The ADK Explorer

Hiking, Camping, and Exploring in the Adirondacks

Whiteface and Ester, The First Day of Winter

You wouldn’t really know it by looking out my window, but Winter has arrived. Of course, over the last few weeks, the snow has really been piling up in the mountains. As I set out for the first hike of winter, I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go. By the time I reached Keene, though, I had picked Whiteface as my destination. I headed up Rt. 9N to 86, and up towards the Memorial Highway. Then a little less than a mile up 431, turn left on Reservoir Rd. There’s a little parking lot there, with enough room for 3 or 4 cars. Today the lot was empty. IMG_4778 - CopyThere are a few other ways to climb Whiteface, but if you’re going to climb Ester also, this is one of the best. Actually, all though I’ve never gone up that way, there is a slightly shorter route just up the road (431) at the Science Center. From the sign on the trail, at the junction, it looks like it’s almost a mile shorter. It isn’t long before the trail gets really steep. This area was originally a ski slope (Marble Mountain) which explains the steepness. Near the top of Marble, around 2.2 miles, is the junction for the other trail I mentioned (to the Science Center), clearly marked with a big sign with the mileage. The trail continues to climb up to the ridge, around the southeast side of the approach to Ester. You can’t miss the turn to Ester. There’s a sign pointing the way, indicating the unmarked trail. The trail is in pretty good shape, and easy to follow. It’s 1.3 miles to the summit of Ester. IMG_4796 (Custom)When I got there, I wasn’t quite sure I was at the peak, until I spotted the little yellow sign, marking the top, buried in the snowy tree tops. After backtracking to the main trail, I headed towards Whiteface. The trail was in good shape until I reached the intersection with the Memorial Highway. The drifts near the top were up to my waist in spots, and it made for some slow progress.  The rest of the way, visibility was low, as it was overcast, and getting late in the day. The winds weren’t too bad, though, only 20 or 30 mph. I took a few pictures at the top, and looked around at some of the buildings. It was now around 3:00, and getting dark, so I readied for the return trip. I didn’t need the headlamp until I reached the summit of Marble. As I headed down the final stretch, I swear I heard Christmas music echoing through the hills! I must be near the North Pole.

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Catch ya later!


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