Sunday, November 19, 2017

Blue Trail Loop, Ward Pound Ridge

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
11/18/2017 3.9 miles 1 hours 29 minutes 639'

Map: Pick up a map when you pay for parking

Parking: Enter park, pay for parking and keep driving straight until you reach the Kimberly Bridge parking area. Cost is $10 without a Westchester County Parks Pass. $5 with a Parks Pass.

Directions: Blue trail loop, counter clockwise.

This morning I took both dogs into the vet - they are both doing well. No sign of Trek's fibrosarcoma returning.

We only had time to get in a short hike before it started raining. Glen chose the blue trail in Ward Pound Ridge. Amazingly, it wasn't too crowded. Maybe the afternoon weather was keeping people away. We had a good laugh (as we always do) about the sign a homeowner put up - "KEEP OUT - GIANT SNAPPING TURTLES" at their pond which borders the park.

Mud Pond & Trout Pond, Catskills

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
11/12/2017 8.8 miles 3 hours 47 minutes 1,600'

Map: Catskills Map #144
Parking: Russel Brook Rd.
Directions: From parking area, continue down the road a short ways to the trailhead on the right. Where the trail splits, stay left. Note that the trail is marked with blue blazes both ways. Continue one mile. At the next intersection, stay straight - don't take trail to the right. Pass Mud Pond and ruins on the left. The trail will make a sharp left turn after Mud Pond - at this point the trail is less maintained. Continue downhill towards Russell Brook. Pass trail register and dead end at Russell Brook. Turn around and head back. Take a sharp right turn again at the north end of Mud Pond. At the intersection of the Mud Pond Trail, turn left to head to Trout Pond South shelter. After the shelter, turn right onto Trout Pond Trail to return to the parking area.

We only had 1 day for hiking this weekend. Saturday just looked too cold with wind chills in the single digits. Sunday turned out to be warmer and less windy. Now that daylight saving's time has ended, we need to choose shorter Catskill hikes. Glen really wanted to continue working on hiking sections of the Warner Creek trail, but it would be difficult with limited daylight hours (plus we don't get out there very early). We considered knocking off a section of the Diamond Creek trail that we haven't done, but the parking area said a high clearance vehicle is needed. So that one was out for now. I asked about it on a Catskill hiking facebook page, and learned I could park .4 miles away from the trailhead in a reasonable area. We ended up heading over to the western Catskills instead.

We have never hiked around Mud Pond or Trout Pond, and know that's a popular easier hiking area in the Catskills. There were various routes we could do based on how much time we ended up having. I woke up on Sunday morning, and did not want to get out of bed! Temps were still in the 20's outside. I just wanted to hibernate. I am having a hard time embracing winter this year, and it hasn't even really started! Ack. It took us 2 hours from when we woke up before we got out the door. I wasn't moving very fast.

The temps warmed up to 32 degrees as we got to the Catskills. That helps. We made sure to wear blaze orange/yellow - all 3 of us. Rifle season starts next weekend, but we have heard there are a lot of bow hunters out there now. The drive to the trailhead did involve a short stint on a dirt road, which was pretty rutted in spots, but we did fine. As we drove in, a guy asked us if we were rangers, as he said he needed a ranger. It looked kind of urgent, and he rushed off. Not sure what was up with that.

There were a half dozen cars in the parking lot. Not too bad. Excellent compared to Harriman. We knew there would be plenty of water on this hike, so we didn't carry any extra for Trek. Normally Trek carries a pack with his water, but today we wanted him to wear his blaze orange hiking vest instead. His pack is orange, but not nearly bright enough. I want to paint Trek's tail orange!

We headed out on a woods road. Some of the trails we did were snowmobile trails, so they are wide. We still had some gradual uphills. My hip pain started early. Ack. I just went slower. I keep wanting to start training again (cardio/strength) - but the idea also scares me. I really should. We walked by (not right next to) Mud Pond. There are some camping spots there which it would be fun to stay at. Trek made a beeline to the shore. I didn't want to encourage him to swim - but he went in anyways. The trail in this area is a bit wet. Some icy spots on the trail - not slippery, but if you fall through you end up in water.

