What You Missed
On Sunday, December 18th I wanted my wife to try the MSR snowshoes. We went to Morgan Outdoor here in Livingston Manor and rented the MSR Denali series complete with poles. After quickly fitting them to our hiking boots, we headed for our favorite "flat" hike, Trout Pond. The roads were NOT in good shape but it was a beautiful, sunny day. My car did not want to go up Morton Hill Road so we headed back out Route 206 and parked in the parking area on the left. We put on the snowshoes and head out the Campbell Mountain trail toward the Campbell Mountain lean-to. The first part of this is a slight downhill but the trail then climbs significantly. On the way up the trail we met four snowmobiles coming down the trail. The snowshoes allowed us to go off the trail with no problem. After hiking the 1.3 miles to the lean-to we turned around and went back to the car. We crossed the road and hiked up Brock Mountain for a short distance then returned to the car.
On Saturday, December 17th my son Karl and I decided to try snowshoeing! We went to Morgan Outdoor here in Livingston Manor and rented the MSR Denali series complete with poles. After quickly fitting them to our hiking boots, we headed for our favorite "flat" hike, Trout Pond. The roads were in good shape and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Parking was a problem since the Town of Colchester had not anticipated that we would want to hike. The parking area by Russell Brook was not plowed but I pulled into it anyway since I had Karl along to push me out! We headed out into over a foot of snow with a crust from the last storm. What a difference from the old bamboo and rawhide beavertail shoes. These light plastic shows are great! The workout is definitely greater than walking and we both found muscles that had remained unexercised even on our most strenuous hikes this season. The event lasted about 3 hours and around 6 miles. We decided that we would go completely around Trout Pond. This includes a rather long section after the lean-to with several nice uphill stretches. The shows had great traction but I was glad to finally see Mud Pond. We turned left there to take the shorter way back. Going downhill is a blast since you can almost run! It was easier this time but was still a great workout.
On Saturday, December 10th my wife and I decided to try snowshoeing! We went to Morgan Outdoor here in Livingston Manor and borrowed/rented the Tubbs Adventures series complete with poles. After quickly fitting them to our hiking boots, we headed for our favorite "flat" hike, Trout Pond. The roads were in good shape and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Parking was a problem since the Town of Colchester had not anticipated that we would want to hike. The parking area by Russell Brook was not plowed but I pulled over on the side of the road and hoped. We headed out into over a foot of snow. What difference from the old bamboo and rawhide beavertail shoes. These light aluminum and plastic shows are great! The workout is definitely greater than walking and we both found muscles that had remained unexercised even on our most strenuous hikes this season. The event lasted about 2 and a half hours and around 4 miles. This was enough for a first time. Snowshoes are definitely at the top of our Christmas list.
On Saturday, December 3rd my wife and I had planned to head for Twin Mountain to enjoy the view. The day was sunny and I am sure the view would have been spectacular. Unfortunately, some of the back roads were untouched and very slippery. We amended our plans and decided to go to Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain which are near Frost Valley just passed Slide Mountain. The Claryville Road was well sanded until the parking area for Big Indian. At this point it was in its pristine, untouched condition. Since we are flexible in our planning, we decided to park and hike Big Indian. The trail was very wet with a fresh coating of snow hiding some of the muddiest places. There are several small areas of running water and other places where you must cross tributaries of Biscuit Brook. After about 2 miles, we came to the lean-to and a very narrow and slippery trail. We crossed one wide area of the brook with some effort. After ascending a small hill and walking down the other side, we came to one of the two main branches of Biscuit Brook. The brook was very high perhaps from melting snow at the higher elevations. We walked up and down stream for half a mile and could not find a place to cross. Wet feet in the summer are one thing. Wet feet when the temperature is below freezing is another. We returned along the same trail and met a couple just starting. They had tried to hike the Slide Mountain trail but were not able to cross the stream just behind the parking lot! The hike was about five miles and last about 3 hours so all was not lost.
