After lunch and my bout of picture-taking, it was time to head down. The soft snow and lack of ice made it a relatively easy descent, although still requring some quad endurance and some careful foot placements. Soon we were off of the steep bits and back on the ridge trail towards The Brothers (we had considered doing the loop down via Johns Brook Lodge but the extra distance coupled with the lack of views caused it to lose out when we took a vote).
The hike back towards the brothers from the Big Slide junction was rapid and uneventful. The biggest effort along this part was the climb back up to the 3700-foot unnamed sub-summit. After that, it was a downhill cruise to the highest of the Brothers, where we paused again to take in the great views. I waited while Gino, Hatko and Brian made their way down and along the crest of the Second Brother, so I could get a nice telephoto'd view of them hiking across it. After rejoining them, we made quick work of the open ledges leading back down to the First (lowest) Brother, with perhaps the only tricky bit being the one rocky scramble step, which was carefully downclimbed backwards (by me at least) with our snowshoes still strapped on.
Descending Highest Brother
The strong pre-spring sun had definitely warmed up the snow relative to the morning - it was stickier and softer and it made more sense to keep our snowshoes strapped on. In places it was even starting to ball up a little bit underfoot, which is always a little annoying and unhelpful. Fortunately it was only in a few places and didn't affect us that much.
We enjoyed the final few beautiful open ledges on the lowest Brother before descending into the trees for good. Given the short distance between the lowest lookout and the trailhead, it was only a few more tens of minutes before the Garden trailhead came into view. In a few more minutes, Hatko was signing us out and we were done. The time was 3:30pm, meaning we had completed the there-and-back journey in six hours and forty-eight minutes. Only a middling speed, to be honest, but we were in no rush at all and there had been much to stop and gawk at.
Congrats again to Brian on his W25 and here's to hoping we'll get another outing or two in before the official winter hiking season ends! Thanks, Gino and Chris, for joining us today.
Back down in the lowlands
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Big Slide (direct) - click map to view
Big Slide (Direct) - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet