Friday, August 17, 2012

Peekamoose-Table Mountains

Meet up at 8:30AM with Chris and Jeff at Denning Rd parking area for Shuttle to Peekamoose Rd for LP trail hike over Peekamoose and Table Mts.  The drive was mostly downhill and I smelled the car brakes burning in along the way.  It was a fun, twisting mountain road drive for the shuttle that took about 1/2 hour.  In all the driving logistics is challenging as it's now two hours each way and just over an hour in the shuttling, so about five hours of driving total for a five hour hike.  Prior to arriving in the Catskills, the overnight rain gave way to mixed sun on the drive up from Jersey.  The area we were hiking into did not receive very much rainfall compared to Jersey as the streams here were hardly moving.  We parked and walked the 0.4 mile road section to begin with and turned up the Peekamoose trail.  The trail here can be summarized as moderately easy, but long and ascending 2640' to about 3840' final elevation...Up and Up over two or three miles.  The humidity was down and it was cool for August, so one could use the term perfect conditions.  In fact, the trail was actually easier on this day, compared to what the typical August heat and humidity could deliver instead. I had my first close call on my journey where I was climbing a moderate cliff rock face and slipped on the edge on wet rock and had to pin myself against the rock to prevent a ten foot drop off as I began sliding down.  My support pole was jettisoned off the face and had to be retrieved by Jeff, who was below me.  As it ended up, Chris and I made a navigation mistake by only about 5 feet here and didn't realize we were slightly off path and ended up in a more precarious position on the edge of a drop. 
As mentioned previously, Jeff is rehiking parts of the LP to help us towards the Tremper mt where he last stopped his forward progress.  We joked about the fact he was rehiking this section now for the third or fourth time, so we discussed the concept of a hiking "ground hog day" where one is stuck in the same trail over and over again.  He replied about not taking anything for granted and how we had to earn "Every F-ing Inch" and thus the concept of "E.F.I." was bantered about.

We took a break at reconnoiter rock, a balanced erratic rock with no views. The terrain moved from hardward to Birch to Fur, Balsam and Spruce as we ascended higher.  We stopped for a photo at the 3500' sign, the first time at least two of us hit this milestone on the LP. The smells of evergreen became more pronounced and we were soon at the top.  The summit has a boulder on the top we climbed to ensure we "summited".  A nice scenic view towards the Northern peaks (Indian Head and Twin) in the distance and the Ashokan reservoir below to the  North-East.  The mixed clouds added to the view as they cast shadows on the rolling hills below. 

Several other hikers appeared while we ate our lunch there and we soon moved off downhill towards Table mt.  The saddle/Col between the two peaks is where you can bushwack to Lonely mtn, if you are attempting it to peakbag another local peak in the Catskill 3500 club.  We passed on a bushwack and stayed the course to Table summit (3847').  We were there in minutes and the peak is marked by a small rock cairn. If you blink you will miss it.   Even less pronounced is the fact that you are crossing the Catskill divide at this point.  This means a water drop exactly here has the choice to flow either to the Delaware river or to the Hudson river. There are no views here, but a side trail to the left brings you to another viewpoint looking south-west back towards Denning road and the Neversink valley.  Below the 3500' mark, we found another side trail to the shelter. 
 The water source for the shelter was wet, but not flowing this time of year.  The descent was long but not tough on the knees and we soon made the Neversink valley.
 A new set of bridges were there since Irene and we pondered how they got several large steel beams there.  It did not look like a volunteer job. We crossed the interchange of the LP and the Finger lakes trail start and turned down that trail to Denning rd in a 1.2 mile woods road walk.  If we had more time, I think it would have been better to have stayed on the LP to the Slide mountain parking area and covered the extra few miles to that spot since I finished with energy to spare. 

Trail Stats:  About 7.6 miles on the LP and 1.2 miles connecting walk. 
Conditioning:  Easy day.    

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