Wednesday, June 20, 2007


So Saturday, after several not-so-successful attempts at finding the trailhead (I parked in three different places and then we had to get directions from the parking lot to the trail) we started our hike at around 10:30. People kept asking where we were going and then saying, "Oh, that's quite a hike." Which had me a bit nervous, but as it turns out "quite a hike" just meant "very pretty long walk with occasional hikey bits." You begin and end the hike on a carriageway, and in between do quite a bit of trail hiking, and hiking along exposed rock. The woods was full of small flowers that I think must be some kind of rhododendron based on their shrubiness and the shape of the leaves. Fields of rhododendrons almost in some places.In other places we were out walking on the exposed rock, which was hot, but provided nice views of the other hills and such. There are steep cliffs and deep (and sometimes fairly wide) crevices in the rocks. It's like the Adirondacks in the sense that you can really feel how old the landscape is. There were quite a few hawks flying about and then, as we hiked along the rocks, we could hear thunder and see a summer storm beginning to roll in. Occasionally we would see a sharp streak of lightning.As we went back into the woods and rhododendrons we could feel the storm approaching, with the wind beginning to pick up. It actually felt nice because the day was quite hot. We put our rainjackets on when we felt the storm was about to break, and a few minutes later heard a loud crack of thunder and it began to hail. Which was so totally not what we were expecting. They were actually large enough bits of ice, and falling from a great enough height, that they rather stung, particularly when they hit our heads or hands. The hail fell for about five minutes, and then it rained for another five. And then it was sunny again, although cooler than it had been before.
At some point we had passed Gertrude's Nose (whatever it was) although I had failed to notice. We then went up over the top of Millbrook Mountain. It's strange: althought the views are pretty, the hike isn't difficult enough, and the peak not high enough, to give you the almost euphoric feeling of accomplishment that you get when you reach the top of a mountain in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks or in the Rockies. Of course, the view is also quite civilized looking.From the mountain we were really closer to done than not. There was a sustained period of upward hiking (the only one on the hike) and a pretty stream full of moss-covered stones, along with the rhododendrons.
We got to the car just as it started to rain again and headed back to the city. Hopefully this is something we'll be able to do again in the fall. I don't know of anywhere that has better foliage than the Catskills and it's been years since I've seen it.

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