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Hiking / Camping

The Wolfpack Returns

catskills_hike_wreck028A few years ago The Wolfpack attempted a 6 peak hike in the Catskills, which we found the plane wreckage of a WWII B-25 Mitchell Bomber. Due to the intensity of the hike and lack of trail on the latter half, we skipped the last two peaks of Balsam and Friday mountains, found the plane crash, and hiked back to our vehicle. Well this summer we’re returning to conquer those last to peaks.

Because the mountains don’t have trails and are very steep, we’re doing a day hike (no overnight) so we can carry lighter backpacks. Below you can see the full hike, and how we returned on day two. The red line is the path we took without trails. Notice how steep the mountain is! It also makes it hard to find flat land to set up tents.

We’re planning on a July 20th hike. We’ll be discussing the paths to take (and by take I mean create) in the upcoming weeks. I gotta admit, this does not look fun but I’m excited for the challenge and to knock these two off the list.

 

Catskill’s Hike – Panther Pictures Posted

Pictures are posted from my hike up Panther Mountain in the Catskills. I’ll try to get a journal entry written

soon.

http://www.theliberaltraveler.com/photography/?album=5&gallery=87

The Devil’s Path Pictures

Pictures from The Devil’s Path in the Catskills are up. I’ll try to get a blog entry about it up soon.

Atop Twin Mountain.

 

My Favorite Hike

Sitting in the very square cubical which was her office, my college counselor Corie and I would talk about anything but school. She was the one who prodded me to drive up the West Coast to Vancouver, and now she was doing it again. But this time it was to head Eastward and Up. We got talking about hiking and camping, and while I told her I had no gear to my name, she offered to lend me hers. She suggested an area called the San Jacinto Mountains.

The mountain range is about 90 miles east of Los Angeles and boasts a peak of 10,834 feet. Since most of my prior hiking experience was from the Boy Scouts at least six years earlier, I was happy to get back in the game, and so the next weekend I hopped in my car and went my merry way.

Coming from Los Angeles, commuters should take I -10 towards Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, getting off at Route 243. I made my way down to the Park Headquarters in Idyllwild, just to familiarize myself with the area, possibly obtain a map, and figure out which trail to take. It turns out you need a permit to enter the Park, so I’m lucky I stopped in. (Not that anyone really checks.) I then drove back up the road to a designated parking area, and entered to woods via Deer Springs Trail. Starting out at 5600ft in elevation, my first goal was to make it to the first unofficial junction 2.3 miles ahead at 6900ft. There I could split off to Strawberry Junction or Suicide Rock.

The hike up Deer Springs Trail is absolutely beautiful. Coming from a person who has only hiked on the east coast, it was spectacular to see the different kind of vegetation and landscape the west has to offer. From smoothed rocks to Coulter Pine Trees. From dry brown dirt to Western Fence Lizards. It was familiar, but with its own twist. Aside from the picture above, here are some of my favorite memories:

Eventually I made it to that first junction, grabbing a shot of Suicide Rock and deciding to continue on Deer Springs Trail to Strawberry Junction. Here is where my memory gets a little shady. I do recall spending the rest of the afternoon hiking, but I’m not sure if I made it to Strawberry Junction. (Being that SJ was only another 1.8 miles, I’d like to think I made it.) What happened was I felt a slight pain in my right ankle in the late afternoon / early evening. I stopped to rest in a fairly open area (SJ?) and decided that since the view was so great and the ground was so level to set up camp for the night.

After setting up shop and finding some firewood, I cooked dinner and enjoyed a beautiful view of the stars as the evening continued. When I was ready for bed (probably around 9pm) I promptly put out the fire and hit the sack. After what felt like only a few hours I awoke to the sun beaming brightly on my tent door. Or so I thought. Apparently I didn’t put the fire out good enough and some wind must have kicked ash up and relit it. As a Eagle Scout who takes very good care of his fires I was highly embarrassed. Using most of my remaining bottled water, as well as some urine (which is 95% water), I put it out again. I stomped and buried the ash and piled the rocks on. There was no way this sucker was going to reignite.

Several hours later I woke up to a slimmer of sunlight shining on he tent. I thought it was odd though the moment I saw it flicker. I opened my tent to see the campfire lit itself once again. Granted it could not have expanded much because of the rocks placed atop it, it was still disconcerting. I stomped it out, saving my last remaining drops of water for the hike down, and watched the sunrise as my body awoke.

