Whether tackling the hills or lounging by the pool, I hope everyone enjoyed their hot and humid mid-July. High atmospheric pressure created many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors free of wet weather (if you could stomach the heat). Here's a look at the week that was, which was highlighted by Proactive's trip to Mount Beacon.
Rusk and Halcott
Lexington, NY - It came time to knock a pair of peaks off the Catskill 3500 list. I was led by a member of the 3500 Club up the trailless slopes of Rusk and Halcott Mountains. First was Rusk: we parked at the Spruceton trailhead and ascended up to the first major bend in the trail. It didn't take long to ascend the gully to the first ledges, and we got there surprisingly fast. We were up-and-down in 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Halcott Mountain wasn't nearly as pleasant. We lost the faint herd path and had to bushwhack through Halcott's famous nettle fields. I got stung a half a dozen times even with gaiters on. The canister was a relieving sight but the only other reward was a blue shadow through the thick canopy. We found a more reasonable way down but the downhill felt nearly as arduous as the way up. We even met up with a decent path, but lost it near the bottom, where we were led to a swamp. We finally found our way through, where we were presented with a dry Halcott Falls. Not much reward to this hill aside from the canister.
Wanaque Water Tower
Wanaque, NJ - I needed somewhere quick to go on a busy day that included a lower body workout. None quicker than the pipeline that leads to the Wanaque Water Tower. For years I could always measure my fitness by running up the hill and seeing how far up I could go before being forced into a walking pace. I was proud to make it to the top without walking for the first time ever. To celebrate I treated myself to a view of Interstate 287 as it forces its way through the southern end of the Ramapo Mountains.
Beacon, NY - Time for a morning assault on Mount Beacon with Joe. Halfway up to the summit of North Beacon, I was hit with an ocular migraine, which happens more often than I'd like. It results in partial blindness and muscle weakness of short duration. I'd choose that over a classic migraine any day of the week, which is a massive, all-day headache with nausea. We get to the top where I spend a few minutes recovering in the shade. The migraine passes in due time and I allow myself to enjoy the classic view of the City of Beacon, Hudson River, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Wallkill Valley, Gunks, and Catskills.
Wyanokie High Point
Ringwood, NJ - I needed some exercise and had some time to kill before practice. I went hiking with my buddy who happens to rock climb, which means he's much cooler than I am. I took him to Wyanokie High Point via the express route, clearing the peak in 30 minutes. He's been to some amazing places but was shocked to learn about Norvin Green State Forest: an area jam-packed with expansive views that was only 5 miles from his home in Bloomingdale. We enjoyed a beer in the afternoon sun before heading back to Snake Den Road. Using the old section of the Hewitt Butler trail (Blue) we got to the car in 20 minutes. This route to Wyanokie High Point is Proactive's first of three Social Hikes! It's scheduled for Friday, August 3rd. Check our Events page for more info!
Wanaque, NJ - A few ATV trails lead to the orange Wanaque Ridge trail. This cuts off at least half a mile of trail, including the red trail and pipeline section. Once I got on top of the ridge I trailran to the Raymond Dam overlook. Dizzy and nauseous from the intense humidity, I had to gather my bearings at the view. A half a bottle of water sprung me into good enough health to snap a few shots. I ran back down orange and towards the ATV roads. But, first I had to stop at an unmarked rock outcrop on the southern end of Wanaque Ridge. It's a pretty sweet view of the water tower, 287 bridge, and the rest of Wanaque.
Sandyston, NJ - It was a blast providing food, drinks, and info to Appalachian Trail thru hikers at Culver's Gap. Their reactions were priceless and their trail stories fascinating. Some of what I gathered: PA was boring but less difficult than rumored, potable water is a problem on NJ's Kittatinny Ridge, and 2018 is one of the wettest years on record for the AT. Virginia seemed to be the most memorable section -- tons of bears, a mentally challenging 550 miles, a cold and soaked spring season, and some of the best scenery along the entire trail. This long section of AT combined with a harsh spring leads to the "Virginia Blues", a point where many aspirants fall out and go home.
After closing up shop, we made the most out of our trip by heading to the Culver Fire Tower and Sunrise Mountain. We were pleased to meet some of the same thru hikers again at both spots. We wished them a final "good luck", grabbed our shots, and headed back to Sunrise Mountain parking.
In my car I made an unpleasant discovery: a broken gas gauge was reading empty. Though the gauge is hardly ever accurate, when it reads that low it's always telling the truth. I was in the middle of Kittatinny Ridge, 25 minutes away from civilization. To my relief, much of the trip was downhill and I managed to coast the majority of way in neutral. The few uphill sections were nail biting efforts. Route 23 was a sight for sore eyes, and a Lukoil appeared around a bend like an oasis in the Sahara.
Luck smiled upon me enough to make it to safety. Joe, who followed me all the way there, figured it was as good a time as any to buy a scratch-off. Always be sure to make the best of your luck; the law of averages may not be on your side next time.