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Indian Head/Twin/Sugarloaf/Plateau 06/29, West Kill for the win (35er) 06/30

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  • Indian Head/Twin/Sugarloaf/Plateau 06/29, West Kill for the win (35er) 06/30

    All I could think this last weekend was, in the words of the great Ron Burgundy, "boy, that escalated quickly". I mean that in several ways; how quickly I came to love the cats, how I progressed through the more difficult and challenging ones including tough long hikes in wintry conditions, and also how i achieved the last 5 summits in 1 trip. Last week i realized i only had a few peaks left for the status, and even starting my hike out on saturday morning i wasnt overly optimistic (signing in to the book for indian head and twin with a "?" for the other two), and truly only hoping at least for the first two. Once on top of twin i realized that my legs felt better than i expected and the storms were holding off, and the devils path wasnt as bad as i was expecting, so at that point my thoughts turned to going through Plateau and road-walking back to complete a loop, followed by camping overnight for West Kill on sunday.
    I got to Prediger Rd parking area at 7am on Saturday and was surprised to see so many cars there already, but with plenty of room left. I got started out towards the chin at the same time as 2 guys who sped past me who were planning on the full Devil's Path traverse in one day. I loved the views on the way up, looking over the valley and the Platte Clove cleft, and over at KHP where i was just a few weeks ago with my family. Of note on the way to the summit was a false summit with a rock, where i went to take a false-summit-selfie with my camera on its tripod, and there was a fat snake just chilling on the rock. So i have a selfie with a false-summit-rock snake. I made sure not to disturb it on the rock, where it remained to surprise the next hikers through.
    After making the actual summit I descended to the junction and hung a left to look for views; found what I was looking for then angle-whacked uphill back to the trail up twin, and climbed up through 2 nice campsites on the way. Got to the amphitheater and among the crowds found a nice rock to sit, refuel, and take it all in for a bit. My legs felt good, but Plateau looked soooooooo far away, but after twin's actual summit I found myself descending toward sugarloaf, and realized my legs made my mind up for me, the 4 and loop it was. I had been wondering what all the fuss was about with the devil's path to this point, and then i got to the drop-off/overhang/holy-moly-that-was-wicked-fun scramble, followed by the great lengths of boulder fields and scrambles on the way down to Pecoy Notch.
    Making my way up sugarloaf, i kept wondering which of the false summits would be the last and actual one, and finally getting to it i soon descended to my exit-trail junction and then the mink hollow trail junction. I had rationed my fluids cause i know how some ranges can be dry, but luckily the spring right on the trail was running good. I filtered up my water bladder and bottle full and guzzled a bunch of cold water before climbing up. And man was that an up. Once the trail takes that southern swing it seemed to go straight up the hill at the same incline forever. Reminded me of nippletop from elk pass. And that far into the hike with somewhere around 3500-3800 elevation gain already was rough. I hit Plateau's summit for the 4th of the day, and after a bit headed back down. Back at the spring i found the actual pipe coming out of the ground, running great like a garden hose, and guzzled some more and dunked my head before hitting the junctions and heading out towards Roaring Kill. I hadnt checked the topo too close for this trail prior to the hike, and was surprised by all the up on the way out, and with some brief showers at this time the rocks were slick and i took a pretty good spill. I felt lucky to come away with only a bruise considering the angle and impact from the fall, and proceeded more carefully out to the parking area. On the way there some consolation to my aching knee was a beautiful whistling bird song that I haven't heard in years (and then I heard again on West Kill the next day), and that combined with the sun shining through the forest after the rain was a really special moment in solitude, making me wish I had a way to bottle a moment to really remember it better at other times.
