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View Full Version : Hunter Mt. (Catskills)


Dick
03-28-2006, 10:34 PM
A trip to NH with forum member Antlerpeak was postponed, so Joanne and I decided to add our third Catskill peak in 20 years! In spite of being so close to these mountains, we've always gravitated toward the Adirondacks, which we know much better than the Catskills. I really don't know why. They are both so beautiful in so many different ways. In any case, down we went. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day: sunny, temps in the 40's. We were apparently the only hikers there that day. At least no one else parked there or signed in at that trailhead. We had the entire mountain to ourselves! How often does that happen?

Two stone arch pillars (minus the arch) served as our gateway at the Becker Hollow trailhead. The trail was gentle, as it wandered through an old farm area, and crossed the stream on a well-built bridge. After a few stream crossings (all were flowing, but easy), the trail started to go up. And up. And up some more. Essentially the trail was one large set of switchbacks up to a ridge. The woods are incredibly open, not the claustrophobic constraint of so much of the Adirondacks (also beautiful, just different). No snow at all at these lower levels. Only an occasional downed limb or two. The fact that leaves were not yet on the trees afforded us rear views as we gained altitude. Almost no birds or wind, just a wonderfully eerie calm, with occasional creaking of trees, though we heard the wind above us - a portent of things to come!

As we climbed higher, we saw occasional patches of snow in the woods. Eventually this gave way to occasional patches of snow on the trail - slushy to hard-packed, easily skirted or walked on. Finally, several hundred feet from the summit, winter set in. The trail became all snow (c. 4-5") and we encountered the wind we had heard below. Certainly not much snow compared to what's left in some of the Adirondacks, but winter nevertheless. We followed faint tracks of past hikers, though on some of the sections the snow had blown over. We were armed with crampons (overkill) and Yak-traks (fairly useless), but we intentionally did not bring our snowshoes with us. In retrospect, that was a big mistake, but we were expecting conditions similar to Windham High Peak, which we had climbed a few weeks ago, which had no snow. Snowshoes would have been helpful, but barebooting was OK. We went slowly and we were fine.

At the junction we encountered two signs near a log. One was the "yellow" trail to the summit (which we followed), and the other was the blue trail to a lookout area, I think the location of the earlier fire tower. The two signs were confusing (the blue trail indicated .3 miles to Hunter Mt. (site of the former tower), and the yellow trail indicated .35 mi. to the tower, which I understand is the true summit. From the signs only, one could surmise that the ultimate summit was straight ahead, and that both areas are connected.

Moving toward the tower on the Yellow trail, the going was mercifully level (more or less), and after some confusing pink flagging (should be removed?), eventually the trail goes into a "tunnel" of firs and balsam, finally reaching the summit. The summit is a flat circle containing a ranger's cabin, a firetower, a privvy (a solid '7' on Joanne ADK rating scale!), and a horse thingy (that's a technical term, known and understood by only a few informed outdoor scholars). Signs indicated there were several ways to get to this mountaintop, one of which is by horse.

Absolutely no views at ground level, due to a ring of fir and balsam trees surrounding the summit. From the tower, INCREDIBLE 360-degree views were seen! However, the knock-you-down wind up there was so fierce that I could only stay for a few seconds, and didn't want to attempt loosing the camera, or my life, so Joanne's pictures at the second landing will have to suffice.

Descending was uneventful, save for a few fun butt-slides (planned and otherwise). A DEC website suggested that this trail was "arguably the most difficult hike in the Catskills - climbing nearly 2,000 feet in two miles." Our take was that it was more or less comparable to Cascade Mt. in the Adirondacks - one of the easier of the high peaks - minus the summit rock cone. Do seasoned Catskill hikers have that impression? It was a nice little workout, but not really a big deal compared to other challenges in the Adirondacks. Is that really the hardest of the trails that the Catskills has to offer?

So...we're Catskill 3'ers! We're certainly enchanted enough with the area to return to do other hikes. Whether we do them all remains to be seen. So many peaks (and other places), so little time!

Dick

Edelweiss
03-29-2006, 08:16 AM
Here are pictures of Dick's and my Hunter Mountain hike.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&conn_speed=1&Uc=tdpb2qu.9mpbkc02&Uy=-sq4lu&Ux=0

Kevin
03-29-2006, 01:04 PM
Thanks for the report. I had recently asked myself why I don't hike the catskills (at all, not even a little). Your report answered that question. They just don't have that rugged beauty I've grown to love of its northern cousin. Of course, that's why we're here - the ADKs are someplace very special. All of us already know this, but your pictures reaffrimed that fact.

I'm sure bushwhacking is some fun down there (fewer people and more open woods), but I am suspect to think more people bag the 35 3500 catskill peaks and move on to something else than people who do the 46 high peaks and stay to repeat them time and time again. I'm also certain I'd appreciate having them 30 minutes from home, to run up to the top for a nice day in the woods, but since they're about the same distance from home as the ADKs I'll continue to get the most out of my gas dollar and head north.

