Category Archives: Hiking

Great Catskill Hiking on The Devil’s Path

Richard and Gary on Twin, Catskills

Richard and Gary on Twin Mountain, Catskills

Devil’s Path, Catskill Mountains, New York. Gary is visiting again and we decided to do a piece of the Devil’s Path, a hike he’s never done.

Started at Roaring Kill parking area, went up the blue trail to Pecoy Notch, Climbed the west side of Twin Mountain on the Devil’s Path, then went back down to Pecoy Notch and continued on the Devil’s Path up Sugarloaf Mountain and down the other side into Mink Hollow, returning to Roaring Kill on the Mink Hollow blue trail. Great hike, strenuous, steep and rocky but we took our time and had a blast.

Next year we’d love to do the entire eastern section of the Devil’s Path in a day: Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf and Plateau. This would be a huge accomplishment for these two old dudes! I’ve done each of these mountains in pairs but never all at once.

On the Devil's Path, Catskills

This is the view behind us which is where we’re about to go: Down Twin to Pecoy Notch (again) and up and over Sugarloaf.

Gary in a chimney on Twin

On Sugarloaf Mountain

(Gary took the above picture of me on Sugarloaf).

The great thing about hiking in the Catskills is the shale rock makes for the most interesting formations that trails have to weave in and out of. The Devil’s Path is full of this stuff making what would ordinarily be a strenuous hike up and down a bunch of 1500 foot hills much more interesting.

Gary on the devils path

I have to say, many people think the Catskills aren’t “real” mountains and the park is just full of old, broken down “Borcht Belt” resorts. I’ve hiked and climbed in almost every national park and major mountain range in North America and I have to say the Catskills is one of my favorite places bar none. And, I hiked and climbed in the Sierras, Cascades, and Rockies long before I was introduced to Catskill hiking by my neighbor Dave McCullough. I love the odd shapes of these mountains, the shale rock, and the fact that there’s an extensive and well maintained trail system in the park. We look forward to snowshoeing up these great mountains in winter as well. Frankly, I’m sort of glad that many people go elsewhere to hike and I’ve hiked there without seeing another person all day.

Rattlesnake on Brace Mountain, New York

Brace Mountain from Alander Mountain

Brace Mountain from Alander Mountain
Alander Mountain, New York. These are the still shots I took the day we saw the rattlesnake. I’ve put a note on the spot down near Brace we ran into the snake. The hike is a loop: up the gully on the right to Alander, down behind and left and then south to Brace out of frame on the left, then back to the gully on the right on a blue trail straight down the center of this frame. The loop is about 12 miles although the snake cut off the last few miles to Brace. See the next few images for more on this.

Dave confronts rattlesnake

Dave confronts rattlesnake
South Taconic Trail, New York. You can see he/she wasn’t all that big (maybe 3′) but the darn thing had an extremely loud rattle and it was really pissed off.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake
You can see it’s a beautiful animal and you can also see that we attempted to get it to move by tossing sticks at it. All that did was piss it off and keep it rattling longer.

In case you missed the rattle, here it is.

Hawkweed on Greylock

Hawkweed on Greylock

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts. As we hiked over the top of Greylock (Hopper Trail to Appalachian Trail to Moneybrook Trail) we spotted a small stand of hawkweed wildflowers. The droplets on the hairs of their stems looked great although it was tough to find an angle to shoot them from without getting our legs soaked.

Mountain laurel on Bear Mountain

Mountain laurel on Bear Mountain

This was shot with my iPhone 4S and Instagram on climb up the rocks on the north side of Bear Mountain in Connecticut.

This is an odd year for mountain laurel after last year’s kaleidoscopic explosion of blooms. I don’t know if it was the lack of snow and rain over the winter or what, but some plants have no blooms, others have peaked already. I’ve only been aware of mountain laurel blooms on hikes for a few years now so we’ll have to see what the long term trend is. We look forward to these blooms, they’re extremely photogenic and stopping to shoot them is a nice break on longer hikes.

Rattlesnake on Schaghticoke Ridge

Rattlesnake on Schaghticoke Ridge

Schaghticoke Ridge, Appalachian Trail, Kent, Connecticut. Dave and I hike this seven mile stretch of the AT a lot because it’s close to the town we live in and it’s a great section of trail that’s tough enough so it’s not all that popular with other hikers.

This section of the AT has become home to more timber rattlesnakes than any section in Connecticut and while we hike it a lot, we’ve only seen one once before.

