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Trying to love the Catskills

I spent the summers of my teens and early 20s in the Catskills and have so many fond memories of my time there.  These are special mountains, full of trout streams and rolling hills and history.

I wish I could say that I love them.

They are beautiful.

And they are special.

View from Wittenberg

View from Wittenberg

They have a history and specialness that I do truly value.

But…. they have every NY’er and his neighbor.  Our first night, there were 5 tents in what should have been 1 tent site (for true, good low-impact camping).  And the top of Wittenberg?  We sat up there for 2 hours, and at least 25+ people came on through.

That Catskills are not where you go for peace and quiet.  Nope.  No quiet.

And did I mention the bugs?

But there were some more nice views.

View off of Cornell

View off of Cornell

We hiked a loop – following the Burroughs trail that goes over Slide, Cornell and Wittenburg.  Sure, it is reported that it is one of the most popular hikes in the Catskills, but who’d a thought that it would be that popular?

[note to self:  there are a lot of people living in NYC]

Since it was early spring, it meant that there were lots of bugs.  And lots of flowers (which are preferable to black flies).

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

and one of my favorites of spring:

White Trilliums

White Trilliums

As much as hiking in the Catskills is not quite and peaceful and wild, it is nice to get out in the woods for a couple of days.  I will take the Cascades or the Whites or the Cordillera Blanca or the Annapurnas any day over the Catskills, but while I am here — it is nice to sleep out.

testing out the new tent

testing out the new tent

And I’ll take the tradition of ending a hike with a dip in a nice cool lake or stream, this time the Woodland Valley stream was a nice cool dip (no pictures as a I just needed to jump in after a buggy, humid, hot hike and forgot the camera!).

 

I’ve decided that my relationship with the Catskills is like an old friend or lover — you appreciate them for what they are, they have given you much, but you’ve seen what else is out there.  You don’t stop loving them and appreciating them…. they hold a special place in your heart, but you know you’ve also moved on.

View from Giants Ledge

View from Giants Ledge

 

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Carol Kushner #

    Catskills–like an old friend you know well, even though you have changed so much in the intervening years. I love the trillium, though. Thanks for the good photos. And what did you expect on Memorial Day weekend? You should have seen the crowds at Rhinebeck farmers market on Sunday! Too many loud and rude New Yorkers,

    May 27, 2014
  2. Aurora #

    I forgot to mention that we also saw 3 garter snakes, countless red efts, a downy woodpecker and fell asleep listening to a Great Horned Owl.

    May 27, 2014
  3. Jennie #

    Aurora were you doing this hike over Memorial Day (ie yesterday)? If so, I was part of the crowd up on the mountains with you. Perhaps it was our timing, but we had a different experience. We were the only ones at our tent site on the col between slide and cornell, and only saw about 15-20 people the whole weekend. And the flowers were glorious.

    My first time doing this run. Loved it (with exception of coming off of slide).

    Hope you are well.

    May 27, 2014
    • Aurora #

      Jennie — yes, I was up there this weekend. A friend and I went counter-clockwise from Woodland Valley campground. It’s hard to believe that you saw so few people — as we saw AT LEAST 25 backpackers, if not more! And lots and lots of day hikers. But, the flowers were amazing!

      May 27, 2014
  4. Kenn Kushner #

    Wittenberg was one of my first NY mountains. Great view there and Giants ledge. I think the last time I was on Giants ledge was with you and Cody about 25 years ago. We were also camped at Woodland Valley then. Glad you got out in the woods.

    May 27, 2014
    • Aurora #

      The view is beautiful from both those places! And the Woodland Valley stream was great for a post-hike dip!

      May 27, 2014
  5. Kim #

    It’s beautiful!

    May 27, 2014
    • Aurora #

      Thanks Kim! They are really beautiful…. just not the same after you’ve trekked in Nepal, you know?!

      May 27, 2014
  6. Julie Howland #

    Aurora – Hey! Long time. Trying to connect with you. My family’s heading East next week. We have a few days in NYC (July 17-20). Wondered if you would be in town or out adventuring?

    June 29, 2014
    • Aurora #

      Yes, I will have just gotten back — I will shoot you an email!

      June 30, 2014

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