Photo by Spencer Morrissey
Corenne Black makes her way through thick ferns during the traverse.
 
Photo by Spencer Morrissey
A view of the High Peaks from the wall of Big Slide Mountain.
 
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Corenne and I had this planned outing that was what you might call "out of the ordinary," but what else is new when it comes to exploring. The route looked great on paper and we were sure to find something cool, and that was the expectation.

We set off early one morning so that we could spot a car at the Cascade trailhead, even though it turned out we didn't use it.

We then headed over to The Garden trailhead in Keene Valley to start our traverse. I am pretty sure we got lucky to have a spot, and if not for the early start we may not have.

After we rearranged our rucksacks and ditty bags of snacks and lunchtime items, we set off up the trail. Feeling pretty good about the day, we moved along fairly well.

The spiders had also started to feel pretty good about the day, but I don't think they planned on such large chunks of meat walking through their webs. Even with Corenne in front, I still got webs in my face. I can't seem to win sometimes.

We progressed rather nicely on the easy slopes and into the shallow valley, with the first Brother dead ahead. We climbed what seemed effortlessly up the steep slopes of rock and sand, and soon found ourselves basking in the views. As a result of the ever-rising temperatures, basking would soon turn to baking.

The second Brother came quickly and even easier, but there was a nice breeze so we took longer soaking in more views out toward the High Peaks as a light mist was still rising through the trees below.

The third Brother always seems farther away than the other two. I always enjoy that unique view of Big Slide in the distance from this spot.

With the forest now lush with green and the sound of the high-elevation brook babbling before us, we both somehow managed to slip on the same rock. Soon we found ourselves looking up at the steep slopes of Big Slide.

We were now slowed down by the pitch and the heat exhausted us. If we stripped down any more, we would surely have the summit to ourselves. The summit of Big Slide welcomed us for our half-hour stay as we fought the inclination of taking a little nap; we had a long ways to go.

We could hear what sounded like hordes of people coming up the trail, so we knew it was time to get a mosey on. We started off toward Yard Mountain.

Our route over to Porter would bring us down an unnamed stream and into Railroad Notch, before going up the south slopes of Porter and connecting us to two of the more popular peaks and trails in the High Peaks Wilderness.

We started this route by heading slightly off the summit of Big Slide and then taking a compass bearing toward the top of a stream we wanted to intersect. The woods were very open for such height in elevation. We were pleasantly surprised, but not to jinx ourselves we kept it to a smile.

A rock ledge right off the trail fed us down off the summit ridge and into the trees where the forest would close in now and again and add a few scratches to our exposed skin. Why Corenne wore shorts is beyond me.

We soon found ourselves at the top of the brook, at the exact spot it came out of the ground in a trickle of cool, clear, refreshing satisfaction. We cooled off a bit and even filled up our water bottles. The chance of giardia coming right out of a mountain spring at nearly 4,000 feet was pretty much next to none.

We watched the brook grow before us as we descended further into the notch; it sped downhill over boulders and scree, gravel and sand, creating a rarely seen cascade.

Quickly the brook turned into a small river as unseen tributaries entered from all sides. We momentarily found ourselves standing atop a 50-foot waterfall, hidden away from everyone's eyes, even ours to a point.

We tried to spy a better look, but the flume it fed into was far too dangerous to get too close. Even to advance from the bottom was far too difficult as the pool would require swimming.

Our advancement into Railroad Notch was not very efficient as you might imagine, but we would finally come to the brook in the valley.

South Meadows Brook is the name of the water source we followed. It was wide and shallow and one of the more attractive areas we have even been in. The beaver seemed to agree.

We made accelerated time up the brook, rock hopping as much as we could and retreating to the shore as needed. We quickly knocked off distance as the terrain was gentle and friendly to us outsiders.

We soon found ourselves in what is referred to as "Little Meadows," where several small ponds, more in the form of grasslands resided.

The shores were very thick with spruce, but the meadows were too spongy and still too wet to cross. We made due with the trees and entered the grasslands when we could.

We eventually located a decent spot to make our way across the meadows and onto the steep slopes of Porter.

Now directly below the summit, we made a consistent effort uphill. The forest was very open. The ferns grew tall, mostly brackens as tall as Corenne (which isn't really saying all that much). I lost sight of her occasionally with only the fronds waving as she passed through them.

The summit crown of Porter would tighten up dramatically as the krumholz came into play. The density of the growth ended up pushing us farther down the trail and closer to Cascade, but eventually we eased out on the trail just as a couple from Quebec wandered by. We got odd looks, but to our surprise, even with scratched and bloody arms, we got no questions of wonder.

After a really short rest atop Porter we opted not to head over to Cascade and down to the second car parked at state Route 73, but to head down over Little Porter and back to the Garden Trailhead. The route was a bit farther, but it would save us having to drive back around to get the car later. Oddly enough, we still had some fuel in our tanks.

This side of Porter doesn't get the attention that the other does, but we made quick time of the wet trail anyhow.

Once we reached the intersection for the trail to The Garden, we had to slow down a bit due to heavy water erosion and horrible footing. The rough terrain didn't last too long and we were down to a reasonable grade that brought us quickly to the short spur trail to the top of Little Porter Mountain.

After a brief visit to this overlook, we had to hoof it a bit more as it was getting late and I was craving real food other than energy bars and Gatorade.

The trail at this point was in pretty good condition, a bit steep in areas but quite enjoyable, even with a slight case of "Jello" knees.

We passed through the open forest, beneath a tall stand of pines and stood upon the trail we started on that morning, a relative short distance from the car but a long time ago.