Sunday, July 19, 2015

Table Top Mountain

Fairbanks has been having great weather this summer. Yes, the entire state has been on fire and that has made for some smokey days in the 'banks, but in general, it's been a terrific summer. Days at the lake, paddle boarding, kayaking and most recently a lovely hike in the White Mountains.

My friend Hilary, her dog, Cedar, and I tackled Table Top. Getting out of town was an endeavor all on its own. We returned her husband's cell phone to him at work, dropped her son off at daycare and lastly got coffee. I'm impressed with all we did pre-coffee. It is not easy to answer a three-year old's questions sans caffeine. We should have had a pre-coffee coffee but therein lies the dilemma: how do you think clearly about coffee when you haven't yet had coffee? Thank goodness for Fairbanks' many, many drive-thru coffee huts. If you can just get yourself to the coffee hut, it will all be okay.

We hiked to the top of that plateau. 

The drive out the Steese (see Circle for more about that road) is beautiful. The road leading to our trail head and other campgrounds in the area had been closed recently due to nearby fire activity but had re-opened the day before our hike. The road closure sign was still up but I was certain (certain!) the road was open and BLM personnel merely hadn't had time yet to take down the sign. So we drove around the sign. 

Table Top Mtn hike is a 3 mile loop hike. Or so the trail book says.  The trail doesn't go to the summit so if you want to go to the tippy-top you have to do some "route finding". Which doesn't seem like a big deal until you can't find the trail again.... I think this is more of a 4 1/2 mile hike including the summit. We were also confused on which part of the loop we started at. We thought we started at the eastern trailhead that would head in a counter-clockwise direction when actually we started at the western trailhead and went in a clockwise direction. Oh well. I really should have had that pre-coffee coffee.

This area of the Whites was ravaged by fire in 2004 and the scarred evidence remains. However the Fireweed was brilliant. The interwebs tell me that Fireweed is so called precisely because it does grow so well after a fire has cleared away the vegetation. Who knew.
Hilary leading the way.
We saw a few marmots. Or rather, heard them first. We heard a whistle and couldn't figure out what bird would whistle, sounding like a person. Then we saw a marmot standing on the rocks and realized he was whistling! This we realized, is why marmots have the nickname, "whistling pigs". I've seen a lot of Marmots in the Sierras but have never heard them whistle before. Cute!

Fireweed among the burned trees.
Cedar is the best hiking dog. 

View from the top. 
Summit selfie!
Once back to the truck we immediately saw the other end of the loop hike, not 100 feet from where we had parked. Oh well. Now we'll have to go back and go the other way. A fall trip may be in order as then all the tundra foliage will have turned color.

Was a great day.