What You Missed
On Sunday, September 17th, I drove to the Segar trail head intending to hike to the end of the Segar trail and then to Eagle and maybe Big Indian. As I started to walk along the stream it became clear that the water was higher than I had expected due to the recent rains. Several of the crossings of Shandaken Creek and its small tributaries required some agility. The main crossing after the Flat Iron Bridge was too much for me. I backtracked to the bridge and crossed their. I bushwhacked along the opposite side of the brook until I hooked up with the Segar Trail again. The crossing by the before the lean-to was also high and I had to jump the last few feet. I made a mental note that I would have to find a different crossing on the way back. I crossed the brook by the lean-to without a problem and then headed up the steeper part of the trail. Everything was damp and the rocks were slippery. By this time it was clear to me that I was behind schedule! I decided I had worked hard enough for the day and turned around at the point where the Segar Trail meets the Pine Hill West Branch Trail. This is the second time I have been up the Segar Trail this year without climbing the mountains. Next time it will be different!
On Sunday, September 10th, my wife and I headed back to North and South Lake to hike in the opposite direction we had a few weeks ago. I wanted some more pictures. I also wanted to check out the view from the northern vista on North Point. The weather was partly sunny or partly cloudy depending on your point of view. The drive is almost two hours so we decided to leave the dog home. As we were getting ready Sheba, the dog, began to sow signs that she KNEW what was up and that she wanted to go. She is VERY hard to resist so we took her with us. She was very good in the car. When we arrived, we immediately set out on the Rock Shelter trail toward North Point. This trail was pretty wet in spots but navigable. It is rocky and has a lot of roots. I would rather start on the harder tail and end on the easier so this was perfect for me. We turned right on the Mary's Glen trail where it meets rock shelter and made our way to the Escarpment Trail. At this point the climb becomes VERY steep at points and has several areas that require an almost vertical climb. We wondered how Sheba would take these climbs both up and down. We didn't need to worry! Before we could see exactly how she did it, the dog was up and over these areas waiting for us. On the way down she just picks a line and launches herself. Sheba is remarkably good when hiking and will go back to the trail whenever I remind her. She WAS very careful around the many big dropoffs on the Escarpment Trail. We had enough sun to get some pictures from North Point and the Escarpment Trail. Some of the ones of distant landmarks were just too hazy and I deleted them. I took several pictures of the lakes, Badman's Cave and Boulder Rock. I also snapped some of my wife and the dog. We did about eight miles in around 5 and half hours. It was a great days since the temperatures were in the high 60's making the hiking very comfortable. We stopped at Pancho Villa's in Tannersville and had an early supper before we headed home.
On Monday, September 4th, my wife and I wanted to head back to North and South Lake to hike in the opposite direction we had a few weeks ago. I wanted some more pictures. I also wanted to check out the view from the northern vista on North Point. The weather prediction was for partly sunny which would not be the best conditions for pictures. When we woke up, no sun was in site and it looked like the remnants of Hurricane John would be pushing more clouds into the Catskills. We altered our plans, loaded up the SUV with packs and the dog and headed for Hunter Mountain. My wife had never climbed the second highest Catskill peak and I decided to do the ascent from Spruceton which is the easiest way to go. At the trail head we met a group of college students hiking in the Catskills. They seemed to be having a good time even if they didn't quite know where they were. We signed in on the trail register and started hiking. I returned to the car to get the GPS which I had placed on the roof! After catching up with Cindy and Sheba, we began the long but gentle climb up the Old Hunter Road. The road is wide and was dry despite the rain this past week. After about 1.5 miles, we turned right staying on the Spruceton Trail. The ascent is about 1100 feet in 1.7 miles. Some areas are steeper and some areas flatten out. The spring was flowing nicely and we got a quick drink. Just a little father up the trail we paused at the lookout near the trail to the lean-to. Here we met one person who appeared to be part of a group occupying the lean-to. As we walked up the trail we met two more gentlemen coming down the trail toward us. The cloud cover continued to threaten rain but the sun peeked through briefly at times. As the trail flattens near the top of the trail it gets VERY wet and muddy. We did not try the Colonel's Chair trail but did stop at another lookout to the left of the trail. We arrived at the top of the trail to find the tower closed and no other hikers present. Despite the clouds the view from the tower was pretty good revealing several of the most notable Catskill peaks. At this point, we decided to do a loop by heading down the Hunter Trail to the Devil's Path and then back to Westkill. The Hunter Trail was very wet in places with standing water on the flats and rivulets streaming down the inclined areas. We met several groups of two or three hikers on the way down. At the end of the Hunter Trail, we turned right on the Devil's Path and quickly arrived at the Devil's Acre lean-to. A large group was at the lean-to and it may have been the same group that we met at the trail head! I pointed out the bed of the old cog railway to my wife and showed her the way to Southwest Hunter. The area near the lean-to alternated between muddy marsh and flowing water. What I forgot about the Devil's Path loop is its length (long) and the fact that it rises and fall several times before the final descent to Diamond Notch Falls. Along the way we met several more small groups of hikers. The trail was wet, steep in places, and very rocky. This was the first place that we encountered nettles. Someone had done an excellent job of beating them back on both sides of the trail so that they were not really a factor. At this point I, my wife AND the dog were getting tired! Soon we were at the falls and we met another couple who had come over from Diamond Notch. They were in search of a lookout and I explain that Buck Ridge near the top of Westkill was the best bet. Since it was 3;)0 PM and the clouds were continuing to roll in, I think they decided to come back another day. The trip down to the Westkill trail head was short and relatively easy. From here we walked about .5 miles back to the car. The dog slept on the back seat most of the way home!
On Saturday, September 2nd, I was back at Trout Pond. Hurricane Ernesto had turned out to be Tropical Annoyance Ernestito bring a SMALL amount of rain but some pretty strong gusts of wind. I parked at the lot on Morton Hill Rd since I like the short hike down to the trail head passed the falls! The road has been repaired as far as the trail head parking and is in good shape. At this point a large pile of dirt completely blocks the way! As I started the hike a large tree branch broke off in a gust and fell along side the road just ahead of me. I decided to continue but kept a watch on some of the overhanging limbs whenever the wind picked up. There were 6 or 7 cars at the trail head parking. One group was camped at the old camping area and another just to the right of the trail register. The biggest group was camped on the trail to Mud Pond just to the left of the register. They were VERY load and were using a chainsaw! I tried to ignore them. The trail up to Trout was not as wet as on Thursday. Trout is still high due to the work of some very energetic beavers at the outlet. I was hiking pretty fast at this point and continued at the same pace around the other side. The inlet to Trout was easy to cross and there was very little water on the return journey. I didn't know how high Russell Brook would be at the lower end so I decided to turn left at Mud Pond and return to the register. The campers were having a GREAT time but they were still using the chainsaw. Back at the trail head parking I headed down Russell Brook Road to see how it had fared. Shortly after the parking area the road is COMPLETELY eroded with a very deep gash. I climbed down into this gash to the stream and then found a way up the other side. I continued on and noticed that the stream was getting higher and faster as I went on. This is due to all the drainage and small feeder streams that come in from everywhere. At the culvert the stream was so wide and deep that I chose to turn around. I walked up and down the stream looking for a way across but I couldn't find any. I hiked back up to the car. The five mile plus hike took just under 3 hours.
On Thursday, August 31th, my dog, Sheba, and I headed for Trout Pond. We got a late start due to the fact that an ambulance call came in just as I was about to leave the house. By the time I got back, I decided that a hike was still in order but that I would just do the loop around Trout Pond. The dog is ALWAYS more than ready to go so there was no problem hiking at a rapid pace. We went clockwise, heading for Mud Pond on the way out. This may be the more challenging direction since the uphill starts immediately without much time to warm up. The trail was wet in spot but I avoided most of them while Sheba splashed right through. The creek at the inlet to Trout was higher than it had been in a while but crossing was no problem even though the bridge is still missing. We saw a few people near the parking area but after that the trail was ours. We finished over 4 miles in under 1.5 hours!
