10/27/15 and 11/14/16
Pat admiring Marcy from the summit of Tabletop.
Tabletop is mostly done in conjunction with at least one other High Peak. By dint of proximity, that Peak is often Phelps, other times Marcy, sometimes both, or, yet, as Mr. Senecal (#6907W) would have it, Colden.
As has been the case, I have done Tabletop twice, neither time in the accompaniment of another High Peak. The first time at the tail-end of my inaugural hiking season, it was my 21st High Peak. After an exceedingly uncomfortable walk back (stomach cramps) I found it in me to, as originally planned, do Mount Jo, so as to make it a day. Not surprisingly, the view from diminutive Mount Jo was more interesting than from the largely “vegetation-infested” (fancy way of saying lots of trees) Tabletop summit. Mount Jo is, in a sense, the de facto fall foliage sighting summit in the High Peaks. It isn’t hard to come by a faultless fiery scene of Heart Lake with the Macs, Colden and Marcy girdled by puffy clouds. The trees had already shed their leaves when I visited. I kept thinking, for a guest of the Loj, Mount Jo would be a good summit on which to flout DEC regulations and pitch a tent and spend the night gazing at the stars, Heart Lake capturing their reflections while the Peaks hide in the mystery of their shadows.
Little Mount Jo has a big view.
Familiar arrangement to those who have driven down Adirondak Loj Road.
The lesser shown view from Mount Jo of the north. McKenzie Mountain Wilderness and the town of Lake Placid.
There are two trails to the top of Mount Jo, the short trail and the long trail. Naturally the former involves the extent of elevation gain in a short distance, great big boulders and the palpable attrition of your knees. I didn’t do the long trail, in either direction, it swings out in the direction of Street and Nye and must be less demanding.
Marcy Dam in November.
The first time I did Tapletop was in October and the second time — at the behest of Pat — was in November. The start of the herd path is clear, after all there is a sign on the Van Ho marking its beginning, no ambiguous cairn. On both occasions, the customary eroded herd path was glazed over with ice. The second time — the time with Pat, that is — the ice was laid on thick. Microspikes endow its wearers with a sense of invincibility, icy stretches are traversed with sang-froid. By my estimation the best view to be had from Tabletop is looking back at the Macs and Colden peaking above the pines. From this vantage point, Colden is distinctly double humped. One of the humps is of course the “false” summit you would cross over coming up from Lake Arnold. Once the trail “plateaus out” you know you’re on the table. The summit, the tree bearing the Tabletop sign, is in a ways. But from here there is little in the way of up, the air of the final stretch pervaded by aromatic pine.
Tabletop herd path in October.
Tabletop herd path in November (a wee bit icier).
Looking back at Colden and the Macs while nearing summit of Tabletop.
As I mentioned above, the summit is damned by heavy tree cover. I tried to shin up one of the stunted trees to get a better view of the Great Range. Mount Marcy soars to the east, bespeckled with late-Autumn ice. Off its flank, the cone of Haystack rises sharply on both its ends. Pat proclaims the view from Tabletop trumps Phelps. I’m not sure what he’s drinking. In all fairness, Tabletop does offer a closer view of Marcy. From Phelps, Tabletop is the humble and unmemorable hunk of green prostrating to the king — the sight of Marcy is not in the least qualified by its presence.
Had to mount some tree branches to get this shot of Haystack and Marcy.
Thank heavens for Microspikes!