This one was smaller, about three feet and lighter colored. Dave thought it was close to losing its skin and that’s why the color was so dull. As far as I’m concerned, a rattlesnake is a rattlesnake and this one was a few feet off the trail, close enough to strike a hiker sitting down on the rock next to it.

We only saw it by accident because there was a wild orchid a few feet away that Dave bent down to take a shot of. Good thing he saw this guy in his peripheral vision.

Trees reflected in a stream

Trees reflected in a stream

On the Appalachian Trail north of Sheffield, Massachusetts. Crossing a small bridge over a stream I noticed another nice reflection so I took my gloves off and took a picture which I’m quite pleased with. However, I then…

Trees reflected in a stream with ripples

…dropped my gloves in the stream and took another picture with the ripples from the fallen gloves nicely distorting the trees.

Shooting reflections

Dave shooting a reflection

Dave shooting a reflection on the Appalachian Trail north of Sheffield, Massachusetts. The light and sky were perfect for shooting reflections on streams and swamps yesterday and we spent a lot of time doing it. Sometimes still water makes interesting images, sometimes a bit of wind rippling the water and distorting the reflection makes interesting images but either way we saw and shot a lot of them yesterday and it made a great hike even better.

Swamp reflection

This is the same image Dave was shooting (shot by me with my camera). I used to think a sun hot spot was something to be avoided but I’m liking what a “sun ball” does to a brooding sky. Mostly I position the sun behind trees but sometimes I let it shine through repeating the shot with each of the S100′s three light meters to make sure I get it.

Foam on Thayer Brook

Foam

These two Instagram/iPhone shots were made on Schaghticoke Ridge, Appalachian Trail, Kent, Connecticut.

These foam shots are almost always in pools on the downstream side of small waterfalls. In other words, the water falls into a pool, makes bubbles, and they collect in places out of the main current in striated ripples. I find it all fascinating because it’s not soap in the water, it’s simply water bubbles collecting.

Foam and sun

Macedonia Brook Reflection

Macedonia Brook reflection

Macedonia State Park, Connecticut. The loop trail around this gem of a park is about 7 miles long and quite a serious hike. It goes over Cobble Mountain and crosses Macedonia Brook just below a large beaver dam. Wearing polarized sunglasses is a must on hikes but they actually prevent one from clearly seeing reflections like this so we’re in the habit of taking them off as we pass potential reflecting pools.

The Scary Consequences of a Lost Smartphone

The Scary Consequences of a Lost Smartphone

This is a chilling piece, worth reading for anyone who travels with a computer, smartphone or tablet.

I found an iPhone on the Undermountain trail on Bear Mountain two weeks ago. There were numerous hikers on the mountain and the woman who lost it gave her boyfriend’s iPhone # to another hiker in case they ran into someone who found it. She should have posted it as a note on the bulletin board at the bottom of the trail but that’s another story. We luckily ran into the hikers with the phone number and I mentioned that I’d found an iPhone. The iPhone was passcode locked but it had a distinctive ring tone: a dog barking so I could use that to ID a claimant.

We called the phone number and the woman who had lost it turned around and in 15 minutes had driven back to the parking lot where we returned her iPhone to her.

Had she not posted or given her number out I might have posted notice on the bulletin board but frankly, I don’t think that’s my responsibility. I’m not after a stolen iPhone and I would have no doubt sat on the iPhone and posted here and called the Connecticut chapter of Appalachian Mountain Club and reported it. I never asked her if she had “Find my iPhone” activated on her computer or she knew how to use it to pass a note to the finder and erase the iPhone if necessary.

As the Symantec study illustrates, had all of this happened in almost any city in the world I’m not so sure the outcome would have been the same.

Foam on Thayer Brook

Foam on Thayer Brook

Schaghticoke Ridge, Appalachian Trail, Kent, Connecticut. Thayer Brook is the last big stream crossing on this hike. There’s usually a small foam whirlpool in this spot and I’ve photographed them here before.

No doubt there’s a scientific reason for foam forming in these patterns right after a small waterfall on a brook because that’s where I’ve found all of the foam patterns I’ve shot. It’s like the foam forms when the water goes over the fall but it takes a while (in this case about 25′) for it to collect like this. There was no foam visible on the water between this little “collection” and the waterfall, just clear water as far as I could tell. This pocket of rock was like a foam collector.