November 2, 2014

Hunter Mountain via the Spruceton Trail - Nov 2014

November 2, 2014
Had a wonderful outing on Hunter Mountain with my good friend Gary and his wife Trisha. We drove down to the Catskills and climbed right up to meet winter. Yep, in some areas, winter has definitely arrived!

Our mountain for the day. On our drive down, as we got deeper into the Catskills, we could see snow on the mountaintops and wondered how our chosen trail would be.

Yikes. Lots of snow sightings in the area. Good thing I wore and brought warm clothes!

Getting set to go - 3.5 miles up 1945' to the fire tower on the summit.

We took Spruceton Trail up the old fire tower jeep road, which meant a wide and relatively smooth route. But plenty steep.

A pretty view along the trek up. 

Arrival at the summit.  Strong winds kept blowing through, whipping snow from the trees across our faces. As soon as we got there, we had to turn back around away from a huge wind gust.

Fire tower and ranger cabin. Thermometer on the cabin's porch showed a balmy 20F or so up there at 4,040', not taking into account the wind.


 Gary and me in front of the cabin during a calm spell.

 We ventured up a couple stories of the fire tower to see the area mountains. We didn't go up farther because it was so cold. Gary said when the gales came through, it almost felt as if we were going to be blown over, and I agreed.


Me, feeling a bit cold but very happy!

There was a ring of lovely little snow-covered evergreens around the summit.  Here are some of them from the tower.

Gary enjoying his lunch, with the word "enjoying" being used loosely.
I didn't even get mine out.

Heading back down the lonely trail. Ours were the only footprints on it today.

Back down at the bottom, close to the parking lot,
where most of the snow on the trail had melted. What a fun outing!!

October 27, 2014

A Revamp

I haven't posted on this blog in forever but I think I'm going to start again - with a revised blog name and all.  I'm surprised it gets any hits but since it does, I'm really hoping that the info regarding my awful digestive/colitis/autoimmune reaction issue has helped others.  Since I'm in good shape as far as that is concerned, I'm going to share more general - and typically more fun - info on here.  And hopefully some people will find those posts helpful too.  I know I'm frequently doing searches on the internet in hopes of gleaning helpful info from other peoples' experiences and knowledge, so I'm hoping to give back in that regard.  :D

October 26, 2014

Plotterkill Preserve - October 2014

October 26, 2014
My friend Nancy and I decided to spend some girl-time together at Plotterkill Preserve out in Rotterdam, NY.  The start was nice and smooth, and we decided to take the red looping trail, a trail neither of us had taken before but that looked pretty straight-forward and simple on the map posted by the trailhead.

I knew from my own and others' experiences, the trail marking here isn't particularly good.  We followed the little paint marks on the trees pretty well for a while and then found ourselves like this - crab walking along 45 degree angled slick-as-hell terrain.  Once we got ourselves down, around, and re-oriented, we saw that there was a set of stairs we could have conveniently taken.  Hmmm.

 We're good sports so we easily laughed it off and kept going, to this lovely spot.  You might notice my hand is clenched.

In hindsight, I'm guessing it might be because we were on the edge of a remarkably steep ledge.  Here's looking down from where we were standing.

Taking a little break to enjoy this sweet little waterfall. 

The pretty pathetic markers seemed to appear and disappear randomly. We were seeing red, yellow, and white ones, and none of them seemed to provide a clear path. We hadn't even seen a white trail on the map. We decided to go down, down, down this steep trench because we wanted to keep going and to see the falls, and I recalled our going down a steep trench to the creek on an earlier visit. This is when Nancy announced that she had become an official tree hugger. When we got down there, we remarkably saw a red trail blaze. We couldn't believe it! Until we realized "a" was the key word and we couldn't see any other ones in any direction.

We saw people on the opposite side and asked if they had come from a trail. Nope, they had gotten there the hard way - up and down and criss-crossing the creek. So we figured we'd go with it and criss-cross our way upstream, which we knew headed towards the bridge we had initially gone across.

Yay! We ended up at the bottom of a beautiful falls. Ran into two other folks. Had they come from a trail? Nope, but they had a plan for getting out and back to their vehicle, which was at a different parking lot than ours. Didn't work that well for them as they returned 10-15 minutes later to try a new plan.

 Our spectacular plan? To scale up the side of the gorge to the trail we knew was along the top. We figured that if we could successfully make it up the slippery mud section, we could then pull ourselves up using tree roots and rock corners as leverage until we traversed over to the rock shelves which would be relatively easy to get up. Somehow, it worked, and we made it. <sigh of relief> 

What the hell is this?! Oh, we made it to the top of *that* falls but not all the way up, and we didn't have it in us at the moment to continue scaling up the gorge wall. Guess we'll keep heading upstream, criss-crossing our way across the creek as needed any way we can. . .

until we came to the next, beautiful, bigger falls! You might note how steep, again, the sides are. <deep breath> We could attempt to retrace all that we had done (which would have required us to dangerously go back down the gorge wall back by the other falls) or we could suck it up and scale up this part of the gorge.

This time we'll be going up the other side, which we knew had a blue trail at the top heading to our parking lot. I had been on the blue trail before, knew where it was, and knew just where it went. Choose your spot carefully for a steep, slippery experience.

Did I mention it was very steep and slippery? We held tightly onto anything we could find that didn't move. Surprisingly (or maybe not) a lot of things moved and slid, sometimes pretty much all the way down. Those things, we tried hard to avoid.

Every so often, we would hold onto and hug a tree tightly, take a few deep breaths, share a laugh about what we were doing, give each other words of encouragement, and plot a course for the next section of the climb up. 

I suppose it's obvious that we made it up. And we immediately came upon the blue trail that would lead us home. Phew! Here's a look down from where we came on this side. We hugged, we high-fived, we cheered for our combined awesomeness.

On the way out, we looked at the trail map again and noticed this statement that was posted about the red trail. You don't say, eh?!! If nothing else, with all of the energy we expended, we'll get a good night's sleep.