Ascent of Kaaterskill High Peak on 2020-10-19

Climber: David Rockwell

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, October 19, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kaaterskill High Peak
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3655 ft / 1114 m

Ascent Trip Report

I set the alarm for 3:15 but couldn't get up. Got up at 4:45 was in the car at 5:35AM. I arrived at Notch Lake and started up Plateau at 7:47 and 25 degees. My fingers were cold at first but as I started the ascent my hands quickly warmed along with the rest of me. It was a steady climb with no extremely steep areas. The 2 mile hike across the top of the mountain was uneventful, although the flat walking was appreciated. I reached the summit at the Eastern end of Plateau and got my selfie along with a pic of my stuck #22 22/39. I talked with a few people at the summit and then headed toward Sugarloaf. I ended up hiking along behind 3 young nurses from Albany. I learned a lot about a certain hot doctor and their views on the China Virus. They surely kenw I was right there, since at every lookout where they stopped I was at the lookout with them. But the gossip was fun to listen to. On the descent down Plateau I crossed 2 mostly dry stream beds that did have water flowing. I could have carried less with me and filled up here. I did not check out the camping area at Mink Hollow, but started up Sugarloaf. This was a much steeper climb. I was happy when I reached the 3500 ft sign to only have a bit more up. I checked out a couple views from the top and got my pic at the summit #23/39. By now it was after mid day and I had crossed paths with so many people. Headed off Sugarloaf, I stopped at a couple lookouts over Pecoy Notch. I sat in some stone chairs at the lookout and snapped off a few scenery pics. The descent into Pecoy Notch was fairly steep and the 50 lb pack on my back didn't make it go any easier. Headed up Twin mountain again meeting up with many people. It was a very crowded Sunday. I did enjoy talking with many of the people along the trail. Was not sure where the actual summit of Twin mtn was, but I got my #24 pic at what I believe was the summit. Descended twin and headed up Indian Head. Passed 3 trail runners on the way up. Those people are CRAZY. Near the summit I stopped and spoke with a group of 5 people from Queens. Many of the people I passed were really unprepared to be hiking, but this group was the least prepared of all that I met. It was 4 guys and one woman. They were all wearing just shorts and tees, no water, no jacket, nothing but their cameras. I asked them if I was near the summit yet and they said they had not reached the summit yet. I told them "Yes, they had passed it since it was all down from here." The guy that was leading the group told me he had not passed the area that he wanted to get a pic. He said the entire reason they had come to do this hike was he wanted a specific picture. I explained that the trail may not have gone by his lookout and he may have had to take a spur trail. He then showed me the pic on his phone of a very provocatively posed, scantily clad young woman sitting on the cliff edge with a large lake just below her. I asked if he wanted the pic of the view or the girl, but in any event he would find neither on this mountain, I had never been on Indian Head, but knew from the maps that there was no large lake to overlook. He insisted, and showed me his phone again to prove it was Indian Head. It was Indian Head in the Adorondacks, not the Catskills. His group was very dissapointed but were at least nearing the end of their hike. I finished climbing and got my #25 pic at the summit. GOt some more pics and videos along the hike. At one lookout I saw the next mountain which I planned on camping on for the night. Plattekill not a 3500ft peak, but one of the Catskill highest 100. I started down Indian Head and heard another young couple talking on their climb. Again, I think people do not realize how their voices carry in the woods. I won't say what this couple was planning on doing on the summit, but I doubt they would have been able to do it without being caught on such a busy weekend. I hiked along and had some extremely steep descents. Which I think would have been near impossible in snow and ice. I then realized the peak I saw earlier, was Plattekill but the Eastern Peak of Indian Head. It was now getting fairly late and I decided that I would soon find a place to set up camp for the night. I passed another very ill prepared hiker. It was a girl wearing only short shorts and a tank top with a very small pack. I instantly thought of the guy with the pic of the hot chick. Maybe you can find girls dressed like that on the summit. I told her she was packing light, she laughed and said I was packing heavy. I warned her it was going to be dark soon and asked if she at least had a headlamp. She assured me she did and said she was just doing a quick summit hike and back out. Soon after I was on a shelf, I went off the trail a few hunderd feet and found a nice place to camp for the night. I pitched my tent, made a fire pit. Gathered some wood and cooked my dinner. It was nice to setup my camp while still in daylight. By 8:30 I was in bed and soon sound asleep. I think I woke up sometime after midnight, We had a light rain and the wind was howling. Every once in a while a large gust would shake my tent, and the rain fly would allow a spray to fall through. My entire top of the tent is mesh, so I would get a mist. I eventually fell back to sleep, I woke up again and checked the clock at 3:55. Although my sleep was quit comfortable, My head was slightly elevated above my feet and I kept sliding down my sleeping mat. I think the problem is my sleeping mat is self inflating and I blew it up. I think I put too much air in it. Next time I will just let it sit an hour to self inflate and not add any extra air to see if that helps. I awoke again in the wee hours with just a bit of light, but quickly fell back asleep and did not get up until 7:30. I made a small fire and cooked my oatmeal, I had brought oatmeal in paper cups, I really liked it but next time I will bring one in a cup and one in a pouch. SO I can use the cup for both and then burn the paper cup. I liked not having to clean a bowl, especially with little water available. I packed up my camp and headed to Plattekill. I crossed a small stream which I though I saw on the map and started up Plattekill. The