My $0.02. :)

dog
03-29-2006, 02:16 PM
I was scared by the density of private-public lands mosaic there , when I was choosing , where to go long time ago . And I thought , ADK is a whole thing in this matter :confused: .
Tnx for reminding , Edelweiss and Dick .

lumberzac
03-29-2006, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the report. I had recently asked myself why I don't hike the catskills (at all, not even a little). Your report answered that question. They just don't have that rugged beauty I've grown to love of its northern cousin. Of course, that's why we're here - the ADKs are someplace very special. All of us already know this, but your pictures reaffrimed that fact.

I'm sure bushwhacking is some fun down there (fewer people and more open woods), but I am suspect to think more people bag the 35 3500 catskill peaks and move on to something else than people who do the 46 high peaks and stay to repeat them time and time again. I'm also certain I'd appreciate having them 30 minutes from home, to run up to the top for a nice day in the woods, but since they're about the same distance from home as the ADKs I'll continue to get the most out of my gas dollar and head north.

My $0.02. :)

The Catskills are defiantly worth the trip down. They have a quality of their own, as Iíve found with every place Iíve hiked. I do most of my hiking in the Adirondacks as they are much closer, but I have enjoyed the few trips Iíve taken to the Catskills.
http://community.webshots.com/album/141695596MwBPwd

Thanks for sharing the trip report with us Dick. :thumbs:

Kevin
03-29-2006, 02:55 PM
The Catskills are defiantly worth the trip down. They have a quality of their own, as Iíve found with every place Iíve hiked.

Where I live now there's plenty of beauty, but I still like heading north because there's something extra beautiful there. Of course there's beauty everywhere ( :rolleyes: ), even in the slums of Harlem I saw beauty... quit getting me all Zen'd up Zac! :drool:

I digress because I do still want to try the loop that you did a year or so back (the one I missed out on).

lumberzac
03-29-2006, 03:07 PM
I saw beauty... quit getting me all Zen'd up Zac! :drool:


If a tree falls in the Adirondacks, and you're hiking in the Catskills, does it make a sound? :D

Kevin
03-29-2006, 03:08 PM
If a tree falls in the Adirondacks, and you're hiking in the Catskills, does it make a sound? :D

Trees don't fall they go to sleep. :thumbs:

Rik
03-29-2006, 04:23 PM
Thanks for the report. I had recently asked myself why I don't hike the catskills (at all, not even a little). Your report answered that question. They just don't have that rugged beauty I've grown to love of its northern cousin. Of course, that's why we're here - the ADKs are someplace very special. All of us already know this, but your pictures reaffrimed that fact.

I'm sure bushwhacking is some fun down there (fewer people and more open woods), but I am suspect to think more people bag the 35 3500 catskill peaks and move on to something else than people who do the 46 high peaks and stay to repeat them time and time again. I'm also certain I'd appreciate having them 30 minutes from home, to run up to the top for a nice day in the woods, but since they're about the same distance from home as the ADKs I'll continue to get the most out of my gas dollar and head north.

My $0.02. :)

If I had to choose I would choose the Adirondacks but why choose? I'm certainly an Adirondack based hiker and do keep climbing the 46 but I find myself only 3 peaks short of a second Catskill 35 round as well. Great time to visit is during "mud season" in Adks. Also deer hunting starts later there so I usually take a few trips down then as well. I also think visiting other ranges increases my appreciation of the Adirondacks.

billandjudy
03-29-2006, 05:18 PM
As newbee (working on a year) hikers living in NJ, we obviously started in the Catskill's--our first hike there was a rather aggressive (at the time) traverse of the Blackhead range--we were overwhelmed by our first views--simply stunning. We now have 6 bushwacks left for our 35's. In the meantime we decided to try out the ADK's. I had scant memory of them from a vacation loooong ago. Let's just say the ADK's are different--simply beautiful--with slides, elevation, and bald peaks that the Cat's just don't have. We managed 7 HP's this winter along with Hurricane and Noonmark. The problem is the drive--3 1/2 hours is just a little too far for a quick drive up and back on a Sunday. Soooo we still look forward to our time in the Cat's and appreciate that they are close enough to make a quick trip feasable. We also like the fact that the Cat's are no where near as crowded as the ADK's. We have never seen near the 60 people we saw on Cascade in February. We also like the fact that in the Cat's you pretty much get out of the car and start climbing. I'm not a big fan of 3-5 mile approaches before you get to the "good" stuff. Would we be in the ADK's more if they were closer??--You bet!! But I'll also take The Devil's Path, The Blackhead Range and The Escarpment Trail anyday I can. Any hiking and climbing is better than none, I feel fortunate to have both the Cat's and ADK's close enough to enjoy as time permits!

Sparky
03-29-2006, 08:17 PM
Dick, very nice report and pics! Looked like a great day.