A ubiquity of trail signs in the Adirondack State Park and me at the entrance of the cool and damp Trap Dike.
The Adirondack Park is a venue of arresting beauty. With a surfeit of lakes, ponds, streams and waterfalls, to cliffs, peaks, ledges and boulders, the park's labyrinthine network of trails offer every hiker a wide range of difficulty, challenge and visions of beauty. In the esoteric parlance of the down hill skier, the hiker can draw a parallel and compare them as green circles, blue squares and black diamonds. There is another trail, not man-made, which could be delineated as the rare yellow diamond trail: The slide.
Slides not only offer a visual scar on a mountain which can make it easily recognizable from a distance, but they also offer an alternative ascent up a mountain for those brave enough to tackle one and determined enough to bushwhack their way to the tumbled resting place of a slide. Almost cliff-like, many of these trails can be so steep that from a standing position you can reach out in front of you and touch the ground. Slides offer that rare posture in the repertoire of hiking positions between climbing and scrambling on all fours. Quite often you can experience a double fall line where gravity is pulling you in two directions at once.
The Trap Dike on Mount Colden is one of my favorite trails to hike. Colden, a middling peak between Marcy and Algonquin is also host to several beautiful-awful landslides. The newest occurred last year during Hurricane Irene right down my beloved Trap Dike Trail. Included here on this page are a before and after picture.
I wrote the following poem back in the nineties when my hiking pal Nancy and I would drive up to the Adirondacks each week to explore the many nooks and crannies of the park. This poem is about the slide on the Marcy side of Colden ("Tahawus" is the Native American name of the mountain which WE renamed "Marcy" shortly after we took it from them. The Native American name means "Cloud-Splitter." More on the Cloud Splitter and the Tear-In-The-Cloud in another post).
On descent from Tahawus mountain,
peers a streak of quiet healing
pallid cut from rocky fountain
hurling tree and boulder reeling
Seized with visions to inquire
this track of slide, so quick to tear
fears unfettered I now inspired
to know what had existed there
Through twining woods and logs enmeshed
I made my way to see reposed
the granite muscles and mountainous flesh
that Colden’s torrents of stone exposed
The path advanced close to the scar
plunged manifold headlong to base
trees crushed under enormous rocks
the primal forest’s coat defaced
This irresistible and awful force
broke through the woods with foaming path
dashed wildly down a rocky course
its very flesh with pealing wrath
A pebble mashed declivity
with massive logs peeled by decay
thickly scattered skeletons
of gray dead trees from slide affray
Piling at its base a mass
of debris from its crowning seat
filled the eye with awful chaos
rocks from lap now at its feet
This slide, a path that wanted walking
lures on up the failing trail
where once in time, its woodland stalking
left its warning, below, impaled
How humble on this force immortal
lurking in the earth beneath
that eased itself of shrub and soil
and showed to all its iron teeth
This median mount of fallen masses
bends its vassal-knee to none
the only witness to its ravage
were frowning Tahawus and the sun.
Fearful at the time of launching
terrific slides that gash and rush
Still, Colden Mountain on its haunches
waiting, lurking, to ambush