By the time I was ready to head down, I felt like the fire had no chances of relighting. It had been about 8-10 hours time, put out twice, and closely monitored that morning. I have never encountered such a feisty fire before.

The hike back was just as rewarding as going up (if not more so being that it was easier). Heading down gives you scenic views overlooking the land below. Sprawling hills, huge white rocks, and treetops covered the land for as far as the eye could see. My ankle still did hurt while hiking back, but at least the descent went much quicker than the ascent.

This hike happened several years ago and yet I still cannot get it out of my head. I constantly find myself looking back at these photos and recalling the fond memories of this trip. A picture may be worth a thousand words but a memory like this will last a lifetime. The uniqueness of the terrain and interesting plant life keep drawing me to come back. If you ever get a chance to climb this mountain range I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to see a few more pictures you can check out my album here.

Here is a copy of the trail map:

The Devil’s Path

Hiking the New York Catskills during October is great. The weather is moderate with some easygoing wind, the leaves are changing colors, and if you go high enough you may even catch some snow.

A week after my New Hampshire Road Trip with Copilot I’ll be going on a hike with the Wolfpack along The Devil’s Path. Since we only have a weekend to do it, we’ll just being doing four of the six peaks: Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, and Plateau. These will be my twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth peaks of the Catskill 3500′s.

To paraphrase from Wikpedia:

The Devil’s Path is a hiking trail in the Catskill Mountains of New York, often described as the toughest hiking trail in the Eastern United States. It draws hikers from not just the region but far outside, due to the challenging climbs straight up, and down the steep gaps between the four peaks of the range, which often require hikers to use hands as well as feet to pull themselves almost straight up cliffs and through rocky chutes. These climbs, however, lead to many spectacular views of the Catskill range.

The plan is to hike the four eastern peaks that weekend, which I believe to be roughly 9 miles. We will leave around 7am Saturday morning and return Sunday evening. So far four people (including myself) are going. It should be a difficult but yet fun hike.

I finally got around to organizing my hikes within the Garmin BaseCamp App on the computer. You plug the GPS into the computer via USB and it uploads all the data from the GPS. Afterwards, I took a look over at the eastern part of The Devil’s Path. Check out the four pictures below.

Picture 1 = Google Maps
Picture 2 = Catskill’s Print Map
Pictures 3, 4 = Garmin BaseCamp Maps

Hawaii Trip – Entry 2 : Maui

The second island on our trip was Maui. Upon doing my research of this island the two main attractions are “The Road to Hana” and the historic town of Lahaina. On the morning of our first day here, Copilot and I woke up a little later than we’d have liked to. It might have been because it was following our first night sleeping at sea, and we had to become accustomed to the slight rocking of the ship. (This was only a problem our first night, and our last.) We had breakfast aboard the ship, to which we saw this beautiful rainbow (pictured left) appear during our meal.

After breakfast we departed for the “The Road to Hana”. The Hana Highway, as it’s known to locals, is a roughly 60 mile windy road that has dozens of one-lane bridges along the way. There are stops for waterfalls, gardens, beaches, vendors selling local foods such as pineapples, coconuts, and banana bread, and even cave tours. The cave tour we did, which was listed on the popular Road to Hana (R2H) CD, was not all that spectacular. I’ve done others here in the Upper 48 that were much more exciting.

Amongst the most memorable of our stops were:

- The Garden of Eden around Mile Marker 10. This is a botanical garden and arboretum containing some pretty exotic plants.

- The Black Sand Beach at Waianapanapa State Park. Mile Marker 32. This is a great place to stop for a break and have a picnic.

- The Seven Sacred Pools (O’heo Gulch) hike. This was around Mile Marker 42. It requires a four mile hike (Round Trip) and was moderately steep. At the time I went it was pretty muddy and wet. Anyone going should allocate about 2 hours for this journey. The last 1/4 mile at the top is totally worth it though. First you start walking along a boardwalk surrounded by bamboo trees that are thick and only a few inches apart. As the wind swept through they clanked together making a very mystical sound. As you approach the waterfall you can hear it and feel the mist in the air. The following pictures will not do it justice:

I really wanted to drive around the whole island and do what was Beyond Hana, so at Hertz I upgraded to a Jeep which allowed me to continue on the unpaved portion of the drive. By “allow” I mean gave me the capability, because it technically voided my contract by driving on the unpaved roads. But one of the ladies behind the counter “encouraged” me to see what was beyond Hana, without actually telling me to drive beyond it of course. In my opinion the 15 miles before and after Hana were the best of the trip.

A -  (covered by F) : Kahului
B – Garden of Eden
C – Black Sand Beach
D – Hana
E – The Sacred Pools
F – Kahului

I would have liked to see Charles Lindbergh’s grave, which is along the route beyond Hana, but didn’t get the opportunity. Maybe next time. ;) Although Maui may look small based on the map above, that trip took about 12 hours. According to Wikipedia : “the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hāna.” Not to mention we drove an additional 62 miles beyond Hana back to Kahului via the southern route, with a huge chunk of it that was not paved.

The second day in Maui was Copilot’s day. After an exhaustingly long day of road tripping we laid low and stayed on the ship. We went tanning by the pool, and ate all three meals on board. It was a very low-key and relaxing day, something I think we both needed, especially Copilot. In my next entry I’ll talk about our trip to The Big Island, which involved a helicopter tour of a volcano in Hilo and a raft and snorkel excursion in Kona (as well as coffee and shopping for Copilot of course!)

Daily Life 6/13/12

So….. this has been a very hectic beginning to the summer.  Where to start?

GARDEN

I’m finishing my fourth week with the herbs (three weeks actually in the planter I built) and things are going well. The Basil, Oregano, and Parsley and doing fine. The Rosemary is another story. The Powdery Mildew just won’t go away. I tried wiping it off with a wet paper towel. No luck.

REFINANCE

The Refinance with Bank of America seems to be moving along. Twice already they have called asking for forms I already sent in. I just spoke with the Rep yesterday who said all they are waiting for now is the Title Insurance and for my Co-op to send over the Hazard Insurance information. It seems like we may be on par for the 45 days the dude told me during our first phone call.

KAATERSKILL HIGH PEAK

On Saturday June 2nd I went with three friends up Kaaterskill High Peak. It had rained sporadically during the week leading up to it, plus a lot the day before and even the morning of. The trail was flooded, and my friend’s girlfriend only brought running shoes. Her feet were soaked. I felt horrible.

The rain did bring out a lot of bugs and amphibians. We saw this cool bug with silver markings on his back, a frog with a reddish brown spot, and a red eft. When we reached the top we had lunch and watched the mist crawl over the mountaintops in the distance. That was cool. We hiked back down and camped at North-South Lake, cooking marinated steaks and hotdogs (one of the benefits of car-camping!)

BABIES, EVERYWHERE!

My friend’s Adam and Whitney just had a baby. Two weeks ago (ish?) we stopped over to visit. Last Wednesday Copilot’s cousin had a baby girl as well. (Who’s next?) We just went down to New Jersey last Saturday to visit her.

WORK

Work has been hectic. The movie I’m working on just opened and we are working on Review Spots non-stop. Review Spots are television commercials with the reviews included in them, such as “John Doe says it’s Fantastic!!” or “Jane Smith says it’s the movie of the year!” normally with a narrator or graphics, or both. Luckily it’s been quiet for the past two days. Hopefully we’re done. We finished three and a half of my spots which, one of which already aired during The Colbert Report last night. :) I say “half” a spot because I didn’t start it, but eventually took it over and did the next 10 versions. But the other three were created, and revised solely by me.

HOME IMPROVEMENT

So my toilet broke. The flapper valve was definitely the culprit, until I replaced it but it’s still not fixed. Now there’s a leak and the tank keeps refilling every our. It’s really annoying. I had to turn the water off every night before bed. It still could have been the flapper valve, maybe I needed a better one, but Copilot convinced me to just buy a new bowl…. which led to a knew Vanity…. which I know will lead to new tile…. She’s not a fan of the “peach” tile. I don’t blame her. I don’t like it either. I just put in the new toilet last weekend, with the help of my dad. If I get time I’ll write more about that experience. It was… intense. Let’s just say the previous owner did a shoddy job.

VACATION TIME!