On Wednesday, August 30th, I started for Alder Lake under cloudy conditions. Once again, by the time I reached the parking area the skies were clearing on the sun was peaking out. I got a late start and had a meeting at night so I was determined to hike quickly with a minimum of stops. Some heavy rain the day and night before made the ground wet for the first time this summer. In fact, things were wetter than I expected! There was standing water wherever the ground was flat for any distance. Some of these puddles were pretty wide. Also, the rain spurred the growth of plants lining the trail especially the nettles. Some of these nettles were VERY AGGRESSIVE. One plant came out of nowhere and attacked my right knee early in the hike setting the tone for the rest of the walk. It was simply impossible to avoid getting wet from the moisture on the undergrowth or the water pooled on the ground. A lot of water was going over the Alder Lake dam and a lot was flowing down Alder Creek into the lake. Still, I had a great time on the hike. The trail has been cleared of all blowdowns and new yellow trail markers have been placed. This made hiking the trail a pleasure compared to the last time when I monetarily got lost! Whoever did the work on this trail deserves a lot of credit! The view from the Ridge Vista was nice but would have been nicer without the clouds and the haze. It is hard to see the monastery because of the foliage on the trees. Most other views along the trail were also blocked. I finished the 8 mile hike is just about 4 hours.
On Monday, August 29th, I decided to try hiking to Table and Peekamoose Mountains from the Denning parking area. I had never tried this before so I was up for something new. I was a little worried about the bridge (or lack of one) across the East Branch of the Neversink River. I had heard that it was washed away and had not been replaced. I was hoping to find a way to cross if the bridge was not there. Recent rains made this choice questionable! When I parked there was only one other car in the parking area. The young lady by the car said she was park of the Adirondack Mountain Club maintenance team that was going to rebuild the bridge. She, too, had heard that it had washed away in the June floods. I headed out wondering what I would find. After about 1.5 miles, I was at the river and the two logs that made up the bridge were still there! They were precariously placed but still serviceable. I crossed easily and headed up the trail. Along the way there are several places where you must ascend a hill and then descend the other side. I do NOT like this. When I start UP, I want to go UP! Just after 300 feet there is a nice lookout to the south. When I left home, the sky was overcast and it looked like it might rain. When I got to the parking area, things looked even worse. I was glad I left the camera home. When I got to the lookout, the sky had cleared and there was some sun. I was sorry I left the camera home. At 3500 feet there is a spring on the left which was nearly dry. The lean-to is to the right just beyond the spring. A little further on is a short spur trail to the right. This leads to a small rock overhang with another nice view to the south. The climb was pretty steep for the next .2 miles to the summit of Table. I had intended to turn around here since the sky was now darkening. Being on the top of these mountains in a lightning storm is scary. I made a quick decision to fast hike the .85 miles to Peekamoose. The descent into the col is short and not too steep and the corresponding ascent on the other side is about the same. I got to the big rock on the top of Peekamoose and went just a little farther to make sure I got the summit. As I returned, I wondered if I would find the team working on the bridge. When I got to the river, they had not yet arrived and I wondered if they were going to be coming today at all. As I hiked back on the Phoenicia East Branch trail, I met the team carrying their equipment. They were loaded down with picks, shovels, saws and camping gear. Each of the 5 or 6 team members seemed to be carrying 80 pounds. I want to go back soon and inspect the work they do. They seemed to have enough equipment to build a two-lane suspension bridge. I hiked around 9 miles in 4 and a half hours.
On Saturday, August 26th, my wife and I decided to brave the heavy mist and light rain and take Sheba to Giant Ledge. My wife had never hiked there either. The temperature was only in the 60's and a heavy mist was in the air when we started on the trail. We met about 15 people on the hike which seemed above average for the conditions. At Giant Ledge there was no view. It appeared that we were encompassed by a large white cloud. At this point we continued on toward Panther but decided to turn around. The wind was blowing and heavier rain looked imminent. By the time we returned to the car the weather appeared to be clearing in spots.
