Big Slide, Take 2

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View from one of the three Brothers

I revisited Big Slide today with a friend, for my first trip back to the Adirondacks this hiking season. I took away some valuable lessons too, the first of which is to never, ever do the South Beach diet for two weeks prior to going on a 9 mile peakbagging excursion – eating carbs the night before and throughout the day today just did not cut it. Never in my life have I experienced an energy drain like I did today. But errors in judgement notwithstanding, it’s a great feeling that I was able to complete my mission and finally summit Big Slide. Looping back to the Garden trailhead via the Brothers ridge line was also a nice treat, and a portion of the hike that I missed last year when I had to retreat into the woods because of lightening.

Firstly, I was amazed that I snagged the last parking space at Garden a little past 7:30 a.m. Not only is it Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday, but the DEC issued a notice encouraging people not to hike many of the higher elevation trails in the month of May until the mud dries up a bit more, and Big Slide was on the short list of trails above 3500 feet that were recommended. The day was off to a great start.

My Belvita breakfast biscuits that I choked down in the car seemed to give me a fabulous burst of energy at the beginning of the day. We hiked at a moderate pace for about 3/4 of the way to the Johns Brook Outpost, until I was overcome with such a depletion of oomph that I had to sit down on the side of the trail and get some more food and electrolytes in me. None of the food I brought with me had as many carbs as those biscuits unfortunately, so I never recovered that pace. The rest of the hike was very slow going. Though I normally keep a decent, steady pace on the ascent, I was stopping just about every 3 minutes for the 2.3 mile duration of the trail to the Big Slide summit, feeling weak and shaky. The rest of the hike went much like this so I won’t dwell on the details, but at the end of the day I have to admit that I was proud of myself for just taking my time and pushing forward at the snail’s pace that worked for me, instead of giving up (which was very, very tempting).

Almost immediately upon turning onto the Big Slide trail, at the camping/tent site, it was tricky to figure out where the trail continued. First we went right, but it didn’t feel right crossing the brook at that point, and I sensed we were going in the wrong direction – the map backed me up. It turns out that the trail veers to the left of the camping area and was partially obscured by some blowdown. The route to the summit was uneventful until reaching a rockface above the ladder. This was the point I’d made it to last year when I decided to turn around due to the weather – I had thought at that time that the summit was just above it, but learned today that I had been wrong. The rock face was much taller than me. There was a crevice running down the middle, but my boot wouldn’t fit in it to get a solid foothold, and there were no handholds at all. In the end, I had to take my boot off and stick my socked foot into the crevice, while my friend reached her hand out for me to use as a handhold. The lack of energy definitely was the big issue here – very little strength to pull myself up, but I made it. I wanted to take a photo of it on the way back down, but there was an alternate route between the ladder and the summit that I hadn’t noticed on the way up. It avoided the challenge completely, and we ended up accidentally taking that route back down after hanging out on the summit for at least a half hour.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and mostly clear. The views of the Great Range from the Big Slide summit were incredible, and there was a crowd up there with us, including a very sweet pit bull who seemed very proud of himself.

Turning onto the blue trail to pick up the ridge line over the Brothers peaks, we were quite surprised to encounter a few ice sheets. Their shelf life was short though, as they were broken up and melting. Just after that was a lot of mud – something we hadn’t yet encountered on this hike. I didn’t have my gaiters on (this is the story of my life – they are always in my pack and never on my legs) when I stepped into what I thought was just some surface mud. I sunk halfway up my shins, which made for a nice, sloshy walk to the first Brother. Luckily, no more mud was encountered on the rest of the journey.

It was a nice walk back to the traihead over the ridge line. I’m so glad to have chosen to hike the loop in this direction – the gorgeous views were in front of us the whole time. Eventually the trail wound back down into the trees, and before long we were at the parking lot. One thing to mention about the hike today: no blackflies! Yet. πŸ™‚

This 9 mile loop isΒ  one of the most gradual I’ve encountered in the high peaks. There were a couple of steep spots going down the rocky third Brother, but for the most part it was a pretty easy ride.

Last note about one more lesson learned today: do not use the crazy vibrant setting on the camera. Luckily I accidentally switched it off on the summit, so the second half of my pics are a lot easier on the eyes than the first half.

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Looking back at the beginning of the trail from the correct path, with camping site on left.

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Big Slide trail, in its technicolor glory

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The beginning of the not so big slide, on Big Slide.

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A bluebird day, through the trees

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Looking back from top of slide

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Fungi

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Higher up on the trail

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Views from Big Slide

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Views from Big Slide

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The last of the ice

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Wet, muddy, squishy feet 😦

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Heading through a birch forest to the Brothers

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Along the trail

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Very pretty part of the trail

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Views from the second(?) Brothers

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Snake!

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I don’t know what this tree was, but the tiny flowers resembled strawberry blossoms. EDIT: thank you John at Kestral Haven for letting me know this is a shadbush. πŸ™‚

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Taking in the view

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15 thoughts on “Big Slide, Take 2

  1. It’s a shame that you were having energy issues on your hike. But you made the best of it, had yourself a great hike on a picture perfect day. Aren’t you glad you descending back over the Brother’s trail…didn’t I tell you what a spectacular trail is it?

    • Yes, thanks for the advice – definitely happy with the direction of the loop. How’d you like the photo of my muddy boots? Have you ever sank into mud practically up to your knees?! NOT fun – and maybe prep for the Santas and Allen!

      • The muddiest I ever was from my hike to Scott and Wallface Ponds a couple of years back. You out-muddied me!!!
        Is this any indication of what we’ll encounter on the Santanoni hike in 12 days?????

  2. Thanks again for the vicarious hike, Pru! I had comparable energy issues all last year- unfortunately not for dietary indiscretions but for lack of training. So with that in mind, I too started my hiking season yesterday with a hike & a great rock scramble in the ‘Gunks. For some explicable reason and contrary to my norm, I did Big Slide in the reverse direction. So thanks for “showing” me the correct way to do it. Go girl- onward & upward Pru!

    • Karen, so glad to hear you had a nice day out in the mountains yesterday too! For some reason the ADK guidebook suggests this loop in the direction that you hiked it, and that is indeed the most popular way. After yesterday, I can’t imagine why you’d want the views behind you instead of in front.

  3. Hey Pru, So happy to see your back and blogging. Missed you. Well you did it even though your strength and energy was challenged. So now you’ll be off and running. Looking forward to following you up and down on the rest of the mountains till the last of the 46ers, Great Pics as always! Make sure you take one of yourself and post. Till next trek :^)

    • Hi Suzanne, thanks for the kind words. I don’t know if I’ll be off and running, but hope to be eventually! Will be starting slow this year I think. Hope to see you this year – maybe you’ll be up to the Loj for another visit?

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