Hiking Trip (9 Aug 2001)
(I had intended to write about this trip a while back, when I actually took this trip but I guess I never got around to doing that. Hmm, not so surprising, if you consider how bad I am at keeping in touch with people... Okay, well anyways I'm going to write about it now, today, 7 Oct 2001)
Originally, I had thought a number of people would have been able to make this hiking trip but eventually no one could go, except for me and Hongyan. Hongyan lives in New Jersey and was just beginning to drive on a regular 3.1 mi basis to and from work, but hadn't really driven highway much yet.
During the trip to the Catskills, Hongyan drove and I navigated the way. Hongyan is a great driver, and we practiced highway driving skills for a bit on the way there. It was quite fun.
Arriving at the Catskill region, I had a map from an internet site about where the entrance to the park was. I knew there was an entrance outside of the park on the highway, and we passed it on the way to the main park. Unfortanately, I didn't note down exactly how far the park entrance was, and after a couple minutes of winding Catskills mountain road, I was convinced that we had missed it. So we turned around near an auto shop at the small village at the top of the mountain ridge and headed back to the highway side entrance.
We parked her brand-new Honda Accord in the gravel parking lot, which hikers use for the trail. After getting a bit of a pointer about bathroom locations from the local hot dog vendor-truck ("use any tree") we wandered down the highway to the trail entrance about 5 minutes away on the highway.
We got to the trail entrance, where a tour bus seemed to have broken down (we passed it on the way in). The passengers looked a bit lost, wanting either to go in a have a closer look at the trail and wanting to be on their way. They broke down right in front of the entrance to the trail, and I'm sure it was sort of bizarre for them to see some hikers marching their way on purpose, as they were there just by sheer coincidence.
Entering the trail it was a quick 10 minute jaunt mostly upward to get to the Kaaterskill falls base. I have some pictures from there. The falls takes two stages, probably best seen in the "Kaaterskill Falls" upright photo. The base consists of a lot of broken rocks and a shallow pool with a stream running down the rest of the way, making its way back to the trail entrance, eventually running under the highway. The top part of the falls begins at the top of the bottom part, with a ledge that holds a much deeper pool. You can see this in the picture "Pool", where we saw three boys (well, I guess men, but they certainly acted like boys :-) ) wading around. Comments from them ranged from "Hahahaha" to "God, it's really cold". Why I remember this I have no idea.
To get from the middle section to the top section of the falls, we had to go away from the falls and try to find a heavier wooded area to hike up. Much of the soil in the area had washed away, but we sti0ll decided to try to go up (although in retrospect, I don't think we were really thinking of how we would be getting back down, as it was really slippery with dry particles of dirt everywhere. Eventually we ended up at the top of the falls, where you can look down, as the vantage point in the "Pool" picture.
We had a nice lunch that Hongyan had prepared in advance. We were bsitting in the river gulley, a space about 10 meters wide. Other hikers also stopping there said that during heavy rainstorms the entire 10 meter span is taken by the river and the falls become spectacular. That day there was really just a small trickle coming down the falls, as you can see.
After lunch, I consulted the description of the area from the hiking guide. We followed the river bed for the next hour and a half until we were certain that we had gotten lost. The hike was to have found a large lake only thirty minutes from the top of the falls, where we had lunch. We had passed into the gloom and shade of the light forest and found a abandoned small shack; see "Creek Shack". Since we were just following the river, we backpedaled until we reached a car bridge we had gone under and went a short distance along the road to find a house to ask for directions.
It turned out that the road that we passed under was also the main road to the park (the entrance we were trying to find in the morning). We followed the road into the park, about a 1/4 of a mile and visited the lake. It wasn't a very remarkable lake but it apparently had a lot of year round visitors that come for camping (there are over 100 campsite spots that are rented there).
A local parks servicewomen (I think that who it was) came out and met us at the pond's edge and fed the local ducks potato chip leftovers. They came slowly, about 20 of them, all responding to her call. It was getting late, so we took the remaining time to walk back along the access road to the small town where the entrance was, and back down the road to the highway parking lot where the car was.