At the end of the month Copilot and I be flying to Myrtle Beach for a family reunion on my mom’s side. It should be fun, especially since I haven’t seen some of these relatives in over a decade. It’ll be a short trip, just three days. But we come back for a week and then fly out July 4th to Hawaii! That will be my 50th state. We’re even renting a car in Honolulu for 3 days just so I can say I’ve actually driven in all 50 states. Then we’re off to a 7 day cruise to all the other islands.

Between everything going on in my life just thinking about this all makes me tired. But I know once I’m chilling by the beach with a cold drink in my hand everything will be just fine and that Life is good.

Kaaterskill High Peak

Last weekend a few of us hiked up Kaaterskill High Peak. You can see pictures here. These past few weeks have been exhausting. If I get a chance I’ll write about it later. Let’s just say it rained the day before and morning of, so the trail was flooded as you’ll see from the pictures.

 

The Kancamagus Highway and Kennebunkport

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

A couple of years ago I went on a fall camping trip in the Catskills. It was the first weekend in October. Most of the trips I had done up there were in the summer, so this was a slightly new experience for me, although I hadn’t thought of it like that. That was until I drove over the Mid Hudson Bridge and witnessed the beautiful Fall Foliage that revealed itself to us as we got farther and farther north.

The hike itself was amazing. I was stopping every few minutes to catch another exciting photograph. The vibrant colors that the trees produced, from yellows and greens to oranges and reds, were breathtaking. That is when I decided I needed to take at least one trip each fall.

I ended up finding this very helpful website, the Foliage Network, which helps pinpoint when the season and its peak will be. So far I’ve ventured out twice on the first weekend in October and it’s been great. It seems like a perfect weekend to see the fall colors. I’d like to take it up a notch this year by traveling to the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire.

The Kancamagus Highway is a 26.5 mile two lane road, officially part of New Hampshire Route 112, that runs east to west through the White Mountains. It opened in 1959 after two dead-end roads were linked together. Its name comes from the third and final Sagamore of the Native American tribe that lived in the area. His name, Kancamagus, means “The Fearless One”. After fighting off English settlers, he and his tribe moved north into Canada.

My plan is to travel the highway the first weekend in October, unless the foliage reports this year differ greatly from last. I’ll try to make it a 3 or 4 day weekend, and instead of bumming it on the cheap, take Copilot and stay at a nice bed and breakfast. As it turns out, we typically celebrate our Anniversary on the first weekend in October or the weekend prior rather than a specific date, because than we can enjoy a night out and not have to worry about work the next day.

Anyway, I’m excited for this trip. Hopefully the weather will be nice and I’ll get some great photographs out of it. I started to plot it out on Google Maps and realized how close it was to Kennebunkport in Maine. After going to Bar Harbor and having a blast we were excited to go back to the area, and Kennebunkport was a place on the top of our list.

I’m thinking we could drive up Friday night to Lincoln, NH, then tour the White Mountains Saturday, going on a picnic, do some wine tasting, etc… and then head to Kennebunkport Saturday night. We could spend a day and a half there eating seafood, going kayaking, etc.. before heading back down to New York Monday evening.

Sounds like a plan to me!


View New Hampshire and Maine Trip in a larger map

Kaaterskill High Peak Plan

There are a few stressful things in the “Adult World” that I’m trying to put in the back of my mind, like the difficulty in refinancing the place and waiting for the new 2013 Ford Escape to be released so I’ll have a car that Copilot will be willing to sit in again. In the meantime, planning hikes and plotting my family tree on Ancestry.com have been keeping me occupied. More on the Family Tree in another post…

I think the next hike I’m gonna do will be the Kaaterskill High Peak in the Catskills. This time though, I’ll do a round-trip day hike to the peak, then drive a short distance and camp at North South Lake. By “car-camping” it will allow some non-experienced hikers to come, and ensure a nice flat ground to camp on (and a cooler for drinks in the car!)

Unfortunately the campsite doesn’t open until May 10th, and that weekend is Mother’s Day. The next weekend I’ll be kayaking on the Hudson, and the weekend later is Memorial Day. So it looks like I’ll have to push this off till June. Maybe I’ll plan a harder one for a smaller group for the end of April.

Anyway, I plotted two possible routes I found through some research. It looks like there’s a great overlook called Hurricane Ledge, and possibly two old plane crash sites. The photos don’t look promising though, as if not much is left. I guess there’s only one way to find out…

Here’s a map of the possible routes: