It's been unusually warm lately. I read that a foot of snow fell over the high peaks early last week. I also had a hunter show me pictures of the snow covered Johns Brook Area. So I went and bought all my winter clothing on Black Friday and drove up to Lake Placid Saturday. I drove to Hart Lake to use the Van Hoevenberg Trail. When I started hiking to Marcy Dam I was shocked to see no snow. Well there was maybe an inch or two in spots. Most of it melted already. It was a muddy slushy mess. Ok, so I reach Marcy Dam. The foot bridge over the dam was taken out by Irene. So the trail was diverted further down stream to cross the brook by rock hoping. Irene has changed many trails and destroyed bridges. It also dewatered the duck hole becasue the dam broke. After Marcy Dam, I continued my way up Phelps Brook to get to Phelps Mountain. When I got to the summit of phelps I found very little snow. I was also confortable in a T-shirt up there. I carried my snow shoes all the way up to 4161 for nothing. Clearly the the higher peaks had a covering, but it dosen't look too deep yet. All well better safe then sorry. The point is it has been unusually warm lately. I expected brutal conditions for the high peaks this time of year, but it was very mild this last weekend. However that can change in an instance.
The first picture shows the MacIntyre Mountains (Algonquin) on the right and Colden on the left. The Mountain in between them is Avalanche Mountin. Beside it is Caribou Pass on the right and Avalanche pass on the left. The smaller ridge in front is TR Mountain. I enjoyed watching myself rise above it as I climbed Phelps.
In the secound photo is Mount Marcy and the pathway the Van Hoevenberg trail uses to reach it. The Van Hoevenberg trail continues up Phelps Brook until it crosses it and climbs heavily up the side of TR. It eventually passes between TR and Tabletop to Indian Falls. In the photo you can see Tabletop front and left. The trail finally gains a ridge that leads to the summit of Mount Marcy. This was a cool hike when I did it.
The Third photo photo shows the rocky ledge at the summit of phelps. There is some snow, but not a lot. In the distance, far right is Giant Peak. That is quite a climb. Far left is Big Slide. It sticks out like sore thumb.
Phelps Mountain, also known as Old Mountain, is not a bad climb. You just have to walk three miles up the Van Hoevenberg Trail to reach it's red marked Trail. The one mile climb up is easy until the end. It gets a little steep, but it's nothing. There are a few open ledges with good views toward the south and east.