Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blackhead Range Hike - Part 1

I did not go up to the farm again last weekend because Rick was up there working on the barn and requested to be allowed to work without a visit by me and all 6 dogs. So I had Sunday free, it was a beautiful November day and I decided I must take a hike in the Catskills. I scanned my trail guide and decided to give the Blackhead Range Trail a try. The trailhead was about an hour drive from Albany and I arrived with Seamus and Fergus to find only one other vehicle parked at the trailhead. So we hit the leafy trail and began climbing upwards:

Both Fergus and Seamus are young and full of energy, but this is especially evident at the beginning of a hike. On the way home, they often just sleep. They also get tired hiking up and down mountains (going downhill is often the most difficult part):

The Catskill forest was lovely and the dogs were happy. I find these hikes to be restorative for my mind, emotions and soul - even if they are wearing on my old body. Still, in spite of the immediate fatigue, aches and muscle cramps, I'm sure the long range effect of strenuous hiking is improved health. Or at least I keep telling myself that:

This trail was unusually well marked and there were plenty of big flat stones to walk on to keep my feet dry. Seamus, of course, didn't bother to try to keep his feet dry:

Fergus has lots of nervous energy and these hikes are a great way to slow him down:

We passed this spectacular little brook and cascades:

I took a few minutes to walk up it and explore:

Oddly, the trail register (where people are asked to sign in) was almost a mile from the trailhead. I met a hunter near there who was friendly and helpful, saying he'd already spotted two bucks who were too small to shoot. He'd also walked close to a small bear who, when he saw the hunter, took off running through the woods. I'm not sure how the dogs would act if we saw a bear and I'm always endeavoring to keep full control of my unleashed dogs in case we should come across one. It seemed entirely too presumptuous for me to take a photo of the hunter, but once I'd walked up the trail a ways, I turned back and snapped this photo. You can see his bright red jacket just to the right of the trail register kiosk:

The hike consisted of a step-like series of steep and level sections, climbing steeply and then evening out. Of course it was the steep parts which were memorable. But at the beginning of the hike, the grade was mostly gradual:

Fergus and I relax for a picture:

Happy dogs, beautiful woodlands, fresh air and quiet. When hiking, I stop often just to listen to the sounds of nature or, especially at this time of year, the silence:

As we climbed higher and higher, the fog became more dense. I took a lot of pictures and will post them all in the coming days:

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