The week of January 25 began on Sunday with a breezy and cool day. There was plenty of sun and the temperatures stayed just below freezing. The big news was the possible storm that was predicted to bring snow to the Northeast. The predictions kept changing but the final word for the Catskills was for less than a foot of snow in most places. The numbers for the Hudson Valley and points east and south were far greater. By Tuesday morning all schools and many business were shutdown in Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Putnam counties as well as counties farther east and south. In Livingston Manor the amount of snow that had fallen by early Tuesday morning was about 6 inches. The forecast was still calling for more snow during the day. By Wednesday the snow will end and a sunny but cool day is expected with highs in the low 20′s and a brisk wind. Thursday will be cloudy and slightly warmer but still below freezing. Some snow showers may be on tap for Friday with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 20′s. Saturday will be MUCH colder but sunny with highs only in the id teens. The recent storm makes snowshoes mandatory for any serious hiking peaks or, for that matter, in most of valleys! When parking to hike, be sure you are out of the way of snow plows and do not park in places where they must turn around. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Friday, January 23rd I had wanted to go to the Mohonk Preserve as I had purchased a membership for my wife and I on my last hike. I also wanted to hike another piece of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail from the Spring Farm Trailhead toward the point where I had turned around on them last hike on the Old Minnewaska Trail. Cindy wanted to go with us and we were in no real hurry to get started as the temperature was supposed to rise throughout the day. We left Livingston Manor shortly after 10:00 AM with our spikes in my pack but without snowshoes. I knew from my hike on Monday that there would be ice but very little snow. I drove east on Route 17 heading to Liberty. From Liberty I took Route 52 to Ellenville and got on Route 209 north toward Kingston. After a few miles, I made a right on Route 44/55 heading over the mountain toward New Paltz. We passed the main entrance to Minnewaska Park and continued through the hairpin turn to the junction with Route 299. We turned left here and drove toward New Paltz turning left on Springtown road and then left onto Mountain Rest Road. Mountain Rest Road eventually becomes Mohonk road and we continued on it passing the entrance to the Mohonk Mountain House. After about a mile I turned right on Upper Knolls Road at the sign for the Spring Farm Trailhead and at the point where the main road made a sweeping turn to the left. We pulled up to the small gatehouse and showed our passes. After a short conversation with the attendant, I parked in the parking lot where there was only one car present. We decided to take our spike with us rather than put them on. There was a slight breeze blowing and the temperature had not yet risen into the 30′s. We walked back toward the gatehouse and started out Upper Knolls Road to begin our hike at 11:30 AM. Just passed the gatehouse, we turned right onto the Chapel Trail which took us through a field to the woods.
After a very short distance in the woods, it became clear that the trail was too icy to hike without spikes and we stopped to put ours on. Almost immediately after this we descended an icy slope to a stream and then climbed back up the other side. The trail climbed briefly and then started another descent which was also very icy. After walking through some woods, the trail passed close to a field with some horses and I leashed Sheila in as she wanted to go play with them. As we walked along an elevated walkway, another couple came walking toward us with there small dog. The dog was unleashed and the owners were unconcerned that this is very rude! We said “Hello” as we passed. We ascended a small hill, crossed a powerline right-of-way and came to a road. I had looked at the map previously and thought we should turn right at the road. We turned and started to walk on the shoulder but the further we got the more I knew something was wrong was we were walking north instead of south. I looked at the map and found I had not noticed ether were two roads to cross! We turned around and walked south on the road to where we had started and then crossed to the other side and picked up the trail. The blazes on the trail were faded in most spots and turns were not clearly marked. After a short walk downhill we arrived at Clove Road where we turned right and walked west to a small parking area. There were NO BLAZES or signs at the parking area. Some tracks headed up toward a building while some entered the woods west of the parking area but NO BLAZES were present. Cindy walked into the woods and I continued west on the road until I found the triangle of blazes that announced the start of the Undivided Lot Trail. Cindy and Shiela walked around and up the trail to meet me and we all began our walk along this trail. Almost immediately we encountered a “river of ice” that looked as if it was flowing down the path. There were other boot prints that skirted this glacier but Cindy and I both simply walked over the ice confident in our Microspikes. Sheila also did not seem to care about the ice. We continued to ascend and to periodically come across icy patches interspersed with crunchy snow and bare spots. Soon the red blazed Stokes Trail headed off to the left but we stayed to the right. At 2.3 miles the trail came very close to the edge of the ridge and we had a good view to the northwest. We stopped and I took a few pictures before we moved on. As is often the case, there was a better lookout a few hundred feet further along although it required a short walk on a path to the right to get there. This time I took off my pack and took some more pictures. We each ate half a Bear Tracks Papa Bear Bar and then returned to the main trail to continue our walk toward the southwest.
