Thursday, October 15, 2009

Overlook Mountain Hike - Part 1

I've been up to the farm every weekend since late winter/early spring and have gotten myself just plain tuckered out. So now that there's good tenant's in the farm house I decided to give myself a break and stay home for a weekend. But could I rest? No, on Sunday morning I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to try a new Catskill hike. Seamus, Fergus and I headed down to Woodstock, New York (yes, the famous one) and hike up Overlook Mountain.

The trail began high in the mountains above Woodstock, which was full of tourists, long hair, peace signs and tie dye. The trail ran steadily uphill but was otherwise quite flat and wide. Here's Fergus and Seamus at the beginning, feeling quite peppy and wishing their fat old dad would walk faster:

I immediately saw several signs that I would not like this hike. There were far too many people hiking the trail (I'm used to solitude and total freedom) and there were telephone poles and wires alongside the trail. I soon learned that the people were enormously friendly as one might expect from a Woodstock crowd, and the old power poles used to lead up to a ritzy mountain hotel. The trail we were on was the railroad track bed for the well heeled who used to travel up to stay there.

This trail never stopped climbing upward, not for a step or an inch. It continued steeply uphill for 2.5 miles and then there was a fire tower at the top to climb. But walking back down for 2.5 miles was the main problem as my toes jammed into my shoes and turned my toenails black. I had sore muscles and joints for a week. As for the toenails, it still looks like I've used black nail polish on my big toe.

Notice that Seamus' tongue is beginning to hang out. Also, you can see a couple of the power poles in this shot:

We rounded a curve and saw this sight, like the ruins of a temple in the jungles of Thailand:

It turned out to be the remains of The Overlook Mountain House, a famous hotel in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We cautiously entered:

Trees are now growing inside the ruins:

And stairways lead to nowhere. I suppose the upper floors, having been made of wood, rotted out long ago:

This had obviously been a very big place:

Those steps led to the uphill side of the of the Mountain House where we reconnected with the hiking trail:

I think I hear something, Dad. Are there ghosts in here?

I smell something, Dad, possibly the spirit of a departed chipmunk!

Outside the Mountain House stood another large building:

Other people came to explore the ruins. If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you'll see why I liked this photo so much. Notice Fergus' position(leaping off the ground) and you'll see the personification of pure joy. That's a pup who is happy to be alive and to welcome some strangers to our ghost hunt:

In this photo, the dogs and I have sashayed over to the old fireplace for a bit of ghostly warmth. In the next few posts you'll see the rest of the hike to the top of Overlook Mountain and its fire tower:

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