A family affair plus Phil is how I describe this day’s outing! I like to lead one or two hikes per winter in my old stomping grounds of the Adirondacks. Growing up in Elizabethtown (E’town, really), the Adks. are near and dear to my heart. Always love going back to the trails…..here was our fantastic day on the other side of the pond:

Since Phil and I live fairly close to one another, made lots of sense to meet and take one car, of course, and even more sense that Phil drove, as I am convinced he is a closet race car driver wannabe….we headed out of town at around 7:15 am, made our way across the now not-so-new bridge (but it’s still a thrill to drive over), made one pit stop at the Stewart’s in Port Henry, then headed to Keene Valley. It’s a good thing we decided to meet at 9:15 am. The Garden trail head lot was nearly 70% full, meaning great minds think alike for a day in the mountains! My father Bob traveled a bit down the road from his home just south of Plattsburgh and cousin Jason drove up from the other direction near the Albany area.

Strange to say but we actually headed out “backwards” from what hikers might normally do, meaning we headed to Big Slide first, then completed the day with Brother 3, then 2, then 1….not a lot of snow (maybe 6″ at the most), little ice and microspikes were a necessity. Brook crossing was the norm many, many times making for having your eyes peeled and your pole in its proper place a must-do action. Just before you hit the summit, there is a walkout where you are standing very near the “big” slide which is much larger than its namesake summit. Quite windy, snapped a couple of pics then headed down. Stopped at the trail junction before heading towards the Brothers and Jason forced us (can you believe it??) to try a bit of whiskey a friend from Albany gave him who is part of the first legal distillery opening in NYS since prohibition! Yummmy!!!

Shortly after we got going again, the four of us became pretty stretched out on the trail and the sun was setting fast, darkness looming. Jason could not wait to use the headlamp that his wife Leah gave him for his birthday in August. Phil was so far ahead of us on the descent (oh, I forgot to mention earlier….he ran into someone he knows from the Adk. Mtn. Club, go figure!), he thought he’d be really funny and hide behind a tree and scare at least one of us (which he did!) just before the trailhead. We did end up turning our head lamps on about the last 15-20 minutes of the hike.

Not sure if there was anything special about being Canadian and not being in your country on Saturday, but trail greetings in French far outweighed our native tongue. Very cool to have our neighbors to the north enjoy our scenery as much as we do, and or course, what’s a trip to the Keene Valley area without a trip to the Noonmark Diner! We parted ways at the stroke of 6 pm and all made it home safely, fulfilled with that good kind of tired that comes with a good day in the mountains followed by good food!

Trip Leader: Robynn Albert

Photo Credit: Phil Hazen and Robynn Albert

Hikers: Bob Albert, Jason Farrell, Phil Hazen