What You Missed
On Tuesday, June 20th, I got up and found partly cloudy skies but checked the forecast and found no rain predicted. This would be the first day with no heavy rains since Sunday and I wanted to hike another 3500 foot peak. The temperatures were supposed to be in the low to mid 70's which was much better than the previous week. I slept a little later than usual and didn't get started until about 9:00 AM. I decided Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain would be a good destination. I had two cell phone apps that help spot the peaks you are viewing and this would give me a good chance to try them out. Panther Mountain itself has limited views but to get there from Route 47 the trail passes over Giant ledge which was a great view of Panther Mountain, the entire Burroughs Range and the valleys below. When I left home the temperature was still in the mid 60's but I knew this would rise on the hike. I drove out the DeBruce Road and eventually passed Round Pond. At the end of the road, I turned left on Route 47 and drove passed Frost Valley. There were three cars parked at the Biscuit Brook trailhead and about six at the Slide Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the parking area on Route 47 at 9:40 AM to find only one other car parked there. Sheila and I got started pretty quickly by crossing the road and headed out on the trail. The trail was pretty wet from the rains the previous few days and there were definitely areas of deep mud. I let Sheila off the leash almost immediately after crossing the road and she was behaving by staying on the trail. As we crossed the bridge over the small stream, there was less no water running in the stream than I had expected. Sheila and I kept up a good pace but I forgot how annoying the many rocks that cover the trail to the turnoff can be! In addition, there are several short climbs and each one seems to be the last. Despite the fact that I had been hiking, I noticed that making good time up the climbs was tiring although I enjoyed the elevation gain. We finished the sixth short climb and arrived at the turn to Giant Ledge and Panther at about 10:15 AM. I didn't feel like we were going slow but it took 40 minutes to walk the .75 miles from the road, one of our slower times. I had problems with my new Suunto Traverse GPS watch the day before but it seemed to be recording my track correctly. I also had my Garmin GPSmap 64st and the Avenza app on my iPhone. It surprises me that there is a significant difference in the tracks recorded by each device.
The trail after the turn was also wet and muddy in spots but we made use of the stepping stones along the way. When the climb began we pushed the pace. We climbed up the last rocky ascent and walked to the first lookout arriving at about 10:45 AM after the 1.5 mile climb. I got out my camera to take some pictures as the skies were mostly clear and full of puffy white clouds. I took variety of pictures and then got out my iPhone to test out the Peak Finder and Peakvisor apps. Both apps produce an outline of the peaks visible from your viewpoint by using the GPS coordinates and compass heading of your phone. Peak Finder seemed to be a little office can be due to the inaccuracies of the GPS system and the compass declination. Peakvisor produces a transparent outline which it overlays on the view from your camera. The overlay can be adjusted so that it matches the view more accurately. Both apps need some instructions and a way to filter out peaks of certain heights and distances. They both showed Mount Frisell, the highest point in Connecticut, which is out there somewhere but certainly too far away to see! I liked Peakvisor a little better. I found that the :bump" visible between Slide and Cornell in Friday. As I suspected the most prominent peaks from Panther eastward are those found on the Devil's pat. The database for these apps must be pretty big because many smaller hills were listed. We got a drink and were ready to leave when I could hear another hi9ker approaching with at least one dog. The dog was barking and being admonished by the owner. I am glad Sheila behaved herself. I put Sheila on her leash and we left the first lookout to get bacon the trail along the ledges. Sheila is fearless about heights and sometimes scares me a little when she walks right to the edge of the cliffs and looks down! As we hiked along the ledges, I resisted the urge to stop at the other views on the way out. Sheila walked to the edge of most of the lookouts. At one she was standing looking around when a hawk dove at her with a screech. The bird came within six feet of Sheila as I stepped out to discourage it! We continued on the main trail and the hawk continued to swoop by making a lot of noise. At one point it perched in a tree still scolding us and I was able to get a picture. We descended into the col between Giant Ledge and Panther, walked flat for a little while and then started the climb up Panther. Parts of the Panther trail get a little steep at times but there always seems to be a switchback or flatter area. The trail was mostly dry with a few muddy spots and some slippery rocks. The wind had stared to blow and through the trees I could see a few dark clouds in the hue sky. I hoped the forecast that included a 7% chance of rain would hold. Sheila and I continued up the trail with Sheila checking out some of the paths that lead to limited viewpoints along the way. We stopped at one and walked out to a rock which had a good view of Giant Ledge and Slide with only a few small trees in the way. I took some pictures before we went back to the main trail. We were soon up the steeper climbs with only a final, short ascent of Panther to go. We met one male hiker coming down from Panther and I assumed he was the owner of the car that had parked before us. We said "hello" and continued in opposite directions. We arrived at the summit of Panther at 12:00 PM after hiking 3.2 miles. The view from the summit is limited but somewhat better than during our last visit. I took a couple of shots of the scenery and a few of Sheila by my pack. We walked back to the viewpoint just below the summit and ascended the rock which acts as the lookout. I took a few shots of the scenery and again experimented with the phone apps. I could hear some more hikers coming up the trail as they were much louder than they needed to be. I was surprised that it was three adults including and older man and a young couple. They decided to jump right up where I was so I knew it was time to leave. Sheila was being pretty good about the company but I didn't want to press my luck. I packed up and Sheila and I got back on the trail. Sheila was very energetic as we turned back as if she knew that we would be going down the mountain.
We met no one on the trail as we descended Panther. I tried to keep a good pace but found the descent almost as difficult as the climb up! When we had finally made the ascent to Giant Ledge we could hear hikers approaching from in front of us. I stopped at one of the lookouts to take a few more pictures before getting back on the main trail. We met a group of four young people hiking and visiting the various lookouts. I didn't know it at the time but these would be the first of MANY small groups and individuals we would meet on the way back to the car. We passed this group and met another near the last lookout. We continued along the trail and I could see that the first lookout had a few people. We finally got to the descent off the Ledge and I could see a young couple ahead of us. They seemed to be about our speed so I decided to let them pull us along. Sheila and I made our way down the rocks and continued down the main trail. We kept meeting small groups of people headed up to the ledges and a few had dogs. Each time I would direct Sheila off the trail and have her sit until others had passed us. This slowed us down a little each time compared to the couple we were following but each time we would catch up. Just after as we made the turn to get back to the car we met a middle-aged couple working their way up through the rocks. As we neared the bridge over the small stream, we met a woman with a dog and Sheila "made friends" before we continued on. As soon as we neared the bridge Sheila ran toward the stream and jumped in to cool herself and get a drink. I let her have a few minutes before calling her back up to the trail. We walked out to near the trail register where I out her on her leash. We walked out to the road and crossed to the parking lot which was now full. We were back at the car at 2:05 PM having covered 6.25 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes including numerous stops. The elevation gain was 2150 feet. When I got home, I downloaded the track from the Suunto Traverse watch, my Garmin 64st and the Avenza app on the cell phone found they were very close but slightly different.
On Thursday, June 15th I decided I wanted to mark the upper trail on Round Top with paint blazes. I had gone to the local hardware store on Wednesday to get a bright paint color for the blazes. We had used yellow for the lower trail and I wanted blue for the upper trail. The premixed blues wee all too dark so the owner mixed me a quart of Vermont Sky Blue which turned out to be perfect. By the time Cindy and I got home it was already well into the afternoon. Cindy agreed to go with me which was necessary since it is much easier to blaze with two people. We got our gear in the car and drove across the street. We drove up to the top of the cemetery and parked the car to start our walk at about 1:30 PM. Sheila was with us as she tends to stay out of the way and within a reasonable distance. We brought both colors of paint in sealed plastic containers and several sponge "brushes" which are perfect for painting blazes. We also brought the machete and a Silky saw as there was some clearing to do. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles. We walked into the forest and at the first trail junction we turned right and started up the more gentle slope of the trail. When the lower trail made a sharp left, we continued straight ahead on the newly created upper trail. I painted a triangle of three separate blazes on a prominent tree to indicate the start of the new upper trail. As we walked up the trail we removed most of the green ribbons and Cindy told me where to paint the blazes. I made sure to put a mark on both sides of the trees she picked. There were a few branches to remove but not many. At the top the trail turns right so I painted blazes to indicate the turn on both sides of a large tree. Within a few feet the trail turns left and the tree I wanted to paint was obscured by brush from the other direction. I cut away the brush with the machete but found a large limb was still in the way. The limb was dead and had another resting on it. The limb was larger in diameter than my forearm and I did not feel like going back down the hill for the saw. I started to chop the branch with the machete and found very effective! It didn't take long until I had cut through the limb and it came down along with the one leaning on it. I pulled both of them off the trail and then painted the "turn" blazes on both sides of the tree. Cindy had already picked out another tree farther up the trail. The trail turned left here so I cut some brush away from the tree and then painted the blazes to indicate the turn. After a few more blazes, we were on the far side of the summit where the trail descends the other side of the hill. The trail turns left here again so I painted some more blazes. The rest of the way down the hill I pit blazes where Cindy showed me to and cleared a few branches. When we reached the bottom, we placed blazes straight ahead even though the ribbons showed a turn to the left. I had decided it was simpler to go straight ahead as it matched the other end of the trail. The last bale I painted was a triangle of three blazes indicating the start of the trail. Cindy went to retrieve the equipment we had left at the other end. I got busy clearing the short stretch of trail that was not cleared. I also threw the branches I had cleared before onto the cleared path which was no longer part of the trail. I cut a few dead saplings and added them to the pile to help indicate what was not part of the path. At this point we were pretty much done so we headed toward the lookout on the lower trail. We had yellow paint with us to touch up the blazes on the lower trail but they were all in good shape. At the lookout we turned left and followed the yellow blazes down to the first trail junction and out to the car at the trailhead. We had spent about 2 hours working on the trail. Some work still needs to be done including raking some leave off the trail near the viewpoint, whacking some leaves and clearing some blanches near the trailhead.
