Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hunter Mountain hike

Yes, it's trailOn Saturday, I began my assault on the Catskills 3500s. Perhaps "assault" is overstating the case a little, though. Think more of trying to slice bread with a foam noodle.

The photo to the left shows a typical bit of Catskills trail. This bit, at least, is mostly walking - no clambering over boulders. Pretty much everything, though, is rocky and steep. The Devil's Path on the way up to Hunter gains about 800 feet of elevation in maybe half a mile before leveling out to something slightly saner. At a junction, the Spruceton trail heads north the Hunter and the Devil's Path continues on to West Kill. I followed the path to Hunter.

Hunter was an excellent choice for a Saturday, as on summer weekends the tower is staffed by volunteer stewards. John and Ralph were manning the tower (that's Ralph down there in the chair; John was up in the tower). They open the room at the top of the tower as well as provide general knowledge, such as what peak is what. There are five fire towers in the Catskills, so with Hunter I was knocking off a 3500 and a tower.

Fire tower cabinThe view from the top of Hunter was magnificent, of course.

By this time it was clear to me that I wouldn't make it to West Kill in any sane manner. It's possible, of course, if one gets started earlier in the day than I did, and is in better shape than I am. Nevertheless, there was no rush to get back down. So I walked over to the Colonel's Chair, which is the top of the Hunter Mountain ski resort.

Rather than closing up in the summer, the resort has a few warm-weather activities such as a challenge course - and the Sky Lift. The lift is free to ride down - $11 to go up. I figured I might as well do it while I was in the neighborhood. The ride was worth it for the views. So I rode it down and up, and then headed back down the mountain. Oh, and how steep? The hike was 5.85 miles one-way, with 3762 feet of elevation gain over the round trip (not including the ride up the lift).

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