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Bennies Brook Slide, 08/14/2021

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  • Bennies Brook Slide, 08/14/2021

    While I haven't typed up any reports in awhile, i have been very fortunate to visit 3 slides in the last few weeks, one new to me while solo and then 2 revisits with my family. I will try to get reports up for the other 2, as they haven't gotten much love here on the forum within the last year and might contain pertinent information, but ill start with my most recent trip this last weekend.

    I am limited to visiting the adk or cats only on the weekends due to work, and this summer my daughter Emmalee hasn't been able to adventure with me for a couple reasons, but she has definitely been itching to go, and finally we were able to all go together this last weekend. She had yet to have done a slide climb, and Bennies was the obvious choice for her first, especially going off the report and intel from LTT and Pokey this trip with Emm has been years in the making, and with the shuttle running from the airfield to the garden the last couple weekends one factor was taken care of. But the one remaining question going into Saturday was if the rain was going to stop in time for us to climb the slide, or settle for a shorter hike starting a little later in the morning. Myself, Katie, Emm and Rory left home at 3am, and i checked the radar and forecasts a bunch of times on the way up, and looking one last time around 8am in Keene Valley we were ecstatic to see that we were going to be able to go for the slide, and parked at the airfield for the shuttle.

    After hitching the ride to the garden, we got started in on the trail to JBL around 840am and started passing hikers on their way out, most likely opening up spots at the garden lot. I was considering getting ahold of some forum members for a good spot to whack across the brook to bennies' start on the southside trail, but I was wary of doing a shortcut across the brook due to the private property parcels, and then also thinking that the overnight and morning rains might have made a normally do-able crossing a dangerous and unnecessary endeavor. With me, Katie and Rory doing this slide route a couple years ago i knew going around to the junction and then past the ranger station and over brook's gorge on the suspension bridge would be neat for Emm to see, so the little bit of extra hiking wasn't a big deal. The short stretch of southside trail we were on was pretty muddy, and we wetted a couple socks before the slide's crossing. Wolfjaw brook was running pretty good after the morning rains, and i was nervous about just how wet Bennie's slabs and scrambles would be. We got to where our slide broke through the trail, and got started on the brookwhack uphill. While I have tortured Katie and Rory with at least a few interesting bushwhacks, I don't think Emmalee had ever been on a real bushwhack herself, and while Saturday didn't have a real good sample of one of those, Emm really liked the brookwhack start to the slide, with the rock hoping and mini-waterfalls and cascade climbs. Definitely of note this last Saturday on this stretch: tons of natural snacking to be had by way of abundant beautiful raspberries.

    Before too long with the brookwhacking, we got the first glimpse of the headwall and LWJ summit. I pointed this out to Emm, and this being her first slide climb and not being used to the possible deceiving visual effects of the slides' upper reaches' angles, her eyes went wide and she said "Oh my!" Later on as we approached the slide's split and headwall this was a frequent occurrence with the eyes and the exclamation, but it was always preceded and followed by a big smile. Emm was very intrigued by all the rock features, including the intrusions and flakes, and the areas of increased irony. Just like when i was there the first time, the parking lot areas always seems so neat with their broad flatness. Passing the large layered waterfall/cascade feature in the middle of the slide, Emm found some small hollow flakes floating just above the flat slab, and never seeing anything like this she got a kick out of making different tones by tapping it. We hit the sandy berm that was at the junction of the upper tributaries' split, and made our way up the ramps and chutes and slabs. On the upper reaches I had dog-duty, as Rory doesn't usually exhibit necessary levels of understanding fear and consequences and sometimes scares us on wet rock that exists over higher ledges. But in these areas as well as others that gave ascent options along the way Katie and Emm went ahead and expanded their scrambling abilities by taking different and more interesting lines, and I only stopped them from trying one or two convex bulges that didn't have adequate holds.