On Wednesday, August 23rd, I headed for the beginning of the Devil's Path on Prediger Rd. This was the first time I had started here to do the Indian Head and Twin Mountain "loop". The weather was partly cloudy and I was worried the rain would arrive before the predicted time. This didn't stop me from continuing to learn more about the new camera by taking a lot of pictures!
On Tuesday, August 22nd, my wife and I decided to take the dog and go to Long Pond. We had a nice quiet hike since the Sheba is really getting used to hiking. We did see two men who didn't know that the lean-to is now on the other side of the pond!
On Monday, August 21st, I decided to try hiking Balsam Lake Mt from the Millbrook trail head. I had never tried this before and wanted to see how different it was. I did expect to see anyone on a quick hike up and down Balsam Lake. By the time I was done I had seen 10 people, some more than once. I also did the complete loop of Balsam Lake Mt and threw in Graham Mt!
On Thursday, August 17th, my wife and I decided to take the dog and go to Trout Pond. My daughter, Krista, and son, Kurt, accompanied us. This time I drove down to the trail head on the repaired portion of Russell Brook Road. We did the loop around Trout in a counterclockwise direction. Sheba proved again that she likes to take long walks and is NOT afraid of the water. She even got to swim a little this time with an assist from Kurt. This was a nice family outing. We did meet a group completing their hike as we were starting. As we were finishing we met another family doing the hike in the opposite direction.
On Monday, August 14th, I wanted to take a quick hike after school. I hadn't been up Balsam Lake Mountain in a while so I headed in that direction. The weather was warm but dry and the sky was nearly cloudless. I went up the steep side and did the loop. I met one group on the ascent and another during a brief stop at the tower. I completed the hike in a little over and hour and a half!
On Saturday, August 12th, my wife and I decided to head north to the North and South Lake Campgrounds. We wanted to hike the Escarpment Trail since all descriptions included phrases like "spectacular views of the Hudson" and "breathtaking views of Palenville". We parked at the Schutt Road parking area just before the campgrounds avoiding the $6 day use fee. This almost a 2 hour drive for us and we didn't arrive until after eleven. The parking area was almost full with more cars arriving as we parked. Being around large, noisy groups of people is not out favorite thing so we immediately headed across Schutt Rd to the beginning of the Escarpment Trail. We hike the trail in a counterclockwise direction and the views were everything that were purported to be. We met many different hikers and groups of hikers. Few were doing the entire trail and many were camping for several days.
On Thursday, August 10th, My daughter and I decided to go for a walk AND take our dog, Sheba. Sheba had never been for more than a walk around the block so we wondered how she would handle a 5 mile hike. We decided to go to Long Pond since the terrain isn't too challenging and there aren't many people. We parked a the trail head, signed the register and took off. For most of the hike we allowed Sheba to run free. She never got too far away and usually remained on the trail. She did decide to jump in the black mud at the Pond before either of us could stop her. We also found that she doesn't mind being IN THE WATER as long as the water isn't in the bathtub at home. By the time we headed down Flugertown Rd it was obvious that Sheba was getting tired. Overall, it was so much fun we will try it again.
On Tuesday, August 8th, I decided to find the highest point in Sullivan County. This used to be listed as Denman Mountain in Grahamsville. More recent maps list the high point as the southwest shoulder of Mongaup Mountain. This area is just northeast of Hodge Pond so I headed up the DeBruce Road and parked a the Frick Pond Parking Area. I took the Flynn Trail from the parking area to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and then continued toward Hodge Pond until the point where a jeep trail veers off to the right. I had never taken this trail before and was surprised to see that it continued on up the mountain. I decided to follow it rather than bushwhack the whole way. Near the top of the mountain the trail levels off and starts to disappear. At this point there was still ore "up" to go so I head off into the woods on a bushwhack. I quickly arrived at the flat area that makes up the top of the mountain. Several trails and herd paths aided my brief climb. There is no marker at the high point so I wandered around for a while covering most of the area at the top. I decided that I was as high as I could get so I started down again until I rejoined the jeep trail. As I descended I turned right on a trail that I knew would bring me out a the outlet of Hodge Pond. From here I picked up the Flynn Trail west until it ended. I picked up the Quick Lake and briefly headed west toward Quick Lake. I decided this was going to be too much hiking and doubled back to the end of the Flynn Trail and took the Quick Lake Trail back to Frick Pond and the parking area. I covered the 7.5 miles in just over 3 hours including the bushwhack.
