beautiful. The second part is rock hopping along the brook for a few miles—quite pretty, just watch your step. These two parts of the experience are on the same trail you would take up to Phelps and up to Marcy.
The third part of the trail is the trailless part, marked by a cairn and, very nicely, a great big ‘ole sign pointing the way. The rest is up the stream but it's not a crazy hike, especially under good conditions—which we were lucky enough to have. There aren’t any views from the summit, but as is often the case, walk around a little and you can get a great view of the surroundings. Just lovely. And when you can do it with family and friends, lovelier still.
Our timing was perfect. We were down before the skies changed. We were even able to take in the Wilmington Flume (a favorite pastime of ours) for a little cliff jumping and then take showers before the rain hit. Good planning and forecast-watching paid off.
This is just over 10 miles of hiking and it took us about six hours. It was Ben’s 40th peak and Ian’s 26th. The 46er fire in their bellies is stirring. Stay tuned for our Dial and Nippletop post, soon to come!