July 25

Start: Lake Placid
End: Whiteface Brook Lean-To
Mileage: 17
Peaks Climbed: Whiteface, Esther

Today I began the third and final part of my summer hike, the High Peaks. I will spend the next two weeks climbing many of the 46 high peaks. At one time, they were all believed to be over 4000 feet. More recent measurements showed that a few of those original 46 are lower than 4000 feet, but the tradition of 46 high peaks remains.

I walked three miles out of town to the trailhead, and then another four miles on trails to reach the lean-to. I left most of my stuff at the lean-to, where I would return for the night. I took a small daypack for my climb of the peaks.

It was a lot easier walking with a small daypack compared to my usual full backpack. Still, it took an hour and a half to climb the 2.5 miles from the lean-to to the summit of Whiteface, which was much longer than I expected (on flat trail, that it would take me around 45 minutes to do 2.5 miles).

The summit of Whiteface was very crowded. It is the only high peak with a road to the summit, so it is a popular tourist destination. (A rather large toll fee is charged for cars wanting to drive to the top.) There's also weather observatory at the summit, but I'm not sure if it's still manned. There were no trees on or near the summit, so there were great views in all directions. Lake Placid was visible below, and in the distance were many of the other high peaks stretching across the horizon.

From the summit of Whiteface, I followed a trail a short ways until the junction with the trail to Esther Mountain. The trail is officially considered unmarked and unmaintained, but it was very well trodden and wasn't difficult to follow. There was a small plaque at the summit of Esther dedicating the mountain to Esther McComb, who apparently made the first recorded ascent of this mountain when she was 15 years old (she got lost trying to climb Whiteface). Esther is also the northernmost of the 46 high peaks.

When I got to the summit of Esther, some clouds were moving in quickly, and I wanted to hurry before the rain started. I had to retrace my steps to descend Esther and then climb back over Whiteface to get back to the lean-to. As I was climbing back up Whiteface, it started to rain. It stopped after a half hour, but it was enough to get me wet.

I got back to the lean-to around 7:30. I had a quick dinner and then tried to make a fire. There was a lot of kindling around, but nothing big to burn. So I just started a small fire. Now I'm going to bed. I can hear Whiteface Brook running nearby, and it's very peaceful.

Tonight is my first night alone in the Adirondacks. Throughout the Northville-Placid Trail, I always had company at the lean-tos. I did pass other people on the trail, but they were just out for the day.

Tomorrow I am going back to Lake Placid to watch the Ironman Triathlon. Then I'm going to hike out of town to camp for the night. Then I spend the next week going around to climb many of the hgh peaks in the area. Next blog updates will be on Friday, when I come out of the woods. Can't believe I only have two more weeks!

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