On Saturday, November 26th my son Karl and I parked on Route 206 between Roscoe and Downsville. We had hoped to hike Friday AND Saturday but the weather would not cooperate. The Saturday forecast was for partly sunny weather with highs in the upper thirties. Snow fell in the morning and the back roads were miserable. There was about six inches of snow where we parked on 206 and it was snowing as we stepped off. We headed out on the Campbell Mountain trail toward Campbell Mountain Road. The trail starts with a descent but then turns rather steeply up a ridge. The climb combined with the snow gets the heart pumping and had us removing a layer of clothing. We climbed over the ridge and down to Campbell Mountain Road, a total distance of 2.5 miles in just under an hour! We continued on the same trail toward Campbell Brook Road. The trail here is much the same with a slight downhill followed by an ascent over a ridge. We walked a little over two miles in under an hour. At this point is was getting late. We could have continued on to Trout Pond and then looped over Morton Hill Road and back to the car. This would have been at least seven more miles so we decided to hike out Campbell Brook to Campbell Mountain to Jug Tavern to 206 and back to the car. I had a good time since I had not hiked with my older son in some time. The scenery was beautiful but hard to photograph with by inexpensive and outdated digital camera. Although the air temperature never got much above 30, we were warm from head to toe. At points there was over 8 inches of snow and I learned the benefits of gaiters.
On Sunday, November 20th I hiked the Alder Lake ridge trail to the overlook above Beecher Lake. I wanted something close and I wanted to see if I could hike it faster than the five hours it took last time with a group. I also wanted to take some pictures of the lake and the house near it. I was also anxious to photograph Beecher Lake and the Zen monastery that is on its shores. The day was cool and there was some snow but it was beautiful. I completed the eight mile hike in well under four hours, meeting one of my goals. The pictures were mixed in quality. The pictures of the lake and the house and some point along the path were good. Some of the views of Alder Creek and the beaver meadows were great. I did find out that the 5x zoom on my older model digital camera could not handle the distance from the overlook to the monastery. If you want to see this interesting view, you'll have to hike there with me. The maximum elevation on the ridge is 3480 feet. A large pile of dirt or a big boulder would give us another 3500 foot peak!
Saturday, November 19th was the first day of deer season in New York state. While others decided to stay out of the woods, my wife and I went to hike Westkill Mountain near Shandaken in Greene County. We didn't get on the trail until almost 11:30 and I was concerned about the amount of daylight. I hiked Westkill last year but had not been there this season. After about a mile of hiking the trail splits into several different trails at the Westkill Falls. It was as beautiful as I remembered with a bridge just above the falls and access from either side. After the falls the ascent is a very challenging one! There aren't any areas that are exceptionally steep but the ascent is more or less content from a mile with vertical gain of about 1700 feet! Many areas were covered in snow and ice which made things more "exciting". After a level area along the ridge, there is a short ascent passed a "cave". Near the top are the Buck Ridge vistas. There are rocky shelves on both the north and south sides of the mountain. The north lookout has a view of over 180 degrees while the south spans perhaps 120 degrees. We continued on passed the ridge vista for about another quarter mile to the summit. It took us only 2 hours to complete about 3.5 miles. Going down we made it in under 1 hour 45 minutes. That's moving.
On Sunday, November 13th my wife and I again went to Trout Pond. It seems we always end up here when we have a limited amount of time to hike. At the lean-to we had thoughts of hiking out to Campbell Brook Road and then back on Morton hill. The day was dark so we decided to just complete the hike around Trout Pond. We took some very nice pictures particularly of the falls on Russell Brook just at the beginning of the hike. We also met a group of young men who look like they were from the City. Several were dragging wheeled suitcases along the gravel of Russell Brook Road. The weather was fine and the hike just the right length, a little over 4 miles.
