As usual, we had a small child in tow, but after some debate we all agreed that lugging the kid up a 46er probably wouldn't work out very well. So Otis stayed behind for a fun day with Pops!
We settled on climbing up Big Slide Mt. for Sarah's first. This added an extra layer of complication, though, because the trailhead is at a parking lot that is almost guaranteed to be full on a summer weekend. Rather than pay $7 and take the shuttle from the remote parking lot at Marcy Field, we hatched a plan that involved some bikes. We loaded the bikes into Pops's Vibe and drove up with two cars to stash them in the woods near the lot. Then we went back down to Keene Valley and parked the Vibe. Then we went back up in our car whereupon Pops (and sleeping Otis) dropped us off at the trailhead.
In retrospect, we probably could have come up with a simpler plan. (But it probably would have required taking off the rear wheels of the bikes.)
And indeed we were!
That's our trail, right in the middle of the map. Head west (and up) along The Brothers, down into the little Slide Brook valley, and up Big Slide Mtn.
Little known fact: the word "Adirondacks," translated into English, means "land of few to no switchbacks."
Sarah usually hates these boulder-y climbs up ADK peaks, but today she was in high spirits and bounded up the mountain with a kick in her step!
The first of many views, here from a lookout on one of The Brothers.
These leaves are starting to look suspiciously yellow. Too soon! Too soon!
Dad says this house has been for sale for a while. The price ain't bad, but apparently it's starting to slide down the mountain.
Hurricane. (The site of several previous
Sarah trots up a rock.
Despite our suspicions, the closer of these two peaks was not Big Slide.
Sarah: "That's a lot of trees... Daaaaaang..."
As usual, Andre was on high alert for trailside berries (blue, black, raz, black raz, etc.). But seeing as how this was a pretty busy trail, the bushes were all pretty picked over.
At a certain point, it's like everyone just stopped giving a shit and stopped picking berries. It was a blueberry bonanza!
Good thing we packed such a small lunch!
I think you're probably not supposed to camp here, but it does look like a pretty sweet little spot!
I think that when people build trails in the Adirondacks, they aim for big rocky sections, put trail markers on either side, and say "Fuck it, you're on your own!"
Somebody—I suspect that family ahead of us from the previous picture—was trying to throw us off the trail. Fortunately for us, though, I'm an expert tracker and recognized this trailmarker no problem!
Sarah's turn to scramble.
I always wonder how much there actually is to eat in a pinecone. I guess it's probably like an artichoke, where you just kind of scrape the bottom of each leaf with your teeth.
It rained on the way up and the trail (pictured above) got a little wet. (And slippery!)
As we started heading up this dicey looking ladder, there was a family coming down. Dad had an anxious dog on a leash and right at the top of the rock the dog got spooked. Dad and dog came sliding down the whole rock. Nobody got hurt. (More on Dad here in a minute...)
And then, the top! Place was mobbed with Quebecers.
The view (from left): Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Gothics, Saddleback. And I think that's Dix looming in the background on the left and Marcy on the right. ...I think.
Sarah does a sweaty little Sarah smile and chows down on the roast beef and American on pita that I made her (by this point a melt).
This bird was enjoying all the crumbs that people'd dropped. Eventually the little bastard made off with a whole peanut.
Watching people come sliding down recently-rained-on rocks on our way up, we thought it would be prudent to find an alternate route down. And it's always better to do a loop!
There was supposed to be a junction about 0.3 mi. from the top with a trail leading down Slide Mountain Brook to the John's Brook Trail. It wasn't very well marked and based on how it looked (above) we weren't sure if we were on a trail or just a creek bed. Then we found a couple of cut branches and eventually a trail marker.
Taking this trail turned out to be a good decision. Not only was it a much mellower descent, it was beautiful! Criss-crossing over the brook and passing by lots of lovely little pools.
Much less crowded, too. In fact we ran into only one person: the Dad we'd seen previously getting pulled down the rock by his dog. Weirdly, he was on his way back up to the top and looking a little frantic. Somehow his kid had gotten separated from the rest of the group and Dad had been up and down this part of the trail twice looking for him. We figured the kid had probably been walking just ahead of the rest of the family and missed the turn off like we almost did!
It reminded me of a trip I'd taken to Colorado with Pops where I went ahead and took a turn without waiting for him. I got in big trouble and learned my lesson. (If only everyone waited, we could've also avoided the drama we ran into on our Half Dome trip back in 2008.)
The alternate route added a coupole of miles to the hike, but these were relatively flat and went by real fast. We played a bit of "who's the fastest awkward hiker" do-si-do with couple of strangers on the way back to the parking lot. They let us pass early on and then we decided to let them pass us when they ended up breathing down our necks for the last mile.
Aside from this, though, we slayed it on this hike. And if you ask me, we beat these last few people too even though we let them pass us, because we had a quick ride down to the bottom and didn't have to wait for the shuttle!
Not that we were rushing through it, though. We just missed the toddler that was waiting for us with his grandfather!