At 3.1 miles we began a descent and I knew by looking at the time and the distance that we would have to turn around soon. I had not marked the spot I where I had stopped on the previous hike and wondered whether we were 2 miles or half a mile away! I decided we would hike until the two hour or four mile mark whichever came first so at 3.5 miles we started the steepest ascent of the day. Actually, the ascent was not that steep but it was icy and seemed to hang on the edge of the ridge with a steep dropoff on the right side. The trail started to level off at the top and Sheila and I went ahead of Cindy to get to the four mile mark. As we approached the turn around point I spotted a chimney to the left of the trail and what looked like a skating rink which I assumed was the flooded foundation. I knew I could remember this spot when I came back one more time to fill in the gap between my last two hikes! Sheila and I turned around an walked back to Cindy who was coming toward us. We turned around and started back. I knew that the return trip on the Undivided Lot Trail was mostly downhill and that we would not be stopping at the lookouts. This would make the “back” go faster than the “out”! We did stop once near the end of the Undivided Lot Trail so that I could take pictures of Cindy standing on the ice flow and one of the ice flow itself. Once at the road we turned right, walked a short distance and then turned left on the Chapel Trail. We walked up a short hill to Mohonk Road and walked across the road to stay on the trail. I asked Cindy how far she thought it was back to the car and she said “About a quarter mile”. I knew that the distance was closer to a mile and that there were several icy uphills to negotiate. I did not find the uphill stretches too taxing and knew I had at least another three miles in me. When we got to Upper Knolls Road we removed our spikes and walked back to the car. It was 3:10 PM and the attendant was gone. At least half a dozen cars were parked in the upper part of the lot. I knew there was a lookout there but decided to save it for another day. We had hiked 7.3 total miles which could have been more like 6.2 without the mistakes in navigation. The hike had last 3 hours and 42 minutes with almost half an hour of stopped time. We had ascended 1610 feet. As we drove back to Route 299, we but decided we would stop at the Mountain Brauhaus if it was open. We had a great lunch after a rewarding hike. At home my GPS software showed that we were only .9 miles short of the point where I had turned around on my previous hike!
On Monday, January 19th I had planned to go snowshoeing with a small group of people from the Liberty Schools. Unfortunately, the rain on Sunday had been m are extensive than I had thought it would be and I knew the snow around Frick Pond would not still be conducive to snowshoes. I also wanted to go somewhere that might have less snow which meant either Orange or Ulster counties. There was still a lot of ice around Livingston Manor so I decided to go to Minnewaska to hike a part of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail that I had not done. My plan was to park at the Coxing Trailhead on Clove Road and hike the Old Minnewaska Trail perhaps as far as the Spring Farm Trailhead near Mohonk. I knew this trail was relatively flat and straight. I got Sheila in the car and left Livingston Manor at about 9:00 AM heading to Liberty on Route 17. From Liberty I took Route 52 to Ellenville and got on Route 209 north toward Kingston. After a few miles, I made a right on Route 44/55 heading over the mountain toward New Paltz. After passing the main entrance to Minnewaska Park I continued past the park office on the left and turned left onto Trapps Road. The road appeared icy and I did know whether it would get better or worse. I changed plans and drove back to the park office and parked in the parking area. I immediately saw that the Red Loop Trail out of the parking area was a sheet of ice. I checked in at the office and paid the $8 parking fee. Back at the car I released Sheila but put her on her leash. I donned my Microspikes and the rest of my equipment and we headed out on the trail. There was a breeze blowing but the temperature was in the high 30′s making it feel warm compared to the previous week! The trail was flat for the first few hundred feet and then began to drop toward the Peters Kill. It was very icy but the Microspikes were just the thing and there was some snow beside the trail which made walking easier. At about .3 miles Sheila walked off the traitor the left toward he Peters Kill. Called her back but saw she was following a path that others had taken down to the stream. We walked down to the stream and found that there was a good deal of ice along with the flowing water. I dropped my pack and got out the camera and took pictures of the beautiful stream. When I was done, I shouldered my pack and we continued down to the point where Red Loop Trail headed back up to the parking area.
