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Slide Mountain on Saturday 09/27/2014

New postPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:47 am
by rkugel
In spite of long, grueling workday on Friday, I was determined to make the best of what was predicted to be a gorgeous Saturday (09/27/2014) with clear skies and temperatures in the 70’s.
I hadn’t been up Slide Mountain in some time and I always wanted to hike the Curtis-Ormbee Trail, so that seemed to be the logical choice. I left my house (Paterson, NJ) at 6:00 am and arrived at the Route 47 Slide Parking area at 8:05 am. There were a few cars in the lot, but there were still plenty of spaces. Conversely, the parking area at Giant Ledge (which I passed about two miles back) was already full. Granted, most of the car windows had a thick layer of condensation (indicating they were left overnight while the owners camped out), but I was still astonished at just how popular Giant Ledge is.

I left my car at 8:15 am and began the hike. I was surprised seconds later when I realized the branch of the Neversink that you must normally cross was completely bone dry. There wasn’t so much as even a trickle or puddle. I have never seen the streambed completely dry.

I continued on and arrived at the junction with Curtis-Ormbee Trail an hour later at 9:15 am and immediately noticed the marker for the hikers Curtis and Ormsbee who blazed the trail before they died in a freak snowstorm in 1900. A few minutes into my walk I arrived at an interesting rock formation, which reminded me of Druid Rocks at North / South Lake. From that point, the trail began to ascend. I reached the first viewpoint (north facing), which is still quite pretty to see. However, as Mike pointed out in his trip guide for Curtis-Ormbee, this view will soon disappear due to overgrowth of trees. In fact, the trees are already rapidly encroaching. Even worse, the second viewpoint (south facing and just above 3500 feet) is now gone thanks to tree growth.

I arrived at the end of the C-O Trail around 10:45 am, where I turned right onto the jeep trail and continued the rest of the way to the summit of Slide. In spite of the disappointment of the overgrown viewpoints, the C-O Trail was an enjoyable and relaxing walk. The trail is nowhere near as rocky as the jeep trail and there were only a couple of scrambles – none of which required both hands and feet to ascend. In fact, there were many level sections of the trail, which only added to the enjoyment of the walk. The C-O Trail has to be one of the most under-rated trails in the Catskills. In spite of the heavy traffic on the parallel jeep trail, I did not encounter a single person the entire length of the C-O.

I continued past the summit of Slide and began descending towards the col between Slide and Cornell. The foliage in the Woodland Valley was just about at peak fall color and presented stunning views as I descended. When I reached the spring just below the summit, I was shocked to find the spring completely dry. I didn’t realize until now just how bad the drought is. Thank goodness I had the sense to bring plenty of water.

By the time I reached the col, it was nearly 1:00 pm. I seriously debated continuing on to Cornell. However, I realistically determined another 2 hours would be needed for the round trip to Cornell and back. With sunset around 6:45 pm, I decided Cornell would be pushing the envelope a bit too far.

Instead, I rested, ate a quick snack, and chatted with some hikers who were preparing for the grueling climb up Slide. Come to think of it, I was facing the same gauntlet. Yikes!

I began the slog back up to the summit, stopping numerous times to rest and take pictures. After what can only be described as a leisurely climb, I arrived back at the summit at 2:15 pm.

The summit was literally packed with hikers, so I continued on to the north-facing overlook, which is only a couple of hundred feet from the summit. I crashed there for nearly a half hour, allowing my legs time to recover and also to give me time to absorb the incomparable view from on top of the world.

Numerous hikers came and went during the time I was there. Some folks had been to Slide numerous times. For others, it was their first visit. One father had his one-year-old daughter with him (she was secured in a harness strapped to his back, like a papoose). She was obviously a most unhappy camper (no pun intended) since she screamed at the top of her lungs non-stop. You could literally hear her coming and going for several minutes! I questioned to myself the wisdom of bringing a baby on such a long hike. It was clear she was not enjoying the outing and I cannot possibly imagine it was fun for her Dad, either.

I left the overlook around 2:45 pm and began my descent. Although my plan was to take the jeep trail back down to the parking area, I decided to soak up as much of the day as possible, and so returned via the longer C-O Trail. This time, I encountered several hikers as I descended. After a very leisurely descent, I arrived back at my car at 5:15 pm and called it a day.

All in all, the day was a perfect “ten”. The weather could not possibly have been more beautiful, plus I had the privilege of meeting many friendly people who were out to enjoy the day as much as I was.


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