|This weekend Margaret
and I went for a one night back pack.
We traversed the Blackhead Range to the Escarpment trail to North Lake South Lake.
We parked at the Schutt Road lot then took a taxi to Elmer Barnum Road parking lot. We hit the trail about 1:00pm Saturday. As we ascended it became evident that last months Nor Easter, the less than perfect storm, left a a great amount of damage in its wake. The forest was literally smashed. Huge parts of trees just littered the ground. In areas of pine forestes it was like everyone threw out their Christmas trees on the hiking trail.
Approaching the summit of Thomas Cole Mountain we spoke to some hikers who had planned on hiking Tom Cole, Black Dome, and Blackhead Mountain but turned around on the summit of Tom Cole because the blow down was too much. I thought for a few minutes if we'd turn around. What we had crossed up to that point was annoying but bearable. 18 miles of it would really suck. And if it got much worst it could become impassable. We decided to press on. We were prepared for one night out, and if things really got bad we had an out to Big Hollow Road at the col between Black Dome and Blackhead, and another at Dutcher Notch. The blow down did get worst but the worst parts weren't continuous and the rest was merely annoying.
After Blackhead, things leveled off, the trail follows a ridge then descends to Dutcher Notch. Around 6:15 we passed a guy who had set up camp he was headed in the opposite direction as us but got turned around by the blowdown at Blackhead. Headed towards Dutcher Notch I wanted to find a camping site quickly. I didn't want to get to the notch, then have to climb the other side to find a camp. We found something a a hundred or 2 feet above the notch on one of the Catskill ledges. It was well off the trail, I headed off because of the level ground and sure enough at the only area without rocks there was a fire ring. So we set up our tent on the small patch of soft earth, I got dinner going while Margaret set up the sleeping bags and laid out the inside of the tent. We munched leftover chicken and rice.
The temperature was rather cold, and unfortunately I didn't bring enough warm layers 2 tee shirts and a heavy insulated shirt, or for the next morning wind layers. We went to bed about 8:30. The wind started shortly there after. It seemed as though I didn't sleep at all. I know I did, I just don't know when. There was noise, then the wind, then the cold then the urge to pee, it takes a great urge to pee to leave a somewhat warm sleeping bag to venture outside in a what I had on with temperatures in the 30's and 20-30 mph winds. Returning to the sleeping bag I put on my socks and managed another couple hours of sleep. I think that was around 2. Around 4 Margaret and I combined forces of heat generation. Mummy bugs are very hard to share I ended up putting mine over us both. That worked OK and we got another couple of hours out of it.
Around 7:00 we decided to get up have breakfast. This meant back outside in the cold and wind. My wind breaker consisted of a pancho with a belt ala Sly Stallone in Rambo. It was better than nothing and I got us some hot water for coffee. After that we broke camp quickly packed up and we were back on the on the trail by 8:15. Shortly we were at Dutcher Notch, the climb up the other side got the blood flowing and started to generate some heat. After that there is a nice ridge, then a couple hundred foot step, then another level ridge till stoppel point. This was a few hundred foot climb afterwhich the rest of the hike was mostly downhill. At the to of Stoppel Point there is a plane crash, right there on the side of the trail. the Trail seems to loop around the top, then a lookout then a little descent to another mostly level ridge to north mountain. From North mountain we were on familiar ground previous hikes and back packs had taken us over this stretch of the escarpment trail several times before. We cover the ground to north lake south lake pretty quickly then cut thru the camp ground back to the car.
This hike was good warmup to our next White Mountain Trip.