What You Missed
On Friday, April 28th, I planned to do a rather long hike to Quick Lake or perhaps a loop on Dry Brook Ridge. As I was making my plans I came across a trail from Cold Spring Road South of Monticello into the Neversink Unique area. The description was cloudy and the GPS track ended in the middle of the woods. I decided I wanted to go and explore this area to see if there was actually a hike people would like. I have recently begun to help update the website www.trailkeeper.org which includes hikes in Sullivan County in may different areas. I am slowly converting the website from presenting trails to describing hikes on these trails. Some comments had indicated the trail was not clearly marked, so I created a geospatial PDF that I could use on my iPhone with the Avenza Maps app. This app not only shows where I am on a topo map but also shows the trail which makes it invaluable on trails that are not well marked. I got my gear in the car and ushered Sheila into the back seat. We left the house at about 10:15 Am and headed south on Route 17 toward Monticello. I got off at exit 105A and headed toward Broadway where I turned right. At the next light I turned left on St. John Street which soon became Cold Spring Road. I drove down Cold Spring Road looking for the parking area which I thought would be on the left. I had my iPhone map to help out so I knew I would find the spot eventually. At 7.45 miles from Broadway the parking area appeared on the left with a typical yellow on brown sign. The sign indicated that this parking area would allow access to the Neversink Unique Area which is exactly what I wanted. We parked at about 10:45 AM. It took me a few minutes to set my electronics and read the signs and maps in the kiosk. I found where the trail appeared to leave the parking area since it was well worn but I did not see any blazes. We began our walk and within a few hundred feet there was a trail register and red blazes began to appear. I was surprised that the blazes were the "official" NYNJTC disks even though the trails are not "official" NYNJTC trails.
The day was warm and I was glad I chose a short sleeved baselayer and a light shirt. I opted to wear a light windbreaker but had already unzipped it almost completely. The sun was bright with a few puffy white clouds in a bright blue sky. We walked slightly uphill for .4 miles to the point where the map showed another trail coming in from the left. When we arrived at this point, I could see that this trail was almost completely overgrown and had not been used for some time. We continued to walk along the wide marked trail and I noticed that whenever I stopped I was surrounded by insects. I knew that I had forgotten to bring any insect repellant so I chose to keep moving! At .55 miles the trail began to descend and this descent would continue for some time. At 1.1 miles we ran into an area where the trial became very wet for about a quarter of a mile. There had been several blowdowns along the way but there was a large one blocking the trail at about 1.25 miles. We continued downhill but at 1.4 miles the trail split with a single marker on a trail at the V. I decided to bear to the left and head downhill and I soon found the next red marker. The trail began to get very rocky but was still easy to follow. At 1.7 miles we came to an open area and the blazes disappeared! I moved through the area using the Avenza app as my guide and finally picked up the red blazes of the trail again at 1.8 miles. I made a note to check the markers on the return trip to see if they were more obvious and easier to follow. The trail continued to head south following a woods road until at 2.1 miles it ended! This matched the GPS recording I had on my iPhone but did not make a very interesting hike. The red trail ended on a jeep road and I was again surprised to see that the road was marked with blue markers. On my map it seemed like the trail to the left would lead down to the river so I turned left. It also showed that this trail crossed the river so I couldn't wait to see how that was accomplished! Just after the turn we ran into another big blowdown blocking the trail and the trail in this area was very wet and muddy. The trail continued downhill until at 2.3 miles we came to Little Eden Brook. The brook was deep in places and running fast but it wasn't very wide. I used a couple of stones to get across but Sheila decided she needed to take a dip. The trail leveled off a little and at 2.6 miles a marker on a stake seemed to indicate a turn to the right toward the river. A wide jeep road continued straight ahead and also turned up the hill to the left. We turned right and walked along the road downhill and toward the river. The trail began to parallel the river and we walked along until I decided that at 2.75 miles I would cut down to the edge of the river.
When we reached the water, we found two anglers in the river using fly rods. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take pictures upstream and downstream. There was a series of rapids just upstream where I could see another fisherman. I got a drink and a bar and we headed back up to the trail. We walked back the way we had come until, I saw an interesting sign on a tree. The sign said "Unsafe Bridge" and "Scheduled for Demolition". I seemed to remember that one of the floods ahd damaged the bridge and that it had been removed. Apparently the state did not feel it was necessary to remove the sign! We worked our way down a trail to the river's edge once again. I put down my pack and got out my camera to take a few more pictures. We started to work our way upstream along the shore. I had the idea we might work our way up to High Falls. The land along the edge of the river narrowed quickly and I decided we would walk back to the point where we had descended from the trail. I took a few more shots and then we returned to the path up to the trail. We walked back up to the pointed where we had turned down to the river. I looked at the jeep road to the right but decided to leave that for another day. We turned left and walked back to the red trail crossing Little Eden Brook again. We turned right on the red trail and I knew it would be a long uphill trek back to the parking area. At 3.9 miles we were in the area where the trail markers had disappeared on the way out. I continued to follow the trail and the markers which were much clearer on the way back than the way out. As I looked back I actually wondered how I could have missed the trail the first time. We continued to hike uphill on the trail passing under the major blowdown and through the wet and muddy area. The temperature was definitely warmer and by this time I was waiting for the hike to end. We passed the "other" trail at 5.3 miles and I could hardly see that is was a trail. At 1:45 Pm we were back at the parking area having hiked 5.7 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes. The elevation gain was 822 feet. The temperature at the car was 83 degrees.
On Thursday, April 27th I wanted to get out to hike but had a few things to take care of in the morning. I had expected a more sunny day but by 11:30 AM the temperature had risen to 60 degrees and the sun was peeking through some clouds. I decided to go across the street and do some maintenance on the Round Top trail since I knew there were a few things to clean up. Since we hadn't been out since Sunday, Sheila was more anxious than I to get going. I grabbed my pack and put my Silky saw and machete in it but left the camera and GPS behind. We headed across the street at about 11:00 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. . I dressed with a thin baselayer and a pullover on top and light hiking pants. I wore a light windbreaker on top hoping it was time to put away my Mammut hoody. We walked across the field by the church and around the back and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as Sheila did a great job of pulling me up the hill with little effort. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road with me picking up a few sticks here and there and kicking away a few rocks. At the first trail junction, we turned right to walk up the more gentle slope in the lower loop. I continued to remove small branches until we got to a small tree across the trail. The Silky saw made fast work of it and I cleared it to the side of the trail. Se turned left to follow the trail uphill to the sharp left turn. As we walked up the hill, I could tell that someone had been through with and ATV. I knew I wanted to try to discourage this activity! At the turn we stopped so that I could cut a few small trees that were across the trail. I placed them on the trail that comes in from the direction of the quarry which is where most of the ATVS come from. I found some more branches and continued to add to the pile until, it was pretty substantial. I am sure that this will be an ongoing battle. We continued our walk along the trail following the yellow blazes as it turned to the left and headed toward the viewpoint. I removed a few more branches here and there but the trail was generally in very good condition. When we got to the viewpoint, L looked for signs of any garbage but did not find any. We turned to the left and walked down the the hill to the first trail junction. I moved some branches that were near the edge of the trail but found nothing in the trail. I decided I wanted to hike a little more so we turned around and headed back up to the viewpoint. We followed the trail passed the lookout to the point where it turns to the right. Here we continued straight ahead following the green ribbons along the proposed trail to the summit of Round Top. I moved a few obstructions along the way but relay wanted to start to clear the upper trail. This will have to wait until I can get a small crew to help expand the trail. The trail is only flagged with green tape but the path is pretty clear. The trail is a rather direct route to the top of the hill and follows an equally direct route down the other side. The final trail when constructed may contain some switchbacks to help mitigate the steepness. We walked up to the summit of Round Top and then started down the other side still following the bright green ribbons. We were soon back at the yellow-blazed lower trail where we turned left and then right to follow the trail down to the woods road that ends up back at the first trail junction. When we arrived at the trail junction, we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked downhill to the back of the church, across the field and to our driveway.