    Once at the parking area I walked and talked with some nice locals on the road who were enjoying a post-shower afternoon walk, and then shifted gears to wrap up my road walk back around to Prediger parking area. I signed out before finally taking off my shoes and socks, with the hike going more than 16miles and 5000ft elevation gain.
    Instead of driving the 2.5 hrs home and then 2.5 hrs back in the morning, i had packed a bunch of my camping gear and decided to check out the Allaben sites, and luckily i found a decent open site and staked my claim for the night. I got camp set, lit a campfire, and thoroughly enjoyed an IPA tallboy and a mountain house lasagna. I had my tent's rainfly on as there was a good chance of rain in the overnight, however i spent a bunch of the night hanging out of my tent flaps staring at the stars through the pines above me.
    I awoke 10 minutes before my 530 alarm to have breakfast and pack up camp, and drove around to Spruceton Rd. There were a few cars in the pulloff lot past the main hunter lot around 7, and i soon signed in and then enjoyed the falls for a bit before starting the climb up to the ridge. I hadnt looked to see exactly where on the ridge the lookout was, and was about to go find views for myself up on top as I could tell the ridge wasnt too wide, but i came out on the lookout rocks with a hiker already there. It was her 3rd day on the devil's path, and the previous day she had probably been not that far ahead of me going up plateau. We were watching the dark clouds move across the area, watching hunter's tower go in and out of the clouds, and talked for a bit before she headed up to the summit on her way out to Spruceton, and i enjoyed the spot to myself for awhile more. I got up to the cairn and sign, and took a summit shot (pics or it didnt happen), and looked around up top before heading back to the lookout. With no one else there yet i stayed for awhile more, awed by the clouds streaming over the ridge and curling back up around up through the trees. I heard the whistling bird song again here by the lookout, and reluctantly heading back down I put out a grouse high up on the ridge right beside the trail. I began passing a bunch of hikers working their way up, and dunked my head in front of the falls before crossing over and heading down to the signout, passing many hikers and groups on this last stretch. I made my check mark in the book to make it official at 1056.
    I started with Panther last May, so my tally sheet was filled out in about 14 months, and I have done many of the peaks solo, but also a bunch with my crazy akita Rory, and some with my daughter. Some of the them i deliberately took the time and planning to go slow and truly enjoy the area, some i wanted to experiment with pace and gear, and some i really wanted to challenge myself. I think my favorite hike was Doubletop/Big Indian/Fir going solo. It was a downpour almost all day, and i bushwhacked as much as possible. Being in the clouds from Doubletop all the way over Big Indian and then back down on my variation of the Steamboat ridge descent to the marked trail was my first true test of orienteering with no visual aides more than 10 feet in front of me the whole time, and stumbling upon fresh bear prints in the snow among the house-sized boulders with blind corners as it was getting dark was really memorable.
    I apologize for the length of this book, but if you have read this far i really want to thank anyone who contributes on this forum. Those of you who have been on the trails and in the woods for awhile more than some of us might not realize just how helpful your posts and comments here can be, it is very much appreciated and often takes some worry out of the planning and execution, and thank you to those i have bothered via messenging with a wide range of questions.
    The camaraderie in this community, both on the forum and on the trails, is really something i am proud to be a part of. I plan on spending a bunch of my free time in the adk this summer, but all weekend i was thinking of what next in the cats. I made more summits this last winter than i expected to, so this next winter I ambitiously hope to earn my 35er rocker. I hope to redo a bunch of cats by bushwhacking as much as possible, doing different variations of all the ones i did this last year. I definitely intend on bringing my crazy mutt on more hikes now that i know which ones will suit her for some good safe exercise, and i definitely cant wait to show my daughter the catskill peaks she didn't get to see with me the first time through.
    Thanks again all
    35er #3133

