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|05-03-2012, 03:31 PM||#1|
High Peaks Explorer
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Fairport, NY
Senior Hikers conquer Kaaterskill High Peak - April 30, 2012
In the early 1800’s when steamboats travelled up and down the Hudson River their captain would often point out to his passengers a mountain in the distance they called ‘High Peak’, what was then thought to be the highest of the Catskill Mountains. For many years my brother-in-law, Dick Duncan, a long time sailor on the Hudson and a former Saugerties Lighthouse Keeper, would look up at High Peak (Kaaterskill) just like those boat captains and think about the possibility of reaching its summit someday.
Roundtop(L) and Kaaterskill High Peak (R) from the Hudson River
Dick is a senior citizen and into his early 70’s. He is not a hiker, but he is an avid sportsman and hunted many areas of the Catskills and with his father in the Blue Hill area near Claryville. One of his life goals was to someday reach the summit of High Peak and asked me if I could assist him on that journey.
Kaaterskill High Peak is one of my favorite Catskill Mountains. My first hike up KHP was solo and I under estimated the length of the hike and started too late in the day. It became my first Catskill Peak Experience while trying to get off the mountain before dark. Read: Peak Experiences of a Catskill Senior Hiker
Monday morning was an absolutely perfect day to hike KHP as there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was around 50 degrees. I felt that the easiest route to High Peak would be to hike in from the west. It is less strenuous as the elevation gain is gradual over the + 3 mile trip. It is a bushwhack hike but for experienced hunters, familiar with the woods, that’s not a problem. My brother-in-law, with my friend Dick N. and I (all seniors) arrived at the Gillespie Road PA and by 9:30AM we were on our way to High Peak. From the PA we headed to the western end of the snowmobile trail and then followed the ridge line up past the northern side of Round Top Mountain at an elevation of 3200 feet. Then aimed for the col between Round Top and Kaaterskill and headed up to the summit from that point. An excellent description of this route can be found on the Catskillmountaineer website.
We reached the summit in about 3 hours.
Dick D. & Dick N. on Kaaterskill High Peaks summit
I was surprised to see that someone had brought the crank shaft of the airplane back to the summit from where it was dragged down the mountain. There is no view from the summit so we headed to Hurricane Ledge to have lunch and enjoy the view. The visibility was really great as we could see up and down the Hudson River for a number of miles. Dick D. pointed out the Saugerties Lighthouse and other points along the river. We hung out on Hurricane Ledge for at least a half hour just basking in the sun and enjoying the fantastic view.
Hudson River Valley from Hurricane Ledge
Plattkill, Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf from Hurricane Ledge
We returned to the summit and then headed for the eastern view point which is not to be missed. When the trail to the east ends you are at a drop-off of probably 200 ft. There are several viewpoints in this area but you have to bushwhack a hundred feet or so to find a few very small clearings through the trees. It’s worth it.
Eastern viewpoint on Kaaterskill High Peak
Finding the Piper aircraft that crashed near the High Peak summit.
In May 1983 a pilot was returning home to Poughkeepsie when he flew his Piper 28-140 aircraft into the north side of Kaaterskill Mountain at around 3400 feet.
Remains of Piper aircraft on Kaaterskill High Peak
The remains of the Piper are located east of the summit and along the way to the eastern viewpoints. However, you cannot see the wreckage from the herd path but you do not need GPS co-ords find the plane. From the summit follow the herd path east. As you enter the forest area count each foot step up to 200 (distance of approximately 500 feet). The trail will drop down a small ledge of about 1 ½ feet. The aircraft is located to the left (north) and about 100 feet from the trail. See the Kaaterskill High Peak hike pics for details.
The Piper crashed through the trees and into the side of a 6 foot ledge. It appears that most of the aircraft is still there and scattered around except for the engine. I took a couple of pics and then returned to the summit.
For our return we descended by the north trail. This is much steeper than our ascent from the west but gets one down to the forest floor much faster. I only saw a few very small patches of snow or ice remaining. All will be gone by the next few days. When we arrived at the junction of the snowmobile trail I was surprised to see that the cairn that marked the start of the northern trail to KHP had been destroyed, the pieces having been scattered around.
Remains of cairn that marked the beginning of the north herd path to KHP
Our trip back on 2 miles of the snowmobile trail was uneventful. This trail is usually very wet for this time of year. It is still wet but much less than last year at this time. Walking back was easy. We arrived back at our vehicle in the late afternoon.
This was an adventure that has been on Dick’s bucket list for many years and “Could of, Should of, Would of”……is now DID THAT!
Dick Duncan on the summit of Kaaterskill High Peak
Kaaterskill HIgh Peak hike pics
Catskill 3500 #1888 / #774W
ADK member: Genesee Valley Chapter
The Explorers Club member: Fellow National 2013
www.shipwreckworld.com Stories of shipwreck discoveries
www.jimkennard.com...Peak Experiences of a Catskill Senior Hiker
Catskill 3500 --- Finish - December 23, 2010
Catskill 3500W - Finish - December 29, 2011
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
- Sir Edmund Hillary
Last edited by Jim Kennard; 05-03-2012 at 06:30 PM.
|05-03-2012, 06:09 PM||#2|
Excellent! Congrats to a former light house keeper, in whose line Laurie and I sort of continue. We spend one day a year there helping out.
|05-03-2012, 07:20 PM||#3|
High in the Whites
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Pine Plains, NY
Congratulations and great trip report! It took me over 30 years to get around to climbing Marcy from the time it first appeared on my radar screen so, I can imagine how much this KHP hike meant to all of you. Very inspirational and well detailed!
Pecking away at the Cats, ADK's & Whites
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