On Sunday, April 23rd, Cindy and I were invited to hike with our friend Debbie and her friend Eric. We decided to hike to the Red Hill Fire Tower since Debbie had never been there. We agreed to meet at 1:00 PM at the Claryville firehouse. Cindy and I returned home after church and got our gear ready for the hike. Sheila had been feeling a little "under the weather" but seemed like she really wanted to hike. We put our gear in the car and Sheila in the back seat and headed to Liberty on Route 17. I took exit 100 and got on Route 55 toward Neversink and Grahamsville. In Curry I turned left on the Claryville Road and drove up Weinman Mountain toward Claryville. We arrived at the firehouse to find our friends already there. We stopped briefly and told them to follow us. I was concerned about the condition of the road to the firetower but knew we could park where the seasonal road began and hike down to the parking area. We drove three miles on Red Hill Road and then turned left on Coons-Dinch Road. This road is gravel and dirt but was in pretty good shape. Just after the top of the hill, the road became rougher but was much drier than I thought it would be. I decided to try to drive to the parking area and headed down the road. It was rutted in several places but still passable. At one point I looked up to see a car driving toward us! I pulled over a little and flagged the car down to ask them about the parking lot. They informed me that the road to the parking area was in good shape as was the parking lot. I drove the rest of the way to the parking lot and found there were no other cars in the lot. We parked at 1:20 Pm and got ready to hike. The temperature was pushing 60 degrees so I was glad I had worn lighter pants and a light windbreaker. We headed off on the trail at a relaxed pace talking as we hiked. We crossed a small stream that was flowing freely and continued along the trail. The trail has a few steep spots at the beginning but then levels out a little before beginning the final climb at about 1 mile. We stopped a few times along the way to catch our breath and to look at the beautiful forest on a bright and sunny day. Since there were no leave son the trees we could see the surrounding mountains and gage how much elevation we had gained. The last .3 miles which averages a little over an 18% grade was challenging. At 2:25 PM we arrived at the tower clearing.
I dropped my pack and tethered Sheila to the first picnic table. Unlike some dogs, Sheila has no problem climbing up and down the open steps and I didn't want her following us to the top. In a few minutes the rest of the group arrived which made Sheila happy. What didn't make her happy was being tied to a tree while we went to the tower. Cindy and I headed up first and this surprised me as Cindy is not fond of heights. We made it to the last level just below the cab which was locked. The view from the tower was as clear as I have ever seen it. I started to take pictures in all directions even though the early spring is not my favorite time for photography. We could see the High Point Tower, the highest point in New Jersey about 50 miles away. Being able to see the Burroughs Range and so may other prominent peaks was fun. We even got a look at the Rondout Reservoir to the south. I also took a few pictures of the cabin and of Sheila on the ground. I took quite a few pictures and then we started down the steps. I took a few more shots from the landings as I like to get different angles and include the tower supports in the picture. Once on the ground I took a few more shots up through the tower. We relaxed on the picnic tables enjoying a drink and a snack. As we enjoyed the sun, a family of four arrived. We said "Hello" as they walked over to climb the tower. In a few more minutes, another group arrived and then a couple. We decided it was time to pick up and leave knowing that the trip back would go quickly. We were ready to start back an 3:05 PM and kept a quick pace down the hill. As we descended, we met several groups of people coming up the trail. We began to wonder if we would be able to get our cars out of the parking area! We continued our hike and I was happy to see that Sheila was thoroughly enjoying herself and seemed none the worse for wear. We recrossed the small stream and were soon back at the parking area at 3:55 PM. We were pleased to find that some cars had parked out on the road leaving enough room for us to easily get out of the parking area. We had hiked 2.6 miles in 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of 800 feet. We had spent 50 minutes at or stops along the way primarily at the summit of the hill. The temperature at the car was 70 degrees. We thought about going somewhere for a meal and decided to go to Madison's in Livingston Manor. I dropped Sheila at the house and then we met at the restaurant. We had a great meal and a pleasant time talking.
On Tuesday, April 18th I decided it was time to get out hiking after taking a few days off for Easter. I had track practice in the afternoon so I decided to stay local and hike at Frick and Hodge Ponds. I got up a little later than usual and finished some things around the house before getting ready to leave. The forecast was for partly sunny skies with highs in the low 60's. It was only 45 degrees as I was getting ready to leave. I got my gear ready, put Sheila in the car and left the house a little before 9:30 AM. Given the temperature, I put on a light baselayer and wore my Mammut pullover. I wore my Keen Glarus boots which seem to be as waterproof as any I have. I donned my Mammut hoody although I thought it might be a little too heavy if the temperature increased as the forecast stated. I packed a light windbreaker in case I needed to change. I grabbed a my Leki carbon poles that I have been using lately. When we arrived at the trailhead there were no vehicles in the main lot. I set my electronics and at 9:45 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 46 degrees but seemed warmer as the sun was shining. I left on my Mammut hoody and even wore my light hat and gloves. There was no snow on the trail which was completely bare and fairly dry. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and followed the old Beech Mountain Road which serves as the Flynn Trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. We arrived at the junction at 10:30 AM and continued straight ahead through the intersection. We walked along the flat portion of the Flynn Trail and passed through the gate that marks the boundary of the state land and the land owned by Open Spaces. I again made note that my trail crew would have to do some work to move large boulders to block the gap between the gate and the trees to block the movement of snowmobiles and ATVs. At the next trail junction we stayed right to walk the woods road toward the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. At the next trail junction, just before the remains of the camp, we turned left to walk down toward Hodge Pond. We turned right at the base of the hill to walk the jeep trail around the back of the pond. As we reached the upper end of the pond, I walked off the Thailand to the shore of the pond. Before I could put down my pack and get out the camera, Sheila ran out into the water and swam around. I took some pictures of her and of the pond. The sky was completely cleat and lacking the puffy white clouds that provide depth and contrast. I stowed my camera and walked back to the jeep trail to continue on around the pond. When we hit the Flynn Trail, we stayed to the left and cantoned around the pond to the outlet. The trail here was a little wet.
When we came out into the clearing a the outlet of the pond, we walked over to the fire ring near the outlet end. I again dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures of the pond. After only a few minutes, I picked up my pack and we started up the Flynn Trail heading back for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We walked along the flat part of the Flynn Trail, through the gate and back to the Big Rock Trail. We turned right on the Big Rock Trail and started walking downhill toward Times Square. The temperature had increased so I removed my hat and gloves but decided not to switch jackets. The walk down the Big Rock Trail went quickly. As we approached Times Square, we came to the large tree that had blocked the trail. The tree has a diameter of about two feet and would be hard to remove with hand tools. Fortunately, someone had cut the log in three places to clear a space through it on the trail. I wondered why they had not rolled the pieces out of the way or completely cleared the blowdown. It will take some effort to remove the obstacle completely with an axe and hand saw! We walked won to Times Square arriving there at 11:40 AM after hiking 4.9 miles. The area was wet as water originates in springs uphill on the Loggers Loop and moves downhill to the trail junction. We continued straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail to walk around the back of Frick Pond. The trail here was a little wet and muddy in spots. We continued over the bridges encountering a few blowdowns along the way. I stopped to take a few pictures of the wooden walkways and then walked to the junction with the Quick Lake Trail. We turned left and walked to the bridge over the outlet of the pond. The sky was still bright blue without clouds and the scene was the same as so many other times I had hiked here. I thought about continuing on but stopped to take a few shots. I took a few of Sheila on the bridge, some downstream from the pond and a few more of the pond and Flynn's Point. After finishing my photography. I packed up and hiked the small hill up to Gravestone Junction. We continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake Trail heading back to the car. The trail was wet and I kept crossing back and forth to avoid the water. When we ranched the trail register, I decided to turn right and follow the Quick Lake Trail back out to the parking area. As we arrived at the large parking lot, there was one car parked. If was 12:15 PM as we walked over to our car after hiking 6.0 miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes. The elevation gain was 912 feet and the temperatures had climbed to almost 60 degrees.