On Saturday, November 12th I hiked with a group of six other people from Livingston Manor. We hiked near Balsam Lake and hiked up Balsam Lake Mountain. This is one of the Catskill 35 at an elevation of 3723 feet. The day was cool but a brisk hike always warms up the body. Less than a mile up an old logging road, the trail turns UP the mountain. It is a relatively short but "challenging" climb to the more level area at the top. Just before the summit a trail turns to the left toward Alder Lake. This is a trail I want to hike some other day. There is a fire tower at the top of the mountain but it is closed after the summer. We climbed to just below the enclosed area of the tower and still had a great view. Thirty-three of the remaining thirty-four peaks are visible. Thomas Cole mountain is hidden by the second highest peak, Hunter Mountain. There was enough snow at the top to have a brief snowball fight! We met two other people along the way who were interested in including Graham Mountain in the hike. We all hiked down the other side of Balsam Lake Mountain. I parted ways with the original group and led the other two hikers up Graham. Graham is on private property as is the logging road and her path that lead to the summit. With the foliage gone for the winter, the trail is quite obvious. Graham Mountain also has the remains of a World War II radio repeater station. The view from the peak is not too impressive as it is flat. You can see The Balsam Lake Tower. A better view can be had by walking off the trail to the left just before the summit. A beautiful view of the other peaks and the valleys below is marred only by a solitary telephone pole! On the way down the mountain one of the other hikers twisted his knee badly. I wrapped it with an ACE bandage and carried his pack the final four miles. The complete hike was about 8 miles.
On Friday, November 11th myself and two other people from Livingston Manor hiked Giant Ledges and Panther Mountain. There was only one other car parked when we arrived. It was cool and snow was in the air with a little of the ground. We quickly warmed to the task hiking the rock fields that lead to the Ledges. The view from the Ledges was spectacular with Slide to the right followed by Cornell and Wittenberg. The Ledges is just under 3000 feet but Slide looms over you as the highest mountain in the Catskills. Other mountains are visible including Panther. There are several campsites and I can see why people frequent this spot. It is a short hike of about 1.25 miles but the views are well worth it! We continued on to Panther Mountain which requires a short but steep descent to a col. Panther is another Catskill 35 toppling out at 3720. After a short ascent the trail goes through a series of level areas and gentle ascents to the summit of Panther. The view from the summit is limited but pretty. We met several groups along the way but were glad to get back as the temperatures turned colder and the light faded. A round trip distance of about six miles.
On Saturday, November 5th my wife and I hiked Indian Head Mountain near Tannersville. We parked at the Kaaterskill High Peak Trailhead which was almost full at 10:00 AM! The weather was perfect, perhaps the best this season, and many people were taking advantage of the day. We walked down the road to a land owned and maintained by the Catskill Center. They have erected signs to describe some of the trees and to explain the history of the area including the numerous bluestone quarries. The first part of the hike is a walk with only a slight incline. At point juncture the trail continues ahead to Echo Lake or turns to go up the mountain. This is the point where my wife noticed that the sign said "ascent" to Indian Head. From this point on there are parts of the hike that are a real challenge and have you looking for the next root to use as a handhold or the next crack to use as a place to put your foot. We thought we had made a terrible mistake at one point as we met a large group of people who looked to be Nepalese or Tibetan! There was also some snow left at the very top of the mountain despite the mild temperatures. The reward for this climb comes in the form of several spectacular views of the valleys below with other mountains forming the back drop. One place allows you to see the entire grounds of the Bruderhof with the distinctive outline of Kaaterskill in the background. The hike up the mountain took about 2 hours and the slightly longer return trip occupied about 2 hours and 15 minutes. We met several more groups on the descent to Prediger Road. The small parking area here was full and cars were parked out to the main road. We walked back to the car along Platte Cove rd. where, again, many cars were parked at various trailheads. The lot at Kaaterskill was so full of cars it was difficult to negotiate our way out. On the return trip by we passed the parking areas at the trailheads for Panther Mountain - Giant ledges and Slide Mountain. Although this was later in the day, these lots were filled and cars were parked on the side of the main road.
On Saturday, October 29th my wife was not feeling well so I I changed my plans and went off to hike by myself. I chose to climb Balsam Lake Mountain since I knew there would be some snow and I though it might be nice. As I drove up the Beaverkill Road and neared the trailhead, it became evident that I was correct about the snow. On the trail the snow started at about 3 to 4 inches deep and continued to increase in depth with elevation. When I turned to go up the mountain there was already 6 to 8 inches. At the top of Balsam Lake there was between 10 and 12 inches. There was this much snow on the descent down the other side until well under 3000 feet. Everything was beautiful. Trees were covered with ice and snow. Some saplings were bent over onto the trail. At the top the balsams were covered with snow and it reminded me more of December than October. The smell of the balsams was very pungent. The going was a little more challenging at times since it is a 3700+ foot mountain and walking through snow can be strenuous. I wore my hiking boots but did not wear gaiters. At times the snow was well over my boots! I had to take several excursions off the trail to avoid trees. I was able to follow a set of footprints from the day before most of the way up the mountain. These footprints stopped short of the summit and turned around. I thought this was odd until a little further on I saw large round footprints with claws!
