Notes from Recent Catskill Hikes

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:

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Notes from Recent Catskill Hikes

Sights and Sounds of Winter

Henry David Thoreau, transcendentalist philosopher and author of Walden, wrote an essay on the colors of fall foliage.  But what about the colors of winter?  With this question in mind, I set the alarm for 5:30 AM and went to bed early.  Tomorrow’s agenda would be to climb four of the Catskill high peaks with the goal of making progress toward the Catskill 3500 Club winter patch, as well as the Grid.  And perhaps I’d see or learn something along the way that would help me better appreciate the winter mountain landscape.

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Sights and Sounds of Winter

Connecting the Dots

The goal was five more of the Catskills’ high peaks on one of the last weekends before winter, part of a quixotic mission to summit all 35 hiking barefoot.  Odie and I piled into the car right after breakfast, and the drive to Windham went smoothly — except for route 23, where we had to stop at three traffic lights in a row, which sorely tested my patience, and then navigate a construction zone with a needlessly restrictive speed limit.

Yet once out of the car and on the trail, these frustrations vanished quickly.  The path to Windham High Peak was a delight:  smooth dirt at a moderate grade — a rarity in the rocky rugged Catskills — and I moved almost as quickly barefoot as I would have in shoes.  From the summit, we looked south at the distinctive silhouette of the Blackhead range, which Odie and I had climbed just a few weeks earlier.  Back then, we had marveled in the details: traversing three peaks and three notches, experiencing scrambles, slabs, and sometimes smooth trail, and discovering different plants and trees with each step along the way.  Now for the first time, we got the big picture.

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From left to right: Blackhead, Black Dome, and Thomas Cole Mountains — looking south from vantage on Windham High Peak

Continue reading “Connecting the Dots”

Connecting the Dots