On Saturday, April 15th I decided to head north to hike a section of trail between Huntersfield Mountain and a point to the east of Ashland Pinnacle. This section of trail was at one time a part of the Long Path until that trail was rerouted. I have hiked to Huntersfield from the west and I have hiked the Long Path from the east. The last time I tried to hike from Huntersfield to Ashland Pinnacle the trail was blocked by a forest of prickers. This time I decided to hike up to the ridge from Partridge Road and hike the ridge to Huntersfield. After that I would backtrack and hike over Ashland Pinnacle to the Long Path. I wanted to leave Livingston Manor by 7:30 AM but didn't get out of town until 8:00 AM. I was surmised that the temperature was only 31 degrees when I woke up and I rethought my clothing choices. I decide to wear my insulated Columbia pants and my Mammut hoody. I took along a lighter windbreaker and sol brought a pair of light gloves and a light hat. When we left Livingston Manor, the temperature was still only 32 degrees.In Roscoe I picked up Route 206 toward the Pepacton Reservoir. From here I headed toward Margaretville on Route 30 and continued through Roxbury and Grand Gorge. In Grand Gorge I stayed to the right on Route 23 toward Prattsville. In Prattsville I turned left on Washington Street which is Route 10 and continued east for about 6.5 miles to Partridge Road, I turned left and headed north on the paved road. The road turned to rough pavement and then gravel but never deteriorated to the point that I could not make the drive. After 1.6 miles, the road came to a dead end in a rather large parking area. When I got out of the car, the trail was obvious so I seated to get ready to hike. The temperature on the car now read 55 degrees but wind was blowing so I decided to keep my hoody on and pack the lighter jacket. I set my electronics and we began to hike up the trail at 9:20 AM. The yellow blazes seemed to follow a woods road up toad the ridge but the markers were few and far between. The trail was marked for no motorized vehicles but there were obvious ATV trails. I finally gave up looking for yellow markers and simply followed the woods road and ATV tracks which kept leading up. We started off heading northeast but at .3 miles the trail leveled off and began heading northwest and then north to the ridge at .65 miles. The yellow trail ended here and we turned left to follow the red blazes west.
The trail continued to climb until about .9 miles when it hit the top of a small hill and then started to descend. I was surprised to find a few small areas of snow along the way. I was also interested to find that in most places the aqua blazes of the Long path were still intact which could definitely confuse some hikers! The trail rolled as it dropped a little and then came to the top of another small hill at 1.3 miles. It followed the ridge line and was sited mostly along wide woods roads which made the walking pretty easy. At 1.75 miles I came across a pretty common trail feature that leaves me shaking my head. The woods road continued straight ahead with no obstacles. The trail veered right into the woods and rejoined the woods road about 100 feet ahead. I am at a loss to understand why this makes any sense but some trail builders consistently do this! We continued to follow the woods road but somewhere after 1.9 miles I could no longer find and blazes. I looked left and right into the woods and simply decided to continue to follow the road as long as it was headed where I was headed! We were definitely climbing which was a good thing as we were nearing the summit of Huntersfield. At 2.35 miles the red blazes of the trail came in from the left and I made note as I intended to follow the trail on the way back. At 2.45 miles we came to the junction with a yellow spur trail to the lean-to. We turned left and headed over to the lean-to. There was no one in residence so I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I took a few shots of Sheila in the lean-to. There is a viewpoint cut out in front of the lean-to looking south to the Catskills. I took some pictures but there was a haze hanging over the mountains and too few clouds to make the sky interesting. I stowed my hoody, hat and glove sin the pack and put on the light windbreaker. I picked up my gear and we headed back along the yellow trail to a viewpoint that looks east toward Ashland Pinnacle. The bench that once stood here had rotted away. I took a few shots but the conditions were much the same as in front of the lean-to. We returned to the trail and turned east on the red trail to return the way we came.
As we started down the trail, we came to a patch of snow and I stopped to take a few pictures. Sheila decided to pose on the snow by lying down and taking a few licks! At 2.7 miles we turned right off the nice wide and flat woods road and began to follow the red markers of the trail. At first they were easy to see as they followed a woods road. Soon there were fewer markers and the trail became harder to walk. I kept looking for a reason that the trail builders found it necessary to leave the woods road. I was hoping for an interesting rock formation or a viewpoint or something but I found...nothing! At 3.1 miles we rejoined the woods road. We were making good time as we were mostly descending but I was keeping an eye on my watch as I had an afternoon commitment. We "rolled" over the hills we had encountered on the trip out and at 4.4 miles we had descended to the junction with the trail back to the car. It was 11:35 Am and I knew we would be continuing on to the Long Path junction. Sheila also apparently knew this as she ignored this trail and continued straight ahead on the red trail. Over the next quarter mile we ascended to the shoulder of Ashland Pinnacle along a woods road. Immediately after this point the trail began to descend and I was concerned that we were going in the correct direction. I was glad I had Sheila with me and that she is equipped with CPS (Canine Positioning System)! The trail dropped off the ridge a little and then regained it as we walked another .8 miles losing about 340 feet of elevation. At 5.5 miles we broke out into a clearing and I saw the aqua blazes of the Long Path. We stopped and I took some pictures of the woods road and huge evergreen trees. I got a drink and a snack and gave Sheila a drink. It was 12:05 PM when we turned around and headed back. The initial climb was a little difficult but after that the walk went quickly. We reached the yellow trail back to the car at 6.6 miles. We turned left and followed our route back to the car. We arrived at the car at 12:50 PM after hiking 7.2 miles in 3.5 hours. The elevation gain was a total of 1876 feet. The temperature was 64 degrees at the car which was 10 degrees higher than when we began the hike and over 30 degrees warmer than when I got up in the morning!
On Thursday, April 13th I had planned to go to hike Huntersfiled Mountain from a different trailhead on Partridge Road. When I woke up in the morning, I decided I did not want to go so far away to hike when I had an evening church service. I changed my plans and settled on hiking a loop to the east on Mongaup Pond including a visit to Mongaup Falls. The temperature was in the high 30's so I decided to wear my warmer Columbia insulated pants and my Mammut hoody. I also wore my high gaiters and brought along a light hat and gloves. Sheila was happy as I got my gear together and we headed out to the car. I got on Route 17 and headed for Liberty at 8:45 AM to do a couple of things before hiking. When I finished in Liberty, I got back on Route 17 and headed west getting off at the Parksville exit. I started up Cooley Road and turned left on Lily Pond Road. I drove to the end of the road and turned left on DeBruce Road and then right on Mongaup Pond Road. Sheila had been confused up to this point but perked up as we drove up the Mongaup Pond Road which is very familiar. When we reached the intersection with Beech Mountain Road, I stayed to the right and parked in one of the two spots on the right side of the road. I got my electronics set and then let a frantic Sheila out of the car so that we could begin our hike at 9:45 AM. We walked back toward the intersection and turned left to hike down what used to be Hunter Road. I decided to visit the falls on the return trip so we walked across the small bridge and continued up the hill on what is now a woods road and snowmobile trail.
