Trip reports – January-March 2018 (updated 1/22/2018)

1/20/2018 – Big Slide & Three Brothers, Adirondacks
Another great day in the Adirondacks we had!  Seven of us met at the Starbuck’s on the Shelburne Road at 6:45 am, piled into 2 cars, quick stop in Port Henry at the Stewart’s, then back on the road to The Garden trailhead, arriving around 8:45 am.  It was by pure luck that we were able to park here, right in front of the attendant booth, creatively creating two parking spaces! And luckily, too, Jim and Richard were already there, arriving from NY and NJ, respectively.  Anyone coming after us would have had to go elsewhere for the day.  After parking, hellos, getting our gear squared away, intros, run down of the day and the start of January 20 trivia, we were on the trail by 9:30 am ish.  We headed to the Brothers first, where conditions were hard packed, with some ice blobs here and there but nothing that was so serious that was worrisome. All wore either spikes, shoes or alternated during the day. Met some here and there along the way; weather was spectacular (not dealing with the frigid temps of late was SO nice!) with the clouds breaking and clear blue skies en route and full-on over all three Brothers.  This changed before the intersection to head up to Big Slide, where clouds and wind moved in.  No view at the summit, a bit of chit chat, a group photo, then back to the junction where we ate lunch, then headed on our descent via the Johns Brook Valley trail.  At the first intersection, Jim mentioned he wanted to say hi to a friend who was working at the Lodge and if anyone else wanted to come along.  Seven of us said yes, Tom and Tracy headed back to The Garden. The Lodge is spectacular with a huge deck, new signage, plenty of cleared land around it.  Nice fire awaited those who popped inside for a bit, with a very clean appearance. It was well worth the 1 mile diversion. The rest of the outbound was smooth and we returned to our cars around 4:15 pm.  Some changed clothes, then we headed to The Ausable Inn for eats and adult beverages, back at the Starbuck’s for the Vermonters around 8 pm. A great way to end a great day!  Participants: Richard Dabal, Dave Churchill, Mark McLane, Tom Smith, Tracy Sweeney, Jim Schneider, Jody Dunkley, Dave Hathaway (photos), Robynn Albert (leader). View of Gothic from the rail up the Brothers (above).
On the summit of Big Slide (below).  We got the last two parking spots at the Garden. Closeup of “snow fleas,” which were out in abundance.

1/13/2018 – Butler Lodge
With the drop from high 50s F the evening before to below 10F in the morning and the wintry mix that came with it, roads were bad. So several people canceled and we ended up with only three people from Underhill Center, each with less than three miles to drive to the 9 AM meeting place. We took one car up to the trailhead, and needed AWD and four good snow tires to traverse the last bit of road from the former Maple Leaf Farm to the trailhead and started up the trail around 9:20 with light snow falling. One of our group wanted to be back by 1 PM, so we did a slightly shortened version of the planned trip, heading up the ski trails to just north of Twin Brooks tenting area instead of taking the Nebraska Notch trail. After the thaw of the previous two days there was still enough water under the top layer of snow to make for around a lot of wet spots as we headed up the ski trail, and we battled repeated buildups of ice balls on our snowshoes. We hit the Long Trail around 10:20, and from there ran into a lot of crusty snow that was often not quite strong enough to hold our weight, even with snowshoes, so our pace was a bit halting in spots. We reached Butler Lodge around 11:15 where we spent about 10 or 15 minutes for lunch, then headed back out into the cold. The snow had stopped, but the temperature had been dropping, and the wind coming up the trail was fierce. So the first part of the descent was pretty cold, but it improved markedly as we got lower, and we caught glimpses of blue sky above. We passed a couple other Underhill Center folks with three dogs near the bottom, and reached the car just before 1 PM, where we met a couple other folks headed up Nebraska Notch trail. Participants: Rob Gordon, Laura Selman, David Hathaway (leader).

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