Esther via White Brook
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There’s nothing like fresh snow for bushwhacking. I had been eyeballing this route for quite some time and the blue skies accompanied by the fresh white snow, talked me into it. Once we got the drive to the parking area out of the way, we were itching to hit the trail.

Starting from the ASRC trailhead parking, we followed the trail to the base of Marble Mountain. At the base of Marble Mountain there are an antenna and a building on the right and an old road heading back to another building. This second building is on the shore of White Brook. We crossed the brook and hit the open woods. The forest was fairly open with mostly hardwoods.  Small saplings and a bit of dead fall slowed the pace. We actually moved along pretty well in the beginning, then we crossed the brook again onto the steeper slopes. We eventually came across a well-defined game trail that we followed for as long as we could. I would say it lasted a good 1/2 mile as it meandered around on the steeper mountainside. The side-hill hiking got very old and tough on my ankles so we opted to descend a bit.

Eventually, we made our way back down to White Brook for a very short period of time. As we walked along the brook, we looked at the opposite side and opted to hop back across it one more time to advance through more open terrain. While along this side of the brook we could see an attractive open slope to our right, that was sure to gain us some stellar views; we went for it.

Wow, this side of the brook is steep. It was slow going as we pushed ourselves along, and eventually out onto the open slopes. The views were fantastic and they kept getting better as we climbed. With what at times seemed to be one step forward and two steps back, we finally gained the ridge. From here we had to push through the trees a bit to the base of what looked to be a very impressive cliff in the distance. It was impressive, and tough to climb. We attempted the first spot we came to, but the rock was too slab-like and we couldn’t get any purchase. We traversed the side of the cliff to the left and tried a couple more spots to no avail. As Corenne advanced down the cliff and I kept trying to climb, I heard a bit of commotion. Come to find out she had failed multiple times to get up this one section and kept sliding back down; each time further than the last and with more frustration.

A scrambled up with a bit of trouble, and then helped Corenne find a better spot slightly further down near the trees, we finally got to the top. This cliff top was constructed of a couple smaller shelves with mind-blowing views.

Unfortunately it was getting late, but we would summit by dark and it would be a long hike out with headlamps, and we just weren’t looking forward to it. The forest was starting to get very thick and the trees covered in fresh snow, it was going to take us a good hour to go the remaining 1/3 to 1/2 mile, I estimated.  The views were much less past this point, and it took us 45-minutes to clear the remaining distance. We summited to no views as the clouds were too low to allow for any. The descent was a quick one, but we did need headlamps for the final 2.5 miles or so back to the car. We found it fortunate that someone had summited earlier that day. This way we could follow their tracks and not have to worry about finding the herd path in the complete darkness.  Not that following the herd path is generally any issue, but it’s nice not to have to think about it.  

It was a great adventure, not one that I think I would attempt with much more snow. At least, without a half dozen others to help break trail, but it was a very cool way to summit Esther. Are you interested in summiting Esther via White Brook or by trail, or maybe visiting Whiteface? Go to a local guide service to check out details. Interested in what else is in the area for big mountains? Pick up a guide book at a local bookshop.  Where are you going to stay while visiting the region? Don’t know? Well, Wilmington has plenty of option for you to choose from. 

Spencer Morrissey

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