Hiking these mountains started on a whim, and I for one had never hiked anything, ever, before my first trip to Lake Placid. Over the course of these several years our hiking has taught us about ourselves, about overcoming obstacles, about completing seemingly impossible tasks.
On my final ‘rest’ day, I decided that I wanted to get some pre-dawn shots from either near North Meadows (along Adirondack Loj Road) or from Keene Valley.
Five days of hiking out of six was more than we had ever done. Factoring in the difficulty/length of three of those hikes, we were looking for something simpler on day 6. Enter Whiteface & Esther.
The Indian Pass trail was easily the best/most interesting lead-in trail we’ve taken. It’s much prettier (and softer) than the Van Hoevenberg or Phelps trails, and not nearly as boring as Lake Road.
Many (most?) people choose to climb Cliff & Redfield Mountains from the south via the Upper Works trailhead. From the Adirondack Loj, where Kathy and I started, the mileage is about the same, but our route skirts the 3,800-foot elevation Lake Arnold, adding several hundred feet of climbing both ways.
Heading straight for the summit of Tabletop at about 4 miles from the Adirondack Loj, the last mile was dark and muddy (but not shoe-stealing muddy) with relatively middling views.
The Slide Brook and Lillian Brook herd paths were two of the best trails in the Adirondacks. They vary the terrain and direction enough that you don’t feel like you’re on an endless trail, and almost the entirety of both routes is soft underfoot and well-maintained.