Whiteface & Esther Breaking Trail (February)

I was happy to have Joe join me for another hike, this time a bit more modest. (Or so I thought.) Last winter, I hiked Whiteface & Esther in just over 5 hours, admittedly a pretty decent time, but I had expected something in the 6-7 range given the foot of new snow at Scooterville.

I broke out from the car to the top of Marble Mountain (Joe offered to help, but I declined), which alternates between steep and a bit more steep. It’s straight as an arrow, following an old ski lift. Normally, I dislike the ugly, straight, steep trail, but blanketed in 12-18″ of fresh snow it was actually quite attractive. The snow underneath was supportive from all the hiking this season; step one foot off the rail, and it was thigh-deep.

Panorama from the Wilmington Trail

We alternated breaking trail straight up to Whiteface. We had one small reprieve (with Joe leading; he’s the smart hiker!) where skiers had flattened the trail between the highway and the snow-filledĀ ski slopes. The rest of the way had the aforementioned new snow alternating with waist-high drifts. It was much more work than I had expected; to top it off, we were blasted with wind for the last half mile. The landscape was surreal, too bad I wasn’t stopping to take photos.

Panorama from Whiteface

The wind atop Whiteface was actually a bit less than on the approach, so I took some photos before heading back. At the Esther junction we stashed our packs for the ~1 mile out-and-back, normally a one hour affair round trip. Alternating trail breaking duties, 1 hour and 4 minutes later we finally made it to Esther’s summit. (It was very pretty, normally not so much.)

I’ll admit that I was spent by that point. Joe blames Marble Mountain; I blame the massive drifts and gale force winds pushing to Whiteface.

Eight hours after heading out, we returned to the car. All the new snow made this quite a challenge, but all day the landscape was stunning. And except for skiers on the ski trails, we didn’t see a soul all day.