Monday, September 21, 2015

Noonmark & Round Mountain: 09/19/2015

Panorama from Noonmark's summit, Saturday 09/19/2015.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Noonmark panorama (Full size)

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.

Noonmark’s a popular hike, and I’ve already been up it more times than I can remember. But its convenience (short drive time, 2 miles to the summit, 2K vert) coupled with its spectacular views of the High Peaks made it the perfect choice for Saturday morning. I got a 6am start from home and was hiking by 7:30. With a late day weather front approaching, the early timing played in my favor. The early start also put me well ahead of the scores of other hikers who would doubtless be climbing Noonmark on a prime late summer / early fall weekend.

Leaves cover the trail, a sure sign fall's coming

Color change at the upper elevations: a bit muted thanks to the late summer drought

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.

Early views of the Great Range

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.

View to the east from Noonmark's summit

Dix, Hunter's Pass, Dial & Nippletop

Colvin & Blake, Sawteeth, Haystack, Marcy, Gothics

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.

Round Mountain's awesome summit vista: the Dixes, Noonmark, the Great Range and Giant Full size

Dix panorama from Round Mountain

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.

Noonmark and the Great Range


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.

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