The following takes place in the Dix Wilderness, a remote section of the Adirondacks.
Typical Beech Forest
The whack from Round Pond to the North Fork is a gem. The most beaver activity I've ever seen. Water was swift and deep, and we had to barefoot across all three crossings. The bushwhack up E-Town #4 (knob NE of Spotted) was very pleasant, and open rock extends a good way down the north ridge. Although the ascent of the open ridge of Spotted seemed to take forever, I wasn't about to complain.
On the summit of Spotted, we met Neil and Master Grasshopper for lunch as planned. They had bushwhacked over from Wyman, and would continue over E-Town #4 and out via the S Fork.
After our lunch, Jason and I headed to East Dix. As MG suggested, we hugged the bottom of the "impossibly steep rock", but soon found that was not working, so we ascended the wall. Spending our time picking good routes up, we climbed it w/o too much difficulty, even with full packs. From there, we hugged the top to just below the first false summit.
Grace Slabs, ascended with full packs
We quickly made our way over East Dix and onto South Dix. Jason tagged the summit and we headed to Pough. I had always remembered Pough (pronounced "Puff) being a pain in the butt, but I barely noticed it this day. However, Hough (pronounced "Huff") was as steep as I remembered.
The weather got progressively worse as we hiked. Nothing too bad, basically a cool blowing mist. Of course, this wetted the vegetation, and our hands were cold. Gusts of wind were threatening to knock us over on exposed ledges. Due to the thickening sky we had to don our headlamps at the col. It was totally dark 6:15!!!
Going up the beckhorn (prominent knob) of Dix seemed to take a long time, but we found ourselves on the summit at 7:15. Thankfully, the trees had sheltered us as we ascended, because it was truly wild on the summit ridge. Thick mist made it very hard to see, and the wind was tossing us around like rag dolls. We found our way to the blue trail, and soon were in the relative shelter of the trees.
The descent of the blue trail to the base of the slide was as steep as I'd remembered (I think this may be the 11th or 12th time I've been on this trail), but it seemed even longer after a full day's hike. I think it really wore on Jason.
In the woods at the base of the slide, we found a campsite. As we were unpacking, I asked Jason to look for any widow-makers above us. It looked OK. Not great, but OK. Two minutes later, a branch came down about 50 feet from our site. Yikes! Intermittently throughout the night, a freight-train of wind would roar down from the summit, and violently shake the tree tops above us. I woke up every time, and cringed. Thankfully, everything above us stayed attached.
The following morning we headed back to the base of the slide, and continued down the side drainage towards Dial. On aerial photos, it appears that the slide continues for another 1/4 mile down this drainage. Not so. It is a blowdown-choked mess. However, the adjacent woods were open, and made for a quick descent to the N Fork. We stumbled upon what may just be the best swimming hole in the Adks. Ahhh... this is why I love bushwhacking.
Upon our ascent up Dial, we encountered some messy blowdown. But we soon picked our way through, and we made quick progress in open woods until about 400 feet vertical from the summit saddle. Here, we entered a war zone. Crawling up (sometimes literally), we made our way out of the war zone about 150 vertical feet from the saddle, only to be greeted with very thick fir. We pushed on to the saddle, then the trail, and finally the summit. It took us two hours from the base of the slide to the summit (1.2 miles). Not bad, but it could have been much better if we found a better route up top.
We descended to the col, and took Gravestone Brook back to the blue trail. There was very little evidence of a herdpath along the route. Part way down, I heard Jason say "Uhhh... Rico...", and when I looked back, I saw a perfectly groomed dog standing next to him. We thought some hiker's dog had sniffed us from the trail, and decided to follow us (it wouldn't be the first time). After a couple of uneasy seconds, we heard some fellow bushwhackers calling for their dog. Ha! What are the chances?
Saplings made the rest of the bushwhack kinda annoying, but we made good progress. At one point, I fell into a double-footed thigh-deep sod hole. I think that's a record for me. Once on the blue trail, the 3 miles back to the car were a joy. After an entire weekend of bushwhacking and herdpaths, it was nice to walk on an open trail in 70-degree sunny weather at the end of October.
I didn't take any photos during our hike, but see Neil's website
for the photos he took of his and Master Grasshopper's hike.