On Tuesday, March 24th, I was ready for my first hike of the spring season. Lisa had emailed me the night before and we decided to hike Cabot Mountain from Beech hill, a hike we had not attempted in the winter for over three years. The morning started out colder than I had anticipated so we delayed our departure until 9:30 when I picked Lisa up at her house. I drove up the Beaverkill Road to Beech Hill Road where I turned right. I continued 2.6 miles to the trailhead for Cabot Mountain. Even though it was spring, Lisa and I knew we would need snowshoes or spikes for the hike! At the trailhead parking area there was a bank of snow at least 5 feet tall. The parking area really wasn’t plowed but a wide pass had been made to open up enough space to get a car off the pavement. I pulled in and we got out to put on our gear. Sheila was excited as she ran up on the snow bank and down the trail as Lisa and I got ready. Continue reading
The week of March 22nd began with snow flurries and cold, windy weather on Sunday. Although the temperatures rose above what was predicted, the gusting winds made the day feel very cold. The forecast for Monday calls for highs only in the mid 20′s with windchills making it feel like single digits until the afternoon. Tuesday should be warmer as the temperatures rise into the mid-30′s and plenty of sun will make it feel even warmer. By Wednesday the temperatures will rise into the low 40′s and on Thursday the thermometer will show highs in the low 50′s. There is a possibility of rain showers on both Wednesday and Thursday. The temperature will drop into the high 30′s for Friday with overcast skies. By Saturday the sun will be around again but the highs will be just above freezing. There is still enough snow to make snowshoes a good idea for hiking on the peaks. Trails that are packed hard in the morning may soften with in increasing temperatures throughout the day. Crampons or spikes may be required in spots as the trail thaw and then refreeze. 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 Thursday, March 19th I wanted to get out for what would be the last winter hike of the season. Of course, the Catskills have a way of prolonging winter and several inches of snow was in the forecast for Friday. I had decided to head for Big Pond for a hike to Little Pond and back. I had several possibilities to complete this loop including staying on the trails, walking back on the roads and making a side trip to Cabot Mountain. I expected the temperature to be low in the morning but when I awoke the thermometer had a single digit reading and the wind was blowing. I delayed my start leaving Livingston Manor just before 10:00 AM when the temperature had crept into the upper teens. Sheila seemed more than ready to go when we arrived at the Big Pond parking area. Continue reading
On Sunday, March 15th we had the kickoff meeting of the Willowemoc Trail Crew at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor. The kickoff was postponed from March 1st due to inclement weather but 20 people showed up for a short meeting and a snowshoe adventure at Frick Pond. The trail crew was formed to help maintain and improve the trails that have been adopted by the NYNJTC in the Willowemoc Wild Forest and the Delaware Wild Forest. This includes the trails around Frick, Hodge, Mongaup and Long Ponds. It also encompasses the area of Trout and Mud Ponds and Huggins Lake. These two areas are in diffferent DEC regions but both have trails that need maintenance. Most of the 349.3 miles of trails in the Catskill [park are maintained by volunteers and volunteer trail crews. The meeting started promptly at 1:00 PM with a short presentation and the introduction of two special guests. Heather Rolland represented the NYNJTC and Ian Dunn, the DEC Region 3 land manager, was also present. Continue reading
The week of March 15th begins with a forecast of rain showers and highs in the high 30′s for Sunday. The temperature rises into the mid 40′s by Monday with some sun. After that, the temperature again drops into the 30′s on Tuesday and the mid 20′s on Wednesday. Both days may see some snow showers with little or no accumulation. Thursday the temperatures are again in the low 30′s rising to the low 40′s by Saturday. All three days will be primarily sunny. There is still enough snow to make snowshoes mandatory for any serious hiking on the peaks or, for that matter, in most of valleys! Trails that are packed hard in the morning may soften with in increasing temperatures throughout the day. Spikes may be required in spots as the trail thaw and the refreeze. 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, March 13th, I had planned to hike Balsam Lake Mountain from the Millbrook side since it had been along time since I had hiked a 3500 foot peak. I knew I would be getting a late start as we had an active shooter drill at Livingston Manor schools from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM. The drill went well and was over by 9:30 AM which was a pleasant surprise since I could now start my hike earlier. As soon as we got back to the building, we got an ambulance call in Roscoe. I was still back home before I had planned so I called Cindy who was shopping and she agreed to hurry home so that we could go. We were just heading out the door at 12:30 PM when the pager again went off for another call in Roscoe. There was no other EMT available so I responded knowing that it would mean changing plans to a much shorter local hike! When I got home at 2:00 PM, I decided we should try Balsam Lake as I had headlamps and the weather was warm. Continue reading
On Wednesday, March 11th Lisa wanted to get out for a hike. We agreed to wait until the morning to make a decision since it was supposed to rain overnight. When I woke up at 6:00 AM, there was still some drizzle in the air but by 8:00 AM it had stopped. This meant it would be possible to attempt a hike but the snow conditions might be questionable due to the rain and increasing temperature. I contacted Lisa and we agreed to meet downtown at 10:15 AM. We left Livingston Manor and headed out the DeBruce Road to Fish Hatchery Road. I turned left and drove toward Mongaup Pond turning left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. I parked in the smaller lot and immediately could see that it was icy. After some equipment malfunctions, we got started on our hike by walking to the larger lot and out the back on the Quick Lake Trail at 10:40 AM. Continue reading