We picked up a yellow connector trail here and walked down to the blue High Peters Kill Trail. The SRT is coalinged with this trail and I had been on the trail from Jenny Lane to the bridge that we were no approaching. When the yellow trail ended at the High Peters Kill Trail, I decided to turn left and walk down to the bridge. I took a few pictures of the bridge and several more from it before turning around and walking the other way. I was now walking a trail I had never been on before and this is always exciting for me. Sheila for her part seemed completely “healed”. She had been licking her paws and seemed to have trouble with the icy snow at Frick Pond on our last hike. Now she was running ahead and then coming back to me and seemed to be having a great time. As we walked, I had to stop to open up the pit zips and front zipper on my Mammut Hoody as the sun had come out. Of course, the sunshine was starting to melt the ice and the trail putting a thin coating of water on top of the ice. As we started out on the High Peters Kill Trail we had hiked about .75 miles but had lost over 350 feet in elevation. At this point we began to climb toward Dickie Barre, one of the premier rock climbing areas. For the next .25 miles we climbed the icy trail gaining about 370 feet and averaging over a 21% grade. The trail was icy all the way with some steep dropouts on the right. I could see a nice view on the right side of the trail but could not get a clear view through the trees until a series of icy ledges at just over 1 miles. We walked to the right off the trail and finally found a place that I could put down the pack and take out the camera. The ledges were very icy and Sheila was making me nervous as she wanted to walk right to the edge. The views were spectacular to the south, east and west. To the west and east were some of the cliffs in the area that draw rock climbers to the area. Behind the cliffs on the right or to the west snowcapped mountains rosé into the low hanging clouds. I took quite a few pictures before putting the camera away. We headed back to the main trail, and followed it around to the north side of the hill without actually hitting the top. At 1.3 miles we hit our maximum elevation of 1270 feet as we passed between higher areas to both the left and right. At this point we began to descend an icy trail toward the Coxing Trailhead.
At 1.3 miles we began the descent heading south to about 1.6 miles where the trail turned northeast and east. Everything was covered in ice including the stone steps that formed part of the descent. At one point I looked up to see a medium sized boxer running at us! Sheila wanted to play and the other dog seemed friendly but I immediately called Sheila and put her on her leash. The owner of the other dog eventually showed up but showed no signs of being able to control his dog or that he was even concerned. He was just another irresponsible dog owner that gives us all a bad name. He said he was coming from the Coxing Trailhead and that the roads to it were “Fine”> I knew this was not the case but thought I might check it out when I got there. As we talked two more dogs appeared and started to harass his dog and Sheila. Again, the owners eventually appeared and showed no concern for courtesy or park regulations. I let them pass and waited a few minutes before continuing. We were soon at the trailhead after hiking about 2.4 difficult miles and dropping 590 feet from our highest point to what would be our lowest point. It was only 11:55 AM so I decided to hike a little farther to check out the Old Minnewaska Trail. Signs reminded me that we were entering the Mohonk Preserve and I resolved to purchase a membership when I finished the hike. We crossed the road and picked up the trail which was icy but relatively flat compared to what we had just hiked. Within a couple hundred feet we were at a bridge over the Coxing Kill. There were signs in the area explaining the contributions of the Smiley family and one denoting the foundation of the Enderly house. I stopped at the bridge and took a few pictures of the water as it flowed through a narrow sot in the rocks.
I picked up the pack and we continued east northeast until about 4 miles. The hike was uneventful as the trail was now mostly covered in snow with some bare patches. On the left or to the north I could see some mountains but couldn’t get much of a view until just before we turned around. At 12:30 PM we started back and I did stop once to take a few pictures. On the way back we met one hiker coming toward us as we exchanged greetings as we passed. As we neared the bridge I caught sight of a party of eight people that seemed to be a family group with children. One woman asked if they were on the Old Minnewaska Trail and I confirmed that they were. At 1:05 PM we were at the road again after1 hiking 5.5 miles. I collapsed my poles to store them in my pack and put Sheila on her leash as we turned left on Clove Road. I kept my spikes on as the side of the road was still very icy. The roads were not “Fine” as one hiker had said but they were passable to the Coxing Trailhead. As we walked on Clove Road I heard the Coxing Kill on the right side of the road. We crossed over and walked to where I could get my last shots of the day. We continued up Clove Road to the intersection with Trapps Road where we turned right. When we got to Route 44/55, we stopped and I took off my spikes and stored them in my pack. We turned right to walk about .3 miles the main road back to the parking area arriving at 1:45 PM. As I drove out of the parking area, I turned left to drive toward New Paltz. I stopped at the Mhonk preserve Visitor center and paid for a year’s membership for myself and my wife. I think the $75 cost will be well worth being able to park and hike at any time and at any place within the preserve. We had hiked 7.2 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes with a vertical gain of 1460 feet. We stopped for over 30 minutes for pictures and to enjoy the spectacular views.