morning was very foggy, zero visibility out off the mountain. I did not check the map but my memory told me to head up after the stream for the easiest ascent. I however, decided to continue walking East around the mountain some since it was an easier hike at the time. That was a big mistake. When I finally turned up the mountain I was met with huge cliffs. I managed to pick my way up through some very steep cuts but then came upon 100+ ft straight cliffs that there was no way I could safely climb. Looking at the map again, I was sure I had to go back West to find the easier way up. So I started walking along the bottom. At one point I found an orange trail marker lying on the ground on a piece of dead tree. There was also some garbage there. I assumed maybe there was an old trail here somewhere or this was somewhat of a known area to do rock climbing. I continued along the bottom of the cliffs and eventually hit a trail. These trail markers were red (Devil's Path is red) I did not exactly recognize the trail from yesterday but though I may have come back on the Devils Path. I started hiking up and then saw Red trail markers. I climbed the cliffs on the path and came to a fogged in lookout. ANd sure enough it was one I was at yesterday. The garbage I saw at the base of the cliff was tossed off or dropped from this lookout. I had never left Indian Head, never started up Plattekill. SO over 1 hour was wasted in a big loop on Indian Head. At this point I decided to skip Plattekill and hike to Kaaterskill High Peak. I went down the mountain again, passed my camping area. It was considerably farther down the mountain to Devil's Kitchen Lean To than I had thought when I stopped for the night, In hind sight I wish I had camped there instead of back on the trail. The stream I crossed earlier was not the stream on the map, Had I camped at Devil's Kitchen, ny hike would have been up Plattekill instead of Indian Head loop. I walked out to Kaaterskill Falls. The falls were quite pretty. I did not hike to the bottom though, but got some pics and videos from the top. I then started up Kaaterskill High Peak, along the Long Path, and snowmobile trail. The snowmobile trail was very wet and quite muddy, especially where it was flat along the col. I got to a the point where the snowmobile trail intersects the snowmobile trail loop. I met with 2 young girls that were so happy to see me. They said they had been hiking 5 hours and never got to the peak and didn't see another person the whole day. They were a bit nervous. I told them they were on the path to go back to the parking area and they had about 1.5 hour downhill hike. They were so happy to hear this. These 2 were also very unprepared for a full day. They did have water bottles with them, but nothing else. I am happy I was able to reassure them they were heading the right direction. They had told me that they started the snowmobile loop but after many hours decided they better turn around and go back the way they had come. They likely were close to the original starting point when they turned around. I then soon crossed paths with another young couple that told me there was a white blaze trail to the summit. However, I failed to ask if I should have turned right or left on the snowmobile trail to find the blazed trail. SO instead, I started another bush whack straight up the ledges. At one point, I was throwing my pack up overhead and climbing up behind it, and I hit the white trail. Damn, I wish I had found this to begin with. I followed that to the peak. Again it was quite fogged in. I got my pic at the summit #26 of 39. Due to the fog, I did not go get pics of the views. I then followed some herd paths trying to go to Round Top Mountain. I never did attain the summit of round top. I got turned around in the pines multiple times. I kept checking my map and compass. Every time I looked at the compass I was going the wrong direction. The lay of the land did not match my compass reading. At one point I used my compass on my phone just to see if it read the same as my analog compass. It did. I though I was on Roundtop, but wanted to head off to get down before dark because I had told Amber I would be home late that evening. If I hadn't told her that, I would have camped for the night somewhere in this area and summitted Round Top in the morning. Anyway , I strenuously picked my way down the mountain. Many ledges had to be circumvented. It was a very difficult descent. Finally on a shelf, the fog had lifted and I saw a mountain to my right, It was Round Top, which I am quite sure I was never on, or if I was on it, I was not on the summit. I kept heading down hill. I eventually came out on Byrne Road. I walked down the road and hit Platte Clove Road. I asked at a house what road I was on and which direction I should walk to get back to Notch Lake, the guy pointed me in the right direction. As I was walking across his lawn a truck pulled over, I though maybe to offer me a ride. I walked up to the window and the guy was just using his phone. He told me I had a long walk to Notch Lake but I was headed the right direction. I started hoofing it in the dusk. 2 cars passed right away and ignored my thumb. I saw the guy in the truck pull out and did not stick up my thumb to him, since he had already not offered a ride, but he pulled over and had me hop in. He told me he would take me to Bloomer Road and drop me off there. I thanked him, and after talking a minute he said he would not have me walk in the dark and rain and offered to drive me to my car. Huge thank you. It was 9 miles from where he picked my up to my car and about 4 miles from where he was going to drop me off. Understandably hard to get a ride in the time of the China Virus. I got back to the car and signed out at the trail head. I drove in the rain a while, Got back home about 8:30, had a nice venison dinner and soaked in the tub. I can't wait to get back out there on the trail.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Overcast
beautiful day for a hike
Ascent Statistics
    Route:snowmobile trail, bush whack, white balze
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Eastern Devil's Path and KHP (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Plateau Mountain2020-10-18 
2Sugarloaf Mountain2020-10-18 
3Twin Mountain2020-10-18 
3Twin Mountain-South Peak2020-10-18 
4Indian Head2020-10-18 
5Kaaterskill High Peak2020-10-19 

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