Saturday, July 4, 2015

North Dome Mountain, Catskills

July 4, 2015

Miles: 6.2

Time:  6 hours 5 minutes 
Elevation gain: 2,018 feet

Year to date miles:  441.8

Catskill 3500 footer #32

Parking: See directions. Room for around 10 cars.

Restrooms: None
Map: Catskill Trails Map Set

Directions: North Dome and Sherrill - did as an out and back, not including Sherrill.

Hike description:
This was a miserable hike. We started out on the Devil's Path, which was the nice part. Part of it is next to a stream (happy dogs!). On the second approach to the stream, we took a bearing and headed up North Dome. We had read online that nettles are bad in the summer. We were wearing long pants, but no gaiters. I guess I forgot how bad nettles can be. We were hiking through nettles as far as your eye could see. There was no way to escape them. I almost asked Glen to turn around and try again in the winter. The nettles were tall as well - gaiters wouldn't have protected us above our knees. I took frequent breaks when I found a nettle free place to stand - I'd slap and scratch my legs. I was happy when I saw ledges, because nettles don't grow on rocks! There were around 6 bands of ledges, some of them up to 50' tall. We just moved left or right until we found a safe way up the ledges. There was always a way, though sometimes we slipped on mud covered rocks. Our older dog had to be helped up each band of ledges - she is going to be very sore tomorrow. Even our younger dog who is very athletic had to be helped a couple of times. A harness comes in handy. Near the summit, the nettles disappeared and Trek found a herd path through the evergreens. Actually there were quite a few herd paths, and it was a bit confusing trying to figure out which one to take. The summit area was pretty flat, so you couldn't just head "up". Our hike up had taken a long time, and we knew we didn't have a lot of time left until we needed to head down. We let Trek find it for us - following him is usually a good idea. He is very good about finding canisters - probably smelling tracks of previous hikers. And, he did find it - good boy! We decided to try a different route down - which is tricky because you need to avoid private land - and our GPS map doesn't show the private land boundaries (the NYNJTC map does). We headed north down the summit (more gentle route) for a little ways, and then cut across east (slightly south east). We hit fewer nettles this way, but we still hit them. Another issue we both had - the nettles and ferns were so tall that you can't see where you are stepping. Sometimes you'd step and your foot would fall into a hole. I fell a few times. It was awful when I'd fall and my hands & arms would land in the nettles, or my rear end would land on the nettles. Luckily the sting only lasts for 15 minutes or so. The next day, both of us have sore ankles - Glen actually has a swollen ankle. If were to ever do this hike again, it would definitely be in the early spring or late fall - non-nettle season. Not just to prevent the stings, but to make it easier to see where you are stepping.

During the drive home we were able to watch fireworks directly in front of us on the highway!

Sign across the street from the parking area

Stream next to Devil's Path

Nettles everywhere. They are taller than the dogs. You can't see them, but the dogs are in this photo.



Herd path in the summit area

Trek found the canister

Descending a band of ledges

Moxie getting a drink at a rock overhang

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