The week of January 18th began with freezing rain as predicted. Numerous accidents around Sullivan County resulted in at least one fatality. The roads were VERY dangerous! Sunday night the temperatures will drop turning the rain that has been falling to ice on the roads. The precipitation should end by Monday morning but temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will remain in the low 30′s or high 20′s with some sun. On Wednesday there is the threat of some snow showers. By Thursday the sun should be out again but the temperature will be in the mid 20′s again. This trend will continue through Saturday. The continuing low temperatures following periods of rain will mean ice on the trails and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Snowshoes are a good idea even if they remain strapped to your pack. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Friday, January 16th, I wanted to get out one snowshoes again after my first snowshoe hike the day before. The temperature was rising and stood at about 28 degrees when we left Livingston Manor at 10:20 AM. After a brief stop at the post office, I drove up DeBrace Road and turned left on Fish Hatchery Road to go to the Frick Pond parking area. It had been overcast in Livingston Manor but the skies became blue with white clouds the further I drove. I parked at 10:40 Am and we were on the trail shortly after. The temperature as we got out of the car was about 26 degrees which was about 10 degrees warmer than the day before. I heard a noise that really did sound like an approaching train. The wind had picked up and was making me feel pretty cold as I put on my snowshoes. I briefly thought about getting back in the car but decided there were enough options to make hiking possible. My plan was to hike the loop I had done the day before in reverse by hiking out to Frick Pond and then using the Quick Lake Trail to get to Iron Wheel junction. From there we would take the Logger’s Loop to Times Square and climb the Big Rock Trail to the Flynn Trail and descend the long downhill to the car. We began by hiking out to Frick Pond on the wide woods road and crossing the outlet to Frick Pond on the bridge. At the nest trail junction we stayed left on the Quick Lake Trail following our tracks from the day before. By now the skies had started to become cloudy again although the wind seemed to have died down. I noticed that Sheila was walking behind me and seemed to be bothered by her feet. I didn’t know whether it was the cold or the irritation of the hard crust but I immediately decided to simply do the Logger’s Loop and return. We continued up the Quick Lake Trail to Iron Wheel Junction and arrived there at 11:20 AM after hiking 1.5 miles most of which was uphill. As we turned right onto the Logger’s Loop snow began to fall and as we walked it snowed harder. At one point the snow began to pile up on my jacket and Sheila was covered in a white robe. After a while the snow stopped and the sun came back out. The 1.2 mil Loggers Loop starts out with a slight uphill but then levels off and descends to Times Square. About halfway along the trail, Sheila alerted and I could hear snowmobiles approaching. Three machines came up the trail slowing as they passed us with each rider waiving “Hello”. There seemed to be enough snow so that the machines were not churning up dirt. The smell of gasoline only lasted a few seconds and we had a well-broken path to follow the rest of the way to the trail junction. We arrived at Times Square at 11:50 AM having covered about 2.7 miles. We continued straight ahead on the Loggers Loop which had which had a little more of an uphill than I remembered. Soon we were back at the first trail junction where we turned left to complete the lollipop hike back to the car. We were back at 12:15 PM having covered 3.7 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes with about 400 feet of elevation gain.
