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Devil's Path in a Day 4/15

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  • Devil's Path in a Day 4/15

    I've been checking the forums frequently with an eye toward conditions, itching to get out on the Devil's Path this year. Thanks to all who have posted reports! Here's a conditions report so that I give back a little...

    I knew that today was a bit of a gamble conditions-wise, and with that in mind I got an early start from Prediger Road. Over the past few years I've hiked the Devil's Path in a day three or four times. I know what to expect as far as the trail, but the conditions always seem to vary. I was counting on some snow and perhaps ice at the higher elevations, and I was certainly not let down.

    On my way I stopped to cache a gallon of water at Stony Clove. My car thermometer read 32 degrees. When I arrived at Prediger a short time later it read 46 degrees. What a difference!

    Things started well from Prediger. I quickly identified the tracks of two hikers in front of me, who also got an early start. I've done enough hiking that I make up little games to keep myself amused. My favorite is tracking fellow hikers. I like to figure out what time they started, how many there are in the group, are they male or female, boot/shoe size and make, and if possible who is in front the majority of the time. This gives me something to focus on, and keeps me moving along well so that I can catch up and confirm or deny what I think I have figured out.

    I started out in shorts, trail runners, a t-shirt, as well as my Patagonia Houdini and a fleece beanie. I shed the beanie and Houdini at the turn toward Indian Head and never needed to put them back on. Unfortunately I caught the couple ahead of me just as the climb up Indian Head started. I would have liked to "track" them for a while longer, and it also helps me maintain pace when trying to overtake someone. The couple were attempting their first Devil's Path in a day, and I very much hope they made it!

    Snow started appearing about halfway up Indian Head and increased in quantity along with the elevation. It was hard-pack and not icy, and not a major obstacle. It was patchy, then at the top was fairly constant along the path. This would hold true for the remainder of the day. Most trail along the summits/ridges looked like this:



    Snow depth on the trail was a max of 1ft, and I imagine it would be challenging if it was soft and one was to sink through.

    There were two places on the trail where the ice was what I would consider particularly difficult. This was one of those places:



    I made it to Stony Clove fairly early and it didn't feel like I had really hiked yet. I get like that, especially in the early morning. I zone out and don't notice the hiking, regardless of terrain. I retrieved my cached gallon, drank a bit of water, had a bite to eat, refilled my two liters, and hit the trail again after a total break of ten minutes. Up to this point I had seen the couple early on as well as one backpacker. While I enjoyed the peace, I was surprised more folks were not out enjoying the perfect day.

    The climb up Hunter always hits me hardest. It is the one climb I do not enjoy on the trail. Perhaps this is because it comes right after I take a break, have a bite to eat, and my water is also full. It's also two miles of difficult climbing! Once again it bothered me a little bit, but was over soon enough. I view the first half (when starting at Prediger) of the Devil's Path as the business half and the second half (going toward Spruceton) as the easy, coasting half. The second half has only two major climbs, and then lots and lots of gentle coasting and rolling along.

    Descending the back side of Hunter, I was met with definitely the most difficult section. There was a fairly long (10-15 minutes) section of sustained solid ice that covered the entire trail. I'm not too proud to admit that I took my one and only fall here. I was eating an apple, had my trekking poles held in one hand, and was not paying enough attention. I slid, took a decent fall, and lost my apple! Overall I am content with my decision to wear trail runners and not bring microspikes. It would have been aggravating to constantly be taking them off and putting them on, due to the very patchy nature of the snow and ice. Trekking poles were sufficient. The hikers I met who did not have microspikes or poles looked to be struggling - bring poles!

    Descending Hunter (after the ice section) I encountered spring! These were the only flowers seen on the trail, but a sure sign of things to come:



    The waterfall is flowing well, and is the most beautiful part of the trail (in my opinion):



    I finished the last of my food on the summit of Westkill and knew that Spruceton was a few easy downhill miles away. I went back to playing another one of my ever-present hiking games. I like to flick branches off the trail with my trekking poles without breaking my stride. It's almost like trekking pole polo, and I've gotten pretty good at it. It's a good way for me to contribute to keeping the trail clear while moving along. I did bring headphones, but never put them in, content simply to listen to the sounds of the mountains.

    I made it to Spruceton a little under 11 hours after starting. I figure that the conditions delayed me by an hour to an hour and a half due to being unable to maintain stride, having to slow down and exercise caution in many places, and the tree-to-tree hopping in the icy sections. Upon reaching Spruceton I knew that the crux of the day was at hand - getting back to Prediger! I've struggled with this quite a bit in the past, and it has taken me up to two and a half hours. Luck was on my side today and a nice gentleman (and dedicated hiker) by the name of Peter was just unlacing his hiking boots after his outing. He gave me a ride all the way back to Prediger - thanks Peter!

    The trail is in excellent condition after the winter. There were only three or four small blowdowns along its entire length. The snow and ice are not too bad, and tomorrow should see lots more melting. It's hiking season!

    Notable wildlife seen:

    Two Ruffed Grouse
    Hen Turkey
    Hairy Woodpecker

    To Go and to See
    Is to Know and to Be

  • #2
    Originally posted by eleventhgear View Post

    Luck was on my side today and a nice gentleman (and dedicated hiker) by the name of Peter was just unlacing his hiking boots after his outing. He gave me a ride all the way back to Prediger - thanks Peter!
    Anytime, glad to help! Nice talking to you, and again good luck this summer, sounds awesome-
    Peter (nice report too!)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by OnAClearDay View Post

      Anytime, glad to help! Nice talking to you, and again good luck this summer, sounds awesome-
      Peter (nice report too!)
      Peter,
      Somehow I knew it was you that gave the ride.
      Don

      Comment


      • #4
        I hiked Indian Head and Twin from Jimmy Dolan Notch on Friday and there was no snow.
        Where was the most snow. I thought I could leave all traction devices home.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by OnAClearDay View Post
          Anytime, glad to help! Nice talking to you, and again good luck this summer, sounds awesome-
          Peter (nice report too!)
          Thanks again, Peter!

          Originally posted by catdacker View Post
          Where was the most snow. I thought I could leave all traction devices home.
          The most snow was on Plateau. I think you will be fine without traction devices this weekend. I was out near Peekamoose today in an area I encountered snow last week. Snow free today!

          To Go and to See
          Is to Know and to Be

          Comment


          • #6
            Hm my friend claims that panther has no snow or ice. But I'm thinking she didn't go all the way to panther and just turned around after giant ledge. Not sure tho
            ADK - 35/46
            Whites - 25/48
            North East - 68/115
            Catskills - 9/35

            Comment


            • CatskillKev
              CatskillKev commented
              Editing a comment
              Panther faces south toward Giant Ledge. Snow and ice not likely on that side.

          • #7
            You are the man. Congratulations on accomplishing this feat. Anyone that can do the entire devils path in 11 hours is in one hell of a good shape. I did the first three peaks yesterday: Indian Head, Twin and Sugar Loaf. I wanted to also do Plateau but it got late. All significant snow on these peaks is now melted.
            There were two cliffs that gave me much pause. One on the west side coming down Twin and one on the west (descent) side of Sugar Loaf. Both were close to their respective cols with the next peaks. Quite scary for me but no doubt you just jumped down .

            Comment

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