|The 1947 slide leads directly to the base of the imposing subsummit|
We left Albany at 5 and got started on the Grateful Dead's performance at Nassau Coliseum on 11/1/79 (listen here) as the soundtrack to one of the best sunrises I've had the pleasure of witnessing in quite some time. A pretty stellar show from a transitional period at the start of Brent Mydland's tenure with the band culminated in a gigantic and triumphant Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain as we pulled into the trail head. Nothing like hearing 'Fire' to get you stoked to climb a high peak! Not surprisingly for a summer Saturday, the lot was pretty full. We managed to grab a spot and after gearing up, Koda, Ryan and I were moving down the pine-scented trail inhaling deliciously refreshing crisp morning air. Chatting and walking teleported us to the Slide Brook bridge just before the base camp there. When I climbed the '47 slide with Suvrat and Brian (read about that trip here) we hiked along the herd path for 10-15 minutes before dropping down to Slide Brook. We missed the tributary that branches off due east and leads to the '47 slide on that trip. It was a quick fix to cross over the height of land into the right drainage after Brian checked his GPS. On this trip we'd be sticking to map and compass navigation so I decided not to chance it and had us stay on the south side of Slide Brook so we'd see the tributary we needed to take.
|Brent Mydland front and center with his new bandmates|
It seemed like there was faint traces of the original herd path (the route up this slide was the preferred ascent of Macomb for many years) but soon lost any traces in dense growth and blow down. The going was pretty rough. Several times we crossed over to the north side of the brook to get the lay of the land only to pop out onto the standard herd path. It was tempting to make faster and easier time taking it but we headed back into the thickness. After some sweat, scratches and stumbles we reached the drainage we were looking for. Another tributary branches off on a more southeast course than the due east course we were following. With the compass out for confirmation, we committed to our branch. Before long the creek looked more and more familiar. We were on the right track. It was a bit easier going on the banks here and we often rock hopped in the creek which was easier still. Through the years Koda's love for water in all it's forms has grown to a bit of an obsession. He loves to splash in moving water and bite waterfalls, all while scream-barking. He's fine swimming in lakes but loses his mind near streams. He has to be on leash around them now. His fixation overrules his recall and he doesn't come when I call him. Not ok. Sometimes an outside perspective can help in a big way with a problem. Ryan suggested a whistle might work to snap him out of it. My Osprey pack has one built right in to the chest clip so I gave it a go to great success! With a bit more work I think some whistle training will go a long way with Koda.
A break in the trees on our right indicated that we had reached a memorable landmark from my first climb of the slide: a series of high, sandy, eroded banks on the south shore of the creek. We climbed up and Ryan got his first look at our destination: the rocky crag on the southern summit of the Macomb ridge with a virtual highway of a slide track for an approach. It was just as impressive a view as the first time. We headed back down to the stream and continued rock hopping as the first evidence of the slide came in the form of larger and larger sections of slab. As we got higher, the view back towards Elk Lake opened up. Once you are on solid rock for a while you can see the rubble track of the '47 slide on your left while the slab course continues straight with a sheet of water pouring down it. After slab climbing had made our climb a bit easier for a while, climbing out on the sandy rubble brought things back to challenge town.
|Kodak leads the way|
|the slide track starts opening up|
|The view from the start of the rubble section. Worth the effort.|
|For once Koda sat still and looked at me for a picture|
|Closing in on the top|
|Not too shabby|
|See you soon Dix!!!|
|A little bit of herd path!|
|team future dads!|
|Our ascent route|
|Worth the wait and return trip|
|cool vegetation all along the summit ridges|
After taking a nice long time appreciating our gorgeous and unique vantage point, it was time to bushwhack back along the ridge and rejoin civilization on the herd paths of the Dix Range. There are still faint traces of the path along the summit ridge which Brian, Suvrat and I were able to follow decently well the first time. This time Ryan and I saw it every now and then but not nearly as much. Lots of pushing through and climbing over stuff but never anything soul crushing. Close to the herd path, we heard folks chatting and I busted out a loud crow caw which was returned to me. Fun times. And just like that we popped out on the trail not far off from the summit. We re-entered society. Met some nice guys on the summit and a larger group of some younger folks. Since we had spent so much time with our own personal Macomb summit, we chatted for a few minutes and headed down the trail. It was utter joy to not have to plan every single step, slide in rubble or push through the woods. We just glided down the lovely, dry trail. The whole range was much drier than I expected considering the time of year.
The rock scramble up Carson was as fun as usual and it's always a pleasure to bask in those views in every direction. After a quick visit to the summit, we headed back to some open rock for another snack and rest. It was perfect weather for sitting around and taking in the views. Unseasonably cool in a very good way and bug free. The ups and downs along the ridge to the Hough col went quickly though Ryan and I both noticed we were started to feel it a bit. While Koda drank most of Slide Brook, he was exerting and panting quite a bit so he got a liter out of my pack in the col and another 3/4 of a liter on Dix. On the start of our Hough climb we started clumping up with several groups of hikers. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and enjoying their hikes. By the summit of Hough, I was definitely feeling it in my legs. We spent a good long time up there and dug into our secret weapons: sour gummy worms! Delicious and nutritious! As we were relaxing on Hough, Koda got an unexpected surprise: Greta, a young female German Shepherd came bounding out onto the summit excited to meet everyone. She was sweet as hell and teased Koda a little bit which he definitely deserves. It was nice to chat with a fellow GSD owner about their similarities and quirks. Nice guy! Nice people was definitely the theme of social interaction on the hike. Some days you're out there it it doesn't seem like anyone wants to talk. Or even smile hahaha.
The gummy's got us pretty far along the ridge up to Dix even though our pace was slowing a bit. What a great place to slow down though! There are so many awesome views along the stretch of trail. Seriously, there are so many great views all along the Dix Range. It's a great place to hike. The final push involves a few interesting scrambles, including one or two Koda needed a bit of a boost for. The views from the Beckhorn made the sore legs well worth it.
|Nippletop in the foreground with the Great Range stretching out beyond|
|Giant and Rocky now in the mix|
|Grace Peak and all it has to offer|
|All dem peaks|
|Elk Lake and our car seem a long way away|
|The slides on the west face of Dix|
|Lots of funky interesting stuff on Nippletop|
|so much rock|
|Trees pouring off the cliff and into the pass|
|Typical trail conditions in the lower pass|
|Cold, clear and delicious|
|Tired and content|