The Grid entails climbing the Catskills’ thirty-five high peaks in each calendar month, and on the drive home from the Adirondacks I planned to swing by and knock out Kaaterskill High Peak, one of two climbs left for August. But as I pulled into a parking spot on Clum Hill Road, the project seemed suddenly pointless. When runners cover ground with no particular training goals in mind, they call these “junk miles,” and now that term seemed like the right description for this hike, whose only purpose was to scratch a name off a list.
It didn’t help that Kaaterskill is one of my least favorites. There’s a long hike in on a wet, rocky path, then you have to cut through the woods to reach a snowmobile trail that’s in truly atrocious condition, and the summit is guarded by steep rock scrambles. Clum Hill Road offered a slightly shorter route, but I’d never been here before.
I got out of the car, glanced at the overcast sky, and didn’t bother changing into hiking clothes or grabbing my pack, didn’t bring any water, and forgot my compass, but headed out instead wearing a polo shirt received as a birthday present and a clean pair of shorts.