Saturday, October 22nd was Parent's Weekend at Bucknell. My wife and I had a great time. We even got in a short walk in the rain! However, a weekend without hiking is ...
On Saturday, October 15th my wife an I hiked the trail around Trout and Mud Pond on Russell Brook Road. There are waterfalls in several different places that have not been very impressive this summer. On Saturday they were torrents and very beautiful. In fact, all the streams were VERY full and you could hear them as you approached. The trails, on the other hand, were almost dry which made hiking pleasant. The weather was cool and rain threatened several times but we did not get wet! Although it was overcast, the sun peeked through several times. It took us a little over three hours for the 6 to 7 miles hike. The walk back up Russell Brook Road was interesting as the road in many places has been washed away by the brook. It is an interesting walk when the water is low and I was afraid that we might have to turn around due to the high water from all the rain. It was close at one point when we had to jump from a rock to a rock then to a stump and over a culvert.
Thursday, October 13th it was raining but I decided I NEEDED to hike. I went to the Denning Trailhead to climb Slide Mountain. The sign indicating that the bridge to Peekamoose was out due to high water should have given me a clue! When I started it was drizzling with a slight breeze. After I had gone about a mile, the weather changed to pouring rain and high winds. The trail also deteriorated to a stream or a lake depending on the topography. I went to see the bridge over the Neversink and it was not out! The forest ranger had lied. What he meant was that the bridge was closed since the water was washing out both ends. Anybody who would cross these two logs over the raging river would have to be crazy. When I got back from the other side ... I got back on the trail to Slide. This is definitely the longer way measuring between 10 and 12 miles. Part of the Curtis-Ormsbee trail were really nice with small waterfalls dropping over rocks into pools at the base. All of this brought on by the continuous rain for the last few days and the rain that was still drenching me as I climbed. This trail is a real challenge especially when all the rocks and roots are wet and slippery. Near the top the wind picked up to between 30 and 40 miles per hour and the temperature dropped. I learned firsthand what hypothermia means. By the time I started back down the mountain, everything I was wearing was soaked. I changed at the car and squeezed a cup of water out of each sock. I felt goof about what I had accomplished but being warm and dry in the car never felt so good.
On Monday, October 11th I hiked with a group from Livingston Manor at Slide Mountain. The day was cloudy and VERY misty but the company was good. Some of the people were not accustomed to hiking mountains so we went at a leisurely pace. The round trip of about 7 miles took us from 9:25 AM to 2:00 PM. This include a rather challenging descent to the spring on the other side of Slide and the corresponding ascent. The most surprising thing was that the West Branch of the Neversink had enough water that it took us some time to find a place to cross. Less than two weeks ago the stream bed was completely dry! Next time I would like to try the hike from the Denning trailhead which is about a 12 mile hike.
On Wednesday, October 5th I parked the car at Alder Lake and hiked the trail toward Big Pond.
On Tuesday, October 4th I hiked with a group set up by "Lark in the Park". We started at the Kaaterskill High Peak parking lot and crossed the road to get on the trail at the Catskill Center's Platte Clove Preserve. From here we hiked to the Devil's Path where we turned right for our assault on Indian Head and Twin Mountains.
On Saturday, October 1st I hiked with a group set up by "Lark in the Park". We parked at Alder Lake and hike the Alder Lake Trail to the Mill brook ridge Trail at the head of the lake.
On Wednesday, September 28th I was in the mood for a LONG hike. I parked at the Panther Mt-Giant Ledge lot on CR 47. From here I hiked to Woodland Valley thus beginning my complete loop of Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide.
On Saturday, September 24th my wife and I parked on Morton Hill Rd and hiked toward Trout Pond. At the inlet to the pond we took the trail toward Campbell Mountain Road. We intended to hike a big loop back to the car. It turned out to be a bigger loop than we had planned!