Friday, July 20, 2012

Vernooy Falls Area

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July 22, 2012
Southern Catskill from a distance
Another gorgeous early morning and we met up at 8:30am at Bull Run Primitive Campground area on Peekamoose Rd.  Jakob Franke and Chris had been doing a prior day of trail construction on Romer Mt near Phoenicia NY and Jeff Rogg drove me up from North Jersey. Our mission was to hike Section 14 of the LP from Upper Cherrytown rd. in Riggsville back over to Bull Run on Peekamoose Rd.. The course is as indicated in this section.
Vernooys fall (more like a trickle this time of year)
This section is 10.10 miles (including a brief road walk at the end) and is highlighted by passing the scenic Vernooy falls.  The trek is mostly slight uphill and flat and then ends with a steep descent on Bangle Hill.   Jakob is the head maintainer on the LP from the Catskills south and it was an honor to have him with us intially, but he had plans to blaze key junctions with the LP disc, so he went behind us at his own lesser pace. He is an experienced hiker, so we were not worried about him finding his way home to his car at Bull Run.     The falls were nice, but the dry hot weather lowered the water table to the point they were not that exciting in this season.  The stream was clean and moving, so it made a good opportunity to splash some water on my head to cool off.  A baseball cap dipped in this cool water kept my head cool for over the next hour as the temps moved up to 85 F. 

After the Vernooy section was a  woods road that still sees a certain amount of local backwoods vehicular traffic from hunters, campers, locals and probably a few ATVs here and there.  A hunters cabin was still in action midway down the road replete with a welcome sign.  Some if this road is outside the Sundown park area as we saw pink ribbons of boundary markers here and there.  To me this is what defines a wild forest apart from a wilderness forest.  A wild forest is going back to the wild, but still entertains humans traffic to some degree and may be cut with roads, cabins, snowmobile traffic, etc..  A wilderness forest is more highly protected and doesn't allow the kind of human use at all. Of note, we saw a SUV truck parked on the side of the trail with a very peculiar huge white box strapped to the roof, hmmm, oh about the size that would hold a deer (or a human body), so we decided it wise not to interact with the driver.  Other than that weird box, we heard no screams and saw no other signs that something wrong was occurring, so we kept walking even though a few "Chucky" and "Chain saw massacre"comments were uttered.
Chris, Jakob and Jeff (from left)
Sign by Bull Run on Peekamoose Rd.
The trail exited the woods road suddenly on the right side and we missed it as the ferns and understory were a bit overgrown.  Jakob will (I'm sure) add an extra  blaze tag to indicate a right turn at this spot.  This next section was under maintained and had a more remote feel to it.  It was wet like a rain forest and passed under hardwoods, hemlocks, beechwood and birch.  Mostly I recall lots of ferns.  We saw the ground sloping away on the right and we were on the last ridge of the day on Samson Mt, probably only about 2500 feet in elevation or so (max). The final hike down to the road was painful on my right knee.  The trail could have used switchbacks in places as it went straight down over packed dirt.  I haven't been hiking for a month and it showed up suddenly as pain in my knee.  Otherwise, we finished strong and did the hike in about 6 hours, including a few breaks.  We left a note for Jakob on his car saying we left off to shuttle on back to Jeffs Truck in Riggsville.  The trail overall had no vistas and was under the cover of trees for the most part, so except for the falls, it was one of the least scenic trails I have been on so far on the LP.  The required shuttles also took about an hour each way, so for these two reasons alone, I can see why the trail was under used in this section. 

By the time Jeff dropped me off home in Jersey, we were both yawning from the early morning start. It was a great day overall and looking forward to the next section.  I also give Jeff extra credit because he is technically ahead of me on his own LP adventure and kindly rehiked this section as a way of "pulling" us forward toward where he last progressed at Mt Tremper fire tower.  That will be a real milestone getting over the first series of high peaks to that location.

Trail Stats: 9.7 miles

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