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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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 Symbioz Élite 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! Continue reading
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