Ascent to Big Slide Mountain-Slide Mtn. Brook crossing on 2011-03-11

Climber: Jesse Quonce

Others in Party:Jim C
Date:Friday, March 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Big Slide Mountain - Slide Mtn. Brook crossing
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:2461 ft / 750 m
    Remaining Elevation:1738 ft / 529 m (62% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

Hiked with Jim C to Big Slide.... well, not really. We met at a very soggy Garden parking lot at 10am. The water was at least 4 inches deep on the parking lot, over a sheet of ice. The 29 inches of snow we got on 3/6/11 was starting to melt, and fast. The recent rainfall only hastened the snow's retreat. We paused at the sign-in to look at the condition of The Brother's trail, and the register itself. Jim noted that a group had possibly gone on The Brother's during the snowfall, and only a minor imprint in the snow remained from their skis. I expressed my concern for increased water levels on the Slide Mountain Brook Trail, but we thought we'd have a better shot at a broken trail at that location. We headed off towards the John's Brook area, meeting many skiers along the way. Stepping off the trail was not fun, the snow alongside was deep and wet. We moved along at a steady pace, chatting along the way. It sprinkled on and off, so we decided to change out our jackets for baselayers, as the temperature neared 45 degrees F. We crossed Slide Mountain Brook, and began to continue down the trail. Suddenly, we were startled by a sign stating "Big Slide Mountain ->." We checked the National Geographic map, and soon realized we had gone by a completely unbroken trail. We stopped to search for a trail marker, finding a red disc a good ways up the hill. Jim took the plunge into the untouched "mashed potatoes," and we started off. I remember vividly from my descent of this trail in June that the path crosses the brook several times, before finally meandering up the left side of the brook. We soon came to the first crossing, a swap from left to right sides. It was very apparent that we were not going to make a safe crossing at this location, and I soon turned to my ADK High Peaks map. It verified my initial concerns; at some point we had to cross over to the right side of the brook to avoid a rather steep left bank. We decided to bypass this crossing, knowing that the trail was going to return to the left bank. We bushwhacked up the left bank, noting neatly trimmed branches along our path, we had not been alone in this style endeavor. We soon came across a red trail marker, confirming the wandering nature of the path. I took the front and marched up the left bank. I soon came to a narrow valley along the brook. I remarked to Jim "this looks like a minor stream or...," and I plunged down into the snow. I looked down, and immediately panicked. I was knee deep in fast moving water, and the snow around me was over my waist. I yelped out "BROOK, BROOK, GET OUT!" Jim scurried up the deep snow, while I tried to escape. I pulled myself out and feared the worst. I tore off my Outdoor Research gaiters and tested out the material underneath. Everything felt dry. I thought I was good to continue. Then I put my weight on my recently submersed right leg. Squish, squish, squish. I knew then I might be in trouble. We regrouped, and then soon realized the worst, we HAD to get across the brook in this area. We went up and down the left bank, but couldn't find a decent, level crossing. Jim retreated, and noted a down tree that clung to the brook, deep in the snow on the bank, and frozen in ice in the brook. He gently put his weight on the blowdown, and slowly balanced as he led across the brook. A hop on a rock, and a skip on some ice, and he was across. With my squishy boot, I stared down into the rushing water. I knew another plunge in the icy waters would do me in for the day. I didn't have it in me to chance it on the ice. Thoughts of the recent stranded hiker in the Sewards raced through my head. I just couldn't do it. With some parting wisdom, I turned back, while Jim disappeared off the trail, on his way to winter high peak #44. I raced towards home on the trail, once again breaking through ice on a river crossing, and going in thigh deep into the cold water below. At another crossing, the ice cracked loudly ahead of me, giving me quite a scare. I finally arrived at the parking area at 2:45pm, leaving instructions for Jim to call me immediately when he was in cell service. I was very relieved to hear from Jim at 5:15pm, he was safe and sound. I'm 0 for 2 on made summits with Jim, maybe we are not good luck!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1062 ft / 324 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:Slide Mountain Brook Trail
    Trailhead:The Garden  1399 ft / 426 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Breezy, Low Clouds

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