On Sunday, August 6th, I headed up the Beaverkill Rd to the parking area for the Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail. I quickly signed in to the register and walked down to the Beaverkill. People had described the bridge to me but I really hadn't understood! The bridge here is a steel cable suspension bridge with wooden decking. It is truly amazing to find this structure in this area. The river is low enough that could spot several ways to pick my way across but I HAD to try the bridge. It does sway some and some of the decking is showing its age. After taking some pictures of the bridge I began the short but steep ascent up to the Beaverkill Ridge. Just at the beginning of this ascent I noticed some movement on the trail ahead. A sow and her cub moved across the only twenty feet in front of me. Since they seemed to be moving off, I decided to continue on. The climb to the ridge is challenging with the maximum elevation being about 3200 feet! Once on the ridge the walk is a little easier but there are several undulations along the way. The trail can be VERY frustrating at times for several reasons. Some areas seem well traveled and are marked with blue trail markers. Other areas are seemingly devoid of markings and seem untouched. More annoying is the lack of any views. I walked off the trail several times toward promising areas only to find trees blocking the view. One area did offer a view to the east through some trees. As I continued on, I came to the point where the red marked Long Pond trail heads off to the south and east. You could easily miss this junction since there are no signs of any kind! After this, the trail descend some and then ascends the east peak of Mongaup Mountain. Following this peak there is a significant drop before the trail climbs Middle Mongaup Mountain. At the top of this peak a short bushwhack would allow the ascent of the main peak on Mongaup Mountain. I decided to leave this for another day and stay on the main trail. The trail descends from the Mongaup Mountain ridge to the state campgrounds around Mongaup Pond. I walked to the gatehouse where I had another car waiting. The hike was about 7 miles and took around three hours. This seemed slow to me but there is over 2000 feet of ascending and descending an I stopped to take a lot of pictures!
On Wednesday, August 2nd, I had almost decided to take a rest. A little after 4:00 PM, I began to feel like a slug so I went to Willowemoc for a quick walk. I had not been to Long Pond in may years so I decided a quick trip was in order. I parked at the first parking area on Flugertown Rd. From here a wide snowmobile trail leads to several different options. This trail makes a quick ascent from the parking lot and then levels off. The trail was mostly dry with some soggy areas on the flat parts at the top. Along the way the pond is clearly visible, so I took a short side trip to take a look. This is definitely a pond with lily pads and frogs! At the T, I turned right and went toward the spur trail to the lean-to. I made another right onto the spur trail and walk to the lean-to. There isn't too much to see there and no real view of the pond. I was running late so I returned the way I came to the T. Here I walked straight ahead toward the upper end of Flugertown Rd. Several wide bridges cross Willowemoc Creek near the end of the trail. From the T to the road is mostly downhill. Once on the road it is about 1.5 miles back to the car. I was anxious to get back so I cinched down the pack and ran most of the way!
On Tuesday, August 1st, I decided to take that the weather was so hot that I had to hike. I went to Trout Pond for a quick walk. The air temperature was 97 with a heat index of 106. I parked at the upper lot and walked down to the trail head parking. At this point I noticed a bulldozer near the parking lot. The trail up to the pond has been very rocky and uneven from the heavy rains at the end of June. The bulldozer had been used to smooth out the path all the way to the first lean-to! I am glad that the State is trying to improve the area. However, where there was once an uneven trail that drained the water very nicely there is now loose dirt. I am afraid that this combination may result in a LOT of mud and perhaps further erosion when it rains again. As I walked around the lake I also noticed that ALL the blow down, large and small had been cleared which made walking that much easier. As I reached the turning point to go around Mud Pond, the weather started to blow up and the skies looked a little dark. I decided to return to the car and made a left. The trail on the other side of Trout had also been "groomed" using the bulldozer. The bridge over the brook near the register box is showing some wear. The bridge at the inlet has been pulled out of the pond but is in pieces. I hope the State replaces both bridges as part of their upgrade project.
