March Camping

Chat about the Catskill Mountains in general.

March Camping

New postby devil dog » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:36 pm

Hey everyone,

New here ... from LI. Lived in NM and have lot of experience camping and hiking out west. Planning a trip to Catskills this March and was looking for some ideas for a 2 night excursion. I did some searching and found a bunch of hikes to Echo Lake and surrounding areas. Any input or ideas would be welcome. I would like some tips as far as parking and leaving a car for two nights as well. I know when I was out in the Sandia's they didn't care where you left your car!

Thanks
Look forward to learning about the local trails on this site!
Keith
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Re: March Camping

New postby mike » Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:05 am

The best 3-day hike in the Catskills is the Eastern Escarpment. About 24 miles. Great views along the way. You can park on either side without a problem. The real issue would be if it snows, or there is snow on the ground. March is a questionable month.

Not so sure about Echo lake.
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Re: March Camping

New postby kennykb » Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:24 pm

Echo Lake would be good in March. The top of the Escarpment gets Icy - I'd be seriously afraid of going sliding off Newman's Ledge, North Point or Blackhead. Echo Lake from the Buddhist monastery in Woodstock is a nice easy walk over old carriage roads. There are lots of marked campsites. I've never bothered with the lean-to, it's always smelt like a hamster cage when I've been there. The privies are open-air, right up the hill from the lean-to.

The Platte Clove Road trailhead is also a good starting point. You'll have to go in from the Tannersville end, because the grade down to West Saugerties will be closed at that time of year. It's also a nice easy walk. By all means check out the old quarry at Codfish Point. In the winter, it shouldn't be bad, either, to bushwhack up to the overlook south of Plattekill Mountain. That has a nice view of Echo Lake and Ashokan High Point.

If you start from that end, you can easily make a second overnighter in the opposite direction, heading up the NY Long Path, maybe a side trip to Huckleberry Point and continuing on toward Kaaterskill High Peak. The south and north approaches to the peak itself will be pretty technical if there's ice, but Mike can tell you about the west approach. Mike, is there a reasonable bushwhack up to the col between Round Top and KHP, or do you have to go around all the way to near Cortina to pick up the old trail? I've only done the west approach the one time with you.

devil dog - almost anything in March runs the risk of encountering heavy ice and snow. I carry microspikes on any trip into the Catskills from, say, the end of October to the start of May. March can be anything - I've climbed Balsam on St Patrick's Day wearing T-shirt and shorts - and microspikes, because there were still several inches of ice! I turned back from doing Eagle that day because in the afternoon the ice was starting to break up - it had water running down the mountain underneath it. And this time of year, my snowshoes live in my truck.
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Re: March Camping

New postby devil dog » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:33 pm

Hey guys. Thanks so much for all the info!

So many options, huh ... We are seriously considering Slide Mtn as a two day outing, heading toward Cornell depending on conditions. Some others that I have spoken to said this is a good and challenging option. Of course weather is going to play a big roll. We were thinking of starting from around Woodland Valley Camp and heading up Slide.

Any info on that?

Thanks again!
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Re: March Camping

New postby kennykb » Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:23 pm

Slide going up from Woodland Valley is beautiful. But I'd be a little scared of planning it in March - although that will depend on the weather moment-to-moment.

Starting from Woodland Valley, you're immediately looking at a 3000 foot elevation gain up Wittenberg. There are a bunch of scrambles to get up. There are spots on Bruin's Causeway that are a long way down on both sides, even though the walk itself is level, so don't stop watching your step once you're up Wittenberg.

Then comes a little more scrambling, including the Cornell Crack. Starting at 1:25 in this video is "how not to do it" - that guy is lucky, he could have slid a lot farther. On full crampons it might actually be easier than it is in warm weather - no need to find the holes, just front-point up the hard-packed snow and ice. (I don't do full crampons lately. My training is nowhere near current.)

The ladders on Slide, and the steep slab just below them, are also likely to be heavily iced in. Again, if you are on crampons with an ice axe, you can front-point right up, but otherwise you could really be in serious trouble. WHen you make your decision about the east side of Slide, remember that you've got this little garden spot ahead of you.
Image
Climbing Out Of The Col by Mountain Visions, on Flickr

The west side of Slide is a piece of cake. The trail follows an old jeep road the whole way. Curtis-Ormsbee is a little steeper (and has a viewpoint or two, while the old road doesn't) but still not really technical.

