Friday, September 23, 2011

Beginning The Hike Up Windham Mountain

The Catskills had suffered greatly from flooding caused by two consecutive tropical storms, Irene and Lee. The main highway, Route 23, was still closed west of the town of Windham a week after Tropical Storm Lee. I'd decided to try hiking Windham Mountain and could only hope that the road would be open far enough west for me to park at the trail head. The road was open, but the parking area had been taken over by the state for dumping huge piles of crushed stone and gravel to be used in road repair. There were perhaps eight dump trucks there when I arrived. A friendly truck driver helped me find a safe place to park on the shoulder of a side road. The dogs and I crossed Route 23 and began our hike. Someone had built a new bridge across the first stream. Clearly the original bridge had washed out:

Flood damage was evident everywhere, but small, new bridges continued to help us over the wet and muddy spots:

And in fact a brand new boardwalk of impressive proportions had already been built across a swamp. Without it, our hike would have stopped right there:

I signed in at the trail head and we started our hike up Windham Mountain:

The first part of the trail wound through hardwood forests where old stone fences indicated that farm fields had once existed:

And I began to see more interesting fungi, beginning with these bright yellow mushrooms:

The dogs were far too excited and I had to holler at them occasionally to keep them close. Alas, I've learned that this is to be expected at the beginning of a hike. They need to run for a while and tire a bit before their hyper-excited state begins to wear off:

More and more Hemlocks began to appear in the hardwood forest as we slowly and gradually ascended Windham Mountain:

And some of the trees, like this old maple, were quite ancient:

The tropical storms had left many parts of the trail wet:

It had been so many years since I'd hiked this trail that it seemed all new to me. So far I was very pleased. It had thus far been an easy trek on a moderate grade. I could still hear the state dump trucks coming and going with loads of crushed stone below us. But we were just getting started. I'll post more tomorrow:

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