Past Mud Pond, we made a left turn and at that point, the trail was less woods road like and more trail like. It was also rockier and less well maintained. We did throw some branches off the trail, but there were a lot. This part of the trail looks like no one ever hikes on it. At the end we reached a wide stream. On the map, it looked like there was an on again off again herdpath next to the stream that would take us directly back to our parking area. But the stream was very wide and would have involved wading - no way I wanted to do that with temps in the 30's. So we backtracked the way we came. There was a trail register at the stream - the last entry was from September. The prior entry was from July. So yeah - I don't think this trail gets much use. The flat sections of the trail were pretty nice actually.

We passed by Mud Pond again. We saw 3 men, 2 with rifles. Our first (and only) people we saw today. Glen said - I thought rifle season doesn't start until next week. They paused too long it seemed and said they were out for small game. Hmm. We continued on.

When we reached the spot where the trail splits - we could return back to our car or head over to Trout Pond. We decided we could squeeze in a visit to Trout Pond and still get back to our car before sunset. Trout Pond has a shelter and we saw a campsite as well. We saw a fish ladder and stopped to explore. All of a sudden we saw splashing, and saw a trout attempting to go upstream (not using the fish ladder). How cool! I couldn't get a good photo because he was moving too fast. We passed by Mud Pond - Trek again took a dip - but we didn't encourage him. I didn't bring extra stuff to dry him off with, and with temps around 32 degrees, I know he'd get too cold fast. This would be a fun spot to camp in. Trout Pond is 1.4 miles away from the parking area, and the remaining hike was really easy walking that even Moxie might still be able to do if we were careful with her.

This is a nice easier hike (especially if you leave out the rocky section down to the creek). It would be a much better summer hike with dogs though - so they can enjoy the lakes.

On the way home, we stopped by Roscoe - "Trout Town". Home of trout fishing & Trout Town brewery - maybe we will have to stop by there sometime when the weather is warmer. We did stop by a small natural foods store on the way home. I picked up some bread. We were hoping for some pre-made food (deli inside or something), but they didn't have anything like that. We also noticed a pasta company - but I don't think it's an actual store.

Parking area

The trail starts just down the road from the parking area

A dusting of snow

A number of blowdowns across this trail

A trail marker on a tree in the beaver pond 

Fish ladder where we saw trout

Easy section of the trail back to the parking area

Monday, November 13, 2017

Racoon Brook Hills/Pine Meadow Lake/Diamond Mountain Loop, Harriman

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
11/4/2017 6.5 miles 3 hours 10 minutes 1,207'

Map: NYNJTC Southern Harriman Bear Mountain Trails
Parking: See directions
Directions: Modified version of

Today we needed another local hike, so we headed to Harriman. The weather was great! We really enjoyed the sun. I took a look at the NYNJTC site to find one of their listed Harriman hikes that we haven't done, and came up with this one. We probably have been on all of these trails before though. Glen sort of sounds interested in redlining (hiking all of the trails in a park) Harriman. It's not a goal I particularly feel like working on, but I suppose it would be good to get us on some trails we haven't hiked on in Harriman (there aren't many I'm thinking).

This hike starts at Reeves Meadow Visitor Center, which usually means its going to be a more crowded hike. The parking down the road was outrageously long, but we managed to get a close spot on the road. We planned a modified version of the hike on the NYNJTC site. Rather than take a short segment on the orange blazed Hillburn-Torne Sebago trail , we replaced that section with a short segment on the blue blazed Seven Hills trail (which had 3 stars on the map indicating good views). And yes, we liked those views.

