Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Overlooks in the Catskills, October 2013

Overlooks and vistas in the Catskills aren't like the ones I've experienced in other states. The roads and towns in the Catskills are located in the valleys, so getting a view from the top takes a bit of work. The three shortest hikes to overlooks I could find were the mile-long Tanbark Trail, four miles for the Giant Ledges, and six miles for the top of Slide Mountain, highest in the range. After my fall on the Tanbark I decided to leave the others for another day. So most of my vistas were from the valleys, and consisting of pull offs on the road.

One of the better ones was Palmer Hill, past Arkville on Route 28, the main east-west highway in the central Catskills. It had some rise, and there were several nice angles for photos.

The pulloffs on Route 28 I found to be boring, but one on Route 30 a few miles from the intersection of the highways was promising. However, I arrived late in the day and the light wasn't very good. When I am next in the area I'll have to visit again.

Side roads were hit and miss, and I didn't want to spend hours driving up and down mountains on gravel looking for vistas that might not be there. However, I did find two while headed elsewhere.

This photo was taken from the car. There was no pull off, but the road was quiet, and so I rolled down the driver's window and fired away. I was above the town of Fleishmann's - I don't remember the road.

Much of the Catskills is private land, and I generally respect property rights. However, while driving around I glimpsed a vista through a strip of trees. I parked the car, walked through an opening in the stone fence, and saw this. The owner hadn't posted "No Trespassing" anywhere I could see, and he had cut a short trail through the meadow. I took it, and took 50 photos from various angles. Because its private land I won't disclose where it is. Whoever the owner is, thank you.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

18 months of progress!

The photograph on the left was taken in French Creek State Park in November 2010. The photo on the right was on the Appalachian Trail in Pine Grove Furnace State Park last weekend. Almost three years separate those photographs. But my disfigured gait in the photo on the left is only a memory for me. I can't remember how I used to walk. I'm not sure I could if I tried. And I don't want to try. 

Some of my friends don't understand why I gush as I do about my bilateral knee replacement. But I can't help gushing. There's not a minute of the day I want to go back to as I was. My world was getting smaller and smaller as I lost the ability to do things - hike, walk, climb stairs .... live. Now my world is only getting larger. How can I keep quiet about that? I want to SHOUT! My eighteen months of recovery from surgery is a struggle, and I'll struggle some more. But I'll win, and have a good time doing it. 

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Pole Steeple, October 2013

On Saturday I did another hike up Pole Steeple in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. My previous hikes this year and in 2010 were in May, and the cooler weather and fall colors were the draw this weekend. Also my friend Jake had never hiked to this overlook, and I enjoy showing it off.

We parked at the trailhead at the foot of the trail and headed up. The climb was steep, but less steep than I remembered. Practice makes progress, or third time's a charm? Jake had no trouble with it, as he's an experienced backpacker and is half my weight. Regardless I made good progress on the climb until the final approach to the overlook, where I had to be careful on the stone stairways. The rock climbers had no such problems. I'd love to learn rock climbing, but I doubt I'll ever be able to do it, and and as long as I have hiking I'll be happy.

Speaking of which, Jake had a good time doing the hike his own way, which means carrying a backpack. He prepared lunch on the overlook, enjoying a Mountain House product as he sat hundreds of feet above Laurel Lake. He kept apologizing for the time he took preparing and eating his lunch, not understanding that I was exactly where I wanted to be. I sat on a rock near him, not as near the edge, and ate a bagel in the sunshine and wind.

 After a half-hour atop the overlook, we headed back down, taking the loop route of the Appalachian Trail, the connector between Pole Steeple and the AT, and the park road. We left just as the horde arrived - the largest group of Boy Scouts we'd ever seen. Jake estimated the size of the group at 75 Scouts, Scoutmasters, and parents. How they all fit on the overlooks I don't know. Fortunately we had moved on by then. So had the rock climbers, as my photo shows.
I had a good time on the hike. No falls, little feeling of being out of breath, and a pace of a bit more than one mile an hour for the whole trip. My feet were a little sore by the end, and I had some swelling in my knees. The latter is normal for many people with artificial joints, and the former is probably a sign I need to replace my trail runners. (Heavier wearers break down the midsole sooner.) As the photo shows, once again I stood at the top; while I don't quite looked relaxed, I'm not as tense as in the photos of the last climb. Perhaps I'm getting the hang of this.


A Taste For The Woods: 2013-10-27

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A Taste For The Woods