I've been having ping spikes for months now and I'm trying to diagnose a problem. I tried to follow this forum, but had no second hop. Is this causing the problem, or is it just a configuration on my router?
It is likely a configuration option in your ISP router. Hop 2 is generally the first router in a ISP network.
The ISP has chosen to not respond to ping or trace on that router.
You have no options really but to ignore it and troubleshoot as if it did not exist. It can at times make it harder if that hop is the cause of the problem. The ISP can deny it is there problem and you have to way to show it is.