On Wednesday, June 14th, I wanted to hike a 3500 foot peak and decided on Balsam Lake Mountain. I had a doctor's appointment in the morning so I could not get started until 10:00 AM. The temperature was supposed to rise into the mid to high 70's so I wore a light baselayer and only a light top. We left Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM and drove toward Roscoe on Old Rt 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. The sky was almost cloudless as we drove through Lew Beach although the temperature was only reading in the mid 60's! We passed the Buddhist monastery and continued on toward the trailhead. There were a few places where the road which had narrowed was now a little wider than the last time I had been to Balsam Lake Mountain. We arrived at the parking area and found only one other cars in the lot. The temperature was 64 degrees and the sun was shining with a slight breeze. We were on the trail at 10:50 AM heading toward the first trail junction where I intended to turn left and hike up the steep side of the mountain. As we walked up the trail I noticed several trees hanging over the trail and although they seemed safe I would prefer that they were gone. The trail was wet and muddy in places and I assumed that the rain we did not get in Livingston Manor had fallen in this area. There were also a few across the trail that had been partially cleared but some more work needs to be done. We made the trail junction at .9 miles by 11:15 AM and turned left up the mountain without stopping. I had decided to take my time since I had not hiked a trail this steep in some time. This first part of the trail is a gentle climb and I was feeling pretty good without stopping to rest. Over the next half mile the trail gains about 750 feet before leveling off which means an average of around a 28% grade! I decided to stop a few times so that I could catch my breath but the pace was pretty fast and the stops were short. Despite the grade, the hike seemed to go pretty quickly and we were soon passing the spur trail to the lean-to. We passed the 3500 foot sign and were soon at the spring. I encouraged Sheila to take a drink but she seemed uninterested. We walked up the stone steps to the summit plateau and continued on toward the fire tower. As we approached the tower, a dog suddenly appeared on the trail. We could hear the owners calling from behind but the dog kept coming toward us. I grabbed Sheila and took her to the side of the trail. The other dog sniffed Sheila and Sheila sniffed back but they both seemed friendly toward each other. A young man and a young woman approached. They said they had camped overnight and were now hiking out. After a brief conversation, we went our separate ways.
We arrived at the tower clearing at 12:05 PM after hiking 1.7 miles and found an older male hiker wandering around the summit looking fro a cell signal. I leashed Sheila to a small tree and walked over to the picnic table. I got out a water bottle and Sheila's bowl. I walked back to Sheila and gave her a drink and drank more than half the bottle. I grabbed my camera and started up the tower. I could tell as soon as I was above the tree line as the breeze picked up considerably. I ascended to the highest landing just below the cab. I took pictures in all direction but the landscape was mostly green with out much of a break. After taking a few pictures, I descended the tower and walked back toward the picnic table. I said "Hello" to the other hiker and we had a short conversation. I packed up my camera and walked over to Sheila. I unleashed her and told her "Trail". We walked down the trail on the other side of the mountain passing the cabin. Walking down the mountain seemed MUCH easier than the climb up the other side. Soon we were approaching the junction with the trail that connects Millbrook Road to the Beaverkill Road. There is a gate at the bottom of the trail and just after this gate is the trail junction. We turned right at the trail junction to start back toward the car. The trail is a little rough to begin with but it is a descent. It appeared as if someone had been clearing the trail which made the hiking much easier. We arrived at the first trail junction and continued on toward the car by retracing our steps. We were back in the parking area at 1:15 PM after hiking 4.3 miles and climbing 1200 feet in elevation. I was happy to have hiked a 3500 foot peak but it made me realize I need to hike a few more! The other car was still in the parking Lothian surprised me as I thought it belonged to the young couple who would have been ahead of us!
On Tuesday, June 13th, I wanted to get in a hike in the morning since thunderstorms were predicted for around noon. The forecast for the rest of the week also called for the possibility storms which I knew might limit my hiking. I decided that I needed a hike close to home but wanted to get away from the "usual places" that I frequent! I thought about a list of options and settled on a hike from Alder Lake to the Beaver Meadow lean-to. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed up the Beaverkill Road somewhere around 8:45 AM. It was already in the high 60's so I did not bother with a jacket but did wear a long-sleeved shirt as I like it better than sunscreen. When I lifted the pack into the car, it seemed vary light without my tree trimming equipment! I headed toward Turnwood and Alder Creek Road where I made a left and drove to the Alder Lake parking lot. I parked in the Alder Lake parking area at 9:15 AM started our hike almost immediately. There was one other vehicle in the lot by the lake and another one which was occupied in the upper parking lot. The temperature was in the mid 60's with a slight breeze but relatively high humidity. The skies were hazy without any clearly formed clouds indicating the storms that were predicted for later in the day. We headed down to the "lawn" and found that the large pile of brush and logs was gone. The construction on the dam and spillway was also finished. However, the lawn had not been mowed and looked more like a hayfield. I know the DEC has limited workers but Alder Lake used to be a beautiful place to visit and now it looks abandoned! We walked toward the trail around the left side of the lake. As we walked along the trail I kept an eye out for the occupants of the vehicles in the parking area. Pretty soon another male hiker came walking toward us and I stepped off the trail with Sheila to let him pass. We said "Hello" and then went in our separate directions. Brush and branches were beginning to grow into the trail and they needed some pruning. Sheila was happy to be out and kept me company as we hiked on the trail around the lake which was muddy in places. I began to notice pink flowers on some bushes which I thought might be rhododendron. I turn down to the lake on one path and dropped my pack to get the camera. I took some more pictures of the lake and Cradle Rock Ridge directly across from where I stood. I also took some pictures of a beaver lodge near the shore. We crossed the bridges and at about .8 miles turned left to head toward the lean-to on the Millbrook Ridge Trail.
The trail was wet and muddy in many places and there were both old and new blowdowns to contend with. I was almost sorry I did not have my saws but decided this was work for another day. I thought it would be nice to find out who the maintainer is for the trail and offer to help. For the next 1.5 miles the trail climbs and then levels off several times. The elevation gain is several hundred feet but the grade is never more than 12% and averages around 6%. There isn't too much to see along the way but this day was very pleasant. I enjoyed the sounds and sights of Alder Creek as it flows parallel to the trail much of the way. In one spot there was a large beaver dam on the left. Soon we arrived at the lean-to. We walked down to the lean-to and I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I noticed that the privy was now completely torn apart by thoughtless campers looking for some firewood. One person starts the vandalism and the rest join in! It had taken a little over an hour to get to the beaver meadow. I walked out to the edge of the beaver meadow where there is a large flat rock and took pictures of the very green scene. I also got a few shots of Sheila sitting on the rock. I decided to hike a short distance along the trail to the next beaver meadow. When we got there, I took some pictures before going back to the trail and hiking back toward the lean-to. I did not stop on the way back and the walk went quickly. We were soon at the loop trail around Alder Lake where we turned left to complete the loop around the lake. Shortly after the turn there was a designated campsite and a path down to the shore of the lake. I decided to walk down toy take some pictures of the dam and the remains of the Coykendall mansion. I dropped the pack and got out my camera and snapped some pictures. I noticed some movement to my left around a stump and a log in the water. I used the 65x lens on my camera and discovered the movement was from two ducks. I think it was a mated pair. The male was standing guard on the end of the log and the female appeared to be sitting on a nest. I steadied myself and took a few pictures of the ducks. This made the whole trip worthwhile. We walked back up to the main loop trail and turned right fro continue back toward the dam. As we approached the outlet end of the lake, we saw no one at any of the campsites which was not surprising due to the lack of cars in the lot. We continued out the trail and stopped near the dam. I took out my camera and took some pictures of the lake and the dam. I also took shots of the lawn and the stonework from the mansion. I picked up my pack and we continued back up the hill and walked back to the car. We were back at 11:20 AM having covered 5.0 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The total elevation gain was 735 feet.
On Monday, June 12th I decided I wanted to get out and hike after a long day as middle school nurse. By the time I got home it was already 3:30 PM and I wanted to be sure I would be back by 6:00 PM when my ambulance shift started. I decided to simply go across the street to Round Top and hike some loops for an hour or so. It was 88 degrees at the house and a little humid when I put Sheila on her leash and started down the driveway. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles as I had to sue one hand to control Sheila. We crossed the street and the firs by the church and started up the hill to the top of the cemetery. Sheila was willing to pull so I let her help me up the steep but short hill. At the trailhead we turned left into the forest and after a few feet I let Sheila off her leash. It was a little cooler out of the direct sun but not much cooler. At the first trail junction we turned right and started up the more gentle slope of the trail. When the lower trail made a sharp left, we continued straight ahead on the newly created upper trail. The trail was easy to follow and the new green ribbons I had placed also helped. We followed the trail across the flat summit and down the other side to the lower trail. We turned right to continue on the lower trail. I looked at the trail junction and decided I would change the way the upper trail meets the lower trail to make it clearer to all hikers. We continued downhill to the lookout and turned left to follow the lower trail back to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back up to the lookout and followed the lower trail as it turned right and headed uphill. When we came to the junction with the upper trail we continued straight ahead on the upper trail. We followed it uphill to the summit of Round Top and across the summit. It was easy to follow the trail downhill to the lower trail. We continued straight ahead and follows the lower trail along the woods road that led us back to the first trail junction.
When we reached the first trail junction, I have to admit I was hot and a little tired. Sheila turned and trotted toward the trail but I called her back and we turned around and started back up the woods road. This time when we got to the upper trail we turned left and stayed on the lower trail following it along the base of the hill. At the next left turn we followed lower trail downhill to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left to follow the trail back to the first trail junction. This time Sheila trotted a little farther toward the trailhead until I called her back so we could finish our last small loop. We headed back up the steeper hill to the lookout and followed the lower trail as it turned right. We walked along the base of Round Top to the next left turn. We followed the lower trail to the woods road that took us back to the first trail junction. This time Sheila sprinted toward the trailhead and only turned around when she was almost there. I turned left and walked toward her and the trailhead. This seemed to please her immensely. I caught up to her and put her on the leash. We turned right at the trailhead and walked back down the cemetery hill, across the field by the church and back to our driveway. We hikes about 3 miles in just over an hour. It is nice to have a trail so close to the house even though it is short!
