Ascent of Kaaterskill High Peak on 2011-06-25

Climber: Mike Wright

Others in Party:Stephan L. & Jack
Date:Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kaaterskill High Peak
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3655 ft / 1114 m

Ascent Trip Report

Stefan and I agreed to go hiking after the weekend forecast was calling for morning showers and 50% chance of rain and thunderstorms for the rest of the day. That meant no rock climbing this Saturday. So after a short delay Stefan picked me up at 8am. He ended up getting stuck in his garage after assisting a neighbor with a jump start and finding that someone had blocked his driveway. So we leave JC and get onto 17 only for Stef to realize that he had forgotten hiking footwear. Wearing only sandals he said that he would be able to hike in those but I refused to let that happen and we quickly detoured onto Rt80 and returned to JC for shoes. Now back on the road again at 9am, mind you I was up at 6am, we were finaly northbound. As We passed new paltz with the skies partly cloudy and just beautiful, we regretted not bringing climbing gear. I cursed the weatherman and trusted that my upper limit on climbing is 40% chance of rain, would hold true. We arrived at the parking area and quickly located the start of the route. Ahead on the trail there was a pond and not wanting to soak my feet just yet decided that a short bushwhack would be better than sloshing thru the water. This decision would soon prove to be just wishful thinking as the entire trail ended up being a stream bed that was running at near full capacity or ponding/swamping nearly everywhere. This caused a lot of rock hopping and developing strategies to avoid getting a complete soaker. Lots of mud, swampy areas and water just everywhere. This is what I get for committing to hiking only when the weather for rock climbing is bad. We negotiated the lower parts of the trail following mostly the Long Path blue markers made finding the way easy. At some point along this beginning stretch Jack, Stefan's blue eyed hound dog had been bird dogging and was about 50m ahead began barking at a high pitch, soon he was hightailing it back to us whimpering and cowering behind us. We stopped and tried to access the situation. Was there another dog ahead? or was that Jack barking like that, well it was Jack. He was clearly spooked by something. After short deliberation we decided that he probably had encountered a bear as nothing in these woods would have normally made him act that way. A large deer would usually have elicited a chase and other such large or small mammals should have done the same. Well, we found no evidence of a bear but those big guys can be really quiet movers and we would probably not see or hear him. Jack remained pretty skittish for a while but soon regained his confidence and was again off chasing stuff. we crossed over 3 pretty heavy running streams which fed spectacular water falls, Hillyer, WildCat and Buttermilk falls. The falls were running at full capacity as there had been a lot of rain overnight and days of rain behind that. As we continued on, the skies got dark and soon the rain began. Stef and I made the decision to don rain jackets even though it was pretty hot out. Soon after starting up again I realized that we were in for a full on downpour and it was time to put on the pants. Thankfully I did as it was really coming down hard. We moved on and began looking for a snowmobile sign which marked the next turn but no such sign was to be found. We pulled out the iPhone GPS on Stef's phone and determined that we should have already seen it, noticing a cairn at the side of the trail we decided that was probably the turn even though the GPS was giving us some strange data, showing that we were already on the snowmobile trail was confusing. So we decided to bushwhack to the summit from the cairn. After about 2-300m we stumbled upon the orange snowmobile trail described in the description of the trail. Again the GPS was not accurate with the current map. We began looking for the cairn that marked the defined herd path to the summit and quickly found it pretty much where it should be and began the ascent. The trail was steep and rocky making for an interesting hike. The summit was about 0.5mi and ended at an intersection at the top where a piece of airplane wreckage was found which I believed marked the summit. No register. After a short break we began our descent. It had stopped raining about halfway up the final climb and we were out of our rain gear. We basiclly reversed our course almost exactly, even the bushwhack. The pace was faster than I am used to as Stef sets a blistering down hill pace. Summiting at 5pm we had a slow ascent but the descent had us back to the car by 8pm. The descent always seems a lot longer than the climb for some reason and by the last 2 miles we were both feeling it in the knees and feet. Feet wet at this point from all the pond hopping I began to care less and less about getting my feet wet, it turned out to actually feel good to step in a stream of cold water which cooled my heating toes. It was a long hike and probably a little bit underestimated, earning it the highest respect of all the summits I've done thus far. This one was a Catskill giant combined with an unexpected bushwhack, spectacular waterfalls and despite the trail conditions actually quite soft underfoot (from the mud and leaves...) the trail was not very rocky and that was really appreciated buy all my leg joints. I could have used a pair of more water resistant shoes but that's ok, feet were no worse than after any other 10+mi hike. Jack thought it was a pretty good adventure as well; he was asleep before we got to the restaurant only 10min down the road. We stopped at the El Rancho restaurant on the way to the thruway and enjoyed some Muy Bueno mexican food and drinks. A great day punctuated by a very appreciated mexican meal.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Hot, Calm, Overcast

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