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Winter's Last Kiss is the Sweetest--Big Slide 3/18

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  • Winter's Last Kiss is the Sweetest--Big Slide 3/18

    The 24-36" of snow that fell Tuesday into Wednesday could only keep folks out of the woods for a couple of days. We did a short reconnaissance hike on Friday evening (3/17) up to the ledges on Brothers. We met one person coming down who related that earlier in the day one party broke trail half way up before turning around, another made it 3/4 of the way before turning around, and finally a third made it to the top. 😊 Good news! We could return to plan A and hike Big Slide for the Gathering 3/18. We were also passed by a solo hiker hefting a full winter camping kit who seemed none the worse for it (!). His goal? Camping up at the Brothers. Hmmm-ok. We wished him well as he fairly sprinted up the rise. With the beta we needed we decided to turn around, knowing we'd be back on the 'morrow.

    Next morning (3/18) we started out from the Garden in single digits. But the air was still and within 10 mins I was layering down. The trail is picturesque the whole way, gently rising along Juliet Brook, then meandering over through open hardwoods before starting the real business of the day--climbing the ledgy profile of Brothers with views sprinkled between brief ascents, spurring you on.

    We worked our way up, slow and steady, enjoying the views of the Great Range as the sun brought out its peaks, valleys, and slides. We especially enjoyed the rock slabs of 2nd Brother with views over to 3rd Bro. A few paces on we saw a stamped out space and deduced our camper friend had breakfasted there. Sure enough, as we dropped over the edge of the slab we discovered said camper's tent tucked neatly into the micro col. 😊 I wondered where he might be...

    Continuing on up, over, and down we reached the true and proper col then began the climb toward Third Brother. There are a few steep spots, but in general the rise is moderate and picturesque with snow-laden evergreen boughs. We knew we had reached 3rd Bro when we glimpsed a fine view of Big Slide through the trees in close proximity to a spot where there is a commanding view of the great range.

    From here the trail was lightly softer--perhaps only two or three had gone before us? More rolling terrain, then the trail drops into the drainage. Temps dropped too. As we rose up out of the creek bed we heard voices behind and we overtaken by a pair of hikers and a single hiker. We let them pass which they did happily. (P.S. we found a single hiking pole here, so send a PM if you lost one.)

    A little further on a hiker was descending--our camper friend! We visited a little more this time, as he recognized us from the evening before. He was up from Montreal for an overnight and when asked about his campsite he volunteered that it is good in winter when you can level the snow, but bad in other seasons because the ground has too much pitch. He had already summited Brothers and planned to hike out that day.

    (I am typing this on my iPhone in the car heading south out of the ADK, and it is my turn to drive, so I will pick up the story later...)

    Picking up the story 48 hours later....

    We continued up, passing over a sunny slope populated by young saplings that made beautiful shadow patterns on the snow. and further yet, until we reached the spur trail to the summit of Big Slide. No one (at that time) had continued on down toward Johns Brook. We turned NW, up-slope, and began the last steep ascent. (I was thankful the folks ahead of us were not so quick as to have already descended on their butts, turning our path into a slick luge run.) We could hear voices as we neared the top and were greeted by the folks who had passed us earlier on the trail. Wind layers were added. Genial offers to take photos of were accepted. "Lunch" snacks eaten. Stories shared: Hikes in this mountain or that one over there... How did you become interested in the High Peaks? Winter hiking? Families figure prominently in passing a love for the woods from one generation to the next. (I think a lot about how to extend a "hand" to young folks unlucky enough to lack an encouraging parent or friend to introduce them to the wild.)

    Allowing an appropriate amount of lead time for the younger set of hikers, we finally set off down trail. With the aid of some butt sliding we arrived back at the junction in 7 mins. (!). The day was warming up considerably (30 degrees?) as we retraced out steps back toward the Brothers. We even caught up with the younger set who swore we must have been running (we hadn't : ) but we allowed them to retain the lead and their space on the trail.

    The most beautiful views of the day were back on Second Brother. From this location all of Keene Valley opens before you with glimpses of Hurricane Fire Tower and points farther East.

    The rest was quick work, with even quicker feet scooting down short steep faces, around ledges, and dropping back down toward the Garden. The walk back along Juliet Brook was quiet as we absorbed the beauty of the bluebird day, slightly golden now in mid afternoon, and gentle as any winter kiss could be.

    (P.S It was good to see folks, if briefly, at the Winter Gathering. Good hiking to you all!)
    Last edited by KV Streamer; 03-20-2017, 08:54 PM.
    46/46, 13/46w "I only went out for a walk, and concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." John Muir