Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

Balsam Cap, Breath, Cornell, Cross, East Wildcat, Friday, Garfield, Giant Ledge, Hanover, Lone, Panther, Peekamoose, Pleasant, Rocky, Romer, Samuals Point, Slide, Table, Terrace, Van Wyck, Wittenberg, Wildcat, Woodhull

Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby biles1234 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:37 am

I read on AllTrails that Wittenberg / Cornell is only accessible from April - October. Not sure if they were only talking about the Woodland Valley parking lot. I am driving in from Michigan and was planning to tackle this hike the final week of March. Any insight about the accessibility of the parking lot or trails would be appreciated.

And a second question: Is there a trail connecting the Cornell Mountain peak to Slide Mountain? Anybody have any experience on it? Thanks!
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby rkugel » Wed Mar 16, 2016 7:34 am

Good Morning Biles1234! Welcome to the forum! As far as I know, Wittenberg and Cornell are accessible year round (in terms of parking). In terms of weather, hiking these peaks can be exceptionally difficult and dangerous in the winter months. There is a trail approximately 10 miles long that connects Wittenberg (starting at the Woodland Valley Parking Area) with Cornell and Slide. The 3 mountains are known collectively as the Burroughs Range. From Woodland Valley, it is about 4 miles to the Wittenberg summit, another 1 mile to Cornell summit, about 2 more miles to the top of Slide, and then about 3 miles to descend from Slide to the end of the trail at the Route 47 parking area. Some notes and suggestions to (hopefully) help you out:

1. The Woodland Valley Campground is open in 2016 from May 20, 2016 to October 10, 2016. During that time, you must pay a modest fee (about 6 or 7 dollars) to park for the day. Overnight camping is 20 dollars. As far as I know, you can still park at Woodland Valley the rest of the year and not have to pay the fee. The campground is closed but the parking area is still open.

2. Parking at Route 47 is free year round. However, right next to the Route 47 parking area is a tributary for the Neversink River. Most of the year, you can "usually" easily cross the stream by skipping over rocks. Occasionally, the streambed is completely dry. On the other hand, there are times (after a heavy rain or early spring with accompanying snow melt) when the stream is a raging river and completely impassable. Find out in advance what the conditions are!

3. Slide Mountain is the highest peak in the Catskills (about 4180 feet). However, there are no views at the summit due to thick evergreen trees. On the other hand, there is a spectacular view just before the summit (if you're coming up from Route 47) and more views as you descend Slide and head towards Cornell.

4. Cornell Mountain also has spectacular views and Wittenberg arguably has the absolute best view in all the Catskills. Bring your camera!

5. As noted earlier, the entire trail is about 10 miles long. Please be cautioned portions of the trail are brutally difficult thanks to steep grades leading to all the peaks. There are also several sections requiring hand-over-hand climbing. You need to be in excellent physical shape and please bring plenty of water!

6. Of all the difficult sections, none is worse than the infamous "Cornell Crack" which is near the summit of Cornell. You can check elsewhere on this site for photos of this ledge. Please use extreme caution when ascending or descending this formation!

7. You mentioned going at the end of March. Granted, the weather this year has been much milder than normal with lower than normal snow amounts. Regardless, March in the Catskills is still winter! Be prepared to encounter ice on the trails and very changeable weather.

Hope this information helps! If you do go, please post a trip report. I would love to read about your adventures!

Rich
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby biles1234 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:08 pm

Thank you for that epic rundown, Rich! A lot of useful information there.

I am planning on parking in Woodland Valley and doing Wittenberg - Cornell - Slide on Day 1, camping on the descent down Slide, and tackling Panther Mountain / Giant Ledge on Day 2 before looping back to the parking lot.

Essentially this loop: http://www.phattire.net/blog/2010/map-1.jpg

I was wondering whether that's realistic for two days, or whether allocating a third day would make more sense.
(EDIT: I am 26, in good, but not great physical shape. I run/workout a couple times a week. Last year, I hiked Indian Head & Twin Mt. without too much of a problem)
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby rkugel » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:32 am

You are very welcome! I'm glad the information was useful. Two days should be enough time to cover the Burroughs Range (Wittenberg, Cornell, Slide) plus Panther and Giant Ledge. I've spoken with (and read about) hikers who actually did the entire hike in one day! However, these individuals are in exceptional physical shape. Two days is more realistic for the rest of us "mortals"!

Panther and Giant Ledge both have superb views. However, please remember that Giant Ledge and Panther are both off the loop that will bring you back to Woodland Valley. But they are definitely worth visiting. As a suggestion, try to avoid the weekend when you go. Giant Ledge is immensely popular and can literally be overcrowded (and overrun) with hikers and campers on weekends. About halfway up Panther (from Giant Ledge), look for a short spur path on the right leading to awesome views of the Burroughs Range and Giant Ledge. As you near the summit of Panther, you will encounter a gigantic boulder on the right offering magnificent views to the north. The true summit of Panther is a few hundred feet beyond.

