CATSKILLS: KAATERSKILL HIGH PEAK, 4/27/17
On Thursday, fog moved in over the eastern Catskills and persisted until noontime. Nevertheless, I headed 2.3 miles up the wet and rocky Long Path from Platte Clove towards Kaaterskill High Peak, hopeful that the sun would eventually break through.
A herd path shortcut off the Long Path leads past a clearing that was supposedly once a Mohawk Indian campsite. When I arrived here the sun had finally burned through the persistent fog.
The shortcut leads to a snowmobile trail that makes a long, high-elevation loop around the base of Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top. Many sections of this trail are swampy in spring.
The path reaches the snowmobile trail near the site of a 1987 small plane crash.
There is also some good walking on the snowmobile trail, as shown here.
The first-growth hardwood forest on this south-facing slope is magnificent.
A glimpse of the steep profile of Kaaterskill High Peak.
Spring is such a great time in the Catskill forest.
A large cairn marks the junction with the unofficial but well-beaten path that traverses Kaaterskill High Peak from south to north. Both sides are steep, but the south is steeper.
Heading up through rocky terrain.
The south approach is one of the steepest bits of climbing in the Catskills.
Approaching the first of several ledge scrambles.
Above that scramble, the path tightropes along the edge of a steep slope.
Cool sandstone formations on a little shelf between ledge bands.
The final pitch up to the viewpoint known as Hurricane Ledge is rather hair-raising, especially if you carry a bulky, heavy day pack like mine.
The traverse at the top of this pitch is quite tricky.
To emerge from the chimney seen here from above, I had to take my pack off and hoist it onto a ledge overhead.
When I arrived, breathless, atop Hurricane Ledge, I saw that the eastern Devil's Path peaks were still socked in.
I sought out a lower, more western ledge that has the best view of all in this very scenic place.
What a perch!
Time to kick back for a while and savor the view across to Plateau and Hunter Mountains.
To the east, the Hudson Valley was still shrouded in fog.
There is a long view west beyond nearby Round Top Mountain to Vly and Bearpen Mountains on the horizon.
Rugged terrain up here.
The fog rolled back in after having been pushed away by the sun for three hours.
With the view disappearing, I climbed back to the main Hurricane Ledge viewspot.
Peering down at the steep path I had ascended.
A USGS reference marker at the summit.
A herd path leads down to a dramatic NE view perch, but the fog precluded any views.
From the summit I partly bushwhacked, partly followed a herd path down to the KHP-Round Top col. After weaving through conifers down to 3500 ft., I emerged in the first of a series of gorgeous open birch glades on this moderately inclined NW shoulder.
Along the way I passed "The Creature from Kaaterskill."
It reminded me of the fine ridge leading up to Lone Mountain.
Approaching the col, I slithered down a little gully and found myself at the entrance to a natural stone fort.
Just above the col is what is sometimes called the "Hanging Ledge."
Down in the col I looked for a mossy spot that is described on the interesting "Catskill Mountaineer" website as the site of the "Tory Fort," supposedly used by Tories during the Revolutionary War to hold deserters. There is another site known as the Joseph Brant Fort down on the south slope well below the snowmobile trail.
From the col I bushwhacked south back down to the snowmobile trail, passing this nicely-formed sandstone ledge.
Mossy ledges gleaming in the fog.
More fine open hardwoods.
Classic Catskill woods scenery. Once back on the snowmobile trail, I slogged four miles back to the trailhead, making it out just before dark.