4,240 feet | ranked 28/46 in height | 9th peak climbed
Esther was the the target: the peak I had selected before driving up north; the peak I had obsessed about on the couch at home, poring over the trail guide, caressing the topo, and quizzing my Dad, who had climbed the same route a few year back with my stepmom. Par usuale, Erwin and I started the long drive north later than planned, so with the holiday weekend looming, we went straight to the South Meadow to set up camp instead of stopping for supplies en route. After the tents* were set up and the mattress inflated, we headed back into town. We grabbed slices of pizza that we ate while shivering in the mist, then headed to the grocery for breakfast and trail food. I wanted no distractions in the morning: I wanted to hit the trail first thing.
|*Car camping = bulky comfort|
We followed the non-red trail and it led us where we wanted to go, to the old t-bar lift trail up Marble Mountain. Reading this section of the trail guide, I had imagined something much different, something open and grassy. The path looked much like any other mountain trail: wooded, rocky, steep, eroded. The only thing that revealed it as our old ski slope was occasional blocks of concrete that must have supported the poles.
|View from Marble Mountain|
|Esther from Lookout Mountain|
|A bit of Sphagnum|
After rising to the plateau of Lookout Mountain, and being teased with more views through the stunted balsams, another new sign marked the junction with the herd path to Esther. The last mile or so was practically a stroll, with little vertical gain remaining. We had the summit entirely to ourselves, and reveled in that. We ate our trail lunches, admired the summit marker, and shot dozens more photos, before conceding that it was time to pack up and out. Descent was uneventful, which is always good. In an entire day of hiking, we saw just two other humans, and the weather was spectacular. It was a perfect day.
|For the sheer joy of climbing|
|Sea of balsam|
|View of Whiteface from Esther summit|