Slide 12/13/14

Balsam Cap, Breath, Cornell, Cross, East Wildcat, Friday, Garfield, Giant Ledge, Hanover, Lone, Panther, Peekamoose, Pleasant, Rocky, Romer, Samuals Point, Slide, Table, Terrace, Van Wyck, Wittenberg, Wildcat, Woodhull

Slide 12/13/14

New postby Jon » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:59 pm

So I was in the Catskills on some academic business, when I noticed there was a thick cloud of fog enveloping the high peaks. Everytime it moved away from the mountain, the glistening pure virgin white rime coated trees could be spotted from the valley. I chanced it and after lunch on my way home I saw if my little prius had it in him to make it through the Slide Mountain pass on route 47. I was like the little engine that could, the road started becoming more and more packed with slippery snow, but I finally rounded the turn past Giant's Ledge parking area and gunned the electro-motor-hybrid engine as much as I could to make it up the last bit of hill to the col by Winnisook. I passed 2,600 feet elevation and cheered as my car was going to make it! The hard part was over, now for a nice relaxing snowshoe.

Suggested gear for hiking at this time of year:
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So after I got that all jammed in my pack, I strapped the snowshoes on and hit the trail by about 1:45.
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Despite there being piles of snow everywhere, the streams are not frozen.
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Trail up slide mountain was in about 8-10 inches of snow at the base, but there was a nice hard pack from previous snowshoes
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The hemlock grove which is low on the mountain, and the first vertical, and likely steepest part of the climb, was covered in rime and a bit of snow. The hemlocks boughs which normally stick straight out were all bent down from the burden of weight, and one had to duck underneath them. I touched a few of the boughs and they felt very heavy, like over a hundred or more of frozen pounds just swinging at head level. It reminded me of walking through a meat locker.
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Here the stream has melted the snow, so I had to cross the rocks scratching up my snowshoes, and then duck underneath some more hanging frozen hemlock boughs.
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The low spring on Slide Mountain.
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I was happy to be done with those low hanging hemlocks, and out into the more open trail.
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However low on the mountain, the beech trees which were just near the trail were drooping as well. Most of them were at eyeball level for me, and I had to throw on my hardshell, look down, and run just to push through them.
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Although from a distance the trees look to be covered with nice white puffy snow, this is not the case. Here is a zoomed in shot of some beech leaves on the branches. Everything was encrusted in several millimeters of rime, and was hard, cold, heavy, and painful to be hit with.
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View of the canopy
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Rime covered forest
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The trail widens up a bit, and there were less things in my path stabbing me in the eyes. So I started to make better time. This section of the trail is usually punctuated by several water bars, which make for little obstacles/hurdles one must jump every few hundred feet. There was plenty of snow though, and I didn't even notice a single one. Going on this straightaway was quick, and i made great time up to 3500 feet elevation
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After reaching 3500 feet, I realized the firs were just as burdened as the hemlocks lower on the slope. These again were hanging right in my path, and I was bobbing and weaving to get through. It was a frozen meat-locker obstacle course for sure!
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Rime coated firs.
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The trail markers were even beginning to get enveloped.
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Summit trail to slide mountain. This is most likely after the big bend, but before curtis-ormsbee intersection.
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A shot of the trail. Almost everything is obstructed, going around and under overloaded balsam boughs.
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Whiteout conditions at the viewpoint. I was hoping for a bit of Panther or Giant's ledge, but I was in the thick of the cloud at this point
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Summit of Slide Mountain 4,180 ft elevation
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Burrough's Plaque selfie
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I realized that it was now almost 4, and sunset was at 4:30. What ever could I do? I was three miles to the car and had a gauntlet of frozen hanging rime coated boughs in my way. I decided to snowshoe run! This is the reason I love winter. With no pesky unstable rocks in my way and nothing but soft fluffy snow I made my way down the same way I had come up. I got to the intersection after sunset, but still with a bit of twilight making the path visible
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I reached the car just at the end of twlight, by around 5ish. Warmed up the car, knocked the ice off my boots and snowshoes and headed home
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Re: Slide 12/13/14

New postby mike » Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:00 pm

I always love hikes with snow and rime on the trees. Looks like a great day out in the woods. How much snow was on top? Great pics!
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Re: Slide 12/13/14

New postby trimble256 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:17 pm

Excellent trail report! Thanks for posting.
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Re: Slide 12/13/14

New postby Jon » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:25 am

there was at least 18inches maybe 2 feet in places. Up on the clearing by the summit rock the wind blown drifts were much deeper. Thanks for the compliments. It's my favorite time of year for photos.
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