On Saturday, June 10th I wanted to get out for a short hike before having to take the ambulance to standby at the Livingston Manor Trout Parade. Cindy and I decided to go across the street at abbot 11:00 AM to hike on Round Top. I wanted to check the work that we had done the week before when we cut out the new upper trail. I wanted to check to see if any more trimming was needed right away. I also wanted to mark the trail with some new green ribbons prior to applying paint blazes. 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. I did bring along my machete and the green marking ribbon. We crossed the street and walked to the back of the church to begin the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I cut a few branches that were starting to droop into the trail. There are plans to place a sign at the trailhead and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead toward the lookout. The trail here has excess leaves and could use a little raking. At the lookout we turned right to follow the yellow blazes of the trail. The trail has been worn in some and it was pretty easy to follow. I did not notice any new ATV tracks. At the sharp right turn we continued to follow the lower trail as if skirted Round Top. At the next sharp right turn we turned left to start on the upper trail which we had cut out the previous Saturday. The trail was very obvious and there were only a few spots where I cut some branches and a few ferns. I did occasionally add a few new ribbons to clearly mark the trail. Cindy and I also talked about whet to place the paint blazes which I intend to work on next week. At the top we headed across the flat summit following the trail we had cleared. We agreed that marking here could be a problem as there are few trees on which to put blazes. We descended the other side following the ribbons. The trail was worn in and the ribbons obvious in most places. I cut a few branches and placed a few more ribbons until we met the lower trail. We turned left and followed the lower trail around to the brush pile and the sharp right urn. We followed the lower trail down to the woods road that brings the trail to the first trail junction. When we arrived at the junction, I was ready to turn around and do another figure 8 but Cindy wanted to go home. I turned around to start back up the trail but after checking the time I decided to return with her to the house. It was a little close to the time a I had to leave the house to get the ambulance. We walked back out to the trailhead and down the hill to the church. We walked back to our driveway after spending about an hour hiking just under 2 miles.
On Wednesday, June 7th I had not planned to hike since the weather forecast early in the week was for rain throughout the day. When I went to bed On Tuesday, the forecast had changed and I began to think about going to Trout Pond to see how the rain had effected Russell Brook Falls and the level of Trout Pond. The only drawback was that I knew the trail would be wet. In the morning when I awoke there was actually some sun peeking through the clouds and the forecast was only calling for cloudy skies with rain in the evening. I got some things done around the house and got out my gear. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. I decided to wear a heavier shirt and a light windbreaker but did not think I would need a hat or gloves. We left the house a little before 9:30 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed broth on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I considered driving down to the lower parking area but the road can be washed out at times. I also like the hike down the road as it parallels Russell Brook. I turned around and parked on the side of the road near a large pulloff that looks like a parking area. This pulloff is on private property and the owner does not like people parking on his land. I got my gear and electronics ready and we started our hike at 9:45 AM with Sheila leading the way down Russell Brook Road. The road was a little damp but did not appear to be washed out. I could hear what sounded like a large volume of water in the brook as we descended toad the lower parking area. As we walked down the road, I could see that the water level was high. When we got to the viewpoint for the upper falls, I decided to walk down to the lookout to take some pictures. I dropped my pack and took some shots of the large volume of water going over the falls. After finishing my photography, I packed up and headed back to the road. We walked down to the parking area and then got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge. We crossed the bridge over Russell Brook and walked along the woods road. I noticed the knotweed was back and already was green and growing nicely. I decided to walk over to the falls as the light was good. We turned right onto the path to the falls and found the path that leads down to the stream bed. This path is becoming more distinct as more and more people access it. The rocks were slippery as there was a lot of spray from the falls and the wind was blowing downstream. I put my pack down and got out the camera. I took shots of the falls and the stream from different angles and zooms and with different exposures. I also took a few of Sheila posing in front of the falls. When I was done, I stowed the camera, walked back up the bank and out to the main trail. We turned right on the main trail and then walked straight ahead at the trail junction to go directly up the hill to trout Pond
The trail to Trout Pond was wet for almost the entire length. In some places the water was directed in channels but in others the entire trail was wet. Soon we were at the pond and we walked over to the shore by the outlet. The water level was high and water was flowing freely over the spillway at the dam. I got out my camera and took pictures of the pond and the shores. The sky was blue with some nice white clouds. I walked over to the dam and took pictures of the water flowing over the spillway and a few more of the pond. It was at this time that Sheila decided to dash madly back and forth. I tried to capture a few pictures of her and then packed up to get back on the main trail. The trail from the outlet end of the lake to the lean-tos was covered in water most of the way and it was sometimes impossible to easily avoid the puddles. We made it to the bridge over the inlet stream and I stopped to take a few more pictures. The trail to the right up the hill had a stream running down the middle. After a short distance, the stream headed off to the left and the trail was drier. We climbed the trail heading toward the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. There were some new blowdowns along the way and several older larger logs. All should be cleared but the larger logs might need a chainsaw crew. I knew once we hit the top of the hill and started down that the trail would be very wet. I was right as the trail was covered in standing water in places and ran like a stream in others. I took a few pictures but they really don't show how much water there was. I had to walk on the sides of the trail and, at times, well off the trail. We came across one large branch that had broken off a tree and had one end lodged in the ground. The other end was hung up high in s small tree. It looked very dangerous and I know it will be hard to safely remedy the situation. Eventually we were walking through the area where there are a lot of small white birches. We descended the hill to the trail that runs past Mud Pond. We trend left here to head back to the car by completing the loop. The trail was wet with surface water which also made it very muddy. We hit the top of the small hill and started the long descent back to the register box. The trail remained wet and muddy with several small streams flowing across it. The stream to the right of the trail had a volume greater than I had ever seen in it. When we arrived at the trail register, we turned right and walked back out the trail to the lower parking area. From here we walked back up Russell Brook Road to the car without seeing another vehicle or person for the entire trip. We were back at the car at 12:25 Pm after hiking 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The elevation gain was 1104 feet. The temperature had risen only a few degrees to 64 degrees.
On Saturday, June 3rd it was National Trails Day and I had planned to go to Round Top with some other volunteers to cut out the new, upper trail. I scheduled the start for 10:00 AM to let the woods dry out a little. Lisa contacted the people who had expressed and interest in working in the trails and all of them had other commitments. I knew that Cindy and I could do the work but had wanted to include others to make it easier and to get other opinions. Just before 10:00 AM it stared to rain and shortly after that there was an ambulance call. When I got back, Cindy and I got dressed and ready to go work on the trail. It was cool with a slight breeze which I knew would make working on the trails easier. Since no one else was going along, we decided to take Sheila. We took my Fiskars axe, Silky saw, one of my machetes, a pair of loppers and a weed whip. We loaded up the car and drove across the street and to the top of the cemetery. I parked at the trailhead and we got started out on the trail with all our tools. At the first trail junction we turned right to head up the easier hill. At the sharp left turn in the lower trail we dropped the tools and assessed the work to be done. My plan was to cut out the trail to near the summit of Round Top on one side and then go to the other side and cut out the trail to the summit. We would them walk around the summit looking for the best route between the two. We started up the trail which was marked with green ribbons. Cindy was using the loppers and I settled on the machete. The trail was pretty distinct as I had been walking it a lot all winter and breaking off branches and picking up branches and logs on the trail. The work went pretty fast near the bottom with only a few spots that needed cleaning. In some cases I simply dragged branches away from the trail. I retrieved the saw to cut few larger ones. Near the top we had to do a little more trimming and we cut branches pretty high up to account for snowshoeing in the winter. When we reached the summit we stopped and walked back down to the main trail where we picked up our tools and followed the lower trail along the base of the hill. On the way we stopped to cut some branches that were obstructing the trail. When we arrived at the sharp left turn, we dropped the tools and looked for the best way to start the trail to the summit. We made our decision and again followed the green ribbons up the hill. The trail on this side is slightly longer and had a few more branches to trim. Right at the beginning of the trail there was a large branch that had fallen off a tree and lodged in the ground. The upper end was pretty firmly entangled in another tree. I got my saw and was able to cut through it at the bottom. I removed the lower part but the upper end was still hung up. I decided to garb and pull and soon the upper end was off the trail. We continued up the hill cutting branches and small trees. For me the machete was most useful as it was able to cut some small trees but could also be used to mow down some ferns to make the trail easier to follow. I was surprised that Sheila stay near us and was only taking short trips away from the trail. When we reached the summit, we stopped cutting. We walked across the top following the ribbons but looking for the path of least resistance. I also wanted to be sure to be very careful to respect the private property lines on the summit. We walked over to the spot where we had come up the other side and agreed on a path we could take. We started to cut out the trail in probably the thickest brush of the whole day. We continued to work our way across the top following a natural game trail. At one point it wasn't clear which way we should go so I walked back to the trail we had just come up. From here I could see where Cindy was standing and the easiest rout became clear. We cut out the rest of the trail so that most of the work was done. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 3:00 PM which surprised me as I did not think we had spent that much time. We walked back down the hill to the main trail where we picked up our tools and walked back out to the car arriving at 3:30 PM after spending 4 hours. The trail still needs to be blazed with paint if the rain ever stops. Some small stumps need to be removed with a mattocks and I am sure there will be a few off branches to trim. All the trail needs now are some people to use it!