On Saturday, July 29th, I decided to take on the bushwhack to Doubletop from the Big Indian Trail. The other times I have been up Doubletop were from other directions and I was with someone who led the hike. I wanted to do it myself! I started at 9:45 AM under sunny skies with only a few clouds. The temperatures were in the mid to high 80's but the humidity was VERY high. It wasn't long before I was soaked! The 3.3 mile trip up the Big Indian trail was uneventful. The crossing of Biscuit Creek after the lean-to was easy since the water is VERY low. In fact, all the other small streams were basically dry. When the Big Indian Trail swings to the right, I decided to go straight ahead toward the Col between the Big Indian ridge and Doubletop. I used my GPS extensively since views of Doubletop are few. My first view was when I was almost at the bottom of the Col and Doubletop was looming over me promising a difficult if short climb. The descent into the Col had some steep places and I made a note that I would have to ascend these same slopes to get back to the car. The approach to Doubletop from this direction is truly difficult. Some areas are steep and all are overgrown with thick underbrush. Herd paths up the slopes quickly disappear. There are at least three areas where I ran into cliffs! They aren't very high but they are steep. Fortunately, all can be negotiated by climbing over, through or around them. Once at the top I found the familiar heard path and followed it to the canister without much difficulty. As I retraced my steps I met four Canadians from Quebec. They were camping at Woodland Valley for six days with the intention of finishing the Catskill peaks. Their trip on this day included Fir, Big Indian, Doubletop, Eagle and Balsam. They are part of the Keds Backpacking Team. Check out their website at www.kedsbackpacking.ca The site has over 3500 pictures of their hiking adventures. They also said that they got valuable information from a new website, CATSKILLHIKER.COM! I introduced myself as the webmaster and they gave me their card and took a picture. As I descended further I met Jim and Jim from Queens and Long Island. We came to the conclusion we had met before, probably on Panther this past winter. I made a few mistakes on the way back thinking I was finding a better route! The descent of Doubletop wasn't too bad BUT the ascent up to the Big Indian trail was brutal. I was tired! I was going to attempt Big Indian but I have been there several times and some thunderstorms were rolling in! I got back to the car at 6:15 PM after hiking 8 and a half hours! Just as I pulled out of the parking lot the heavy rains began.
On Wednesday, July 26th, my son Karl and I decided to take a quick walk somewhere. I chose the Frick - Hodge Pond area since Karl had never been there. The area is pretty flat so the hiking is fast. We covered 6 miles in just over two and a half hours. This included some time to break in a new GPS (Explorist 400) and to stop at both ponds. Our biggest annoyance were the HORDES of mosquitoes that followed us until we gained some elevation on the Flynn Trail near Hodge Pond! These MANEATERS were determined to feed despite citronella balm and industrial strength DEET!
On Sunday, July 23rd, my son Karl and I decided to do the complete Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide loop. This was my a "present" in honor of my 54th birthday! We parked at the Panther parking area on County Route 47. From here we walked over to Woodland Valley which is "only" 3.5 miles. The steep climb just before Woodland Valley was a warmup for the real challenge ahead. There was a little rain in the air as we reached Woodland Valley but this soon cleared. The climb up Wittenberg is always long with some stretches that get tedious. Still, there are enough scrambles and steep areas to make it interesting. We met a few other hikers on the way. As we neared the summit of Wittenberg we heard quite a few voices! There was a large group at the top relaxing and stir frying their lunch. Although Karl had climbed Wittenberg several times before, this was the first time he was able to get a good view. The mist had cleared and the view was spectacular! We didn't stay long before we headed on to Cornell. The view from Cornell on the side trail to the lookout was as nice as I had ever seen it. The ascent up Cornell has several short, steep climbs that I really enjoy. We had to really hurry and by this time we were getting a little tired. The walk between Cornell and Slide is long. Fortunately, there are several scrambles going up to the spring on Slide that are challenging. Surprisingly, the spring on Slide was nearly dry despite recent storms. I was glad we had brought enough water. After the climb up the stairs and over several rock scrambles we were at the summit. It was about 4:30 PM and no one else was there! We hurried down the other side of Slide. With about .7 miles to go, Karl ran ahead to the parking area on CR 47 and then to the Panther parking area to get the car. I hurried down as fast as I could! It only had to wait about 10 minutes at the parking area until Karl arrived with the car. He covered the 2 miles on the road in under 15 minutes after a 14 mile hike! I guess it pays to be 27!
