View Full Version : Dix range via Elk lake in wintertime

01-23-2004, 02:24 PM
I see from other threads that you must hike in a bit from the road to access the Dix range. What is it like to hike up the Macomb slide in the winter? Do you need both snowshoes and crampons? Can slower paced hikers do more of the range than just Macomb in a day without coming out of the woods too late and in the dark? I and some other vftt'ers are looking at day hikes in the Dixes over presidents day and are looking for some advice. thanks!

01-23-2004, 03:01 PM
why don't you guys make a base camp at slide brook lean-to. My buddies and I did this a couple years ago. it worked out quite well. we went in early dropped our packs at the lean-to and went for Dix. Made the top just at dusk so it was head lamp time all the way down and back to the lean-to.

THe next day we set off up Macomb's slide which at the time had a ton of snow but was hard packed. We used our snow shoes without problems but would have felt a little more safer with crampons because somtimes you could dig to far into the snow. But after that getting to Carson and Grace was no problem. The problem came when we went for Hough. We ran into quite the spruce trap field. Probably 100yards across. looks like it was a blowdown area 5-10 years ago and now it's starting to grow in. Once we made it to Hough we bailed out on the Lillian Brook. It was tough to find the begining becasue we were so high but right at the time it got dark we found the stream and eventually made it back to the trail and then lean-to.

Both days required 10-12 hours, we are pretty strong hikers but the area had jsut received 2 feet of snow in two weeks so that made things real dificult. In fact we tried this same trip a week prior but no body had been on the trails and we tried to break trail to Dix but failed and then we tried Macomb and failed...

I'd say if people have been in the area and we haven't received much snow then it's doable BUT very long day hikes from Elk lake...

01-23-2004, 04:34 PM
We usually came in and camped at Slide Brook. This is about five miles since you are limited to parking at Clear pond. This part is doable with skis or snowshoes. It is also suitable for sledding in gear so you can camp comfortably.
The conditions can vary tremendously in the winter depending on snowdepth and whether someone else has broken trail recently. The slide itself can be either ice covered or snow covered. You can evaluate the danger, but I bailed off it once when my crampons were not getting any bite. It is a long slide and a long way down if you did lose it. There are alternative routes to the slide on the ridge to the north of the slide (look on the map) but how nice this is after the blowdowns of hurricane floyd I cannot tell you.
The Dixes were more of a challenge in the winter than I had anticipated, but all in all I enjoyed all of my trips to them.

Dennis C.
01-25-2004, 01:41 PM
Daxs, from the two reports of ADackR and ADK3356 above, you're getting an idea that the key word to success in climbing ADK winter peaks is "conditions, conditions, conditions". The reference being that consolidated (hard base) snow is very important for successful off trail bushwhacking excursions. Same goes for the Macomb Slide. We were fortunate to just pick our spots (climbing surfaces) and just snowshoe up (in past years) for the most part. But if it was all icy, then crampons would surely be needed. Just "be prepared" is probably the best advice anyone could offer. We did Macomb, South and East Dix, coming in on skis (to the shelter) from Clear Pond. You will most likely start in the dark and also finish in the same .... a typical ADK long day. Enjoy the experience!

01-26-2004, 07:50 AM
As Dennis said, conditions are everything. Last year we used this route to approach Dix. No one had signed into the register for a couple of weeks and we got to break trail thru 2 feet of new snow the whole way. Beyond the Slide Brook Lean To, you get into areas that were devestated by Hurrican Floyd ... large amounts of blowdown ... expect to do some crawling under and over logs, even on the trail. We didn't try it, but I've heard that the Lillian Brook herd path is very difficult with all the new blowdown. All that trail breaking caused us to cover much less distance than we hoped, but we got to enjoy a 3 day weekend in a beautiful area without seeing anyone else.