Saturday, March 12, 2011

Adventure hike in the Catskills

A rare weekend of no travel and no visitors - I guess I should focus on running errands. But first, a bit of training in the Catskills hills with some weight in my pack. Or I should say, "weights", as I schlepped a couple of dumbbell disks around for a few hours.

I started on the eastern end of the northern mountains this time, and the first parking lot was flooded so I drove further up to find the next parking lot near a huge waterfall. Couldn't pass that up!

Here is the lower falls on the way up to Kaaterskill Falls - tons of snow melt today, awesome (both in the thundering water and in the fact that the SNOW is MELTING):


A half mile up the trail I found Kaaterskill Falls, apparently one of the oldest tourist attractions in America (way before the giant ball of twine, for example):


A failed selfie (except for the part where I got myself in the frame), although I did manage to include a fellow hiker scrambling down to help me with a better shot:


Much better! Thanks dude! I returned the favor, hopefully their picture turned out as good:


From there I was stuck either returning to the car to drive further up the road (yeah right), or heading straight up the side of the hill to a trail 250 ft higher in elevation. That was an interesting challenging involving kicking steps in the crusty snow, hugging trees, and following a tiny stream where the rocks were exposed for better footing. Fun!

The flat trail at the top:


I circled around to the top of South Mountain, where I came across these large tracks that made me stop and say "WTF?" out loud... the photo isn't great (mostly flat lighting today), and I should have put my palm next to the prints for reference. Trust me, they were large (3-4") and seemingly completely out of place after the small canine and rabbit prints I had been seeing.


I decided they were "snipe" tracks, from the movie "Up". I kept my camera out just in case a large Kevin-looking bird was wandering around in the woods. I thought that was a joke, but the joke was on me - I came home and found the photo in this link. OK, so it's still probably not a snipe, perhaps turkey vulture or sage grouse. But it was still highly perplexing at the time.

Chipmunk Highway (didn't get a shot of the chipmunk scurrying across, but that's how I knew how to label this):


Interesting rock wall:


The trail - yeah, we're closing in on mud season next:


Lots of pretty running water today:



Look! A trail with no snow or water on it:


A couple of pretty views along the Escarpment Trail high above the road:



More pretty running water:


Sure, I'd put the trail through here too. A bit of New York-style "Geology Rocks":


The Layman Monument, for a firefighter who died fighting a forest fire in this spot:


The trip down the side of the hill was equally entertaining, including the use of a short rope for some pseudo-rappels from tree to tree. The Yak Trax were nice, but crampons would have been better. The rope was a perfectly good (just slower) stand-in. I told John that either he would have been proud of me or laughing at the absurdity.

One last photo of the lower falls, for good measure:


What a fun adventure! Next up: John rolls into town via Amtrak this week, yay!

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