It will all really depend on what kind of weather we get between now and then. RIght now there's next to no snowpack, because we got a thaw just before the extreme cold moved in. A couple of February storms could easily change all that. You could get anything from clean rock to inches of ice to feet of snow.

If you wanted to make a longer loop, you could also swing north to Giant Ledge and Panther. Those have nothing that would be technical in the winter. Microspikes or Hillsound trail crampons if the snow isn't deep, snowshoes if it is. Giant Ledge is gorgeous in the snow. The loop from Route 47 (Giant Ledge/Panther, Woodland Valley, Wittenberg, Cornell, Slide) is about 16 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation change. It's a long haul for me in two days even in warm weather, but I'm slow.
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Re: March Camping

New postby devil dog » Tue Feb 04, 2014 3:54 pm

Thanks kennykb

I think the plan is to go for Witt, Cornell, Slide - slow and steady, camping two nights. Like we said, based on conditions things could change. Especially with some of the storms they are talking about this week! I was checking out a bunch of videos and posts about March and it seems more than do-able. We are pretty experienced and one of us was a climbing instructor back in the day.

Thanks for all the great info, and I will hopefully have a great update next month.
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Re: March Camping

New postby rkugel » Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:28 am

Good Morning Everyone,

Kevin, you posed a question in your post from 02/01/2014 regarding whether it was possible to bushwhack up to the col between Round Top and KHP. The answer is "Yes". If you start on the Snowmobile Trail at the junction for the South Access Trail to KHP (by the large cairn), you will then continue walking west on the SMT for about a half a mile or so towards Round Top. As you look to the north (towards the col), you'll notice the ledges reaching up to the col will get easier and easier. Eventually, the ledges will disappear and be replaced with a moderately steep slope. This is where you want to leave the SMT and bushwhack north towards the col. You will zig-zag a bit as you negotiate a series of small ledges (nothing major) until you come to one last ledge that goes directly up to the col. Follow the base of the ledge in a westerly direction (towards Round Top) and you will see a very easy access point leading to the top. You can literally walk right up. One note of caution. Apparently, the bears are also wise to this access point. I saw HUGE bearprints in the soft muddy soil as I walked up. "Caution" is the word of the day. Once you climb up to the top of the ledge you will immediately be on the West Access Trail and will only be steps away from the Tory Fort that you and I saw last spring when we hiked the West Access Trail with Mike and Alexis. However, we did not hike that portion of the West Access Trail since we deviated slightly to the north to intercept the Tory Fort. What you want to do is follow the West Access Trail in an easterly direction (towards KHP) for about 50 feet. On your left side will be a low ledge (perhaps 5 or 6 feet high). Turn left and walk around the ledge until you find the opening to the Tory Fort that we did last spring. From that point, you will be back in "familiar" territory.

Hope everyone is safe and warm during this "winter from hell". I'm looking forward to doing some hiking in the spring. Hopefully, we can meet up again.

Best always,
Rich
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Re: March Camping

New postby devil dog » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:31 pm

Hey folks.

Thanks again for all the great info. What kind of sleeping temps could/should be expected in mid March? Got a ton of cold weather gear, just want to plan accordingly and not bring too much. Looks like it stays low 30's and could dip into the 20's?

Thanks
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Re: March Camping

New postby kennykb » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:21 am

March is 'expect anything'. Highs around 40 and lows around 20 is 'normal'. But up in the peaks you could see highs around 80. I got that on Balsam two years ago on St Patrick's Day. I think that was the first time that I ever wore T-shirt, shorts and microspikes. (I gave up on Eagle that day, the ice was sliding off the rock in sheets and I was sure I'd go down with it if I continued.) And I've also seen subzero up in the peaks in March. No telling what we'll get this year.
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Re: March Camping

New postby kennykb » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:27 am

http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/data/forecasts/recreation/albany.txt is where to find the National Weather Service forecast for the area (look for "Eastern Catskills above 2000 feet"). it's at least a little bit better than trying to figure out what it'll be like based on a forecast for Saugerties.
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