On Thursday, June 1st, I was the high school nurse in Liberty for the second day in a row. The day was sunny but cool and I felt a little trapped inside. On the way home I though about taking a short hike since the blue sky was full of puffy white clouds. When I got home, I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Frick Pond and she agreed. I got my gear together and we headed out the door a little after 4:00 PM. I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles and turned left on Mongaup Road. I stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y and parked in the smaller lot at. I decided to wear a light windbreaker over a long-sleeved shirt as it was a little cool. As soon as we stepped out of the car it was obvious we would need some insect repellant so we applied some before heading out on the woods road to the register at 4:30 PM. This trail is always dry but was muddy this time from the rain we had during the week. We arrived at the register box to find the woods road out to Frick Pond covered in water and very muddy. In most areas it was easy to find a way around the water but in others it was difficult. The trail crew has tried to redirect the water into channels and off the trail but it is difficult as the trail tends to be lower than the surrounding ground. We stayed left at Gravestone Junction to walk down to the pond. The water level in the pond was even higher than the last time I was there and Cindy remarked that it actually looked like a pond. I put my pack down and got out my camera and took pictures of the beaver dam that was higher and better reinforced than last time. I have taken these pictures of the pond before but never get tired of the puffy white clouds in the blue sky with the green of spring on the trees and bushes. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. We walked across the bridge and around the west edge of the pond. At the next trail junction we turned right to get on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail and headed around the back of Frick Pond. After passing over the wooden walkways we came to a bridge where there was a god view of the wetlands at the head of the pond. I took some pictures and pointed out a large branch I had cut the last time I had been on the trail. Just over the second bridge I pointed out a much larger branch that I had removed on my last maintenance trip. We headed toward Time Square trying to avoid the very muddy areas on the trail.
At Times Square we had to make a decision about how long we wanted the hike to be and which trail we would take. We both agreed that just a loop around the pond was too short. I wanted to go up the Big Rock Trail and Cindy wanted to take the Logger's Loop to Iron Wheel Junction. After a few moments, we turned left and headed toward Iron Wheel Junction on the Logger's Loop. Times Square was very wet and muddy from the water running down the hill from the Logger's Loop. The trail was also wet and muddy from springs on the trail itself. These make it hard to predict where the water is actually originating and hard to develop a solution. As we walked along the trail, we came to the area where there is a seasonal pond on the right side of the trail. The water isn't much more than 18 inches deep and during drier weather there may be no water in the "pond". This time the pond seemed unexpectedly smaller than last time. I had thought with all the rain that it would be even deeper. As we continued on toward Iron Wheel Junction, thee trail had several large puddles and several places where it was clear there had bee water. Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned left on the Quick Lake trail to head back to Frick Pond. Walking downhill toward the little stream in the woods, the trail was wet and muddy much like the rest of the hike. I was surprised that the stream's water level was rather low and we crossed it easily. As we walked through the "spruce tunnel", I found one large hardwood truck across the trail that I remembered from the last hike. I made note of it and knew I would return with my larger saw and a full-sized felling axe. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail which also had its share of puddles and mud. Soon we were back at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond. As we stopped to watch the water for a minute, a head popped up out of the water and the animal began swimming across the pond. I got out my camera and took a quick picture but only got the back of the beaver's head before it ducked under the water. We walked up the hill and followed the Quick Lake Trail back to the register. We walked the woods road back out to the car arriving at 6:10 PM. We had hiked 3.8 miles in 1 hours and 40 minutes with only 5 minutes of stopped time. The overall elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.
On Tuesday, May 30th I wanted to get out for a hike since track meets and rainy weather had kept me away from the forest for a week! Sheila seemed to agree as I got ready to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I had gotten a late start and decided this was the best plan. I also had not hiked Round Top in a week and wanted to make sure the trail was clear and in good shape. I also wanted to see what the proposed upper trail looked like as I was planning to do some work in clearing that trail on Saturday, June 3 which is National Trails Day. This would include cutting this trail out and marking it with paint blazes. We headed across the street at about 11:35 AM with Sheila pulling me all the way down the driveway on her leash. It was a cool day with mist still in the air so I wore my Pertex rain jacket that repels water but has huge pit zips to dump heat. 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. I also did not want to get the pack wet in the heavy mist. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees it seemed that it was raining but I thought it was just the rain falling from the leaves. There are plans to place a sign at the trailhead and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we turned right to walk up the gentler slope. As we walked I picked up a few sticks on the trail but there were no major blowdown to clear. At the sharp left turn we turned left to stay in the lower trail. I was pleased to see that the brush pile I had made to discourage ATV use was still in place and that there were no new tracks. We continued along the base of Round Top until the lower trail turned left. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons toward the summit of Round Top. There was a pretty clearly defined track to follow as well as the ribbons. As we walked, I picked up a few branches and threw them off the track. At the top I headed across the flat summit but had trouble finding the ribbons or a good track. This is an area I will have to work on. We descended the other side following the ribbons and met the lower trail at the brush pile. We turned right and followed the lower trail around to the lookout. From here we continued down the hill to the first trail junction. At the trail junction we turned around and started back up the hill to the lookout to begin our second figure 8. At the lookout we continued to the right to follow the lower trail. Further along where the trail turned right we followed it along the base of Round Top until we came to the brush pile at the right turn. We turned left here and followed the green ribbons marking the proposed trail back up to the summit of Round Top. In this direction I had some problems finding the ribbons and made a mental note to come remark this section. At the top we walked across the flat summit and down the other side to the lower trail. We turned left and followed the trail as it turned sharply right at the brush pile. We continued on down to the first trail junction. When we arrived, I decided to walk a little more so we started back up toward the lookout again to do one more big loop. It was clear now that it was raining but that not much was getting through to use. Where the lower trail made a sharp right we continued straight ahead following the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top. On the way up Sheila went off trail to the right to check out a log. She seemed very interests in something so I called her back and told her to stay. I walked over to the log and didn't see anything at first. When I looked at the end of the log I saw that a small porcupine had his head shoved into the hollow end of the log. The porcupine had just his back and tail exposed. I walked back to Sheila grateful that she knew enough not to "play" with the porcupine. We walked to the summit, across the top and down the other side. When we hit the lower trail we continued on the lower trail back to the first trail junction. W eared left and walked back out to the trailhead. We walked down the hill to the church and back to our driveway. We had spent a little over an hour hiking just over 2 miles.
On Tuesday, May 23rd I wanted to get out for a hike since the forecast for the rest of the week was questionable and Thursday would be taken up by the sectional track meet. I had decided to "sleep in" since I had my sleep interrupted several times by ambulance calls in the middle of the night. As luck would have it I was awakened at 5:00 AM by...an ambulance call. When I returned, I decided to see if I could get a little extra sleep and I did manage to rest until 9:00 AM. I did some work around the house and then decided to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I put Sheila on her leash and we headed across the street at about 11:45 AM. The temperature was about 65 degrees and the sky was much more overcast than I had expected. I actually wore a light windbreaker but decided to leave my pack behind. I also left my poles at home knowing I would be hiking only about 2 miles. We walked across the field next to the church and then walked up the hill from the church to the top of the cemetery. The hill is short but steep and I appreciated Sheila helping to pull me up the hill. At the top of the hill we turned left at the trailhead and walked into the woods. I let Sheila off her leash and began to pick up some small branches off the trail. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead up the hill to the lookout. At the top of the hill we followed the trail as it turned to the right and headed uphill. When the trail made a sharp right, we followed it as it followed the base of Round Top. Again, as the trail turned right we followed it downhill to the woods road that took us back to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back up the woods road to the sharp left turn. Instead of following the lower trail we continued straight ahead toward the top of Round Top following the green ribbons of the proposed upper trail. We continued to follow the ribbons across the summit of Round Top and down the other side back to the lower trail. Here we turned right and followed the yellow blazes of the lower trail back to the lookout. At the viewpoint we followed the trail to the left and back down to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and started back up to the lookout following the lower trail to the right and uphill until we came to the sharp right turn. We continued straight ahead following the green ribbons back to the summit of Round Top. On the way up I noticed that Sheila was sniffing around a log just off the trail. I decided that she was up to no good and called her back. I told her to "Stay" and walked over to the log. At first I didn't notice anything. On closer inspection, I found that a small porcupine had its head poked into the end of the log leaving only its needle-covered tail and body exposed! I was glad that Sheila had the good sense NOT to bite it! I went back to the main trail and we walked over the top and down the other side to the lower trail. We walked straight ahead down the hill to the woods road and the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back around the lower loop one more time ending up back at the first trail junction. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked out to the trailhead, back down to the church and across the street to our driveway. We had hiked two small loops and two big loops and we were back a the house at 1:00 PM. I estimated from our usual pace that we walked just over 2 miles. Some might think the repeated loops would be boring. I find that the trails are convenient and I know them so well that I can spend a lot of time thinking.
On Sunday, May 21st, Cindy and I left the Damascus Forest trail and headed for Cobey Pond to the south. I was trying to scout out the Damascus Forest trail and the Cobey Pond trail to update the trailkeeper.org website. We headed west on Macubbins Road and then turned left at the end on Barkley Lake Road. We then turned right on Plank Road and left on Atco Road to get to Route 652, the Beach Lake Road. After 2.4 miles we turned left or south on Perkins Pond Road. We stayed on Perkins Pond Road for 4 miles until it ended at Welcome Lake Road. The name of the road changed to Case Road as we entered the Township of Lackawaxen. We turned right on Welcome Lake Road and drove .9 miles to Masthope Road where we turned left. The access road for Cobey Pond was 1 mile down the road on the left. We turned into the road and crossed Masthope Creek on a small bridge. A group of women had just finished their hike and were removing ticks from themselves and their clothing. We asked them about the trail but they really didn't know much about the area. A road headed off to the right and seemed to be on my geospatial PDF so we headed out on the road. As we walked I could see that the GPS track was well off the road on the amp so we turned around and went back to the parking area. There was a gate across a woods road that ran along the creek so we decided to try that. We walked along the creek which was pretty enough for me to stop and take a few pictures. It soon became obvious that this was not the trail we were looking for. We went back to the car again and looked for a third option. Another car had parked while we were hiking and a family was walking on the road we had been on. As we looked for a third option, we heard a noise that sounded like a dog being mauled by a bear! I told Cindy to take Sheila and I walked toward the noise. I asked if everything was OK and was told it was. I walked back to the car and we decided to walk farther up the road to see where it went. As we passed the family posing for a picture, I saw no dog! We walked up the road and the GPS track soon started to match the map. In about half a mile we came to an upper parking area and turnaround just before another locked gate. This, apparently, was the best place to park although it was not obvious so any mentions of mileage are from this parking area. There was a cloyingly sweet odor in the area coming from bushes with white flowers but we noticed there were no bees. As we walked through the gate there was one car parked in the turnaround. The road we were on was paved with large crushed stone which made walking difficult so we tried to stay the sides. At .15 miles the road split with the paved section headed right and a grassy section headed uphill to the left. We turned right to follow the pave road.