On Tuesday, March 10th I wanted to get in a hike somewhere before the warmer weather and rain completely ruined the snow. I was tired of Frick Pond and decided to head to Giant Ledge and, possibly, to Panther Mountain as well. Sheila, as always, was ready to go as I loaded up my equipment and headed out of Livingston Manor at about 8:45 AM. The temperature was still in the teens but the forecast was for highs in the low 40′s. The farther I drove along CeBruce Road the worse the road conditions became. The road was full of potholes in some places, covered in water in others and gad a layer of ice and snow from Willowemoc to Round Pond. Once I turned left onto the Frost Valley Road, the conditions improved although there were still a fair number of potholes and a lot of dust. There were no cars parked at Biscuit Brook and only one in the Slide Mountain parking area. Continue reading
On Sunday, March 8th I wanted to get out and snowshoe after 10 days of a bad cold and a teaching stint at Liberty High School. Sheila was showing the effects of not being out and sniffing my cloths every time I left the house! I preached in the two churches on the other side of the county and did not get home until just before 1:00 PM. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Frick Pond as I did not want to go too far my first time out after being sick. She agreed and we got dressed and put our gear in the car. Sheila could hardly contain herself and ran back and forth between us as we got ready trying to make sure we were really going. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Fish hAtchery Road to go to Frick Pond. When we arrived at the parking areas, there were already three cars in the smaller lot so I parked in the larger lot which was empty. There was a large group getting ready to leave and we tried to get on the trail before them. As it turned out, they started out on the trail just before we did. They seemed to be beginners and were trying to snowshoe without poles. They also had a small but noisy dog on a leash. We followed them from the parking area to the trail register as they moved slowly on the packed trail. They stopped at the register and we took the opportunity to walk around them. We headed out to the pond and in a short distance met a young couple coming toward us. Each of them had a baby in a backpack. It seemed that it was good they were heading back as the babies were getting a little cranky. The trail was pretty well packed as the walking was easy as we approached the junction with the Logger’s Loop. We decided to turn right on the Logger’s Loop to avoid the larger group behind us. We assumed they would be heading left to Frick Pond. The problem was that the Logger’s Loop was not broken since the last storm had dropped about six inches of snow and sleet. As I started out on the trail, I could barely see the trail we had broken weeks earlier. Apparently what I could find was good enough as we did not sink very deeply. It helped that the snow drifting off the pond forms very compact and solid drifts. We were soon headed down the trail to Times Square where the Logger’s Loop was well-packed by snowmobiles. Walking on the packed trail was a pleasure as we continued to head northwest on the Logger’s Loop. The trail is a little uphill at the start and we soon heard snowmobiles approaching from the north. Two machines went by but slowed down as they passed us. We walked a short distance and heard snowmobiles again. This time 6 or 8 went by and I was afraid we would be plagued for the next mile. Fortunately, that was the last group we encountered. The rest of the hike to Iron Wheel Junction went quickly and we arrived at 2:35 PM after hiking 2 miles. We had made the big turn on the Logger’s Loop and we were now headed south to complete the loop. We looked at the Quick Lake Trail that leads back to Frick Pond and saw that it was also unbroken. We started out on the trail and I found the heavy, crusted snow made breaking trail much more tiring than in powder. My snowshoes tended to break through and then slip under the crust which made lifting them more difficult. This continued until we were finally at the junction with the trail around Frick Pond. This trail was well broken and we turned right to head toward the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond. As we crossed the bridge, the wind picked up and we could not see any tracks from the large group we ahd met in the parking lot. I looked around to see if there were any pictures I wanted to take but decided nothing was very different than my other trips in February. We turned right and hiked up the hill just after the bridge. We made good time walking back to the car on the broken trail. When we arrived back at the car, the other cars were missing from the lot. It was 3:30 PM and we had spent 2 hours hiking 3.7 miles with about a 450 foot elevation gain.
The week of March 8th began on Sunday with temperatures in the high 20′s and light snow beginning at about 8:30 AM. In some parts of the county the snow was much heavier than predicted and persisted until about noon. At that point the skies cleared and the sun came out melting the snow on the roads. The temperatures rose into the mid-30′s and there was plenty of sunshine although it was breezy. On Monday the day began in the teens but temperatures were predicted to rise into the high 30′s again with sunny skies. On Tuesday the highs will be in the low 40′s but the skies will be cloudy. By Wednesday the highs will be in the mid 40′s with periods of clouds and sun. Thursday will be a little colder with highs in the mid 30′s but with plenty of sunshine. On Friday the temperature will rise a few degrees and it will be sunny all day. The forecast for Saturday is for the mid 30′s but with rain showers in the morning. Anyone hiking should be prepared for lower temperatures at the trailhead and on the peaks! There is still enough snow to make snowshoes mandatory for any serious hiking on the 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!