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Begins: Mar 18, 2018
Date: Mon, Mar 12th, 2018
Start: McKenley Hollow
End: Biscuit Branch
Entry Visits: 210
Journal Visits: 2,652
Guestbook Views: 53
Guestbook Entrys: 12
Catskills Peak Bagging
I don't use the word epic lightly, but this trip was close! It started out in the dark with snow on Friday night. We were route finding and breaking trail in about 2ft. of snow! We had to backtrack when we realized we had to cross the creek on a log that looked huge until the 10 inches of snow was removed. The snowshoes dug into the log pretty well, but were non the less awkward. We were looking for the shelter as the falling snow in the head lamps made vision challenging. Finding the shelter we settled in for a 15 degree night.
In the morning we started a 1000 ft climb in the first mile. We took turns breaking trail and falling down! It was amazing how much harder breaking trail was than following. We achieved the ridge in about 1.5 hours which was shorter than I thought it would take. However, we were fresh, and later that day I didn't bounce back from leading like I did in the morning.
We snowshoed another 2 miles on trail to Eagle the first summit which was .1 mile bushwack. After searching for the high point with GPS we were back on the trail to the next summit, Big Indian. It was about 2.3 miles along the trail of ups and downs. I noticed that the ups were getting harder. Once near Big Indian, it was all bushwacking the rest of the way. It was a combination of scrub oak with stiff branches and spruce trees full of snow. The bushwacking got old quickly with face slappers, branches and trees dragging on your arms, legs, pack, and catching the snow baskets on our poles. Steep down hills were entertaining as the snow covered rock ledges caused sometimes dramatic forward tumbles into the snow followed by awkward recoveries. Pushing down with your hands just found yourself up to your shoulders in snow. There were also the embarrassing Artie Johnson (Laugh Inn reference for those of you old enough to remember) slow motion falls that were less dramatic, but no less awkward.
On our way over to Fir, the lask peak, we heard voices and saw another party about 50 yards away. They had come from Fir and up the way we were headed down! This meant we could use their trail and didn't have to break trail anymore the rest of the day! We really needed that break! The climb to Fir was the steepest of the three peaks and the bushwacking was really taking its toll on us. There was about another mile of bushwacking down to the shelter that we probably wouldn't have made without the other party's track. That means we would have had to spent the night on the mountain vs. the shelter. That would have been even tougher and colder, and would have meant melting snow for water.
We arrived at the shelter 10 hours and 10.5 miles after we left in the morning four valleys away. We were all whipped! We ate, and went to sleep only to be disturbed by mice that were glad we didn't spend the night on the ridge too. I got some of my gear chewed because being so tired, I left some food in my hip belt pockets. There was a reason the mouse was so plump!
In the morning we had a short 2 miles down the trail (which was already broke in) to the car. I know I was slow and I had some sore muscles that I didn't know I had. We mutually agreed that we didn't need to do anymore snowshoeing that day and headed for home.
Like most trips requiring significant effort and commitment, they will always have a permanent place in your memory.
Jim's Nobo AT Journey
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org
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