On Thursday, January 15th, I thought there might be enough snow to try snowshoeing at Frick Pond. Although the temperature was barely into the double digits, I decided to at least try. After a few morning chores, I got my equipment and Sheila into the car and headed out the DeBruce Road to Frick Pond. I decided I want to wait to use my new TSL Symbiioz snowshoes until there was deeper snow. I chose to bring my Tubbs Flex Alp snowshoes which have quickly become a favorite out of the eight pairs that I own. By the time I parked just before 10:15 AM the temperature had risen to the high teens and I thought it might even break 20 degrees at some point! There was no wind and the sun was peaking through the clouds. We crossed the road at 10:15 Am and Sheila immediately started barking at the DEC employee replacing the trail register! As we started up the trail, I knew it would be a good day. Snowshoes were definitely not necessary but, then again, they provided traction and FUN! As we got to the woods road that ascends the hill, I noticed one of my expensive Leki carbon poles needed to be adjusted. I spent several minutes trying to get the internal lock to grip. Eventually I pulled the lower section to the extreme of its travel and gave it a few twists. This seemed to do the trick and after 5 minutes we continued. I stopped by Morgan Outdoors on the way home and Lisa confirmed this is a known problem. The trip up the is all uphill for 1.7 miles but it seemed to go quickly and I was happy I had the snowshoes. I did stop at one point to take a few pictures of the sun sparkling off the snow. We were at the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 11:15 AM at which point we turned left to descend the rather steep hill. The descent was a welcome relief from the 1.7 mile climb on the Flynn Trail. I could almost slide and glide my way down despite the fact that there was only a few inches of snow on the ground. The Flex Alps have a hard plastic deck and are a little noisy on crusted snow but I could hear the sound of approaching snowmobiles coming down the Big Rock Trail. As the machines came into view, the turned out to be two six-wheelers with DEC workers who were clearing the trails. They stopped there machines and Sheila greeted them by barking ferociously. As we talked Sheila warmed a little. I asked that they cut out some speific blowdowns on hiking trails that were a little big for a hand saw. They started their machines and headed towards Times Square as we followed at a slower pace. Soon the machines were coming back up the hill and I waved as they passed. I checked my watch and saw it was noon at the workers said they had somewhere else to go in the afternoon.
We reached Times Square and turned right to started up the Loggers Loop toward Iron Wheel Junction. We had dropped over 600 feet from the highest point on the Flynn Trail and I knew there would be some climbing on the Loggers Loop. There was no trail broken on the Loggers Loop as the machines had turned around at Times Square. The short initial climb went quickly and the trail soon leveled off and passed by a small “pond” on the right. I again stopped to take a few pictures before continuing. I noticed that Sheila was following me and seemed not to be as animated as usual. I did not know if her feet were too cold or she was bothered by the crust on the snow. We reached Iron Wheel Junction at 12:20 PM after hiking 4 miles. We turned left here on the Quick Lake Trail to head back to Frick Pond. The trail has a gentle downward slope and the going was easier than it had been. Passing under the pines after crossing the small brook is always magical to me especially since I helped clear out some massive blowdowns that blocked the trail in this area. We continued along Frick Pond to the outlet bridge where I stopped for a few more shots despite the fact that I already have hundreds of pictures from this spot. After a short break, we continued back to the car. We were back at the parking area by 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes with 970 feet of elevation gain. The temperature had risen to about 23 degrees.
The week of January 11th began with the warmest day in over a week with temperatures rising into the high 20′s. The forecast for partly sunny skies did not materialize as the sun never came out from behind a solid overcast. By Monday morning there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground. As the warm air from the south pushed north the snow changed to sleet and freezing rain and then to rain. Single digit lows will consolidate what is already on the ground. Daytime highs will slowly rise throughout the week but Tuesday will see highs below 20 in most places. The high on Saturday will be in the low 30′s. No precipitation is predicted for the rest of the week with partly sunny to sunny skies. The continuing low temperatures will mean ice on the trails and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Snowshoes are a good idea even if they remain strapped to your pack. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Sunday, January 11th I wanted to get out hiking somewhere after a week of brutally cold weather. The combination of temperatures in the teens and high winds had combined to make conditions almost too dangerous to hike. I always take Sheila with me and it was just too cold to stay out for very long. After we got home from church, we decided that even though the sun had not appeared as forecast we would still try to get out on the relatively “warm” twenty degree day. Cindy decided she wanted to hike and that Frick and Hodge Ponds were a good a place as any. By the time we got all our gear and decided what to wear, it was already almost 12:00 PM. Sheila was beside herself with anticipation as we drove up the DeBruce Road. We parked just after noon and were hiking by 12:10 PM. We had decided to leave the snowshoes at home but I had put a set of Microspikes for each of us in my pack. As we headed out toward Frick Pond on the Quick Lake Trail I was surprised that there were no tracks in the snow. Once we made the turn onto the woods road thatched toward the pond, we did find some tracks. AS we hiked along, I spotted another dog coming our way. Sheila is good about coming back to me when she sees people on the trail but can’t resist say “Hi!” to other dogs. Fortunately, this dog was friendly and we stopped and talked to the owner who told us his dog was part Anatolian Shepherd. We continued on to the pond and crossed the bridge at the outlet. The overcast skies did not present a favorable opportunity for photography so I decided to concentrate on the hike and keep the camera in the pack. There was barely two inches of snow and the ice we had encountered so far was easily avoided. At the next junction the majority of the tracks headed right and around Frick Pond. We took the turn to the left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. The hike to Iron Wheel Junction was uneventful except for the fact I began to notice that I was slipping a little with each step. We reached Iron Wheel Junction at 1:00 PM after hiking 1.5 miles. There were no snowmobile tracks on the trail nor did I expect any with the amount of snow. We turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail with our next destination being Junkyard Junction near Hodge Pond. The walk to Junkyard Junction seemed to go slowly with Cindy lagging behind on the long uphill climb. I was feeling pretty good except for some soreness in my quads and inner thighs. The trail is never very steep and under other conditions handle seems like an ascent. On this day with the snow and ice it was more difficult. We finally made Junkyard Junction at 2:00 PM about 3.1 miles into the hike. We turned right to pick up the Flynn Trail to Hodge Pond.