On Thursday, July 20th, I headed for the Westkill area with my son Karl and his fiancee, Kathleen, and my daughter, Krista. We hiked to Diamond Notch Falls and beyond and then turned around and walked up the horse trail toward Hunter. It was a relaxing hike and we really enjoyed each others company.
On Monday, July 17th, I headed for Big Pond to hike over to Little Pond. My route included a detour to Cabot Mt. This was not meant to be too long or hard since I knew the heat index might be hovering near 100. I forgot that Touch-Me-Not Mt has several steep but short portions. What I did not know was that Cabot Mt. has even steeper parts and they are longer. In addition, the nettles were out in all their glory. The view from the Beaverkill Vista on Cabot Mt. was well worth the climb! At Little Pond Campgrounds I decided to head back on the roads. The distance is about the same but there aren't any nettles!
On Sunday, July 16th, I headed for the Segar trail head with three other people. My intention was to do a loop that included Doubletop and Big Indian. By the time we got to the Pine Hill West Branch trail several of the others in the group were too tired to continue. People often ask me why I hike by myself. This is one reason. I intend to get this hike done in one direction or the other. I want to leave enough time to do the complete loop so I may have to postpone this to a weekend.
On Sunday, July 9th, my wife and I headed to Trout Pond, one of our favorite hikes. The trail was drier than on Thursday and several other cars were parked at the trail head.
On Saturday, July 8th, I headed to the Denning trail head to hike Slide Mt. I got a late start in the early afternoon. I knew the hike was long (10+ miles) but forgot how tiring walking over the "stones of Slide Mt." can be. The weather was beautiful and just a little cooler than the forecast which was fine with me. The trails in Ulster and Greene counties are still much drier than in Sullivan. This trail was as dry as I have seen it in some time and I had no problems crossing the small streams or avoiding the mud.
On Thursday, July 6th, I headed to the Trout Pond area for a quick hike after Summer School. I didn't know that there were surprises waiting for me! Morton Hill Road was much the worse for wear from the recent heavy rain and flooding. However, the parking area near Russell Brook Road had been expended to about three times its previous size. I parked and my next surprise was the condition of Russell Brook Road. The road has been filled in and is easily passable by car up to the trail head parking area. At this point there is a LARGE dirt pile with a ROAD CLOSED sign. I found out why this sign was here later in the hike.
On Monday, July 3rd, I headed to the Northern Catskills. I wanted to try climbing Blackhead and Black Dome from the east which I had never done before. Several people told me that this is the steepest approach with several rock scrambles. This is the kind of hike I like the most but I didn't know what I was in for.
On Saturday, July 1st, my wife and I decided to get away and take a relaxing(?) hike. We both wanted something not to far away, not too long and not two mountainous. We chose to park at the Frick Pond Parking area and do a loop to Frick Pond, Hodge Pond and Mongaup Pond where our daughter works. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the low 70's. The hike was a little longer than we expect covering about 7.5 miles.
On Friday, June 30th, I decided I needed to get away from Livingston Manor and the aftermath of the flooding. I decided to climb Panther Mt. the long way and headed for Fox Hollow. I was surprised that Ulster County had none of the flooding we saw in Sullivan. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the low 70. I parked at the trailhead and began what turned out to be a six hour hike.