At .4 miles we passed by a snowmobile trail that I planned to use on the return trip. After a short descent, we again began to climb on the rocky and rather wet woods road toward Terwillger Road. At 1 mile we turned left as the snowmobile trail turned into the woods. Here the trail was dry and the surface flat which made walking go very quickly. There was no snow and the woods were open and beautiful in their own way. The trail dropped a little as we headed northeast and then at 1.4 miles we began to climb again. At 2.35 miles we were still climbing as the trail headed southeast to reach the highest point on the trail at 2.7 miles. From here the trail began to descend and at 2.9 miles the trail again turned northeast and continued dropping in elevation. At 3.8 miles we reached the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail where we turned left and started heading northwest. We started climbing again over some rocky terrain until we reached the top of a hill at 4.5 miles and started to descend the other side. It was getting much warmer and the effort of walking had me opening all the zippers on my hoody. I also stowed my gloves and hat in my pack. We continued our descent until at 5.2 miles the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail ended at a snowmobile trail. We turned left on the snowmobile trail and headed southwest. This trail was very wet in places as it is lower than the land to the east and water draining from the higher land flooded the trail. As we walked by some ledges, I could see some small waterfalls with water cascading down into small streams which crossed the trail. We continued to walk southwest passing over two small hills. At 7.35 miles we arrived at the junction with the snowmobile trail we had been on when we started the hike. We turned right and started to walk downhill and northwest back toward the car. As we approached the small bridge over the stream we turn off to the left and walked to Mongaup Falls. The falls has two levels and I dropped my pack near the upper one. First, I took some pictures from the side and then I walked down to the edge of the stream. I was able to walk out on some rocks to take pictures from in front of the upper falls. When I was done, I carefully worked my way down the side of the bank to the bottom of the lower falls. I took a few pictures from the side of the falls and then again worked my way down to some stones. These stones allowed me to walk out in the stream bed to take shots from in front of the falls. When I finished my photography, I worked my way back up the bank to my pack. I stowed my camera and then walked back out to the main trail. We crossed the bridge and walked back up the woods road to the car. We arrived at the car at 1:15 PM after having hiked 7.9 miles in 3.5 hours with an elevation gain of 1250 feet. The temperature was in the low 60's.
On Tuesday, April 11th after visiting several waterfalls, Cindy and I decided to go to hike at Pratts Rock just east of Prattsville. From Red Falls I drove west on Route 23 for a little over 2 miles to the parking area on the right. The parking lot is small and there were several cars already parked there. I found a spot and parked at 2:55 PM. The temperature was now in the high 70's and even Sheila seemed to be warm. We walked on the path passing the information kiosk and continuing up the path around the "back" of the cliffs. As we passed the first bench carved into the rock, we could see some of the carvings much higher up on the cliffs. We decided to bypass the trail that goes to the base of the cliffs and continued to walk west and up the trail that goes to the top of the cliffs. The trail is a little steep in spots and is highly eroded since it is a popular destination. We were soon at the top of the cliffs taking in the view of the sparkling Batavia Kill below. There were no other hikers in sight so I took quite a few pictures of the valley below. The sun angle was again not very advantageous but I did get some nice shots. A family of four came down from the upper ledges and we made sure Sheila stayed with us until they passed. We continued to walk up to the next set of lookouts which are more to the east. The angle of the sun was better here so I took some more shots of the stream below, the valley and the hills beyond. To the northeast a high mountain was visible and I was pretty sure it was Huntersfield Mountain which is on the CHH list. I took some more pictures before we headed back down the trail and found a shortcut to the trail that runs just below the cliffs. This trail was a tricky little descent but brought us out just below the carvings. There were no others present so I got out the camera and took some pictures of the rock carvings. The whole area is beginning to show some neglect. The carvings are deteriorating and are not whitewashed frequently. It is most distressing that a few people have found it necessary to deface the carvings with graffiti. The carvings are a real artistic and historic treasure which are being ignored. When I was done with my photography, we descended the trail back to the car. We were at the car by 1:00 PM after covering the short hike of less than a mile. We were ready to head home at this point after a nice day.
On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Manorkill Falls at 11:45 AM and headed south toward Route 23. When we reached Route 23 , I turned left and drove through Prattsville to the junction of Route 23 and Route 23A. I stayed to the left on Route 23 and drove 1.65 miles east toward Windham. As we approached Red Falls, I pulled over and parked on the side of the road. There are "No Parking" signs here so I never stay very long. This spot is popular with many young people and there is often garbage and broken bottles strewn about the area. We walked to a short but steep path down the bank to the falls. Cindy went back to get her poles while Sheila and I worked our way down the path to the edge of the falls. Much like the other waterfalls we had visited Red Falls was roaring with a high volume and rapidly flowing water. Fortunately, there was enough room on the rocks along the side of the falls to allow us to walk downstream. I took pictures of the falls as a whole from as far downstream as I dared go. I also took pictures of various parts of the falls and filmed two short videos to document the sound and power of the falls. I took a couple of shots of Sheila near the falls and then started to work my way back up the rocks to where Cindy was sitting waiting for us. We walked back up the steep path to the car and head west on Route 23 to the parking area for Pratt Rock.
On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Mill Creek Falls at 11:10 AM and headed south on Route 30. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Route 990V and drove passed the Schoharie Reservoir near Gilboa. The work on the dam was almost complete after several years of work.I hope that once the work is complete that there will be a place to view the reservoir and the dam. We continued to follow 990V southeast along the reservoir until the Prattsville Road appeared on the right. I turned right and drove across the bridge and parked along the road on the other side. Manor Kill Falls forms on the Manor Kill just before it flows into the reservoir. Pet of it is upstream from the bridge and can be viewed from the bridge. The gorge the stream cut is impressive and one part of the falls is hidden directly beneath the bridge. I got my camera and headed for the bridge. I walked almost to the other side of the bridge and took some pictures of the falls upstream. I walked to the other side of the bridge and took shots of the reservoir and the gorge. I also took a few directly down from the bridge but could not get a good view of the falls. As I walked back to the car, I decided to walked through the fence onto DEP property to see if I could get a picture of the falls. The DEP has relaxed access to their land and doesn't seem to care much if people are just hiking and taking pictures. I worked my way over to the edge of the gorge but could only get a few pictures through the trees. I am convinced the only way to get pictures of the falls under the bridge is from a kayak or canoe on the reservoir. I walked back up to the car and continued to drive south on the Prattsville Road toward Route 23.
On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Mine Kill Falls at 11:00 AM and headed north on Route 30 to North Blenheim. I turned left on Creamery Road and parked along the street with Mill Brook Falls in full view. I got out of the car and grabbed my camera to take a few pictures of the falls that were flowing nicely with high volume. Mill Creek Falls forms on Mill Creek as it flows southeast and empties into the West Kill. In the summer the falls is only a trickle and the West Kill a lazy stream. It is a popular place for children to go to get cool on a hot summer's day. On this day the West Kill was very high and flowing very fast. The falls were thundering as they spilled into the stream below. I took a few shots and then returned to the car. I drove south again on Route 30 as our next stop was Manorkill Falls.