    "The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, but a state of mind."
    John Burroughs

  • #2
    Freaking awesome BikerHiker!
    Congratulations! Really happy for you! Sounds like a heck of a finish!
    Awesome!
    I really appreciate the mini convos that we've had on here and hope that any beta I've shared with you has been at least of some assistance or semi accurate.
    Looking forward to your Summer TR's!

    Comment


    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, it was a wicked weekend.
      And for sure your input on here has been great and definitely appreciated more than a few times. Not just metaphorically speaking, me and my daughter could have possibly literally followed in you and your daughter's footsteps on some of our trips after checking your reports on here as well as your blog.

  • #3
    Nice finish! If you had done that exit trail (part of the Mink Hollow Trail) the other direction, (as we just did last week), you would have noticed a LOT more elevation gain!
    Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

    Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO Views And Brews!

    Comment


    • #4
      Congratulations on the finish! I've never done your favorite hike (Doubletop, Big Indian, and Fir). Perhaps next time I hike those peaks I'll have to do it that way. Congratulations again!
      To Go and to See
      Is to Know and to Be

      Comment


      • bikerhiker
        bikerhiker commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks 11th. If you enjoy a challenge, definitely go for it!

    • #5
      Thanks Tom. I know there was definitely more down than up on the way out, the swings up just surprised me that far in my hike.
      if I remember right, we briefly met you and Laurie on blm last spring (i think Rory was so tired she even ate out of your hand?!?). But you guys had been doing work on the tower, and i think you guys were carrying hands tools, doing work on waterbars, etc. I didn't mention it above, but all the work the trail crews and volunteers like you guys put in has definitely been noticed over the last 14 months, and is definitely appreciated.
      35er #3133

      "The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, but a state of mind."
      John Burroughs

      Comment


      • #6
        Congratulations! I've enjoyed reading your trip reports and following your journey. Sounds like a wonderful way to finish.
        We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

        Comment


        • bikerhiker
          bikerhiker commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks deb, I remember often taking your comments and posts, on hikes and routes in both the cats as well as the adk, into serious consideration during my planning for hikes the last 2 years.

      • #7
        Congratulations on an especially nice way to finish up your goal. Great trip report as always!
        Good luck on your pursuit of the winter rocker. If you can free up enough time and want to push yourself, stretch it out into a full winter round. Hope to see you walking up to the podium in April at the dinner! Hike on!

        Comment


        • bikerhiker
          bikerhiker commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks specs, I know you had done a whole bunch of trip reports and trail conditions on a lot of the hikes I was shooting for, so your posts have been really helpful, in particular I remember you did a variation-bushwhack up Balsam from Rider Hollow right before i did one. I definitely want to be at the banquet, and am definitely going to try for the finish by March 21, and will be keeping ssw in mind.

      • #8
        Originally posted by bikerhiker View Post
        Thanks Tom. I know there was definitely more down than up on the way out, the swings up just surprised me that far in my hike.
        if I remember right, we briefly met you and Laurie on blm last spring (i think Rory was so tired she even ate out of your hand?!?). But you guys had been doing work on the tower, and i think you guys were carrying hands tools, doing work on waterbars, etc. I didn't mention it above, but all the work the trail crews and volunteers like you guys put in has definitely been noticed over the last 14 months, and is definitely appreciated.
        I'm sure we did meet, but I look forward to shaking your hand at the next dinner!

        Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

        Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
        Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
        Past President Catskill 3500 Club
        CEO Views And Brews!

        Comment


        • #9
          Good report, better trip! I have also enjoyed watching your progress as you stumbled, walked and finally flew along the peaks. I look forward to some winter reports and perhaps a chance meeting upon some classic catskill ridge like the DT to Steamboat stroll. And enjoy the hikes with your daughter, its a special way to spend time together, just don't get her lost in the nettles of ND, my son wouldn't do another wack with me for 5 years after that hike and he was then tall enough to see over them.

          Comment


          • #10
            Thank you, Jim. Your reports, posts, comments and messages have been greatly appreciated the last 14 months, and they will continue to be. Just days after mailing in my paperwork and check i took my family up Blackdome and Blackhead, and it might have been my new "easiest" and fun hike yet (i had in mind that i hadnt seen those 2 in the month of July or the summer season yet, so that has started on my mind already....). And yeah, ND/Sherrill/Halcott will probably be late fall/winter/early spring hikes with my daughter.
            35er #3133

            "The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place, but a state of mind."
            John Burroughs

            Comment

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