The fall foliage this year has disappointed, possibly due to warm temperatures persisting into late October, but on the drive up to the Catskills, the maples growing high atop the Shawangunk ridge were glowing in such exotic shades of yellow, orange, and red — and creating such a kaleidoscopic effect that it took a conscious effort to focus on the winding road.
Half-way through July, and I’ve completed just over half of the Catskill high peaks, many at night due to limited windows of opportunity during the day, but the rest of the month is tighter, and time is running out. The Grid has become a burden, and I feel a little like Sisyphus, doomed to push a rock up the mountain only to see it rolling back down again. But without burdens, life would be unbearably light, which is why Camus wrote that one must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Without enough time to write full articles on each climb, here are some notes from recent hikes, mostly for my own purposes in keeping track of the Grid Experience:
On the drive up to the Catskills, the early morning clouds were tinged with red, and then as the road snaked higher into the mountains, a burning eyeball appeared in the rear view mirror, a circle of fire smoldering between mountain ridge and lowering sky; it was like someone had opened a furnace door. But on reaching the trailhead, all was gray again, and snowflakes were twirling in the air.
A few minutes later, my friend Amy arrived. Her friend Serguey was supposed to meet us, too, but he was running late and had texted her not to wait, so the two of us set off. My weekend goal was to bag six peaks, four of them off trail, and these would be first-ever winter bushwhacks for both Amy and me…
Spring had arrived early, it was quiet at work, and so I made plans to take Friday off and head to the Catskills, with the goal of bagging two or maybe three more mountains in my quest to hike all thirty-five of the highest peaks barefoot. The forecast called for temperatures in the 50s, reports indicated that all the ice was gone, and the 90% chance of rain seemed only a minor consideration. How could a person not want to be in the woods on a day like this? And what about a dog? Feeling in good spirits Friday morning, I hopped out of bed, gave a shout for Odie the Labradoodle — and off we went, arriving in due course at the Seager trailhead deep in the western Catskills.