On Tuesday, April 11th I had initially planned to hike Huntersfield Mountain and Pratt Rock. I also planned to visit some waterfalls in the area since I knew they would be roaring from recent rains and snow melt. I had hiked with Cindy the day before so I did not think she would want to go again. I was glad I was wrong and that she wanted to come along. She did, however, specify that she did NOT want to hike Huntersfiled or any other mountain! I modified my plans to visit the waterfalls and Pratt Rock only. We started to get our gear together and Sheba began to let us know that she wanted to go! The forecast was for weather even warmer than Monday with highs nearing 80 degrees! I again dressed in lighter pants and a light windbreaker as I had been warm the day before. We left Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM and headed toward Roscoe where we picked up Route 206 toward the Pepacton Reservoir. From here we headed toward Margaretville on Route 30. As we passed by one "arm" of the Pepapcton Reservoir, I noticed the calm water and the reflections of the trees in the water. I pulled over and got out my camera to take a few pictures of the scene. We continued on our way on Route 30 through Margaretville, Roxbury and Grand Gorge. In Grand Gorge I continued on Route 30 heading toward Middleburgh. After about 6 miles we came to the entrance for the parking lot for Mine Kill Falls ion the right. I pulled into the parking area at 10:20 AM to find several other cars present. We knew the hike was short but I wanted to record a GPS track and take some pictures. I set my electronics and shouldered my pack. Since there were others enjoying the park, I put Sheila on her leash as we waked down the path toward the viewing platform. Just before the platform we turned right and followed the trail down toward the base of the falls. The aqua blazes also designated this as part of the Long Path. The trail was a little wet and muddy in places as it wound down to the pool at the base of the falls. I dropped my pack and took out the camera to get some pictures of the falls. The lighting was better than it had been on previous visits and I was able to get pictures of the water as it flows between the rocks as well as shots of the lower falls as it spills into the pool. There was also some water falling from high off the cliffs and as the sun struck it a rainbow was formed. I took some more shots before we picked up and headed back up the trail. I followed the Long Path as it veered to the left and though that I did not remember hiking this section when I competed it. Later, by looking at my maps, it was obvious I had hiked it but from the other direction. We walked from the bottom of the falls back to the top and turned right to go to the viewing platform. There was no one else at the platform so I got out the camera and started to take pictures of the water flowing through the deep crevice in the rocks. I also took some pictures of another falls farther upstream just beyond the road bridge. After I finished with my photography, we turned around and walked back to the car. At 11:00 AM the temperature was already 70 degrees! I drove out of the parking lot and turned right to visit Mill Brook Falls.
On Monday, April 10th, I asked Cindy if she would like to take a hike somewhere and she said "Yes". After talking about some spots we decided to go to North South Lake as we had not been there in some time. I knew that this was a popular destination but thought that the number of visitors would be decreased as the park was closed, it was a Monday and many people might be away on vacation. The one factor that I knew might pull people in was the forecast for exceptionally nice weather. No rain was in the forecast but the highs were supposed to be in the mid-70's! As I chose clothing for the hike, I decided to wear my Mammut Hoody but take along a light windbreaker. I dug out a pair of light Railrider pants as I knew the insulated ones I had been wearing would be too warm. I packed a pair of light gloves and a hat even though I knew I probably would not need them. I decided to leave the insulated boots home and wear a pair of Keen Glarus with a low pair of gaiters. We delayed leaving home until just before 9:00 AM thinking we would try to stop at Pancho Villas in Tannersville which did not open until 4:00 PM. I drove from Livingston Manor out the DeBruce Road to Route 47, the Frost Valley Road. I turned left here and drove passed the Slide Mountain and Giant Ledge parking areas. There weren't many cars parked at either spot. When we got to Route 28 I turned right and drove to Route 42 in Shandaken where I turned left and headed north to Route 23A. I turned right on Route 23A and headed toward Hunter. We passed through Hunter and Tannersville heading east on Route 23A to Haines Falls. I turned left on North Lake Road and as we approached the park, I turned right on Scutt Road and drove to the parking area. The lot had been expanded to more than double its size but Therese were only a few cars parked. The temperature on the car read 66 degrees but the direct sunlight made it feel even warmer. I set my electronics and we got our gear together and left the car at 10:30 AM. I put Sheila on her leash as we walked up Schutt Road, crossed the park entrance road to pick up the yellow Rock Shelter Trail. I knew that this trail was always wet but hoped that it wouldn't be too bad. I let Sheila off her leash and my hopes were immediately dashed as the trail was underwater! There didn't seem to be any part of the trail without standing or running water. Some logs and stepping stones helped but it was generally a miserable experience which was not helped by the poor placement of blazes. Where thee was no water there were numerous roots and rocks to negotiate which made walking difficult ALL the time. As we started to walk through some pines, we found there was quite a boot of snow on the trail in those areas. These conditions continued throughout the hike with some areas being worse than others. In some places the snow was still almost a foot deep! At 11:25 Am we finally hit the junction with the red Nary's Glen Trail. We had walked 1.4 miles in just less than an hour!
We turned left up the Mary's Glen Trail and found that it was a stream bed with water pouring down the hill! Like many other hikers, we walked along the side of the trail thereby widening it and allowing noire erosion to take place! As we hike uphill, Sheila alerted as a mother and daughter approached. I took Sheila off trail to allow them to pass. He said "Hello" and continued in our opposite directions. We continued along the trail running into Maire snow and water as we hiked. After about .75 miles we came to the blue Escarpment Trail where we stooped for a minute for a drink and snack. It was 12:10 Pm and we had hiked 2.1 miles. We turned left on the Escarpment Trail and immediately began a steep and rocky climb toward North Point. There were several rock scrambles along the way which Sheila negotiated easily. It took Cindy and I some time to work our way up these scrambles. We rested at a ledge with a nice view of North South Lake and of the Hudson River. I took some pictures and marveled at the fact that I have NEVER seen the river without a haze hanging over it in this area. We moved on up the trail until we got to the last rocky step up to North Point. I got up with some difficulty and gave Cindy a hand. We walked up to North Point and I dropped my pack to get out the camera. I took some more pictures and then started to walk around the edge of North Point. I don't remember having done this before and as I walked the perimeter different views kept being revealed. From one viewpoint I could easily see Kaaterskill High Point and Round Top. On the other side of the point there were views of the mountains of the Devil's Path. In between the Hudson was laid out below. We had though about going to Stoppel Point but it was another 1.7 miles and Cindy wanted to work our way down through the rock scrambles. I agree as it was taking us much longer to hike than I had expected due to the poor condition of the trails. We started won off North Point and worked our way back to the point where the Escarpment trail meets the Mary's Glen Trail. Here we turned left to follow the Escarpment Trail and the Long Path. My plan was to pick up the Rock Shelter trail and walk to the Mary's Glen trail. We would then walk down the Mary's Glen trail to visit Ashley Falls. This falls can be quite seasonal and have almost no water in the drier months.
The hike on the Escarpment Trail wasn't too bad except for the amount of snow we encountered all along the way. One drift under the pines was still over a foot deep. We continued to follow the blue blazes until at 3.3 miles we found the yellow blazes of the Rock Shelter Trail. As we descended, we came to Badman's Cave which is really just a nice rock shelter formed by an overhanging rock. I too a few shots before we continued on the trail .We turned right and continued to encounter snow, water and a combination which made a cold, wet slush. We worked our way down several scrambles where water was freely flowing down the trail and the rock were very slippery. At 2:00 PM we had hiked 3.75 miles and were back at the junction with the Mary's Glen Trail. To the right was a nice little waterfall and I stopped to get some pictures. The problem was that the "nice little waterfall" gave rise to a nice stream that covered the trail. The sign post for the trail junction was in the middle of the stream! We turned left to follow the Mary's Glen Trail and, fortunately, the stream went one way and the trail the other. We still wound the trail covered in water and snow but it was a little more manageable. As we hiked down the trail, several small waterfalls appeared on the right. I was drawn to each one so I would walk off the trail and work my way to a point near each of the falls. Most were surrounded by water but I found a way to get close and take pictures. I was sure that these falls were only there due to the rain that had fallen and the melting snow. When we got to 4.2 miles around 2:30 PM, we were about to cross a log bridge. I walked downstream and found I was at the top of Ashley Falls. I took some pictures from the top and then walked back to Cindy and Sheila. We crossed the bridge and started to descend the trail. I found a path to the left and walked out to a point below the upper drop of the falls. There was a thick wall of ice next to the falls. I took some pictures and then worked my way around until I was more directly infant of the upper falls. I took some more shots and then returned to the main trail. We walked down to where the trail leveled off. At this pint there was a spur trail to the left that went to the base of the falls. We followed it and I walked across some rock and logs to get to a spot directly below the falls in the middle of the stream. I took quite a few pictures of the falls as a whole and of the parts of the falls. We walked back out the spur trail and the continued on the Mary's Glen Trail to the park road. We turned right and started to walk back to the car on the road. It seemed so easy walking on a firm, smooth surface without any water. The walk back to the car was 1.1 miles and I must admit I was rather tired. We arrived back at the car at 3:15 PM. My GPS said we had hiked 5.9 miles but it seemed like much more to both of us! I was surprised that by the time I downloaded the track to the computer it was only 5.6 miles. The vertical gain was only 1068 feet but, again, it seemed like more. We drove into Tannersville and waited a half hour for Panco Villas to open. We like the food there and found that the wait was well worth it.
