At 4:40 am Glen announced he was not hiking that day due to stomach cramps that had kept him awake for a lot of the night. At Clear Pond, Joe, Bill, and I briskly walked the 2 miles to the summer trailhead in sub-zero temps. After signing in we maintained a brisk pace to Slide Brook where we put our snowshoes on and steadfastly tromped our way 1000 feet up to the Macomb Slide. I had the feeling that this hike was nothing more than a continuation of yesterday's with a brief bit of shut-eye in between. At the base of the slide, which I have been up and down 5-6 times I looked up and thought: whoa, that looks very steep and heavy-duty. Then Joe described the route we would take and I felt a lot more comfortable. I went first kicking steps with my MSR snowshoes and testing the snow with my poles for hidden ice nearly every step of the way. It was a calf-burner and the views behind were amazing but all I wanted to do was to keep moving upwards.
From Clear Pond to Macomb it took us 3 hours, and in the sub-zero temperatures I was always feel very comfortable, if not too warm on occasion. The sun was ablaze and warm going up both South Dix and Grace. Just below the summit of Grace we met up with MJO and Viviane from FousDeRando Forum (this was planned). After hugs and kisses we relaxed for a good 10 minutes in full sunshine with no wind and chatted before going our separate ways.
Our threesome maintained forward momentum up and over steep Hough and then we watched as the incredibly steep and intimidating Beckhorn drew closer and closer as we struggled upwards. We had an encounter and friendly chat with Francis Willis who had hiked from Round Pond. Finally we topped out on the Beckhorn but of course the work wasn't done. From the BeckHorn to Dix it was all ice and very treacherous at that. The wind chilled us and we spent little time on the summit before returning to the BeckHorn.
Getting off the ice-encased BeckHorn rocks was a slow business and we resorted to bushwhacking down and across to the trail. From there it was down, down, down the beautiful BeckHorn trail to the main trail 2000 feet below. We then tromped our weary way 6-7 miles back to Clear Pond to complete an 11 hour plus day. I realized later that, in the last three days I had hiked 30 hours and about 16,000 vertical feet.