“…what a severe yet master artist old Winter is… Ah, a severe artist! No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.”
Back to Slide Mountain, a favorite of the writer John Burroughs and on a mountain range named after him after having inspired prose and poetry. There’s a commemorative plaque set into the rock under which he often slept at the summit of Slide. It’s also a favorite of my own being unimaginably stunning in the winter covered in a fluffy white cap with a glassy sky made of silvery blue. Near the summit there’s a crop of pine trees that look like they’ve been severely struck by lightning and, just further on from there, a stand of trees that have been stripped and tossed in the air like a giant had been picking his teeth with them. There are magnificent views and a wide array of trails to take.
I believe this will be my fourth time atop Slide and I was trying to hike to Cornell on Sunday, but I met a group of hikers at the summit of Slide who said that there was snow coming in, “and you don’t want to get caught in a whiteout”. I’d already hiked up to the Catskills’ highest peak at 4,180 ft with snowshoes on my back, a bag of boiled eggs, nuts, water, cold cuts, cameras and a spare pair of everything. Not thrilled, I took a few steps into the fluffy abyss that was the onward trail to Cornell, which had a softer, deeper snow trail, and contemplated doing the extra 4.6 miles in possible whiteout conditions while all the other hikers on the trail disappeared on to the parking area, and thought the better of it. Then, after taking a few pictures and turning back, the wind kicked up and my bare hands got very cold suddenly. Winter hiking affords foliage-free views through trees, but the risks of hypothermia are real and the weather can turn on a dime. The Burroughs Range is not going anywhere.
Even if you only make it to the two views on the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail, this hike worth it. C-O is a trail less travelled, so snowshoes were necessary for this part at the weekend. Start at the Slide Mountain parking area on Frost Valley Road, just uphill from the parking area at the start of the trail to Giant Ledge.