We waited around for a while as everyone finished their ascent. Ewart pretty much had had enough, and was contemplating heading back to the car. We convinced him to at least summit East Dix, which was only a 5 minute hike away over flat ground. Little did we know, however, that he would encounter five chest-deep spruce traps on his way over to the summit. We are sure the wind blew away much cussing and swearing.
Ewart was quite definite about not going any farther than East Dix's summit, so I gave him the keys to the CR-V and we split up. He would retrace our path back down to our start point, and we would continue onwards. Given the tough slogging up the Slide, we were very much hoping that the previous' days hiking parties had broken trail up here on the summits.
As it turned out, there was an excellent and well-packed path leading towards South Dix (thanks, Ron, Gordon, and everyone else on your team). We zoomed over to South Dix in no time, and were half-hoping for a broken track to Hough. It wasn't to be, though - the previous day's group had only done Macomb, South Dix and East Dix. We couldn't summon up enough ambition to go for Hough; we weren't sure if a trail was broken from Hough to Dix, and we really didn't relish the thought of breaking trail to Hough, THEN to Dix. So, we scaled back our plans and decided to go for three peaks instead of five: East Dix, South Dix, and Macomb.
Mark and Linda had an idea: they would call their daughter and see if she could meet us with a car at the Elk Lake trailhead. That way, we could continue over Macomb and down to Elk Lake, saving us a tedious re-tracing of our path over two peaks. They managed to get a cellphone call through and succesfully arranged for a pickup. Sweet!
Descending from South Dix
Now on a schedule, we quickly made our way over to Macomb. The packed herdpath continued to be excellent (many thanks once more!), and we arrived, under gloomy skies, at the summit of Macomb Mountain shortly after 2pm. From here it was all downhill! Linda and Mark had been up to Macomb via the Elk Lake route not long ago, and warned us of icy and treacherous conditions on the Macomb Slide (which we needed to descend). So, it was with a bit of trepidation that we hiked down to the top of the slide.
As it turns out, our fears were unfounded. A beautiful layer of just-the-right-kind of snow covered the slide. Two good tracks led down the slide - a switchbacking hiking path, and a straighter butt-sliding path. I chose the glissading route, and it was a blast. The snow was not too fast, not too slow and it was great fun. The weather, too, had improved, with the skies going from leaden gray to clear blue and the temperature from chilly to springlike warm. What a fantastic way to descend off the mountain!