Fun fact: If you examine a geological map of the area you'll be hiking, you'll note the mountains and features form a roughly circular pattern. Scientists have determined the area is in fact the site of a huge meteor impact about 375 million years ago. Panther Mountain is actually the central uplift in the middle of the crater.
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby Jon » Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:03 am

rkugel wrote: Scientists have determined the area is in fact the site of a huge meteor impact about 375 million years ago. Panther Mountain is actually the central uplift in the middle of the crater.


you mean "legend has it". Scientists never determined this. One state geologist did a lot of work on the mountain in the 1990s, but never found evidence other than a gravity anomaly which could have other explanations.
Here is a list of confirmed impact craters on Earth http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/Namesort.html
Definitive evidence of an impact (shock quartz, planar deformation features, shatter cones etc.) has never been found at the Panther mountain site. It does make a nice bedtime story though!
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby emerson » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:45 pm

Jon wrote:
rkugel wrote: Scientists have determined the area is in fact the site of a huge meteor impact about 375 million years ago. Panther Mountain is actually the central uplift in the middle of the crater.


you mean "legend has it". Scientists never determined this. One state geologist did a lot of work on the mountain in the 1990s, but never found evidence other than a gravity anomaly which could have other explanations.
Here is a list of confirmed impact craters on Earth http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/Namesort.html
Definitive evidence of an impact (shock quartz, planar deformation features, shatter cones etc.) has never been found at the Panther mountain site. It does make a nice bedtime story though!


Actually a man by the name of Yngvar Isachsen acquired drill samples taken by a geologist named George Chadwick / the Dome Oil Company in the 1940s/1950s and did find both iron spherules and shock lamellae in those samples
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Re: Wittenberg / Cornell Only Accessible Starting in April?

New postby Jon » Wed May 11, 2016 8:47 am

emerson wrote:
Jon wrote:
rkugel wrote: Scientists have determined the area is in fact the site of a huge meteor impact about 375 million years ago. Panther Mountain is actually the central uplift in the middle of the crater.


you mean "legend has it". Scientists never determined this. One state geologist did a lot of work on the mountain in the 1990s, but never found evidence other than a gravity anomaly which could have other explanations.
Here is a list of confirmed impact craters on Earth http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/Namesort.html
Definitive evidence of an impact (shock quartz, planar deformation features, shatter cones etc.) has never been found at the Panther mountain site. It does make a nice bedtime story though!


Actually a man by the name of Yngvar Isachsen acquired drill samples taken by a geologist named George Chadwick / the Dome Oil Company in the 1940s/1950s and did find both iron spherules and shock lamellae in those samples


Yeah he was the state geologist for NY. I had put together a research paper for a class on this several years ago and the evidence is sparse and from a single source. There was a time in the mid-late 90's when the first high resolution DEM satellite imagery were coming back that scientists were thinking everything is a crater. This was sort of "riding the coat-tails" of scientific curiosity & popularity for the whole "impact-killed-the-dinosaurs"Alvarez paper published in the late 1980s, everyone was looking for "the smoking gun" and finding all the impact crater sites on Earth is one of those constant egg-hunts for planetary scientists.

Isachsen saw the satellite imagery of the Catskills and thought the shape of the Esopus was odd and decided to test some hypotheses, one being that an impact did it. He thought there could be an impact crater thousand or so feet under the Esopus, and this caused the sediment above to be somehow weaker and more easily erodible. So even with this hypothesis any of the mass that is Panther mountain today would not be part of any impact, but what deposited on top of a filled in crater tens of millions of years after alleged impact.

The only published article was in a regional journal that doesn't even exist anymore (northeast geology IIRC), and the *possible* shock metamorphosed quartz was never verified by experts as planar deformation features. They claim that there are striations visible on thin sections that could be pdfs. They use this as possible evidence that warrants further research. Shatter cones (#1 form of evidence) have never been found, and seismic surveys were inconclusive looking for the reflector of a melt under the crater impact site.

Unfortunately there is not much government funding of crater hunting. While it may be interesting to think about, geomorphology and stream incision/headwater capture is an entire field of Earth Science that could have several plausible hypotheses with even greater evidence to support. For one thing post-glacial crustal rebound and shifting basin or watershed boundaries over the past few million years could make just such an odd shaped river.

Bottom line is there is not enough independent evidence for an impact crater. If there were enough evidence to support this being an impact site, it would be listed on that impact database (linked above). This is why I usually explain to people the impact hypothesis and what it is meant to explain, instead of just throwing it out there that Panther is a crater. If you truly believe then contact your local scientists, and maybe someone can find the evidence needed to support the Panther Impact Hypothesis!
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