The road descended just slightly and then climbed a little to the shores of the pond. I was surprised to see a dock jutting out into the water and a nice wooden bridge over the spillway. There were two fisherman with waders fishing near the outlet. I stopped to take a few pictures and noticed the sky was getting darker and the wind was picking up. The trail went in both directions around the pound and we chose to turn right as it was the route on the map and was the longer hike. After crossing the spillway and reaching the other side of the pond we turned left to follow a grassy road that was completely flat around the pond. As we walked we found some more of the fragrant white flowers and a bush with pink flowers that we did not recognize. At the head end of the pond we stopped again and I took some more pictures. There were several small "islands" at the upper end. I also took pictures of the pink flowers and of a wood duck nesting box with a metal skirt to discourage predators. As we continued to walk the trail split at about 1.5 miles. The trail to the left circled the shores of the pond but the trail we wanted headed to the right. We turned right and followed the grassy road as it gained a little elevation heading southwest and then south. Right around the highest point at 1.75 miles there was a house being built in the woods on the right. I also notice a hen turkey standing in plain view along the left side of the trail. Shiela went to chase her as she gobbled and took to flight only when Sheila was almost on top of her. She flew only a short distance, landed and gobbled some more. I knew she must have chicks close by and soon we could see them on the side of the trail. They were so well camouflaged we could only see them when they moved. I immediately called Sheila back and put her of the leash. We continued along the trail completing the loop at 2 miles. We turned right to walk down the road and through the gate. I stopped my GPS at the upper parking area. We had walked 2.2 miles in just less than an hour with a 245 foot elevation gain. This hike was a little longer and a little more interesting than the Damascus Forest but I would not go out of my wake to hike either trail. We continued on the road and arrived back at the car at 5:10 PM. I checked Sheila for ticks and picked off at lest 8 that were crawling around on her. Cindy asked me to take a few off her clothing. I had two on my clothing and one that was beginning to bite the back of my right hand. When we arrived home I checked Sheila again and picked off more ticks. Cindy had a half dozen or more UNDER her BugOff gaiters and on her pants. I also had a few more on my clothing. In several hikes to do trail maintenance at Frick Pond and on Cabot Mountain we had encountered no ticks. I don't think I will going back to Pennsylvania very soon!
On Sunday, May 21st, the forecast had been for rain but by the time we left church at 12:15 PM the skies were only a little cloudy with some sun shining through. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to scout out the Damascus Forest Trail and the trail at Cobey Pond. I was trying to scout out the Damascus Forest trail and the Cobey Pond trail to update the trailkeeper.org website. She said "Yes" and I set out to create two geospatial PDFs using Caltopo. I should have done this the night before and it took some time to get it done! As I was getting my pack read, I noticed I had the scabbard to my saw but there was no saw. After a few minutes of searching, I was convinced I had left it on the Touch-Me-Not Trail the day before. Cindy and I got dressed to hike and got all our equipment in the car. I drove up the Beaverkill Road to Beech Hill Road behind a car that was looking for some location and would not pull over! I turned left on Beech Hill Road and drove to the parking area for the Touch-Me-Not Trail. I walked down to the beginning of the trail and found the saw right where I had left it. I felt lucky but stupid! I drove back to Livingston Manor and we headed toward Callicoon over the back roads. When we to Route 97 I turned left or south and headed toward the bridge at Cochecton. We crossed the bridge over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and almost immediately turned left on River Road. We followed River Road south along the river for a total of 6 miles. At 2.7 miles we had to turn left to stay on River Road. When we saw Macubbins Road on the right, I turned and drove .7 miles to the parking area on the right. When we pulled in there was one other car and a woman with her dog sitting in the grass under a tree. I thought this unwise as the ticks this year are very numerous especially in Pennsylvania. As we were getting ready, the woman talked to my wife and advised us that she always saw bears on this hike. When we said we were from New York, she said "This will be a nice change for you." which led us to believe she had translated New York to New York City. We were finally able to get going at 2:35 PM by walking through the opening in the rail fence next to the information kiosk. There weren't any visible markers but we stayed on the edge of the forest and field until we picked up yellow paint blazes.
The trail headed north through an evergreen forest gaining a little elevation. There was a lot of debris and some blowdowns on the trail so I assumed no one had been around to clear the trail for the hiking season. We quickly reached a power line right-of-way and I stopped to take a few pictures. The trail turned off the right-of-way and headed north through some more evergreen forest. I could see a trail lower down on the hill and surmised it was for the return trip. At about half a mile into the hike we came to a stone wall where the trail turned left and descended to the trail I had seen which runs along a wetland. I dropped my pack and walked to the edge of the wetland which turned out to be the highlight of the hike. The trail now headed southwest through some mixed softwood and hard wood forest until at .75 miles it turned south. We were now on a woods road which was open and ease to follow. Soon I could see that we were just west of the parking area and approaching the road. I had expected a longer hike and checked my GPS to see if we had missed anything. The geospatial PDF on my iPhone showed we had completed the trail! There weren't any blazes to guide us back to the car so we walked out to the road, turned left and then almost immediately turned left again into the parking area. It was 3:10 PM and we had hiked 1.1 miles in 30 minutes with an elevation gain of 130 feet. We both concluded that although the trail was pretty it also was pretty short without much "bang"! Our next stop was to be Cobey Pond so I turned right on Macubbins Road and started to head west. Not very far along we came to a small pond with a beautiful stone dam. The outlet formed a little waterfall. I pulled the car over to take a few shots before continuing on our way.
On Saturday, May 20th, I had planned to hike to do some more trail clearing on the Touch-Me-Not Trail from Beech Hill Road to Cabot Mountain. Since I had done the maintenance from Barkaboom Road to Cabot Mountain on Thursday, this would complete my "spring cleaning" except for a little lopping to do in a few spots. I maintain this section of trail for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. I had an early morning ambulance call which delayed my departure as well as a few morning showers. By 11:00 Am the rain had stopped and the radar was clear. I got my gear ready and dressed for what was going to be cooler day than Thursday so I wore a light jacket. I packed my Silky saw and plastic felling wedges and grabbed my light Fiskars axe. Sheila was ready to go as we pulled out of Livingston Manor at a little after 11:00 AM. I drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I got behind some slower traffic as was further delayed by some tree trimming. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on Beech Hill Road Road. I drove up the road about 2.6 miles and parked at the small pullout on the right side of the road at the beginning of the trail. The temperature was still in the high 50's which was at least 20 degrees cooler than on Thursday. As soon as I got out of the car I knew I would need some insect repellant and applied some immediately. I set my electronics and we walked down through the field and into the woods to begin our hike at 11:30 AM. The first part of the trail is flat and usually very wet and this day was no exception. We walked slog a stone wall and almost immediately cam to the first blowdown. I decided to leave this one for the way back and proceeded Wong the trail. I picked up a few branches and through them aside. The trail was wet and muddy and we had to walk at the side of the trail in several spots to avoid the mud. At .2 miles the trail begins to climb and in about half a mile it gains almost 600 feet averaging a 20% grade. This is not as steep as the other side but is plenty challenging. After climbing a little we ran into a large tree across the trail. This one was new and more than a foot in diameter. It was squarely across the trail and would have to be cut in at least two places. The wood looked solid which I knew would make it hard to cut and heavy to handle. I decided to re-evaluate this one on the way back. We continued up the trail which has a few switchbacks and several flatter areas. We found a large tree trunk on the trail. The upper part of the rotted trunk had broken off and rolled away from the trail. The lower section wasn't exactly blocking the trail but I decided to try to roll it off the trail. The problem was that I had to roll it slightly uphill. I got a big rock toy brace it and cleared behind the log. I was able to roll it completely off the trail and brace it with the rock to clear the trail.
At about .7 miles the trail levels off and then rolls over several bumps to the Cabot Mountain Vista at 1.6 miles. Shortly after the trail flattened we came to another tree that I thought I could roll out of the way. I again had to roll the trunk uphill and at some point gravity took over and the tree rolled into the trail! I decided this was unacceptable so I took some "before" pictures and then got my Fiskars axe and cut the trunk into two pieces. The lower and shorter one was easy to roll of the trail. The other piece needed to be flipped. I lifted it to about 70 degrees and realized then that I needed to get to just over 90 degrees! I didn't want to drop it and start over so I gave a big effort and flipped it off the trail. I took my "after" pictures and got a drink. The temperature was beginning to rise so I stowed my jacket. We continued along the trail to another set of trunks on the trail. I took pictures and then got to work removing what was loose. It didn't take long to cut the remaining tree with the axe and remove everything. Before we moved on I sued the saw to cut another small blowdown. I took my pictures, packed up and moved on. Sheila meanwhile was having a great time as the day was cooler. We came to another blowdown but I decided to walk to the vista and then cut this one on the way back. Just passed this blowdown was a large branch or treetop that had fallen so that it was well anchored in the ground with the top hung up in another tree. I tried to bring t down by getting it moving but to no avail. We continued along the flat part of the trail toward the viewpoint. There was only one more tree across the trail and this was an old and rotting white birch. It had a thick trunk that would be hard to cut. We arrived at the lookout at about 1:20 PM. The view was slightly better than two days before. I took some pictures including a few of Sheila sitting on the lookout before getting a drink and a snack and heading back. I knew that the trip back should go quickly but that I would be hampered by the lack of poles. Climbing without poles is difficult but descending can be dangerous! We stopped at the one blowdown still blocking the trail on the flat summit. I got out the saw to see it I could cut through the trunk. The Silky saw worked very well and soon the cut was almost done. As the two pieces of trunk separated, the top piece fell completely off the trail. My work was done so I took some pictures and continued on the trail. The descent did go quickly with some slipping and sliding. We stopped at the large blowdown near the base of the hill but I decided I would need a full-sized felling axe and my Katanaboy folding saw for this one! Our last stop was at the blowdown near the beginning of the trail. I was able to make one cut near the lower end of the trunk even though the wood was hard to cut as it was wet. Once the cut was made I tried to roll the top over the stone wall next to the trail. The trunk decided to use gravity and fell onto the trail. Somehow I was able to lift the top of the piece back onto the wall and block it with a rock. I swung the other end up and our work for the day was done. We walked back to the car arriving at 2:30 PM after spending 3 hours hiking 3.3 miles and doing a lot of trail work. I was surprised that the elevation gain was only 925 feet!