The beginning of this hike was crowded. We found ourselves regularly getting stuck behind groups of hikers. The trail is easy, and there were many, many people out. The trail is very level near Stony Brook - so this was the crowded part of the hike. Once we hit the white blazed Kakiat trail, we left the crowds behind. I really liked the Racoon Brook Trail - this was a nice section.

We hiked by Pine Meadow Lake, where Trek went swimming. He entertained other hikers who were taking snack breaks. He was so happy to swim! After 15 minutes of swimming he got too cold and was shivering like crazy. Silly dog that he wanted to swim so much in the first place. I had a bandana on me, and used it to wipe him down the best I could. We got moving so that he could warm up. At the other side of the lake, we saw a "No Swimming" sign. I'm assuming that's just for humans. It's not a reservoir, so I'm assuming dog swimming is fine.

We saw someone with a drone at Harriman. I'm not too excited about drones in parks. Trek almost stepped on the guy's fancy toy. Oops.

We continued on, eventually hiking next to Stony Brook again. At one point I lost the blazes and was going off the trail through a particularly rocky area.  It was really funny, because at least a dozen people that were behind me followed me (not on the trail)! Don't assume other people know the way! We weren't lost or anything (because we knew we had to follow the stream), but we were probably 75' off the trail for a ways - and they all followed us. Ha!

Although parts of this hike were crowded, the parts that were away from the stream had some really nice views. Unfortunately, I did get groin pain during this hike, despite it not being that hard. Uphills were worse, but even on level ground I was getting a pinching feeling in my hip when walking. After my last cortisone injection into my psoas bursa, I've had a lot improvement in pain reduction when not hiking. For example, driving used to be painful just from the sitting position, and now no longer is. Some days hiking are okay, some days I get pain.

Nice place for a swim

Leaving the crowds behind

Pine Meadow Lake

Bridge out - notice suspension cable which helps with crossing

Red Trail loop, Ward Pound Ridge

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/28/2017 6.2 miles 2 hours 12 minutes 714'

Map: Pick up a map when you pay for parking

Parking: Enter park, pay for parking and keep driving straight until you see a sign for Michigan Road. Turn right on Michigan Road, and park at the end of the road (lower parking area). There is plenty of parking. Cost is $10 without a Westchester County Parks Pass. $5 with a Parks Pass.

Directions: Red trail loop.

After being sick last weekend, I was eager to get on the trail today. We needed to do a local hike, so we planned a hike in Harriman. As we were driving there, my car started sounding odd. We had just had our brakes replaced. We stopped, took a look at the area where the noise was coming from, and couldn't figure it out. We continued on, but the car was just not sounding right and getting worse, so turned around and headed back home before we reached Harriman. We tried to stay on back roads so we could drive at slower speeds. Once at home, we figured out the problem. The dealer had only tightened the lug nuts on 3 out of the 4 tires. The lug nuts on one tire had only been hand tightened and were becoming quite loose. Yikes! Hopefully this didn't cause any damage.

After fixing the tire, we had less time, and I didn't feel like driving far. We ended up heading over to Ward Pound Ridge. I generally try to avoid Ward Pound Ridge on weekends. It's usually a place I reserve for after work hiking in the evenings. Or winter hiking when I need to stay local. When we arrived, the parking area was packed. Oh dear. We had Trek with us, and knew we'd have to keep him on leash, which we normally do anyways at this park. We started out, and there were people ahead of us and behind us on the trail. Ugh. Way too many people. I had to stop multiple times in the first half mile to let other dogs pass us. So many people. Luckily after we passed the intersection with the Leatherman's Loop, the human traffic slowed down. There were a lot of leaves on the trail, yet there were still some green leaves on the trees. We did manage to take a wrong turn. Both Glen and I were embarrassed. This park is so well blazed and somehow we ended up taking a wrong turn at a T intersection. We've done so much hiking at this park, its easy to not pay attention.

