Monday, May 28, 2012

SHREWSBURY PEAK VT 35'ER (The "Exploring Vermont" Hike)

I decided to hike Shrewsbury Peak in Vermont, but since it was a shorter hike I would add on a kayak and maybe a swim after. I arrived at the closed gate on the CCC Rd. (closed since Hurricane Irene) and walked a short distance to the start of the Shrewbury Peak loop hike. I ran into a couple who were just getting back from a night on the mountain at the Shrewsbury Shelter. The weather was humid and the blackflies were out. Very soon after leaving the trailhead I arrived at the Russell Hill shelter, complete with a loft!...
I continued on as the trail gradually climbed up through a deciduous forest. I came upon a lot of moose sign along the trail...


The wildflowers (White Violet, Painted Trillium, Purple Trillium) were also a nice diversion along the way as the trail steepened and entered into the evergreens ...


As I neared the summit there was all evergreens and the terrain became steeper...
The summit had mediocre views at best, with a small viewpoint to the South... 


And after a little searching a little nicer view East...
I ran over to the North Peak nearby but no views there either. I headed back to the col to take the Black Swamp Trail down, near the junction was a nice garden of Painted Trilliums...

I stopped to snap a picture of some British Soldiers...
After descending for a short time I came to the Shrewsbury Shelter, complete with a bunk!...
After the shelter I followed the Black Swamp Trail down to a clearing where I took a series of snowmobile trails back towards the trailhead.... 
I stopped to check out some Blue/White Violets? along the trail...
I came out near an old stone building, an old ranger/ski  hut?
The CCC Rd was nearby and just as I reached it I stumbled on a couple Tiger Swallowtail butterflies on some Yellow Hawkweed...
The trip back to the car along the road was easy and short, I passed a family on their way to the Stone Hut to check it out. I arrived back at the Jeep still early in the day so I decided to go for a paddle. I headed for a small lake, Lake Ninevah, nearby. The small boat launch parking area was full on this holiday weekend, but I was fortunate to snag a spot as somebody left. I got my stuff together and pushed out on the nice pristine lake. The first thing I noticed was an island posted as a Loon Nesting Site. There were a few camps along the shores but it was a quiet area and I enjoyed the views and breezes as I paddled the length of the lake...




 I took pictures of a Pitcher Plant flower and a spider on a Yellow Pond Lily...

On the return trip, I heard something in a tree alongshore and was pleased to look up and see two bald eagles right above me!...

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I also had a Loon pass under my kayak in the water a very cool experience. I was talking to a fellow kayaker about my sightings when all of a sudden one of the Eagles swooped down and grabbed a fish out of the water right in front of us, what a cool thing to see close up!

I headed back and loaded up the kayak. I still had time to burn, so I decided to check out nearby Clarendon Gorge. I drove over to the AT crossing where a group was hauling out a huge load of trash along the trail, enough to fill a pick-up! I checked out the gorge and it was nice...

There were too many people around and not enough decent swimming spots, so I drove to antoher swimming hole further down the gorge. I made my way upstream to explore the gorge and some waterfalls...

 Had to watch where I put my hands...


I came upon a nude guy and his woman and thought I'd take the road back to the car since it would be easier. I explored the cliffs above the gorge when I got back and found some Columbine...
I went back down to the water swam and cooled off and then packed up and headed towards home. 
It was a great day exploring Vermont on foot and in the water!



Friday, May 18, 2012

THE BURROUGHS RANGE CATSKILL 35 FINISH (The "Merlin and Trillium Garden" Hike)

On Friday I set out to hike my final Catskill 35 peak, Cornell. I decided to hike the whole Burroughs Range as I had never hiked the whole trail before. I met a new hiking companion Michael Rider at Woodland Valley and we drove up to Slide TH to start there and hike the 10 miles back to Woodland Valley. The weather was perfect as we took the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail up Slide Mtn and enjoyed the viewpoints....

The leaves were really out on the trees now and there were more wildflowers and what I think was Chokecherry blossoms...
Near the summit of Slide Mtn we followed a side path thinking it was a rare view to the west, but it ended at a seashell, not by the seashore!...
The balsam forest was fragrant and we made it up to the overlook on Slide Mtn in good time. The overlook was better than I remember from previous visits to Slide...

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A little farther on we came to the Burrough Plaque, dedicated to John Burroughs, a writer that I've been reading some of his nature writings recently...
We headed down the steep ledges and enjoyed good views towards the rest of the range, Cornell & Wittenberg Mtns....

 One of the steep sections on the descent...
In the col were numerous campsites and we spotted a nice big cluster of Painted Trilliums...
On the ascent of Cornell we came to a spectacular viewpoint with a great view of Slide Mtn....
We headed up and reached the mostly wooded summit of Cornell, my 35th Catskill Peak. I celebrated by having lunch...

A view towards Wittenberg Mtn...
We descended down the infamous "Cornell Crack", which really wasn't that technical...
We then headed across the narrow ridge (nicknamed the "Bruins Causeway") towards Wittenberg, which happened to be Michael's 35th Peak, and poked around at some partial viewpoints along the way...
The real treat, as I knew from hiking there before, was Wittenberg's summit with a panoramic view of the Ashokan Reservoir...

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The 2 new Catskill 35'ers
We spent a lot of time soaking in the views and enjoying the solitude (no other hikers on the summit! and only saw 3 all day!)....


Just before we left the summit we were treated to a bird Michael identified as a Merlin, from the falcon family.
The descent back to Woodland Valley was long but pleasant.

I was definitely moving faster than this guy...
I enjoyed some time at Woodland Creek at the bottom before heading back...
A great day of perfect weather and fine views.
I guess it's back to the Adirondacks and Green Mtns for a while, but I'm sure I'll be back down to the Catskills sometime soon.