On Thursday, May 18th, I had planned to hike to do some more trail clearing. I had worked on the trails around Frick Pond the day before in very warm conditions. I thought I would attend my 6:15 AM men's bible study and then head out. That plan changed we an ambulance call came in around 5:00 AM. By the time got back the class was almost over and I was not sleepy. I decided to get an early start. I settled on hiking from Big Pond over the Touch-Me-Not Trail toward Cabot Mountain. I maintain this section of trail for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and had not been out to clear it yet this spring. I got my gear ready and dressed for what was going to be a hot day eschewing even the lightest jacket. I packed my Silky saw and plastic felling wedges and grabbed my light Fiskars axe. Sheila was ready to go as we pulled out of Livingston Manor at a little after 8:00 AM. I drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I got behind some slower traffic as was further delayed by some tree trimming. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile and parked at Big Pond around 8:30 AM. As soon as I got out of the car I knew I would need some insect repellant and applied some immediately. I set my electronics and we walked across the road to begin our hike at 8:40 AM. The first part of the trail is a little steep but I stopped to pick up some branches and throw them off the trail. Just passed the trail register was a tree leaning across the trail. I had identified this and several others to be cut with a chainsaw last year but the promised help never materialized. The tree doesn't really block the trail but I worry that some day it has to come down. We continued to walk up the trail with me stopping to break off a few branches or pick up some lying in the trail. There really wasn't much to clear and the walk went quickly. In a few places it was clear that the trail had acted as a streambed as it was still damp and there were a lot of leaves that had washed down the gully. At around half a mile the trail started to get steeper and a little wetter in spots. I did find one small tree across the trail and I took a few pictures before rapidly removing it. After taking a few "after" pictures, we continued along the trail as it climbed Touch-Me-Not Mountain. Along the way there were several large trunks of more than 12 inches in diameter across the trail. The trunks were low and ease to step over. These were the same obstacles I had reported last year. I was getting a little tired climbing since I was carrying an axe and not my poles. At 1.1 miles we came to the junction with the Campground Trail that comes up from the Little Pond beach area. Just before the junction there is a large tree that has split in three directions. One trunk blocks the trail but is relatively easy to get over. Another section fell to the right and off the trail. The third section fell along the trail and is hung up in another tree. These are probably 24 inches in diameter and will require a chainsaw or a reroute of the trail.
We turned right at the trail junction to stay on the Touch-Me-Not trail. It was my plan to follow the trail down to the junction with the Little Pond trail clearing as we went. I thought we would probably turn around at this point and return to the car. The distance is only about half a mile but the trail drops around 300 feet. There wasn't much to clear but I noted some new briars and brush encroaching on the trail. These would best be trimmed by loppers or shears and could wait until my next trip. On this short descent the trail passed through some rocks and ledges which makes the hike interesting. There were a few large trunks that had been there for some time and I had flattened the top surface to make getting over them easier. We arrived at the junction with the Little Pond Trail at 9:50 Am after hiking 1.6 miles. It seemed very hot and I was a little tired. However, we had hiked less than 2 miles and I wanted a little more. We continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Not Trail and I had the vague notion we might climb to the lookout on Cabot Mountain. I cleared a few small branches and some larger ones that had fallen on the trail as a result of larger trees falling near the trail. We came across several large trunks across the trail most of which were old and had not been cleared. One new blowdown was nearly 24 inches and was lying across the trail diagonally. We climbed over this one and continued on to the base of the climb up Cabot. I decided to go little farther to see if the majority of the ascent was free of debris. As we started up the climb, we came to an area where some small trees or bushes were almost blocking the trail. These would be easiest to clear with loppers so I let them go and moved on. By this time we were beginning to move up the ascent. It was very hot and dry and it became clear that the one bottle of water I rough along was not enough. I had to make a decision. The wise choice was to turn around and leave the rest of the trail to the lookout for another day. So I decided that we would make the attempt to reach the viewpoint over Little Pond. The climb up Cabot from the beginning to end is only about 4 miles but the average grade is over 24%. Within that climb there is a .2 mile section that is a 35% grade!
As we climbed, I was afraid that my legs would cramp as they felt on the verge of doing so. I was also afraid that I would not have enough water to correct the problem! I had every opportunity to come to me senses and turn back but I did not. There wasn't much to clear off the trail but I did remove some branches. There were also several large blowdown that had been there for a long time. We finally made the last climb and then walked along the flat summit to the lookout. The trees are beginning to get leaves so Little Pond was somewhat blocked. The skies were blue with white clouds but they seemed a little hazy and flat. I got out the camera and took some pictures including one of Sheila in the shade of some rocks. Sheila seemed very hot so I gave her a drink and got one myself. I saw no point in waiting around so we began our trip back at 10:35 AM after spending only about 5 minutes resting. The descent was much easier than the climb except for the fact that I missed my poles going down. I used the axe at times to lean on but it was a poor substitute. Sheila still looked hot and was panting heavily. She took every opportunity to rest in the shade. As we started down the last part of the climb, I remembered that she had found some water off the trail on the way up. Soon we were at the water which was flowing slowly and formed a little pool. I encouraged Sheila to go get a drink and get wet. She ran over to the water and rolled in it until she was completely soaked! This changed her behavior completely as she got up and ran around and bolted up the trail. Soon we sere climbing over the fallen trees Tao reach the trail junction with the Little Pond Trail. We passed by that junction and began the climb up Touch-Me-Not Mountain. This climb is less than half a mile and averages an 11% grade. This is a much easier trip than up Cabot but by this time I was feeling each step. I was very happy when, at 3.4 miles we were back at the junction with the Campground Trail. When we turned left, I knew it was all downhill back to the car. We set a good pace which was aided by not stopping to clear branches. I actually felt refreshed but knew another climb would be a different story. We came to Barkaboom Road and walked straight across the road to the shore of Big Pond. I took a few pictures of the pond and a couple of Sheila standing in the cool water. We walked back up the path to the car. It was 12:05 PM and we had walked 4.5 miles in 3.5 hours with a little over half an hour of stopped time. The climb was about 1650 feet which is not a lot but the ascent up Cabot is challenging.
On Wednesday, May 17th, I decided to head for the Frick Pond area to do some trail work on the Big Rock Trail and Logger's Loop. The forecast was calling for temperatures reaching into the mid 80's and by 9:30 AM it was already in the 70's. I got my gear together including my Silky saw and felling wedges grabbing my Fiskars axe on the way out the door. The Fiskars axe is easy to carry and does a pretty good job despite its small size. I wore a light windbreaker but knew I would probably not need it between the rising temperature and the work I would be doing. We left the house at about 9:30 AM as I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles. I turned left on Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y. When I parked, there where no other cars in either lot. I took off the jacket and set my electronics. I also applied some insect repellant as the flies were already gathering in large numbers. At 9:55 AM we walked over to the larger parking area and out the back of the lot on the red-blazed Quick Lake Trail. I immediately began picking up small branches from the trail and a few large ones as well. I remembered a rather large branch or trunk across the trail but when I got to the location someone had already moved it off the trail. We arrived at the register box to find the woods road out to Frick Pond covered in water and very muddy. In most areas it was easy to find a way around the water but in others it was difficult. The trail crew has tried to redirect the wearer into channels and off the trail but it is difficult as the trail tends to be lower than the surrounding ground. At Gravestone Junction I stopped to use the axe to cut a few briar canes, both old and new, that were encroaching on the trail. I generally don't wear gloves but wished I had brought a pair to deal with the briars. After clearing the obstructions, we stayed left at the junction to walk down to the pond. I was surprised to find the water level in the pond was rather high so that it actually looked like a pond rather than a wetland. I put my pack down and got out my camera and soon discovered the reason for the rising water level. The beavers had returned and were clearly building a dam at the outlet to raise the level of the pond. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. I even took a few of Sheila before stowing the camera and continuing over the bridge to the next trail junction. We turned right to get on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail and headed around the back of Frick Pond. After passing over the wooden walkways we came to a bridge where there was a large branch down on the other side. I took pictures of the small stream and a few out toward the wetlands at the north end of the pond. I also took pictures of the branches on the trail so I could document a before and after view. I started to clear the loose branches and found there were quite a few. I made a few cuts with the saw and cleared the rest very quickly. I took my "after" pictures and then packed up to move along. Just over the second bridge there was a small tree trunk across the trail. I again took pictures and then used the axe to start to section the log. As I cut it was clear that the log was hollow. I only had to make one cut before I could lift and rotate the larger section off the trail. I again packed up my gear and we headed toward Times Square where there is a four-way junction.
