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Colden's 1990 Slide, 06/05/2021

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  • Colden's 1990 Slide, 06/05/2021

    This last saturday i made my first trip up to the ADK in way too long, i was going for Colden's SE 1990 Slide, with a planned tenting on South Meadows Lane afterwards. The 215am wakeup was a shock from the 415am wakeup i had gotten accustomed to over the last half-year's worth of weekend drives to the Catskills, but a newer Foot Stuff pod, as well as a new Enormocast with Alex Honnold, kept me often laughing and always intrigued and very much awake.
    Moving along Rt 73 i was surprised to see so many spots still available at the different trailheads as i passed by, maybe i was earlier or everyone else later, i wasnt sure. But god all those metal stakes placed just off the edge of the lane blocking the pulloffs are hideous. makes me think of driving in one of the tight unappealing tunnels under Boston or NYC, you are just "passing through", "keep on going, nothing to see or do here" (you can stop for 5mins still to check out roaring brook falls though). I kept going and tried not to get too upset as i passed by. I pulled over just onto Loj Rd for what has to be my favorite view in the adk, and going further in wasnt too surprised to find that prior to 7am there were already some cars parking at the junction of Loj Rd and South Meadows lane, i was thinking "suckers still must not know about the truck trail to the dam at the end of South Meadows", i didn't let them in on the non-secret as i drove by, and found a nice parking spot between the barricade and the end lot, right at a nice roadside tent site for that night. As i was getting water from my pack bladder to swallow a pill down to help with a bad breakfast decision made at a Stewart's shop a few hours earlier, i realized the 1.5L of water i had filled it with the previous night was not there anymore, and it had spilled out while upside down in the back of my truck, and was sopped up by spare clothes and upholstery. I patted myself on the back for remembering to pack my water filter for the first time in 7 months.
    While i will absolutely take the truck trail into the dam over a road walk to the hpic followed by the 2.2 miles into the dam almost every time, im really not a fan of the truck trail itself, as it is a mostly uniform surface that doesn't have the best scenery. i was glad i packed my earbuds as they definitely helped my pace and made the first mile pass quickly. Even better than the tunes though, i caught up to a hiker, Peggy from Saranac Lake, on her way towards Phelps. It was great to talk with her, about many different things mostly hiking-related, and before we both knew it we were close to the dam and parted ways just prior. I took in the close view of the mountains i have really missed for more than half a year, then made good time to the avalanche camps and worked my way up to the indian falls junction and then lake arnold (to this point the trails were in great condition, similar to or better than conditions i found there in previous summers and falls). I hadn't been past the lake arnold trail split down towards feldspar yet, and i found myself not really a fan of that stretch. Soon enough i started catching glimpses of the top of colden and then my slide itself, and cut across a sod-holey beaver infested area towards the base of the slide.
    In hindsight i wish i had spent more time checking out the bottom of the slide, as since then i got to thinking how amazing and determined beavers are, that they would migrate to an area that remote in the middle of the mountains to call home. i know they probably don't care how far they are from the closest road and civilization, but knowing what kind of terrain a human has to travel over to reach that point (from avalanche camps or up the opalescent or up to and then down from lake tear), its really something to consider, how many generations of beaver it took to get there, did they take the trails we do? Did they actually get air-dropped in to that area? Why is the wood-chucking riddle about woodchucks and not beavers, considering how much wood beavers can probably chuck as well as chew? I too believe ****roaches and beavers will inherit the earth after we take ourselves out of the equation.
    Anyway. I loved this slide. What a great start with its slabs and scrambles and mini-waterfalls and views right off the bat, including views up toward the headwall and summit still so far away. and behind the views of gray and marcy almost immediately but that only kept getting better. The bottom was a nice gentle overall angle with occasional fun little scrambles that often had different ascent options. This lower slab/scramble turned into the tighter middle brookwhack section, which wasnt as fun in itself as the bottom or top but was still definitely interesting. In this area i had a memorable moment as i straddled water going from one boulder to another, and luckily thought to test the next rock before placing my full weight on it, and this car size boulder was definitely the largest rock i have had move on me unexpectedly, and even though it didn't really move that much it still helped urge caution while proceeding in similar situations. I went around the mossy waterfall by scrambling just left of the main waterline, and soon found myself at the bulge at the bottom of the upper section. somewhere along the middle brookwhack section i obtained a constant hovering cloud of small gnats or flies, that luckily weren't biting, but were incessant and super annoying, and found myself hoping for any wind. When there was a strong enough breeze the cloud was momentarily gone, but as soon as it stopped the cloud came back angrier than ever; it seemed these pests in this cluster were upset to be taken away from me with the wind, as once it stopped they would smack back into my face and crawl all over me worse then before. i tried to pick up my pace at times to leave them behind, but this didn't work and also made them mad. while i think i often like solitude, especially on slides, i wouldnt have minded unexpected or planned company in that area that would have maybe shared some of that cloud from me. But on saturday they were all mine. I took pause in this area, as the upper slide and headwall seemed a much steeper angle than the rest of the slide, but i have been getting used to this somewhat deceiving sight on the slides. I climbed the convex bulge by angling up a small ramp-ish feature to the right, and then worked mostly up the middle of the slide. I knew there was another clean slide path further to the right beyond a small patch of vegetation, but i stayed on the path straight up from the brookwhack til the upper open traverse. My ultra raptors were gripping great on the mostly clean and dry rock, and while there were not many cracks or other similar features, there was definitely enough little aspects to provide enough comfort, and there was sometimes a little ledge or wider crack to stand and turn around on to take in the incredible views behind. I had brought my pair of rock shoes, and while i think my raptors would have been at least adequate for through the headwall to the herdpath, i wanted to give my rock shoes some use and get a little more used to them. I changed over to them right about at the traverse over to the right-most slide swath, and the comfort and confidence in the shoes combined with the grippy rock dimples led me right up the middle of the headwall to the herdpath.
    I worked my way up to the trail, and upon stepping onto the marked path and instantly turning around i swear i couldn't see the "herdpath" even though i literally just stepped off it. I guess this isnt necessarily a bad thing. Last summer after climbing the trap dike and its newest slide i considered descending the 1990 slide on the other side, and while contemplating it after the summit i hadn't been able to find the recommended herdpath down to the slide. Afterwards going back through this forum's beta, i think it was trailboss who definitely has the best way to find it, looking for the certain rock and disappearing stump.
    i was very surprised to have the summit area all to myself for as seemingly long as i wanted, on a sunny saturday right about noon. i was wondering if i had gotten my days wrong and was skipping work on a weekday, or maybe we had gone to war or something; for no one else to be there it seemed so odd at the time. Working over to the southwest open viewing areas to look down on my ascent i found a human for the first time in 4 hours, a solo hiker enjoying the day looking over at the range. I soon met a couple ascending from lake colden with their awesome dog super-appropriately named "Colden", and after talking for a bit i started descending down that side. At this point i realized i must have been the early-bird on saturday, as here i passed many people on their way up, and made sure to encourage the ones toward the summit that they were close and the ones that were further away that the views were absolutely "worth it". After saying this to the last 2 hikers i met on their way up, just at about the area of the never-ending wooden staircase-city, i noticed black clouds through the trees that looked super ominous and not really in-line with 7-15% chance of precipitation. i hoped those 20-40 people i had just seen and said "what a perfect beautiful day, huh?" and "the views are incredible up there" would forget about me when they were soon drenched and/or socked in at the summit area. When the rain hit hard i crouched under a big tree and packed all my important items into my drysack, and didn't even consider putting on my packed rain jacket in that heat and humidity, as it actually felt great to be wet from the rain instead of sweat considering the day's conditions. Working my way around avalanche lake it was still raining pretty good, and i could see the waterfalls and scrambles in the trap dike flowing pretty good. I again ran into Colden and his couple, as they had descended the shorter route past lake arnold to their tent site at avalanche camps. Colden was absolutely happily enjoying the cool waters of a brook.
    I stopped at the marcy dam area to dunk my hat and head in the cool water one last time, and wished the AFR(?) on duty there as quiet a night as possible (as someone who worked in ems years ago, i immediately apologized to him for saying the jinx word), and popped an earbud in for the way out the truck trail. After setting up camp at the site where i had parked that morning i headed into lake placid for my favorite post-hike indulgence, Redneck Bistro's Redneck Burger.
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Slide base looking to headwall and summit.JPG Views:	0 Size:	18.6 KB ID:	512717
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Marcy from brookwhack section.JPG Views:	0 Size:	14.4 KB ID:	512718
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Top of headwall looking down slide track.JPG Views:	0 Size:	14.2 KB ID:	512719
    Click image for larger version  Name:	MacIntyres from colden summit.JPG Views:	0 Size:	14.1 KB ID:	512720
    Click image for larger version  Name:	Colden summit looking southwest.JPG Views:	0 Size:	13.3 KB ID:	512721
    "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
    "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