    As we got higher towards the headwall i explained that we wouldn't be attempting that final pitch, instead we would be taking the herdpath at its base up to the range trail to the summit. As we were taking a break at this exit point we noticed another party also ascending the slide below us, making their way up with at least 2 dogs themselves. It made me smile that Emm had the same certain disappointment that I have had on every slide climb: the point at which your time on the rock is over, and you either whack to the summit or start on your descent. We made our way over to the range trail for the eroded interesting mess that is just northeast of the LWJ summit bump, and then got to the nicer stretch of trail just above that followed by the summit rock. While not the best mountain for views, we still sat awhile on the top rock, looking through the pines at the mountains and wilderness. We were joined by a solo hiker who was making his way through the 46 and had just hiked up Beaver Meadow Falls trail to Armstrong, UWJ and then to us at LWJ. After having a good talk with him we headed down towards the wolfjaw's notch, getting the occasional great closeup views of UWJ and the upper range along the way. I had been considering hitting UWJ's summit for Katie and Emm also, but with delaying the morning start due to rain and wanting to get the shuttle before it stopped running for the day, we started down towards the valley instead. We took some time scoping out the other slides we passed or crossed through on the way down, and took breaks along the brook before hitting the suspension bridge and ranger station again, and made our walk out to the garden. Some hikes' final miles out can be true slogs, but from JBL to the garden we kept thinking that it was a great trail with the nice soft footing through a nice forest.

    We took advantage of the full weekend together and the nice weather by getting a campsite at Sharp Bridge campground, and had a great campfire both Saturday night and Sunday morning before breaking camp. It pained me a bit to do it (seemed like using a cheat code on a video game), but we drove up the Whiteface Memorial Highway to the castle and walked to the summit from there for its great views. It was extremely crowded there on Sunday around noon, and made me appreciate still being able to hike the summit instead of having to drive most of the way up and then be herded to the summit itself through that cattle corralling with the rest of the masses. On the way up I scoped out the Lake Placid slide, as this will probably be among my next slides. After enjoying the views up top for awhile, Emm and Katie went back the way we came to stop in at the gift shop, while me and Rory escaped the crowds for a few minutes by jogging down the northeast trail to the big-walled turn, and from there back up the road to the parking area.

    On the way down in the car we stopped at the pullout at this walled turn, and watched some hikers coming up and also had a good talk with someone wearing a 46climbs shirt. I had heard about this first I believe through Foot Stuff Podcast's latest episode and had forgotten to check it out at that time. Luckily talking on Sunday morning with the hiker stuck with us and we have since signed up for the September event, and encourage anyone able to help out and hike to do so, it is supporting a great cause while out enjoying our mountains.

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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

  • #2
    To add onto the mention of 46climbs.com in my initial post, to support the cause you do not need to sign up to climb yourself, if you are able to you can donate through others that are already signed up, and i am sure any amount will be appreciated. You can donate through me, Michael Reiss, or my girlfriend Katie Blanchard, or you can choose to donate through anyone else that is already signed up. Just go to the website 46climbs.com and follow the "Donate" links. Last time i checked some people on there were really kicking butt with their fundraising (ie Matt Baer of the Foot Stuff pod). I am hoping to get to the peaks for 2 climbs in the week and a half. Thank you in advance for any support to the foundation.
    "...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

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    • #3
      Originally posted by bikerhiker View Post
      ....as they haven't gotten much love here on the forum within the last year.
      Yeah not a lot of of feedback here. And I'm as guilty as others. I suppose it doesn't mean people don't look.

      Lake Placid Slide is pretty OK. There's a painting of Whiteface (can't find it now). If you find it, it also has a detail that includes the slide.
      For a Hudson River School Painting it's pretty literal. Often times they took sketches back to the studio and produced something but not literal.

      I've climbed it a couple times. The one I recall the best is on with Claudia and I in the warm weather. Near the top closing in on the ASRC building. And near the railings on the path from the Castle. We're outside and one of guys working there with the ORDA jackets says something like 'aren't you supposed to be inside the railing.' To which Claudia replies 'We're working on it.'

      Don

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