I camping out in the yard at the Keene Valley hostel last night, cozy in the sub-freezing temperatures in my 0 degree bag. I woke up earlier than planned, at 4:45am, because of car doors closing close to my tent. I got up, pulled my stuff together, and drove to the trailhead nearby, arriving by 5:15am. Even at that early hour, there were at least half a dozen other cars parking when I arrived; and there were only another half-dozen spots remaining at the trailhead. I prepped my gear and started walking the road towards the Ausable Club by 5:30am. I hiked by headlamp for an hour and a half, until the sun came up enough to light the trail.
I hiked upward, passing some pretty waterfalls, until I came to the intersection for Colvin and Blake, and took that right. I scrambled up the somewhat steep approach to Colvin and had some beautiful views of the early morning mountains covered in frost.
I then descended to the col, and then climbed up some very steep, ice-covered rock faces to get to the tree-covered summit of Blake. I then returned back the way I’d come, to take the left fork and head through Elk Pass, where I topped off my water, to climb up to Nippletop. On the climb up Nippletop, I started chatting with a Québécois woman from Montreal; we’d been leapfrogging each other all morning, from when we set out from the parking lot at the same time. We hiked at an almost identical speed, enjoying our conversations, for the remainder of the day. The views from the summit of Nippletop were beautiful, and then we headed down the trail to summit Dial on our way back to our cars.
We walked through the Ausable Club and arrived at the parking lot at 4:15pm. It was a pristine fall day for a nice long hike!