It was supposed to be Whiteface. I should have been arriving at the top of Whiteface right around the time I was leaving Noonmark’s summit and heading over to Round Mountain. But the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Foot Race was cancelled, leaving my Saturday morning open. I already had the date reserved on our family calendar (a significant effort), so the last thing I was going to do was waste the day on yard work.
The bottom half of trail is something of a slog. It’s a steep climb through the woods to the first overlook, but then a succession of view points reward the hiker the rest of the way to the summit. But the really amazing thing about my hike Saturday morning was the sheer silence. No car noise, no airplanes, no other hikers, no stream or waterfall, not even a breeze to rustle the leaves. These days almost all of my hiking is done with my family - and I love every minute of it - but it’s refreshing to be in the mountains distraction free.
By 8:45 I was on Noonmark’s summit. It may be the only time I can remember being there with no other hikers. I soaked in the 360-degree views of Giant, the Great Range and the Dixes for 45 minutes before heading down the Felix Adler trail towards Round Mountain, still solo.
Round is far less popular than Noonmark, but there were 4 or 5 hikers at the summit when I arrived. Kind of a buzz kill after having the mountains to myself all morning. Luckily they left after a few minutes, and I had the summit to myself again. Round Mountain’s summit is every bit as spectacular as Noonmark’s, perhaps more so. The same fires that burned over Noonmark in 1903 left Round Mountain’s summit equally bare. The forest has recovered but the views remain.
I’ve stood on a lot of summits over 35+ years of hiking. When you add up all that summit time, maybe it’s a few days out of a lifetime. Not a lot. I know that hiking’s about more than just the summit views, but those vistas are what really inspire me and draw me back, over and over. I got to add another 45 minutes of summit time to my lifetime total on Round.
A steep but quick 2.3 mile, 2K vertical descent from Round Mountain’s summit put me back at the trailhead by just a little past noon. A nice loop through the mountains for Saturday morning, and a nice recharge for the rest of the week.