Winter on Big Slide Mountain

Sunday, January 21st

The weekend of third timers!  My original plan was to hike part of the Dix Range for my winter round, but my #bumhip was not cooperating.  So Plan B it was:  Braids, Buttsleds and Big Slide Mountain.  This trip was my 3rd time climbing Biggie.  Much like my experience with LWJ, my first trip up Big Slide was in a snowstorm in November 2015; then again this summer with Mallory (a beautiful day!) and this day.

The warm front continued, and it was another day for the snowshoes to take a ride on my pack.  The snow was slushy in some parts and sheets of ice in others.  But the weather was lovely.  It was a fantastic day to be out in the mountains!

Slow and steady was my motto for the day.  No need to rush. Therefore, at 8:45 a.m. my happy hiking feet set out on the beautiful walk to the First Brother.

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I started in spikes (and remained that way for the entire hike. As did almost every other hiker I saw…just not enough snow.) But ICE was everywhere.  Good times, lol.

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I welcomed the silence of the morning. Time to think was necessary for this easy day in the woods.  Silence. It always has so much to say.

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The rest of the hike up to the First Brother was a sheet of ice. But it sure was mesmerizing.

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me…

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At the first lookout after my mini-ice climbing adventure. It is the simple moments like these that take my breath away.  Sometimes when I hike alone, the silence speaks volumes.  Other times, it quietly walks beside me, only nudging my thoughts when necessary.

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Looking back…it was 10 a.m. More hypnotizing from the massive clouds that floated rapidly through the sky.

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There he is…my first love.  Giant of the Valley.  Every time I see him, my heart swells with bittersweet nostalgia.  It’s gonna be alright today.

Turning around…the most magnificent vantage point of Porter and Little Porter.  Snow-graced mountains.  Is there anything better?

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I actually wasn’t quite at the First Brother…but soon after this…

Fifteen minutes later…a look back once again before onto through the remaining Brothers and then Biggie.  If you have a great weather day, the views from this hike are endless.

I have at least a dozen photos of this landscape.  The awe-inspiring regalness of the Great Range is a personal favorite.

It always surprises me…when you view the scene of the mountain you were just on the day before.  “I was just there!!” I exclaim, pointing at Lower Wolf Jaw.  Beautifully humbling.

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A dip back into the trees and it was onto Big Slide himself. Evergreens graced with a gathering of snowflakes on every arm.

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I knew the junction was near…the air grew colder and the fir trees thinner. The snow encrusted entire branches now.  Hypnotizing, peaceful, still.

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Crunch, crunch, crunch went the blades of my microspikes…although this spot almost begged for ice skates.

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Around 11:30 a.m., I arrived at the junction.  The decision was made to drop my pack (after witnessing a slew of dropped packs here).  In hindsight, I should have ditched a few layers as well.  The sky was cloudy but the air was wrapped in a winter warm.

This ladder. Easy climbing.  Then it was on to the dilapidated ladder, that was pretty much solid ice. Actually, everything was solid ice. I climbed the ice floes all the way to the summit.

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But first, from the ladder rungs, a glance back at the mountainscape.  There he was again, Giant. #exhale

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The Slide of Big, in all its massive, winter glory.

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One more view from the lookout.  I had a hunch this cloudy scene wouldn’t hold out long enough for a summit shot.

Haha, I was right! Completely socked in! Nevertheless, at 11:45 a.m., my 19th winter high peak was obtained!  Big Slide remains a treasured favorite. I’ll be back again for sure!

The summit was hopping.  I met some great people, as always! After chatting with some Eagles fan about the playoff games, I was off and running once again.

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A buttslide fail! My plan was to continue sliding to the left of the ladder but I’m pretty sure we don’t get extra points for taking out fellow hikers. Haha!

Back at the junction, it was time for a ginger tea and dark chocolate reward. Hit the spot! Breathe it all in and love it all out, alright.  These are the deep-breath moments that always pay a visit to my soul in the mountains.  A strong connection to Mother Nature.

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The descent was fast! Out came the buttsled and I slid every chance I could.  Once back at the First Brother, it was one final gorgeous shot of the beloved mountains.  Heaven on earth, right?

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The afternoon sun peeking through the woods…

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A little after 2 p.m., I signed myself out of the hike.  Total distance was about 8 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes.  No rush was my theme of the day.  My hip was still twinging but appreciated the buttslides!

Despite the socked in summit, which is usually Big Slide, the day was perfect.  A warmish winter day for a quiet walk in the woods.  A needed reminder that sometimes, savoring the moments is just what the doctor ordered.  The silence remained silently beside me for most of the journey.  That alone, was pretty miraculous.  When is my mind ever silent??  Thanks Biggie. 🙂

On to the next adventure,

J

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