On Saturday, April 8th I wanted to hike a little longer and a little farther away from home. On weekdays when I have Track Practice I usually choose Frick Pond or Trout Pond but this gets very boring after a while. I had hiked on Monday but then had to work pat of the rest of the week. Working coupled with terrible weather had not allowed me to get out again. Cindy wanted to go so I was looking for a relatively flat area which would have some appeal for both of us. I proposed heading to the Neversink Unique Are near Rock Hill since there are several waterfalls which I knew would be roaring due to the recent rains. It had actually snowed a little more than an inch overnight and the temperature was in the low 30's in the morning. In addition, the wind was blowing at almost 20 mph! We decided to wait until around noon to head out. As soon as Sheila found out we were going hiking, she would not leave my side. I got my clothing and gear together to prepare to leave. I decided that despite the forecast for highs in the 50's I would wear tights and a baselayer on top. I wore my Mammut hoody and took a pair of light gloves and a light hat. We left Livingston Manor a little after 11:30 AM and headed down State Route 17 toward Rock Hill. I took the Rock Hill exit and drove down Katrina Falls Road until I saw the Dead End sign. I turned left on Wolf Lake Road and after a short distance found the access road to the parking area. There was a nice parking area near the road but I had planned to drive to the upper parking area. I had to change those plans as the gate was closed! I pulled into the lower parking area and parked a little after noon. We could hear the noise of the water flowing in Wolf Creek. It took me a few minutes to get my electronics working and then we started up the gravel road at 12:15 PM. The temperature was still below 40 degrees and the breeze made it seem cooler. The sun was shining brightly which elevated my mood. We crossed over the bridge over Wolf Creek and we could see the water was flowing freely. The road was in pretty good shape an the 1.1 miles to the upper parking area went quickly despite the 250 foot gain in elevation. We passed under the power highlines where the wind was making the towers howl. When we reached the parking area, we followed the yellow spur trill into the woods.
The temperature had not changed much but the uphill walk had made me warm so I opened the zippers on my Mammut hoody. Now that I have started to do trail maintenance, I notice trail conditions and the first thing I noticed was that the large tree that was down across the beginning of the trail had been cut and cleared. We continued on the yellow trail finding a few more blowdowns that had been removed. It was clear that some trail work had been done but that the trail needed to be pruned to make hiking easier. The hike in on the side trail was only .6 miles and it was mostly downhill. Soon we arrived at the red trail where we turned left knowing that we would have to walk uphill to the car at the end of the hike. We walked along the trail finding a few muddy and wet areas. At 1.85 miles we crossed the upper bridge over Mullet Brook. We stopped so that I could take a few shots of the high volume of water flowing under the bridge. We followed the trail as it made a sharp right turn and headed downhill. We could hear the brook falling over the stony streambed as we hiked the trail. At one point we looked up to find a loan hiker coming toward us. I stepped to the side of the trail with Sheila and the hiker asked us where the trail led. We told him how to get back to the Katrina Falls lot where he was parked and he told us that there were a few more people coming up the trail behind him. We continued along the trail and soon met a couple hiking toward us. I again corralled Sheila and these hikers also asked for information. They looked tired and I carefully explained the turns they should make to get back to their car. We were both surprised that people would come out to hike and not be aware of the trails and the turns! At 2.4 miles we came to the yellow blazed spur trail to Mullet Brook Falls and turned right to visit this attraction. As we walked along the trail we met 3 young women heading out toward the main trail. The spur trail is less than .2 miles and we were soon at the base of the falls. I dropped my pack, got out the camera and walked carefully over the rocks at the base of the falls to get a good position directly in front of them. The brook was roaring and the falls had a high volume of water. Unfortunately, the spray from the falls was impossible to keep off my camera lens. I took some pictures downstream and then did my best to get some pictures of the falls. I carefully back down the slippery rocks, took a few more pictures and then returned to my pack. I got a drink and then we headed back out the spur trail to the main trail. We turned right and walked downhill to the junction where the red trail meets the blue trail at 2.8 miles. The blue trail stretches from the Katrina Falls parking area all the way south to High Falls where it ends. Future plans may included blazing this trail farther south along existing woods roads to reach the southern part of the Neversink Unique Area. We turned right on the blue trail and then almost immediately turned left on the yellow spur trail to Denton Falls.
The trail was in pretty good shape and but a few more markers need to be added in places. The trail is about .3 miles long but over that length it loses 175 feet to the lowest point on the hike at the Neversink River. As we got to the river, I took my pack off and got out my camera. The water was as high as I have ever seen it and I was careful to keep Sheila close in case she had any ideas about taking a swim. The views upstream and downstream were beautiful but it was hard to see the falls as the volume of water was so great. I took some pictures of the river and then worked my way down to the rocks just below the falls and started to take some pictures. The water was so high that I had to push some bushes aside to find a place to stand. Sheila and I walked up to the rock where Cindy was sitting. Sheila sat down next to Cindy so I took a few pictures of them. I put my camera back in the pack and we climbed the bank and headed up the trail. We continued on the yellow trail to the blue trail where we turned left to continue around the loop. We came to the lower bridge across Mullet Brook which has been replaced with twin steel I-beams for support and all new wood. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take a few shots of the bridge and the brook. I carried my pack a little farther down the trail and then worked my way down to the edge of the stream. I walked down the edge of the stream taking pictures as I did. Eventually I walked up the ban, back to the main trail and stowed the camera in my pack. We continued to hike the blue trail and both of us commented that we were still descending! The trail was wet in some places but the water was easy to avoid. We met a group of five people hiking toward us and we passed with a brief "Hello". At 4.1 miles we came to the trail junction where the blue trail bends to the left and the red trail begins. We turned right on the red trail knowing we were now headed back to the car but also knowing the trip would be all uphill! This part of the trail was the wettest we had seen and it was obvious that it had been a streambed during the heaviest rains. The trail took us south and then at about 4.5 miles turned to the east. At 4.9 miles we came to the trail junction with the yellow trail to the Wolf Lake parking area and our car. We had gained over 400 feet in .9 miles and the climb was never steep but it was continuous. We turned left on the yellow trail and continued to climb back toward the upper parking area. We gained another 140 feet over the half mile back to the parking lot. When we arrived at the upper parking area, we knew we had some hiking still to go but that it was mostly downhill. The sun was shining very brightly now and the temperature was in the mid to high 40's. We followed the road and over the next 1.1 miles lost about 250 feet back to the car. We arrived back at the car at 4:00 PM having hiked 6.6 miles in 3 hours and 40 minutes with about 30 minutes stopped for pictures. I honestly thought we had set a quicker pace but in any case we had great fun.
