Since the end of the winter hiking season last year, I have gotten a lot of new pieces of winter gear.
- TNF Down Jacket
- TNF Winter Hiking Boots
- OR Gaiters
- Winter Hydration Pack by Camelback
- TNF Mittens
- Jublo Glacier Glasses
- Winter Baskets for my Leki Poles
- EMS 0 degree Down Sleeping Bag
Today I would be testing the boots, gaiters, hydration sleeve, glasses, and pole baskets. I have already used the jacket and have yet to use the sleeping bag.
While my house did not get any snow the night before, the mountains got 4-6 inches, perfect. I was going to go to Sunrise Mountain for a nice daylong gear test. All of my stuff was ready to go.
8:00 am the phone rings, it is my job, the want me to come in and work the night shift starting at 4. At first I said no but they talked me into it with the promise of for 5 hours even though I would only be working 3. What a deal. The down side was that I did not have enough time to drive to Sunrise hike 12 miles, drive home change and drive to work. Time for my fall back mountain.
Catfish is my fall back mountain because it is the closest to my house and the shortest trail to the top is just over a mile. Whenever I am forced to change plans, I go to Catfish if I still have time for a hike. When I left my house at 10:00 it was bright and sunny. By 10:30 I was on the trail and it looked like it was going to snow.
I could tell that I was not the first one on the trail by the tracks at the trailhead. Oh well. Within the first half mile I meet a man and his dog. They turned around at the second intersection of the woods road and the A.T. because the dogs and his feet were getting cold. I did not worry about my feet because my boots have Gore-Tex and are insulated.
I followed their tracks up the A.T. Soon after joining I came across the remains of a deer. My guess is that a hunter killed it and gutted it on the trail to make it lighter to carry out. I do not mind the hunting and gutting animals. Deer is one of my favorite meats and a lot of my friends and family hunt, but I wish hunters would not dump the remains of their kill on the trail. That just sucks.
Soon I had reached the spot where the man and his dog turned around. I had no problem breaking trail over the gentle grade of the trail. The rest of the walk to the tower was a breeze.
Since the only views are to the east, I climbed the tower to get a better look. Due to the recent storms, the tower was coated in ice that ranged from 1/2 to 2 inches thick. I guess that this would be considered rime ice
. At the bottom of the tower I tried to knock the ice off the steps with my boots, needless to say, it did not work. The boots griped about as well as any rubber can on ice. I was very careful on my way up and down.
Even though the sky was cloudy and sometimes looked like sunset,
I could see more than I could ever see before from the tower. Usually the Catskill Mountains can only be seen from northern Jersey on clear days. Example Today, I was able to see them quite clearly on a not so clear day
They should have been visible in this picture
which was taken on Mt. Mohican on a much better day. Sadly the pictures were not as clear. I t is strange that the winter will offer better views then the summer. I am guessing that it is because there is less moisture in the air than in the summer.
After carefully climbing down from the tower, I headed down. The hike down was fast and uneventful. It took a little bit of work to get my car back on to the road because of the snow. All I had to do was back up and gun it a few times to get over a snow bank that was built up by the snowplows.
All of the new gear worked well. I got no blisters from the new boots I had no issues with the other stuff.
Part 2 will come on Thursday in Stokes State Forrest.
Driving Miles: 23.29
Hiking Miles: 2.50
Elevation Gain: 397 ft.
Hiking Time: 1 hr 30 min