Before we could get there, we ran into a rather nasty large branch blocking the trail. I knew I had seen this one before but had tried to forget it. After taking pictures, I started to remove what was loose and cut a few other branches so that I could drag them off the trail. I looked at what was left and formed a plan of attack. I used the saw to make a cut where the branched forked. This went well leaving some branches off the trail and a large piece to move. Fortunately, I was able to flip and roll this larger piece off the trail without cutting it again. After taking a few "after" shots, I packed up and we continued on to Times Square. The trail was wet and muddy and Times Square was also a mess. There seem to be springs on the Logger's Loop trail as it comes down the hill to the trail junction. This makes it hard to predict where the water is actually originating and hard to develop a solution. We turned left and head up the hill on the yellow-blazed Logger's Loop trying to avoid the mud. The heat was getting to me and I was glad that a breeze was blowing to keep it a little cooler band to disperse the insects. As we walked along the trail, we came to the area where there is a seasonal pond on the right side of the trail. The water isn't much more than 18 inches deep and during drier weather there may be no water in the "pond". I stepped off the trail to get some pictures and had to discouraged Sheila from diving into the murky mess. We walked back to the trail and continued on toward Iron Wheel Junction. The trail had several large puddles and several places where it was clear there had bee water. I continued to pick up small branches and moved a few larger one to the side. As we approached Iron Wheel Junction, a group of three women came walking toward us. I put Sheila on her leash but she did not bark at them. They asked if I was doing trail maintenance and thanked me when I said "Yes". Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned left on the Quick Lake trail to head back to Frick Pond. Walking downhill toward the little stream in the woods, I found only a few branches on the trail. I was surprised that the stream's water level was rather low and I crossed it easily. As we walked through the "spruce tunnel", I found one large hardwood truck across the trail. It was larger than I wanted to deal with on this day. I made note of it and knew I would return with the larger saw and a full-sized felling axe. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail which also had its share of puddles and mud. Soon we were back at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond. It was even sunnier than on the way out and considerably hotter. We walked up the hill and followed the Quick Lake Trail back to the register. We walked the woods road back out to the car. We had hiked 4 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes with almost and hour stopped to clear the trails. The overall elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.
On Tuesday, May 16th I wanted to get out for a hike since track meets and family commitments had kept me away from the forest for a week! Sheila seemed to agree as I got ready to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I had gotten a late start and decided this was the best plan. I also had not hiked Round Top in a while and wanted to make sure the trail was clear and in good shape. I also wanted to see what the proposed upper trail looked like after the winter. We are getting ready to cut this trail out and mark it with paint blazes. We headed across the street at about 11:00 AM with Sheila pulling me all the way down the driveway on her leash. It was probably the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures hovering in the high 60's! 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 began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. There are plans to place a sign here and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we turned right to walk up the gentler slope. As we walked I picked up a few sticks on the trail but there were no major blowdown to clear. At the sharp left turn we turned left to stay in the lower trail. I was pleased to see that the brush pile I had made to discourage ATV use was till in place and that there were no new tracks. We continued along the base of Round Top until the lower trail turned left. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons toward the summit of Round Top. There was a pretty clearly defined track to follow as well as the ribbons. As we walked, I picked up a few branches and threw them off the track. At the top I headed across the flat summit but ha trouble finding the ribbons or a good track. This is an area I will have to work on. We descended the other side following the ribbons and met the lower trail at the brush pile. We turned right and followed the lower trail around to the lookout. From here we continued down the hill to the first trail junction. At the trail junction we turned around and started back up the hill to the lookout to begin our second figure 8. At the lookout we continued to the right to follow the lower trail. Further along where the trail turned right we followed it along the base of Round Top until we came to the brush pile at the right turn. We turned left here and followed the green ribbons marking the proposed trail back up to the summit of Round Top. In this direction I had some problems finding the ribbons and made a mental note to come remark this section. At the top we walked across the flat summit and won the other side to the lower trail. We turned left and followed the trail as it turned sharply right at the brush pile. We continued on down to the id trail junction. When we arrived, I thought about doing some more loops but it was getting late and I had a home track meet to set up. We turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We walked down the hill to the church and back to our driveway. We had spent just about an hour hiking around 2 miles.
On Tuesday, May 9th, the forecast was calling for rain by 11:00 Am so I had not planned to go for a hike. Sheila, however, had other plans and kept staring at me "asking" to go on a hike. I decided that we would go to Frick Pond and cut some blowdowns on the Flynn Trail up to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. It seemed cold out so I put on my Columbia Omniheat pants and the Mammut hoody. I got my pack and added my Silky saw and felling wedges grabbing my Fiskars axe on the way out the door. The Fiskars axe is easy to carry and does a pretty good job despite its small size. By the time I got to the car I knew I had to trade the Mammut hoody for a lighter jacket. We left the house at abut 9:30 AM as I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles. I turned left on Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y. Somewhere along the way I began to get a loud scraping noise coming from the right rear wheel. I decided to continue on and handle it on the way back. When I parked there where no other cars in either lot. At 9:50 AM we crossed the road and started hiking on the Flynn Trail. Within a few hundred feet there were a few small trees across the trail. It took me minutes to clear the trail. Of course, I took pictures before and after to document what I had done. We continued on the trail and turned right at the end onto the wide woods road that is the Flynn Trail. This was once a paved road that led to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp and some of the pavement can be seen at times. As we walked up the trail, I picked up a few small branches on the trail. When I clear a trail, I like to not only remove anything blocking the trail but remove things that are aesthetically unappealing The next time I stopped I removed a branch that was propped up against another tree. It was rather large but I was able to pull it down and drag it off the trail. The next problem was a small double trunk that had fallen part way across the trail. I used the Silky saw to make a couple of cuts and the problem was solved. A little farther up the trail another, slightly larger, trunk was across the trail. This one took a little longer but it was soon gone also. As I continued up the rail it was nearing 11:00 AM when the rain showers were in the forecast but I decided to continue. I knew there was one more larger blowdown to clear. After a short distance the final obstacle was in sight. It was a large trunk with spreading branches blocking the trail. I put my pack down to take some pictures before I started to work. The first thing I did was to remove all the loose branches which turned out to be quite a few. I remember my father telling me when we were logging to always remove the branches that were in the way before starting to use an axe or Aafftteerr clearing the branches I began to use the axe and saw to clear the smaller branches and drag them well off the trail. In a short time only the larger trunk. The trail was really clear but I wanted to remove some more of the trunk. I decided to start with the axe and got almost all the way through before finishing with the saw. I tend to make the cut too narrow and end up striking almost straight down at the end and the saw helps. I realized that once the piece was cut off the trunk that it was rather large. I couldn't lift it but I was able to "roll" it off the side of the trail. I took some "after" pictures before picking up my pack. I thought I might head back but diced to go up to the Big Rock Trail junction even though the skies looked dark. It wasn't far to the junction but on the way I moved two more larger branches off to the side of the trail. We turned around at the junction and started back down the Flynn Trail at a good pace. As we neared the end a couple came walking up the trail toward us. I put Sheila on her leash and we passed by each other with a "Hello". Soon we turned into the woods before the gate to stay on the trail and avoid the private popery around the cabin. We were back at the car at 12:15 PM having spent 2 hours and 25 minutes walking 3.4 miles and clearing the trail.
On Thursday, May 4th, I finished a short hike at the Mongaup River Trail on Route 97 and then headed for the Hickok Brook MUA which was on my way home. I drove north on CR-31 (Upper Mongaup Road) for a little over 5 miles to Glen Spey. I turned right and then made a quick left on CR-32 (Proctor Road). I drove north and west for a little less than 4 miles and turned left on Barker Road. I watched carefully for the sign for Hickok Brook MUA but I didn't need to worry since the typical yellow on brown sign appeared on the right in .6 miles. I pulled into the parking area and had to decided whether to park in the lot outside the gate or drive farther down the road. I opted to park in the lot and hike the road even though the gate looked like it would not be closed. There was a van parked in the lot as I got my gear ready to go. I let Sheila run free but encouraged her to stay on the road as I had already picked several ticks off her coat. We started southwest on the road at 12:40 PM. The sun was out now and I was warm even in the light jacket. This time I brought my poles even though the road was flat and in good shape. I had remembered to bring insect repellant but the slightly cooler temperatures and the breeze were keeping the insects away. My intention was to hike all the trails I could find to make sure the information on the trailkeeper.org website was accurate. I had made a geospatial PDF of the area which I knew would help when the trails became difficult to follow. At .35 miles the road started to head west and one of the trails marked on the map turned off the road to the left. I decided to do the side trail on the way back. As we walked down the road a car came toward us from inside the area. The driver stopped and asked about camping in the area. I told him it was state land and as long as there was a campsite marker camping was permitted. He thanked me but did not turn around so I assume he was just scouting the area. We continued west passing a road that was part of another side trail at .7 miles. At .8 miles we turned off the road to the left to follow a road that becomes a trail. In a few hundred feet we walked to the shores of a small pond. I dropped my pack and took out my camera to take some pictures of what would be the only "feature" of the hike. After packing up the camera, we headed back out on the trail which had yellow DEC foot trail markers. At 1.35 miles we came to a sign that said "Private Property". I had been under the impression that the trail was all on state land. I decided to backtrack to see if I could find another trail. I went back about .2 miles and found nothing. I decided to press on reasoning that if I was on private property it would not be for long. The signs were very unclear and at 1.9 miles I ran into a blue blazed trail heading left or right. I decided to turn left and see if it headed back to the yellow trail I had been hiking. The blue trail seemed almost unused but within .25 miles I was back at the "Private Property" sign! I turned around and found that I would never have seen the turn if I had not known it was there. I turned around and followed the blue trail back to the junction with the woods road. I turned left and followed the woods road until it made a right turn to the northwest. After only .3 miles the trail came out onto a gravel road. Along the way I had packed up some yellow blazes again but only for a short distance.