On Monday, April 3rd I wanted to get out to hike but had a few things to take care of in the morning. I had expected a more sunny day but by 11:30 AM the temperature had risen to almost 50 degrees and the sun was just peeking through. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go across the greet to hike on Round Top and she agreed. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I mentioned the word "hike". I dressed without a baselayer but did take a light hat and a light pair of gloves. I wore my Mammut hoody with the pit sips open to allow some airflow. We headed out a little after 11:30 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. The only snow was in the snow banks around the church parking lot. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not intend to take pictures as the day was overcast and dreary. We walked around the back of the church and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as there was no snow or ice. Sheila did a great job of pulling me up they'll with little effort. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road which was completely devoid of snow. At the first trail junction, we turned right to walk up the more gentle slope in the lower loop. There was very little snow on the woods road until we got to the turn up the hill where we encountered remnants of the 30 inches we had gotten in the last storm. When we got to the sharp left turn, we continued straight ahead on the new upper trail that I had laid out. The trail is only flagged with green tape but the path is pretty clear. The trail is a rather direct route to the top of the hill and follows an equally direct route down the other side. The final trail when constructed may contain some switchbacks to help mediate the steepness. We walked up to the summit of Round Top where there was still some snow and then started down the other side still following the bright green ribbons. This side of the hill faces north so there was still some snow. We were soon back at the yellow-blazed lower trail where we turned right to head toward the viewpoint from the ledges facing town. When we arrived at the ledges, we took a quick look from the upper part of the lookout. The sky was overcast so we continued on the main trail down the hill to complete the loop at the first trail junction.
At this point, Cindy decided to return home and I decided to do the loop in the opposite direction. Sheila and I turned around and hiked back up the steep hill to the lookout. We didn't stop and continued on around the loop at a quickened pace. As the main lower trail turned right, we walked straight ahead and up the hill toward the summit following the bright green ribbons again. Hiking up was a bigger challenge than coming down as the trail was a little wet and slippery but we soon reached the top and started back down. When we arrived at the main trail, we turned left and then right to follow the trail back down to the first trail junction. I still felt fresh and Sheila was certainly willing to hike some more so we turned around and hiked back up the woods road on the gentle slope. At the left turn we stayed on the main lower trail which is marked with yellow blazes as my intention was to hike the smaller lower loop. We followed the trail as it hugs the base of Round Top and turned left to head back toward the lookouts. We passed by the viewpoint and headed down the steeper trail back to the first trail junction. When we arrived, we turned around again and hiked back up the steep trail to the lookouts and continued to follow the lower trail as it turned right. The trail is continuously uphill but at a shallow grade. We followed the trail as it ruined right and flattened out as it stayed on a woods road at the base of Round Top. Soon the trail made a sharp right turn and we followed it down to the woods road and back out to the first trail junction. We turned left and continued out to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery hill. Here we turned right and walked down the hill and across the field by the church. We crossed the street and walked down our driveway to return home. It was 1:00 PM and we had hiked about 3 miles in a little under an hour and a half.
On Saturday, April 1st it was the first day of trout season but the weather was far from ideal. The forecast was for rain throughout the morning but when I woke up it was snowing! I wanted to get out and hike but thought I might wait until the weather cleared a little. I planned to hike a loop on the east side of Mongaup Pond from the intersection of Mongaup Pond Road and Beech Mountain Road. This would include a visit to Mongaup Falls and was over 8 miles long. Just before noon the skies cleared and some sun was peeking through the clouds. I got my gear together and decided to dress a little warmer than I had been since the temperature was only 42 degrees on the back porch with a slight breeze. I knew that it would be colder at Frick Pond so I put on a pair of tights and packed heavier gloves. We left the house just after noon with Sheila in the back seat ready to go. We headed out the DeBruce Road and after about 6 miles I turned left on the Mongaup Road. At the intersection with Beech Mountain Road I stayed right and looked down the trail to the falls. It looked very snowy but sloppy with some running water. The small parking area had not been plowed so I immediately decided to go to the Frick Pond parking area and try a different route. When we arrived at the parking area there were no other cars in the lot which really surprised me. The temperature was only 38 degrees and the breeze made it seem cooler. I was surprised that there was still quite a bit of snow in the woods and on the trail. We left the parking area on the woods road to the register at 12:25 PM. I was glad I had worn my insulted Salomon Nytro boots and had put on my gaiters. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, the trail was covering with several inches of snow. At the register I stopped to take a few shots since there was a real contrast on the trail. Behind where we had just come from the trail was covered in snow. Ahead of us the trail had snow but had significant open areas with both standing and running water. As we continued along the trail, the woods road out the Gravestone Junction was well covered in snow but also had some running water. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond. When we passed through Gravestone Junction the ground was bare Sanchia area is open to the sun. When we arrived at the bridge over the outlet, we stopped so I could take a few pictures. The sky was still overcast and the pond was partly covered with ice. I could see that the trees on Flynn's Point were covered in ice but there was a line whet the ice ended. There was also ice on the trees at elevation to the west of Frick Pond. I took pictures of the pond and Flynn's Point before packing up and heading out around the pond on the Quick Lake Trail. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I had not been this way in several weeks due to the 30+ inches of snow had fallen. I looked at the trail covered in snow and it was obvious no one else had used this trail either! As we started on the trail, I found there was between 4 and 8 inches of snow and I was breaking through with each step. A little farther along the trail gave way to large puddles of water and small running streams. It was pretty easy to avoid the water but it took time to walk around them and I found my boots were getting wet. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail covered in snow and the trail dotted with puddles. There were quite a few branches in the trail and I was picking them up and throwing them to the side. As we passed through the "spruce tunnel", we arrived at the small stream in the woods and found the water level high and flowing nicely. The water was deep enough that I decided to walk a little upstream and cross where the water was narrow. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail and removed what I could be hand. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. The trail was partly packed by snowmobiles but the snow was thinning. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.
After the junction with the snowmobile trail to Quick Lake, we gained elevation and the snow got deeper. There were many places where there was running water under the snow and other spots where the trail was completely exposed. The skies were growing darker and it looked like there might be some precipitation. Shortly after this it seems that something did start to fall from the sky. What fell was more of a mixture of sleet, snow and ice than rain. It took me a while to realize that what was falling was the ice from the trees as the wind blew. This continued for most of the rest of the hike. The ground was covered in the ice from the trees and some rather large chunks were still falling! At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails continued to be snow covered with some running and some pooled water along the way. My feet were getting wet but I couldn't tell how much was sweat from the inside and how much was the water I was walking through. I followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond there were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond. We continued on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond and Sheila and I walked over to the shore. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the grey sky and grey trees. The water level in the pond was right up to the shore and there was still a layer of ice on the pond. We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon back on the Flynn Trail heading up from the pond. At the edge of the open area there were some drifts where the snow was at least a foot deep and in one spot I sank to my knee. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance. There was enough snow to make walking a little difficult as I sank into the snow in some places and slipped in others. Unfortunately there were snowmobile tracks on the trail which is clearly marked "No motorized vehicles!" At 3:00 PM we arrived at the junction with the Big Rock Trail after hiking 4.7 miles. I thought about going down the Big Rock Trail as I knew it would be packed by snowmobiles but decided to continued straight ahead on the Flynn Trail. I was able to pick up my snowshoe track from the previous week but that didn't help much. When a track is made the snow is packed down making an indentation. As the snow melts the packed snow does not melt as fast leaving little snowshoe-shaped bumps along the trail. The Flynn Trail had quite a bit of snow inflames and much less in others. As we neared the gate, the snow almost disappeared. We made the left turn into the woods to stay on the Flynn Trail and avoid the private property around the cabin. There was very little snow on the trail also. As we arrived back at the car, the dog from the cabin came barking and growling down the road. With his owner yelling "He's OK!" This has happened several times and shows a lack of courtesy on the owner's part! We were back at the car at 3:40 PM having hiked 6.4 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet. The temperature at the car was still 38 degrees.
