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 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!
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!
The week of December 28th began with an overcast Sunday with intermittent showers and drizzle. Although the temperature reached into the mid 40′s, it felt colder with the moisture in the air and a slight breeze. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for sunny weather but progressively colder temperatures. The temperature will drop to the high 20′s on Wednesday but then begin to rebound with slight increase thorough Friday. Saturday’s forecast is uncertain but calls for a temperature in the high 30′s but with snow and heavy rain. This forecast is for the lower elevations. 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!