Elevation: 4240 ft (1292 m)
Peak: N44 10.933 W73 52.260
Parking lot: N44 11.340 W73 48.965
Distance: 19.3 km
'Tis the season for hiking. Fall is upon us and finally we're starting to get some sunshine. In the Adirondacks, the leaves have reached their peak and that means it's time to drop everything and bask in nature's light show.
Sunrise over the Raquette River
Only two days after having nailed his last 46er peak, Ken was ready for another fall hike. Unfortunately Mike was suffering from "it's the end of my vacation blues" so he decided not to join us on this one. However sticking to Mike's original fall plan, we chose Big Slide. At 4,240 feet, it is number 27 on the 46er list.
Big Slide starts its climb immediately out of the parking lot. However an early gain in elevation only means that the views are going to come that much sooner. Just as we were starting to work up a sweat we found ourselves stepping out on the First Brother and staring down at some eye-popping colour carpeting the valley below. Marcy's snow capped peak was looming in the distance. It was going to be a stellar day.
As we hiked our way over The Brothers the wind was blowing cold and hard but the contrast of a cloudless sky and warm sunshine provided the perfect offset.
Later as we finally hit the summit of Big Slide, the wind stopped entirely and the sun began to heated up the rock making it the picture perfect place for a break and some lunch. Oh, and did I mention that we had the entire summit to ourselves? Sweet.
Some time during lunch we opted for the slightly longer loop back to the Garden parking lot. From Big Slide we'd head over Yard Mountain (nearly a 46er at 3,990 feet), down to Johns Brook Lodge (JBL), and then along the north shore of the brook back to Garden. While Yard didn't give us with the view of Big Slide that we were hoping for it did provide us with a much more gradual slope down to JBL.
We stopped briefly at that lodge for a snack and a rest in the Adirondack chairs. There was one person relaxing inside with a warm fire but he didn't seem overly friendly so we left him alone to stare at was must have been the park's one and only elk now mounted over the fireplace.
After an hour and a half "death march" we reached the Garden parking lot where we signed out and immediately cracked a celebratory Saranac Ale. After a quick clean up (thank you Wet Ones) and a change of clothes I was again feeling like a million dollars. From here we drove straight to the nearest diner for some supper.
As it turns out the nearest spot to eat was just down the road at the Ausable Inn and Diner and it most certainly deserves mentioning. The atmosphere was great, the large stone fireplace was roaring, and waitress Lulu was bouncing from table to table making sure everybody was satisfied with their service. We even met a painter named Robert Selkowitz who lives in the Catskills, vacations on the shores of Nova Scotia (with Elizabeth May and family no less), and paints landscapes everywhere in between.
Winter is coming...