On Thursday, March 30, I was ready to get out for a hike after a week of commitments and bad weather had prevented me from getting out. The high temperatures for the day were supposed to be in the 50's but when I awoke at 6:30 AM the thermometer barely read 30 degrees. Since there had been quite a bit of rain over the previous few days, I decided to go to Trout Pond to see how Russell Brook Falls had fared. When Sheila got wind of my plans, she started jumping around and could hardly contain herself. It is hard for her to be indoors more than a day without going for a walk. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:45 AM under sunny skies and temperatures just into the low 40's. I had my gear in the trunk and an overjoyed Sheila in the back seat as we headed to Roscoe on State Route 17. I got on Route 206 and followed it across the Delaware County line to Morton Hill Road. After a left turn on Morton Hill Road, I drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid the parking area which is private. I had decided to bring only my Microspikes as I did not think I would need snowshoes. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 10:10 AM. The temperature was 34 degrees so I wore my Mammut Hoody, a hat and light gloves. I had on my Columbia Passo Alto pants with the reflective OmniHeat lining but decided I did not need tights underneath. I wore a long-sleeved crew neck Mammut shirt which is a little heavier than some I have and a long sleeved Patagonia Capilene 1 baselayer. Russell Brook Road had been plowed and sanded which I assumed was due to the first day of trout fishing season on Saturday, April 1. We continued on down Russell Brook Road to the overlook over the upper falls. There was a lot of water in the stream but not much more than the last time I visited. I decided to wait until the hike back to decide whether or not I wanted to stop to take pictures. We continued down toward the parking area and got on the woods road that goes down to the bridge that crosses the brook. I decided not to walk to the falls and continued on the main trail to the register. At the trail junction just after the register we turned to the left to climb the steeper hill toward Mud Pond. The trail had almost no snow as it faces south and east. It was a little muddy and there was running water in several places. The sun was out and as soon as we started to climb the hill, I stopped to open up the zippers on my hoody. The ascent went quickly and I was glad to see there were no new blowdowns on this part of the trail. We reached the top of the hill and found that there was now at least 6 inches of snow which was still very hard. I stopped to take some pictures of the woods road covered in snow. At 1.6 miles we made a right to follow the trail up to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge.
This trail was also covered in snow and the more elevation we gained the deeper the snow became. There was a set of footprints that I followed along the way which made walking easier although the snow was hard. We avoided a few icy areas and crossed a few small streams and some standing water. After passing through an area with many small diameter trees, we started a short descent and ran into a lot more water. In some places the water was polled on the trail and in others it was running like a stream. I had to walk on the sides of the trail where there was still some snow. Constantly breaking through a few inches made the walking more difficult than I expected. The ascent continued for the next 1.2 miles until at 2.7 miles into the hike when we were at the highest point and ready to start the descent to Trout Pond. Along the way we had come across two or three major blowdowns but were able to easily hike around them. One concerned me as it was a large branch precariously arched over the trail with little support at the upper end. We had been hiking the southern exposure and as we started down the other side there continue to be a good amount of snow on the trail. As we descended toward Trout Pond there were three major blowdowns that would require an axe and saw to clear. The trail remained snowy and slippery in places as we approached the bridge at the inlet end of the pond. I decided to stop and take some pictures even though there was nothing remarkable about the scene. We continued on the main trail toward the outlet of the pond. The trail now had much less snow and had some rather large pools of water. At the lower end of the pond I again stopped to take pictures of a scene I had photographed many times! The water level in the pond was high but most of the pond was still covered in ice. The skies were a little overcast to the north but were bright and sunny to the south. Sheila decided to run out on the ice and I took some pictures before telling her to stop thinking it might be dangerous. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill with alternating areas of snow and clear trail. but I had to be careful to avoid many icy spots. Sheila did not seem to mind the icy or snow or the mud! By 12:40 PM we had hiked 4.7 miles and were back at the trail junction and register box. I decided that I did not want to walk over to the falls as I was a little short on time. We walked out to the parking area to continue our hike back to the car. As we walked up the road back to the car, I did not stop at the overlook over the upper falls but continued up the road. The sun had melted the ice on the road and it was very muddy which was making Sheila very muddy! We continued up the road and back to the car. We arrived back at 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles and 1120 vertical feet in 2 hours and 50 minutes. The temperature had risen to about 45 degrees as we left.
On Thursday, March 23rd I planned to finally get out to hike the first hike of Spring 2017 after three days off. I had made others plans for the week but two days as the high school nurse and a bitterly cold and windy day on Wednesday made changing those plans necessary. Three warm days at the beginning of the week had melted some of the snow but there was still enough left to make hiking interesting. I had some commitments in the morning and decided to go across the street and hike on Round Top at about 9:30 AM. Cindy suggested that I take the snowshoes although I thought the snow would be hard enough to walk with just boots or maybe boots with spikes. She is usually right so I decided to carry my snowshoes across the street as there was not enough snow in the driveway to use them until then. The temperature was still in the mid 20's as I was getting ready but was coming up nicely so I decided to forego tights under my pants and wore a short-sleeved baselayer under a lighter Mammut pullover. I also opted for light gloves and a light hat. I put Sheila on her leash to walk across the street. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. We stopped on the other side of the street so that I could put on my snowshoes. The snow in the field was only a few inches deep and it was very solid. We walked behind the church and as I looked up the hill I could see pavement! We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, there was bare ground at the trailhead although I could see there was still a lot of snow in the woods. We started out on the trail and I found it hard as a rick. At the first trail junction I decided to take off the snowshoes and hide them off the trail behind a log. I was pretty sure that no one else had been on the trail since I had been there a week before! We continued straight head up the hill to the lookout. I was right about the snow being hard and I was hardly sinking in at all. The sun was out and made me feel warm despite the breeze that was blowing I bypassed the spur trail to the lower ledges and followed the main trail to the upper ledges where it turned right. The snow here was less consolidated and I sunk in a little. As long as I stayed on the packed trail I was OK. I did step off the trail once and sank almost up to me knee in a drift! We continued to follow the yellow blazes of the lower trail and turned right again as the trail skirted the summit of Round Top. At the next right turn we turned left into the woods to follow the green ribbons I had used to mark the proposed upper trail. This part of the trail faces south and east and the wasn't as much snow and in some places the ground was showing through. We walked uphill to the summit and then across the summit to start down. There was more snow on the downhill as it faces north. I broke through a little in a few places but got a nice glide back down to the main trail. We turned left here and walked back to the next sharp right turn where we followed the lower trail to the right. Soon we were on the wide woods road that leads back to the first trail junction.
When we reached the first trail junction. we had completed one figure 8 and I decided to turn around a do one in the opposite direction. We turned around and walked up the woods road and the stayed to the left up the hill to the first left turn. We followed the lower trail as it turned left and walked to the next sharp left turn. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top on the proposed upper trail. Again the was more snow here so I sunk in a few times on the ascent. We walked across the summit plateau and then down the other side of the hill to the lower trail. We turned right and followed the lower trail as it skirted the summit of Round Top and then turned left to head down to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left and walked down the hill to the first trail junction. I noticed that it was a beautiful day with plenty of sun and bright blue skies. The sun was making the snow softer but it was still supporting me well. At the first trail junction I also noticed I was not very tired so I go the idea that we would either hike another figure 8 or simply do the lower or upper loop. We turned around and walked back up the hill to the lookout and continued to follow the lower trail as it turned right at the base of Round Top. It was then that I decided we would hike a figure 8 and we proceeded to do so ending up back at the first trail junction once more. I felt good and Shiela was very happy so we turned around and hiked back up the woods road to start our fourth figure 8! When we once again passed the lookout going downhill, I decided we were done. At the first trail junction I retrieved my snowshoes and decided that wearing them was easier than carrying the, We walked out to the trailhead and turned right to hike down to the church. We hikes across the field and stopped at the edge of the street. I saw no traffic coming and told Sheila "cross"> she charged across the street and waited for me on the other side. I walked across with my snowshoes and then stopped to remove them. I carried them back to the house. We were home at 11:30 Am having spent just under 2 hours hiking just under 4 miles. I find the trail pretty and convenient when I don't want to travel anywhere. It is easy to adjust the length of a hike by simply adding loops or figure 8s.