Today's hike had a number of highlights: firstly, it was a fun social event: Roland invited a number of his friends - people that I'd either not met at all or only met briefly; secondly, the weather was wonderfully fantastically warm; and thirdly, we did a perennially favorite and scenic trail: the ascent of Big Slide via the Brothers. The reason why we chose Big Slide was due to my 46er winter quest; I'd not done Big Slide during the winter months.
The continuation of our abnormally warm winter continued; we left Ottawa, where there was no snow whatsoever, and drove to the Adirondacks, encountering a dusting of snow only at the highest point of the drive, through Cascade Pass. There seemed to be significantly less snow in the 'daks than just last week, when we climbed Sawteeth
Based on the week's warm weather and the amount of snow around, we decided to not bring snowshoes. We did, however, bring along yaktrax and crampons.
The trail had only a dusting of snow; furthermore, the ground wasn't even frozen, and there were a few muddy patches around here and there. There are no significant streams to cross on this trail, and trail conditions were generally good as we ascended towards the first lookouts on the Brothers. One of the nice things about this trail is that you get to good views relatively quickly.
The trail up to and over the Brothers, while scenic, involves some easy scrambling over some steepish rock. The previous night's dusting of snow had coated these open rock steps, and it was pretty tricky in spots to get enough grip to climb up. It wasn't long before we broke out the yaktrax to aid with traction.
The day was quite warm and there was very little wind. The cloud cover continued to break up as the morning wore on.
Our group was lively and talkative, lending an especially nice social air to our hike. Everyone got a change to get to know everyone else, and I don't think there was anyone who didn't have a very pleasant conversation with every other person.
After a an excellent and fun walk (and scramble) across the open terrain of the Brothers, we headed back into the trees for the long, gradual ascent to the base of Big Slide's summit hump. There is only one 250-foot descent along this section; otherwise, it is gently to moderately uphill. There was a thin base of snow at this altitude - perhaps 4 inches or so, and it was crusty and hard (probably from recent rains). Leaving the snowshoes behind was a good call - there was absolutely no need for them. There was a lot of flowing water around, even on this normally not-so-wet trail.