It was in the low 20s overnight so I had a hard time getting out of my sleeping bag this morning. I finally started moving, packed up, and started what should have been a two mile bushwhack over the Stephenson Range. Luckily, I hadn’t gone far when I stumbled across a new snowmobile trail that took me exactly where I needed to go. It was a huge timesaver.
The sun came out briefly as I crossed the Whiteface Mountain Memorial Highway and started the long climb to the top of Whiteface. After a couple of miles, it went away again, and the steep rocks started being covered in ice. I ran into another guy hiking up with his skis, with the hope of being able to ski down the highway a little bit from the top. He seemed very familiar with the area so between his expectation that there’d be enough snow/ice to be able to ski on, and the ice I was currently looking at while still two miles from the summit, I decided I did not want to keep going up this mountain. I had no traction devices with me to safely go over the ice, I could only assume the ice would get much worse as I got higher, and I knew going down the other side of the mountain would be steep rocks too. My ankle has been totally fine so far, and I want to keep it that way.
I had already been debating leaving the trail because the ten day forecast is grim. It’s all 40s and rain, which is prime hypothermia weather. I have the gear to stay warm, but I’m supposed to be having a good time out here, not trudging. On a longer trail, I would push through the bad weather and be rewarded with more trail in good weather. On this trail, the ten day forecast is pretty much the rest of my trip. I felt my time could be better spent hiking somewhere with better weather. I hate to quit a trail but it’s just bad luck with the weather. I was hoping to get nice October weather, and I got November weather instead.
Decision made, I stopped going up any more ice, and turned around to head back down to the road. As if to confirm my decision, it started snowing on me again. There is not much traffic on the memorial highway so I started walking the few miles down to the main highway. I did get a ride that last little bit of it, and quickly caught a ride on the next road back to Lake Placid. I probably walked 11 miles today.
I got a room in Placid, cleaned up, and looked up bus times for tomorrow. Then I went to meet Quinoa for dinner. My entire body is sore, which I think is due to being curled up tight in my sleeping bag for fourteen hours last night, because the hiking was not that strenuous today. Either way, I’m glad to be indoors for the night, and relieved my decision is made.