  • #2
    Very Nice report! I wonder if the Peggy you met was possibly the one that organizes the Winter 46er meeting. Anyway, yeah a tough weekend for Blackflies, especially when out in the sun on open rock. I have never been up that slide but I have been down it after going up the Trap Dike with Neil and Hillman. It is just a bit steep on the top side and at the time I can assure you I would have rather been going up with my eyes on the prize rather than certain death. lol The only good thing about going down is you can angle left before hitting the mess at the bottom and be assured to hit the Lake Arnold trail. Now that I think about it, probably nothing keeping one from doing that in reverse.
    "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
    Ed Viesturs


    • #3
      Thanks Jack. I dont think Peggy said if she was a 46er herself, but i wouldnt be surprised if that was her as she definitely has experienced and enjoyed a lot of the high peaks and other mountains in the adk, including being up the trap dike herself years ago before Irene cleaned it up and added the newer slide. Before i caught up to her I had completely intended for my earbuds to help me get a good time for the truck trail to the dam, but im glad i met her and really enjoyed the conversation and it was the best walk in on the truck trail i've had yet because of it.
      I regret not preparing for the flies and gnats last weekend, as they definitely took away from the experience out on the rock as i couldnt help focus on them or figure out how to get rid of them. But I definitely intend on doing that classic traverse at some point.

      "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
      "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton


      • #4
        Nice report. Kind of surprised you got a tent site on South Meadows Rd on Saturday...but good for you.

        The 1990 Slide has its advantages of relatively easy access on and off.

        Near the finish there is a patch of beautiful green moss, wildflowers, wrapped around graying deadwood. It can have a mountainous background that could be blurred out of focus to the benefit of the composition. Two times I took pics without getting the result I wanted; so, guess I’ll have to go back one more time. Now I’ll have to look for those two pics again.



        • #5
          that patch is still there, right near the top (its not in the middle of my 5 reports pics, i had not scrambled up to its level yet, that pic was from the last significant ledge before the finishing scramble), with the moss and "driftwood" (the wood there definitely has that kind of look to it), though the wildflowers were not showing 2 weekends ago.

          i was really shocked how few cars were parked at the end of south meadows to use it as a trailhead for either klondike or marcy dam directions in the am, and it was also surprising how few tent sites were actually taken that saturday night for camping (only 3 sites including me were taken right at the end, maybe 2 or 3 sites taken near the barricade, and then another 1 or 2 taken along the ride in between the barricade and rd/lane junction, maybe 8 total sites used out of the 21ish that night).

          Click image for larger version

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          "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
          "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton