Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sleepy Hollow Catskills Trail - Part 1

The weekend had arrived, and I was tired from the rat race and by events up at the farm (I'm now paying for a whole new septic system). It was awfully hot outdoors, but I needed a hike. So I searched my trail books and found the Sleepy Hollow trail in the Catskills. It seemed to offer shade, a scenic overlook and historical sights. And I knew from past experience that the Catskill forests were probably cool and damp.

So on Sunday morning, I took Seamus, Fergus, Daphne and Clover hiking. Clover had never been on a hike of any kind, so I knew that this would be a learning experience for both of us. I found the trail head and met a wonderful family who lived in the woods right next to the trail head. The young girls went gaga for baby Clover. Then I started up the trail with the dogs. The first thing we came to was the site of the Rip Van Winkle House, a former inn. There was supposed to be a stone foundation, but what I saw was a bridge. It was hot and there was water underneath, so I brought the dogs down under the bridge to cool off:

Seamus was quite hot and panting loudly, so I knew he'd appreciate the cool mountain waters. It was so dark in the woods that none of my original photos were usable and I didn't realize what was happening until I tried taking pictures under the bridge which was darker still. In fact, I had to use the flash to take these photos. Here's a much relieved Seamus cooling himself:

No, he wasn't yet cool enough. A complete job would require immersion:

Fergus and the two puppies also enjoyed the cool, dark wetness. The puppies wouldn't go into the water, though:

According to the trail guide, I could find Rip's Boulder, the place where Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years, directly behind the stone foundation of the Rip Van Winkle Inn. I assumed that the stone foundation over which the bridge crossed the stream was what they meant and began climbing up the rocky scree of the almost dry creek bed. The great contrasts between light and dark in the woods continued to be a challenge for taking pictures. Here's little Daphne bravely leading us uphill:

Seamus had a lot of weight to haul up that incline which was much steeper than it appears in the photos. So he lagged behind:

Fergus was as quick as the puppies and very good at finding water even in that almost dry creek:

I came to a huge boulder and we all rested there. I wondered if it might be Rip's Boulder until I realized how easily a sleeper would roll off of it and down onto the sharp rocks below. So I got out my trail guide for more guidance. It said the boulder was 600 vertical (not linear) feet above the inn's foundation. That was a lot of climbing and very difficult to judge. Our path was so steep and rocky that I decided to begin back downhill to the trail:

Going downhill was tricky and treacherous, but scenic. Fergus took a moment to appreciate the beauty of the forest:

But down the steep grade we went. I'll post more from our Sleepy Hollow hike tomorrow:

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