Moonhaw

I was dimly aware that people had climbed Wittenberg from a trailhead or parking area on Moonhaw Road in the tiny hamlet of West Shokan.

The name “Moonhaw” had caught my attention.  I pictured moon-glow in a dark forest, and then imagined a donkey braying.  “Moon” and “haw” are two familiar-sounding syllables, yet the sense conveyed was of some kind of atavistic lunar exuberance, an experience or feeling that would be completely alien in a modern, urban, high-tech world.

The Internet yielded no clues to the origin or significance of Moonhaw.  You would pronounce it, I thought, like this:  “moon-HAAAW.”

And so this became the focus for my next Catskills adventure…

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Moonhaw

Notes from a hike: Nightime bushwhack of Panther and Slide

Men talk glibly enough about moonshine, as if they knew its qualities very well, and despised them; as owls might talk of sunshine.

— Henry David Thoreau, “Night and Moonlight,” 1883

  • Met Alan and Amy for dinner in Phoenicia, and then the three of us proceeded to the Woodland Valley Campground.  It was 8:15 and pitch black, with rain in the forecast, which at elevation might well manifest itself as heavy sleet driven by gale-force winds, and accordingly I’d warned Alan and Amy to prepare for the worst — but they are experienced hikers and were totally unfazed.  After gearing up, we headed out on the trail in high spirits.

Continue reading “Notes from a hike: Nightime bushwhack of Panther and Slide”

Notes from a hike: Nightime bushwhack of Panther and Slide

Finding Energy in the Dark

Driving north on the Thruway, I peered through the windshield, seeking a glimpse of the Catskill Mountains, curious how their appearance today would compare to past trips.  But a layer of clouds had spread across the sky and blocked the sun, and when the mountains’ southern escarpment finally came into view, it was just a dark gray wall beneath a gray horizon.  A dim and gloomy scene, with little contrast or detail, lacking energy, listless.  My heart sank.  Gone was the dazzling light I’d experienced in late December, when a fresh cover of snow and rime ice flashed brilliantly under clear skies.  Today it seemed better to sit by the fire, drink coffee, read a book — yet I was determined to climb several mountains this weekend, even if it was pitch black:  surely there would be something to see and feel. Continue reading “Finding Energy in the Dark”

Finding Energy in the Dark

Three More Peaks and Signs of Spring

Following an unsuccessful attempt on the Catskills 9, I returned two weeks later to bag the three peaks I had missed, namely Slide, Cornell, and Wittenberg.  It was six miles barefoot over steep and rocky trails, and then six miles return in Luna sandals, but a relatively uneventful journey without physical or mental drama.  It was also a chance to appreciate the mountains, make new discoveries, and enjoy the signs of spring.

Spring beauty
Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)

Continue reading “Three More Peaks and Signs of Spring”

Three More Peaks and Signs of Spring