|Date||Distance||Time||Elevation Gain||Average Moving Time||Year to Date Miles|
|9/24/2017||10 miles||4 hours 48 minutes|
Map: NYNJTC Catskills Map #141
Parking: Willow Post Office on Jessup Road
Directions: From the post office, continue along Jessup Road. Cross over a bridge. The paved road becomes a gravel road. Eventually the yellow blazed trail heads left into the woods. Follow the trail uphill to the intersection of the Warner Creek Trail. Turn left on the Warner Creek Trail and hike to Tremper Mountain fire tower. Return the same way.
The Warner Creek Trail is a challenge to do with only 1 car. We have already hiked to Tremper Mountain via the usual approach, so today we hiked it a different way. It was again a hot and humid day - crazy weather for the end up September. The forecast was for temps in the low 80's. We checked our map before we left and saw that there was no water source. We ended up packing 7 liters of water for 2 people and 1 dog. I think 8 liters would have been better.
We parked at the post office, which is the normal parking area for the Willow Trail. The post office is a shipping container. Tiny. There is about a 1 mile road walk from the post office to the trail. Willow looks like a relaxed town. Some of the houses along the road walk looked really nice and some had good views of mountains. We had no idea where the trail turned left off of the road, but it was actually easier than it looked. We just kept walking and the road turned into a gravel road. We encountered a loose dog from one of the houses. Trek was AWESOME! Trek just hates dogs running up to him. This was a barky but friendly dog who kept following us. Trek was stressed, but we kept walking and Trek just wanted to get away from the persistent dog. We managed to get away with no snapping from Trek. I told him what a wonderful dog he was. So impressed at how he tried so hard to ignore the dog when he was obviously really uncomfortable.
Once we turned left into the woods, the trail started climbing. The Willow Trail is not well maintained. At first it is more of a woods road. Glen and I threw some large branches off the trail. This trail looks like it could use some love. So few people hike this trail, so I'm sure its at the bottom of the list of trails to maintain. The trail isn't used to reach any 3500 mountains, and its not the fastest approach to Tremper Mountain. There also isn't any parking at the beginning of the trail, thus the 1 mile road walk. So, you can see how it isn't a popular trail. My guess is its only used by locals, or folks working on hiking all of the trails in the Catskills. We are thinking about getting involved with trail maintenance. We did a work trip last year, but that was right at the time my hip pain started, so that put an end to a lot of my hiking activities for a while.
The trail got worse. We were so, so hot. I wore long pants today, and was just overheating. I usually wear pants when hiking, because I prefer them for tick protection. I ended up rolling up my pants and instantly felt a little cooler. Then we hit stinging nettles. The trail is very overgrown, so we were walking through the nettles. They started irritating my legs, and I ended up stopping every few steps to scratch my legs. Eventually I got too frustrated and pulled my pant legs back down. I normally like to try to hike up hills at a slow consistent maintainable pace, where I don't need to take rests. Today I had to take several short breaks during the climb. The heat was getting to me, and I didn't want to burn through my water too fast. So I stopped often to let my heartbeat slow down and to offer Trek water. I decided that we could always turn around at the Willow/Warner Creek Trail intersection if I felt we didn't have enough water to safely do the hike.
Once we hit the Warner Creek Trail, we did decide to continue on. My hip was hurting pretty badly by this point. No groin pain, but just pain in my outer hip I guess - higher than my bursa. Maybe I should have gotten the additional bursa injection to see if resolved the additional pain I've had since my groin pain has gotten better. The Warner Creek Trail is much more level than the Willow Trail. I still went slowly in order to prevent overheating. The Warner Creek Trail is also a very lightly used trail, but it was in much better shape than the Willow Trail. I have heard that the Warner Creek Trail is very overgrown, but it was actually fine. We saw NO people on this hike until we reached the fire tower after 5 miles of hiking.
When we arrived, I put Trek on leash and sat down on the grass. Tremper is known for having rattlesnakes. I know snakes like rocks, so I felt better just sitting in the grass. We saw no snakes :) I was so happy to just rest my hip and cool down. Tremper has a fire tower on top, and we got really lucky as there were a couple of fire tower volunteers there who had the top of the fire tower opened. Trek made a lot of friends on the top of the mountain. People were amazed that at 9 years old he's fit enough to do hikes like this. The fire tower volunteers open up the fire tower from 11am - 3pm on weekends for a few months of the year. One of the volunteers was a retired forest ranger, and it was interesting to talk to her about fighting fires in the Catskills. Luckily there aren't many big fires here. Glen and I climbed to the top. I remembered to bring my map and compass up. I oriented my map but didn't spend a lot of time trying to identify mountains. The fire tower volunteers were leaving soon, and I knew it would take me a long time to do a good job figuring out which mountains I was seeing. There were 360 degree views of mountains, and a whole lot of them. So trying to line up those many bumps in the views with the contours in my map would take me some time.
After resting some and drinking lots of water and having snacks, we headed back the way we came. Going downhill we needed less water and we were cooler. Not cool, but just not overheating. We still stopped and offered Trek water a couple of times on the way down. Next time its this warm we really need to choose a hike with a water source! Both to give Trek a chance to cool down, and to have the ability to filter water if we need to.
The highlight of the return trip! I heard a crashing off to the side of the Willow Trail. I looked over and saw a bear scurrying away. Woohoo! My first bear sighting when hiking! We've seen bears on drives to hikes, but have not once seen a bear when hiking. Today was my first. Unfortunately, Glen was hiking 100 feet in front of me and missed it! He was so jealous! It's so funny, because he used to be really nervous about seeing bears, and now he really, really wants to see one and just missed it.
|View on road walk. One of the houses on this street had mountain views from both sides! Sweet!|
|The paved road turns into a gravel road.|
|And then the trail enters the woods|
|The overgrown Willow Trail|
|Once you hit the intersection with the Warner Creek Trail, the trail is much more level.|
|Up in the fire tower. Spectacular mountain views all around.|
|We tried to throw some larger branches off the trail. Trek like to pick them up and run with them. He is NOT a good trail maintenance dog. Ha!|
|View from the shipping container post office parking lot.|