My muscles were very sore no but walking flat on the Flynn Trail seemed easier. The Flynn Trail often has more snow than other places in the area but on this day there was never more than three inches. There were some very icy places and several spots where we broke through ice that had formed over marshy areas. This, of course, made hiking a little more difficult. As we descended to the trail around Hodge Pond, we had to decided whether to go left or right. The trail to the right is shorter but requires a long although shallow climb from Hodge Pond. We stayed to the left and walked around the back of the pond on the old jeep trail. We turned up the hill at the next junction and started the shorter but steeper climb. My sore muscles were not happy with this decision but modifying my stride and stretching seemed to help. We paused at the top of the hill to get a drink and a snack before turning right to get back to the Flynn Trail. Once on the Flynn Trail we continued toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. Sheila was having a great deal of fun running up and down the trail and then following game trails into the woods. She also was grabbing onto some very large branches and pulling them along until she found the next one. At 2:45 PM we had hiked 4.7 miles to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. Now it was Cindy’s turn to pull ahead as she really likes the downhills. My legs were very tired and even going downhill was a strain. We continued straight ahead aiming for the parking area at the bottom of the Flynn Trail. We encountered several blowdowns including one with a well-worn path around it to the right. It seemed this tree must have been there for some time! The walk down the Flynn Trail always seems long to me and on this day it took forever! At the gate we turned left to stay on the Flynn Trail to the parking area. We arrived back in the parking area at 3:35 PM having covered 6.7 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 950 feet. This was more than an hour longer than a typical hike under better conditions!
The week of January 4th began with the remnants of a storm which brought snow, ice and rain to the Catskills. By Sunday the temperatures were still right around freezing in the valleys and the roads were still icy in places. Rain continued on and off during the day and the temperature did rise in the mid 40′s. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for some sun and clouds with flurries possible each day. The real news is that temperatures will DROP until Thursday when the HIGH will be 7 degrees! On Friday the temperature will rise to a high of 20 degrees which by that time will seem war. Saturday the temperature remains the same but there will be some sun. The snow and ice that were accumulating on the peaks melted some in the higher temperatures and rain. The lower temperatures will turn this into ice and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Snow shoes are a good idea even if they remain strapped to your pack. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Friday, January 2nd Cindy and I planned to do a hike near Ellenville and then a visit to Aroma Thyme for a meal. Aroma Thyme is in Ellenville on Canal Street. It has a good selection of beers and an interesting menu. It is not an inexpensive place to eat but the atmosphere is interesting and the food quite different than other places. When I awoke on Friday there was some lake effect snow falling and the temperature was in the low 20′s with a stiff breeze. I had track practice until 11:00 AM and we agreed to make our final decision when I got home. When I arrived home, I found Cindy was not feeling well and had decided not to go. I was disappointed but knew Sheila was ready to hike. I thought about just hiking close to home at Frick Pond but in the end decided to go to Minnewaska to hike a loop from Jenny Lane. This would allow me to “fill in” some parts of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail that I was missing. Shiela and I had tried this hike in July but turned back when we encountered a rattlesnake. I got Sheila in the car and left Livingston Manor at about 11:30 AM heading to Liberty on Route 17. From Liberty I took Route 52 to Ellenville and got on Route 209 north toward Kingston. After a few miles, I made a right on Route 44/55 heading over the mountain toward New Paltz. In just under 5 miles I turned left into the Jenny Lane parking area. Continue reading