Monday, 28 May 2012

Adirondack Awesomeness - Hiking Bennie's Brook slide

Hiker admiring Big Slide across John's brook valley

Awesome! There, I said it. This hike was spectacular from start until, well until the exit from Bennie's Brook slide and the last of the glorious views of Big Slide and the brothers across John's Brook valley.

Ascending Bennies Brook slide
Saturday's goal was to hike up the Bennie's Brook slide up to Lower Wolf Jaw and then hike back to the Garden parking lot via the DEC interior outpost. It was a last minute decision to do this hike although I have had it on my "list" for a while. I had planned to do it last fall but hurricane Irene ended those plans. While the damage Irene did to a lot of personal property in the surrounding towns was most unwelcome, she sure polished this slide up just right. The slide was both widened and lengthened. A short herd path from the Southside trail to the slide was removed as the slide continued down the slope right across the trail with violent piles of debris.

How did the trail get up there?
Anticipating a great day for photos, I checked with Ken on friday and luckily he was available to join in on the awesomeness! We started out from the Garden at 8:30 after a somewhat bumpy ride to the Garden. The route to the Southside trail soon takes you to the John's Brook where depending on the water levels a spirited rock hop is in order. We scouted a few spots before making the triple jump leap (yikes, not my strong suit) and reaching the other side without getting wet! The Southside trail runs along the brook on, well, the south side. It is an old road so it is pretty flat but just when you are lulled to sleep there is a spot where the trail dispears into the brook and then appears after across 10 metres of water up a 20 foot cliff. This can be avoided by a short scramble although on a hot day I can imagine returning along the trail and jumping from the short cliff to cool off. About an hour and a half or so from the parking lot the trail emerges through a large pile of downed trees onto the bottom of Bennie's brook slide and the awesomeness begins in earnest!

Nearing Bennies "roots"
The slide starts out fairly flat and steepens as you ascend. We went slowly and took any excuse to stop, turn around and take out our cameras. We took several breaks on the side in the shade to breath it all in. Most of the way up you are treated to expansive views across the valley to Big Slide and the Brothers. On the lower flatter part it was mostly walking up bare rock with the odd short steep scramble. After the slide splits (referred to as the root canal) the trail steepened and the surface became a mix of rock and dirt with loose rocks. This part was steeper for sure but still quite safe and made for fun scrambling with some use of hands and thought on the route to take ... and of course more stopping and turning to take photos. Eventually you need to be on the left side of the slide (at about 3850 feet) in order to exit through the woods to the trail to Lower Wolf Jaw. We took a lot longer than the distance would suggest in order to enjoy the scenery. We stopped for one last break to enjoy the last views before trudging off into the woods for the long walk back to the car. after the slide it was hard to walk along a rocky, rooty, muddy trail after enjoying such a sweet hike on the open slide.
This hike was a whole lot better than I had imagined. It would be a no-brainer to come back in the fall when the leaves are at peak and hike about half way up to enjoy the view! I'm going to see check if there are other slides are of a similar difficulty level. Perhaps the southeast slide on Mt Colden or the Great slide on Grace?

An excellant hike and great to two cameras along to document the fun! Check out a set of photos from the day, I think you will find them, well, awesome!

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