Trek was glad to be out, despite being on leash. We didn't take him to Vermont, so it's been too long since he's gotten to hike. I tried out a new pair of Salomon trail runners. I like Altras, but I wonder if all of the falls I had in Vermont were at all related to me trying a different model of them. The Salomons feel comfortable except for the arch support. Next time I wear them, I'll try switching the insoles.

This is a very popular park. This hike was easy. This trails are very clearly blazed. The map also has numbers at intersections which correspond to numbers posted on trees.

If Trek looks kind of hesitant, it's because Glen never really walks with him on leash. Trek is confused, because I'm always the one at the end of the leash.

Friday, October 20, 2017

VT  Appalachian Trail - Section 3 -Green Gate Road to Stony Brook Road

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/14/2017 8.1 miles 4 hours 2 minutes 1,931'

Map: Hampshire-Vermont Appalachian Trail Guide and maps that come with it
Parking: Leave first car at Stony Brook Road. Leave second car in small parking area off of Green Gate Road.
Directions: Take unmarked trail from Green Gate Road for about .4 miles to the AT. Turn right (southbound) onto the AT. Hike to Stony Brook Road. Turn right onto Stony Brook Road and hike to the parking area.

You can see yesterday's post on parking at Stony Brook Road. This time we knew how to get there and knew how far to go to park. I forgot to mention - the road has signs for maximum ATV speed. Like maybe ATV's use it more than cars? We thought of trying to take a backroad (Smith Hill Road) as a shortcut to Green Gate Road, but we never found it (no sign for Smith Hill Road). More on that later. So we took the longer route. From Route 12 we turned onto School House Road, then right onto Green Gate Road. Although they were dirt roads, they were easy to drive on. There are some nice houses in the area.

We hiked uphill on the side trail which leads to the AT. We turned right onto the AT, and reached a side trail for the Lookout. I had heard about this place - a cabin on privately owned land which the owners let hikers visit. Glen hadn't read about the lookout, so he was surprised to come upon such a tall building. There is a ladder to the top of the building, and a small patio area on the roof where you can enjoy the view. What a view! This was certainly a highlight of our Vermont trip. We stepped inside the cabin - its a basic shelter, but 4 sided unlike most AT shelters. We saw a handful of tent sites close by.

We returned to the AT and heard regular gunfire. I guess hunters are practicing for their upcoming deer season. We did not wear blaze orange. We probably should have, though we actually didn't see any other hikers wearing it either. We crossed Chateauguay Road, a dirt road without any parking that we saw. We continued on to where we had ended yesterday at Stony Brook Road. We walked down the woods road to our car.

This time - we had figured out how to take the "shortcut" onto Smith Hill Road. The road sign had a different name, but at some point the road name changed. We were a bit trepidacious about driving down some dirt road we knew nothing about the condition of. But another minivan took it right in front of us. We figured they knew what they were doing. So we took it too! Ha! The road started out okay, and then got more difficult. At some point there was fresh gravel on the trail which hadn't been tamped down, so there were deep ruts. We drove very slowly, hoping not to bottom out. The road of course was mostly a one lane road, so turning around isn't always easy. Then the mini-van we had seen before, passed us going the other way. Hmm. We continued on and reached an absolutely stunning house with a gorgeous view of the mountains. Just wow. Except the "through" road became impassible at their driveway. Not just mildly impassible, but really impassible. ACK. We had to turn around in their driveway and re-drive the bad road we had just came up on. So - don't try to take any shortcuts. You'll need to take Routes 107 and Route 12.

Parking at Green Gate Road

A split in the trail (before the AT). It was unclear which way to go - we went right which worked fine.

The intersection with the AT

Definitely worth the trip

View from the roof

View from the roof

Looking down the ladder

View from the roof

View from the roof

View from the roof

View from the roof

View from the roof

The cabin


A not so exciting lookout down the trail, mentioned in Guthook

Bridge at the intersection with Stony Brook Road

Sign near where we parked

Stony Brook Road
Oops - sorry for turning my camera sideways part way through. Hope you don't get vertigo!