When we hit the gravel road and turned right or south, I noticed that the sky had clouded over a little more but that it was still warm we walked south on the road for .65 miles when one of the side trail on my map appeared on the right. We turned right on the grassy woods road which was not blazed in any way. After a short walk we came to a clearing with a picnic bench, table and fire ring. We continued through the clearing following the woods road with the help of the map on my cell phone. We were descending for the first time on the hike but I didn't know where we would end. Soon I could see a kind of gate on the trail ahead and some "Posted" signs. A look at the map confirmed this was the end of the trail which turned out to be a walk to nowhere. We turned round and climbed back up the to the picnic area and back to the road. The side trip was .9 miles for very little payoff. We stopped at the edge of the road to get a drink for both of us and a bar for me. We continued along the road headed south watching for the next side trail. I kept consulting my iPhone Avenza app which indicated the trail should be on the right. I could not find any trail although I did see a clearing off in the forest. I decided to continue on the road. In another .4 miles we were back at the point were we had turned onto the trail to the pond earlier in the hike. A little more than .1 miles farther was the gravel road that seemed to be part of a trail to the south. We turned right onto the road and began to walk south. The day was still warm and the walking pleasant although I was beginning to get tired. After walking .6 miles, I could see the turnaround at the end of the road but I had not seen the trail that should have turned off the road to the right! We turned around and walked back down the road looking for the trail on the left. Neither Sheila nor I could find any evidence of a trail or even a well-worn path. We continued to the end of the road and turned right to head back to the car. There was one more side trail which should have appeared in about another .3 miles along the road. When the trail did not show up, we kept walking and found it a little farther along. We turned right into the woods and began to follow another unmarked and unmaintained trail! We soon came to a swamp and I considered turning around but pressed onward. A little after the swamp I picked up, some yellow ribbons which seemed to follow the path of the trail on my map. I soon began pushing through small pine trees with the ribbons carrying me father south and east than I wanted to go. The direction I thought I should go showed no evidence of a trail. I decided to turn around and call it a day. We walked back the same way we had come and back out to the road. We turned right and walked back to the car arriving at 3:35 PM> We had hiked 7.3 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an elevation gain of 855 feet. I find it hard to recommend the Hickok Brook MUA as a hike unless you are going there for the solitude it can provide. I would suggest the loop without the side trails which is what I presented in the trail link above.
On Thursday, May 4th, I had planned to get out early to hike but an ambulance call in the middle of the night made sleeping a little later necessary. When I got up at 9:00 AM, the temperature was in the high 50's and the sky was cloudy with some sun peaking through. The forecast called for increasing temperatures and more sun so I dressed in lighter pants and opted for a light windbreaker. I decided that I would investigate some more trails from the trailkeeper.org website that I was working to correct and improve. My choice was to first head to the Mongaup River Trail south of Glen Spey and stop by Hickok Brook MUA on the way back. Driving to the Mongaup River would take almost an hour and I had to make at least one stop along the way. We left Livingston Manor at 9:30 AM and I drove down State Route 17 to Liberty. I finished my business there and picked up Route 55 south toward Eldred. I drove for 23 miles through Swan Lake, Kauneonga Lake, and White Lake. In Eldred I turned left at the light on CR-32 (Proctor Road) and drove a little over 5 miles to Glen Spey. I turned right and then left on CR-31 (Upper Mongaup Road). I again drove south a little over 5 miles to Route 97. I made a left, crossed the bridge over the Mongaup River and made a quick left into the parking area. There was already a car parked and as I was getting ready another turned into the lot. I set my electronics and was ready to hike at 11:10 AM. The trail left the right side of the parking area as a flat gravel path paralleling the river. I was surprised the Mongaup was flowing high and fast. The trail was easy to walk and I was glad as I had left my poles in the car opting to put Sheila on her leash. For some time I did not see any other people so I let Sheila loose and we walk quietly on the trail. Several times I dropped down to the water's edge to take pictures. The river was very bit as pretty as the Neversink in the Neversink Unique Area. At one point I looked up and saw people ahead and out Sheila on her leash.
The other hikers stopped o take pictures and talk so we passed by them with a "hello". The trail remained easy to follow and relatively flat and well maintained. I stopped one more time for pictures and then continued on to an old cemetery to the right of the trail. The engraving on the stones was weathered and hard to read but one date said "1882"> I took some pictures and by the time I was done the other hikers were in sight. I shouldered my pack and we walked a little further but found that the trail had ended at almost exactly 1 mile. We turned around and stopped to talk to the other hikers. Sheila was surprisingly well-behaved as we talked. The couples were together and they were hiking the six trail in the Upper Delaware Take a Hike series. One couple was from Wisconsin and the other from Northern Virginia. We discussed hiking in the area and where they had been and where they were going. Their next hike was going to be to Jensen Ledges in the afternoon. I talked to them about rating trails and they gave me some good insights. As we turned to walk back, the couple from Virginia hike back with us. We had a very pleasant time talking about hiking and places to live in general. The walk back was even quicker than the walk out. We were back at the car at 12:15 PM having hiked 2.1 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes. The elevation gain was 130 feet. I pulled out of the parking lot and turned north on Upper Mongaup Road to retrace my earlier route back toward Eldred.
On Wednesday, May 3rd, I had not planned a specific hike but wanted to get out and do something as the weather for the rest of the week seemed questionable. When I checked my cell phone at 8;)) AM, I found Lisa had left a message asking if I wanted to get in a hike. I called her and she said she was still interested and would like to go to Hodge Pond. We agreed that she would come to my house at 9:00 AM. I went outside for a minute and found it was a little chilly with temperatures in the low 50's and a stiff breeze. I decided to wear my Columbia Omniheat pants and Mammut hoody for a little extra warmth. I also rough along a light hat and gloves. Lisa was right on time so I loaded up my gear and Sheila and headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Mongaup Road and drove to where the road split. I stayed left at the Y and drove up Beech Mountain Road to the parking area. We were surprised to see two other cars already parked at 9;20 AM. I set my electronics and we crossed the road to begin our hike at 9:25 AM. We hiked the Flynn Trail passed the register toward the woods road that would take us to Hodge Pond. I had wanted to bring a saw to clear some of the blowdowns but didn't think I would have time. We kept a quick pace up the trail as we talked about various subjects we have in common. We made the 1.7 mile climb to the junction with the Big Rock Trail in about 45 minutes. As we continued on the Flynn Trail the moss covering on the trail was exceptionally green and beautiful. I pointed out to Lisa where the snowmobiles have been avoiding the gate and mentioned ,moving a few rocks might help. At the next split in the trail we stayed left to continue to Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail. As we descended to the pond, a few drops of rain fell. At the shore of the pond, the drops turned to sprinkles. I took a few pictures of the bleak pond and then stowed my camera, By this time there was a full-fledged rain shower going on so I pulled my pack cover over my pack. We started back up the hill as the rain continued. Both of us had mentioned hiking back along the outlet stream from Hodge Pond but we decided to leave it for a drier day. We hiked up the hill from the pond and by the time we reached the top the rain had all but stopped. As we walked back along the Flynn Trail, I stopped and took a few pictures of the bright green moss. We continued on to the junction with the Big Rock trail arriving there at 10:45 AM. We started down the Flynn Trail which is all downhill from the junction stopping only once on the way. Near the gate we followed the Flynn Trail into the woods to the right to avoid the roseate property around the cabin. Lisa sign the register and we walked back out to the car arriving at 11:25 Am. We had hiked 5 miles in just a few minutes more than 2 hours with an elevation gain of 796 feet.
On Monday, May 1st, I had not planned a specific hike but wanted to get out and do something as the weather for the rest of the week seemed questionable. I thought about going to Frick Pond to do some trail maintenance but the morning dragged on and I thought it a little late to start chopping. I decided instead to go to Mongaup Pond and hike a loop around the pond. This loop was posted on a website I am working on and the distance was listed at 21.88 miles! I was pretty sure the loop was shorter than that. When I mentioned this to Cindy, she said she wanted to come along so we got dressed and put our gear in the car. Sheila likes it best when we all go hiking so she was jumping around and making strange vocalizations. We left Livingston Manor around 10:15 AM and headed out the DeBruce Road.After about 6 miles I turned left on the Mongaup Road and at the intersection with Beech Mountain Road I stayed right toward Mongaup Pond. In a mile I pulled over and parked in the small parking area just before the entrance to the campgrounds. The park was not yet open so parking in the lot by the bathrooms would have been free but I wanted a GPS track from outside the entrance. The temperature was only in the mid-50's but it was very humid. I had worn light pants and gaiters. I put on a short sleeved baselayer and a light shirt. I left the house with a light windbreaker but almost immediately ran inside and changed into on OR pertex rain jacket. I set my electronics and we left the car at 10:40 AM with Sheila on her leash. The area was strangely deserted as we walked through the gate and stayed to the left to walk the paved loop road on the western side of the pond. It seemed that we were walking in a cloud as we approached the observation platform and boat ramp at .35 miles. I decided to walk over and take some pictures. The pond was almost completely obscured but some features were visible through the mist. After taking a few shots we continued north on the road. Walking the road was very easy even though it rolled just slightly. At just less than a mile we walked off the road toward a bench at the edge of the pond. I dropped my pack and took out the camera. I took a few more shots of the pond from this angle. There was one, lone mallard duck near the shore. I shouldered my pack after stowing the camera and we walked back out to the loop road to continue the hike. We followed the road as it curved to the right until we came to a T at 1.25 miles.
We turned left and followed the road until the sign for the Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail appeared on the right at 1.4 miles. We turned right to follow the blue-blazed trail along the west side of the much smaller upper pond. The trail was in good shape and only a little damp. At 1.7 miles the trail turned left to head for Hardenburgh. I walked down to the edge of the pond to take a few more pictures. Sheila decided to take a short swim. When she came out of the water she began her mad dash around us. Instead of following the trail, we continued straight ahead on the snowmobile trail around the north end of the pond and south along the eastern shore. The snowmobile trail was not as well maintained with quite a few small branches lying in the trail. It was continually wet with interspersed areas of mud. It was also very rocky in places. At 1.7 miles we began the only assent on the hike which lasted for only .3 miles and gained less than 100 feet. The trail crossed several bridges and at 2.2 miles we came to the junction with the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail. Turning left here would eventually lead to Flugertown Road near Long Pond. We continued straight ahead on the snowmobile trail. The trail began to descend and at 2.8 miles turned due west. Around 2.9 miles a snowmobile trail branched off to the left heading toward Mongaup Falls. We continued straight ahead toward one of the campsite loops. The trail here was flooded from a blocked culvert and we decided to cross the stream where it narrowed. We came to a campsite loop road at just over 3 miles and walked toward the pond passing by campsite 38. We walked toward the pond and came to a road intersection. Immediately to the left was the loop road to another campsite. We passed up this road and continued on to the main loop road where we turned left to head back to the car. In minutes we were at the entrance to the park and our car. It was 12:05 PM and we had hiked 3.4 miles in just under 1.5 hours. The elevation gain was only 310 feet.
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 had 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 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.