Giant Mountain & Rocky Peak Ridge #2 & #3

Date of Hike: 12/23/13

Zander Scott / East Trail: 8.4 miles (4,000 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- Monday was another iffy weather day in the High Peaks so I played it safe and stayed away from long miles and trails with multiple stream crossings.  I decided to head to Keene Valley and do an out and back of Giant Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge.
- Today's conditions were ground ice, bare ground, frozen mud, ice bulges, and some failing packed snow between peaks.
- I started out on the Zander Scott Trail around 8:45 a.m.  I have been on this trail before, it's a nice trail with some great ridge views as it makes its way to the summit of Giant Mountain.  The real interesting thing about the trail is that it has quite a few switchbacks over the first mile, which is a rarity for the Adirondacks.  I'm usually not a fan of switchbacks but with the recent warm weather and the ice on the trails it made for an easier path of travel than a straight up, steep, and icy trail.
- Less than a mile into the hike is a pretty cool flooded spot called the Giant Washbowl, which has been made bigger by some eager beavers.  There's an old rickety footbridge that safely takes you across the pond.  It's definitely not a place you'd want to fall in this time of year!
- About a half mile after the washbowl the trail travels in and out over an exposed ridge for about a mile.  Views from the ridge are some of the best in the Adirondacks; to the east is Vermont and the Green Mountains, directly across to the west is Chapel Pond with Round and Noonmark Mountains rising above it, then south to north is the impressive Dix Range, Hunters Pass, Dial and Nippletop, Elk Pass, Mount Colvin, the Ausable Valley with Sawteeth, and then the dramatic scarred walls of the Great Range looming high above Keene Valley.
- I was expecting to be clouded in but as luck would have it the Lower Great Range (Rooster Comb through Gothics) were in view, as well as obstructed views of the Dix Range and a chilly looking undercast to the south.
- I enjoyed the views from the open ledges as I made my way up the rocks slab which were sometimes bare and other times filled with ice.  It made for an interesting hike, I couldn't get into a really good rhythm and my microspikes took a beating.
- Once past the 'bump' I was back in the clouds and made my way up to Giant Mountain's summit before heading to Rocky Peak Ridge.
- The hike between Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge is known for being one of the steepest and most tiring hikes between 4,000 foot peaks in the Adirondacks.  It descends steeply over very rough and muddy terrain to the G / RPR col, then ascends steeply over better but still rough footing to the open summit of Rocky Peak Ridge.  It's 1.2 miles of steepness, just what I like!
- Today's hike between peaks was the usually, except with ice and unstable snow pack making it a little slower.  I didn't posthole too badly, maybe five times over the 2.4 miles of the out and back.  There was some slipping and indents but the snowshoes stayed on the pack, they would have been useless in these conditions.
- Rocky Peak Ridge was in the clouds so I just snapped a couple of pictures and headed back over to Giant, descended the ridge, back over the bump, down to Washbowl, and eventually to the car.
- I ran into a ranger along the way, he was spending a half day just exploring the trails.  It was nice to see someone else out there on a cloudy day enjoying the scenary.
- Back at the car I changed into dry clothes and headed back to Placid.  It was a quick hike of two of my favorite High Peaks.  I was happy to get some views along the way which was unexpected!

 Heading up a drainage on the Zander Scott Trail
 Lower Great Range
 Chapel Pond and Round Mountain
 Scarred walls of Round Mountain above Route 73
 Armstrong, Upper and Lower WolfJaw
 Zander Scott Trail just above the Giant Washbowl
 Roaring Brook / Zander Scott Trail Junction at the Washbowl
 A couple of days ago you could snowshoe across the frozen pond, now you have to take the old foot bridge
 Giant Washbowl
Outlet of the Giant Washbowl
 Nubble / Zander Scott Trail Junction
 Ice flow stretch on the Zander Scott Trail below the exposed ridge section
 Giant Washbowl, with Round and Noonmark Mountain and the Great Range
 Washbowl and Noonmark
 Left to right: Gothics, Armstrong, Upper and Lower WolfJaw
 Gothics through Rooster Comb
 Pyramid and Gothics
 Undercast to the south
 Round Mountain
Dix Range in the clouds
 Looking east toward a southern sub summit of Rocky Peak Ridge
 Green Mountains of Vermont
 Round and Noonmark Mountains from the ridge
 Zander Scott Trail, mix of snow, ice, and bare slab on the ridge
 Iced over Zander Scott Trail near the 'BUMP'
 Zander Scott / East Trail Junction
 Approaching the summit of Giant
 Giant Mountain Summit
 Interesting marker on the summit
Summit survey marker
Giant Mountain #2W
 Frozen Ice flow below the summit of Giant Mountain
 Rocky Peak Ridge from the East Trail
 Heading up the East Trail to RPR
 Rocky Peak Ridge Summit area
 RPR Summit area
 Rocky Peak Ridge #3W
 Giant / Rocky Peak Ridge Col
 Large blankets of ice heading back up to Giant Mountain, easier to ascend then descending
Back over the BUMP!
 Low level clouds just hanging around the Hammond Pond Forest area
 Twin Pond
 Looking toward the eastern edge of the Dix Range Wilderness
Hunters Pass
 The Lower Great Range
 Ausable Club
 Slides on the northeast face of Dix Mountain
 Undercast floating in from Vermont
 Dix Range
 Sawteeth, Pyramid, and Gothics
 Pyramid and Gothics
 More ice just below the exposed ridge
 Here fishy, fishy, fishy!
Zander Scott Trail Register

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