Slide Mountain – Tallest in Catskills

Sometimes you simply need a workout or in my case a mountain to kick your metaphorical arse.  To remove the cobwebs that hinder our thinking and give clarity to a foggy world.  So, when I had to choose what my next mountain would be, I chose Slide Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Catskills, aptly thinking that it would kick my ass in the process.

Let’s get the particulars out of the way first.  Slide Mountain sits at 4190′ making it the tallest mountain in the Catskills.  This is the 7th of the Catskill 3500s I do and even though it was the tallest.  It turned out to be the easiest of the bunch thus far.

When I got to the parking lot that day, I was the only car there. So I would have Slide all to myself, and I did.  Apparently, there use to be a fire tower atop Slide. That would have been a sight back then, a tower atop the tallest mountain.  Alas, it’s no longer there. This meant that after a quick climb the trail was pretty much the fireroad that allowed vehicles to get to said tower.  I opted to make it a little bit more difficult for myself and veered off the fireroad into a trail less traveled.  The fireroad is actually the Cornell/Wittenberg/Slide Red marked trail, I would come down that way later on.  I walked another mile up and took the Blue trail that that affords more of a hike with a couple of great viewpoints along the way.   You also get to see an amazing natural spring, where the water is literally just sipping out of every orifice the mountain has to offer.  The ground in the area is very mushy, and the sound of running water simply reverberates the entire area.  You should definitely see the video.

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The reason to take the blue trail instead of the easier and quicker red trail is to get an actual workout and get the feeling that you are hiking instead of walking up a fireroad.  Also, for the spring mentioned above and two viewpoints not available on the Red Trail aka the fireroad.  The first viewpoint affords some great views of Table Mountain.  You also get to see some amazing colors mainly a reddish hue marking the ever changing foliage of the Catskills as autumn gets into the swing of things.  The second, a clear cut view of Table again, as well as Lone and Rocky Mountains.  Here are those two viewpoints.

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Eventually, the Blue Trail reconnects with the Red trail and the aforementioned fireroad which will lead us to the Top of Slide.  Before arriving to Slide though, you get to what the NY/NJ Trail Conference says is the best view in the Catskills.  I may have to disagree, but it is quite amazing.  You tell me:

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Another quarter mile or so, and we arrive at the top of Slide Mountain.  At this point the elevation gain was maybe 1800′, yet I was standing at 4190′ above sea level.

After contemplating the height of my being at the moment.  I pushed through past Slide to an overlook another quarter mile ahead.  Here, you get to see Cornell and Wittenberg in the distance with the Ashokan Reservoir just past it.  This is where I decided to sit and rest and enjoy the view while snacking on something.  The video does this point here more justice.

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At this point, I still feel like I needed a work out.  I had only done about 1800′ of elevation gain.  So, I kept going to try and find another natural spring that was suppose to be a half mile past and what a half mile it was.  I started to descend at a pace that was scary, since I knew I would have to climb back up later.  Some points where so steep they put in some really steep stairs to assist.

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If I kept going a couple of more miles on this trail,  I would have gotten to Cornell, followed by Wittenberg.   After hiking close to 3/4’s of a mile without finding the spring, I turned around and climbed what I had just descended.  A total of about 500ft in 3/4’s of a mile.  Talk about a nice workout.  I sat on the ledge right past Slide again and just enjoyed the peaceness of being at this point, at this time, without another soul in sight.  On a side note.  The author John Burroughs apparently introduced the world to slide mountain and he used to come up here to think and write. There is even a plaque in his honor on that ledge.

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The way down was quick and uneventful.  I took the fire road down and the descent was quick and almost a trot.  In the end, the hike did exactly what it was suppose to do.  It gave me a spec of clarity when I most needed it, which is always welcomed.  I have not been back on the mountain for a serious hike since this one and I miss it along with the reflection.  Cuba and random weekends got in the way.  I will get back to it now that the temperatures are dropping and I am done with training for the Queens half marathon.  Nothing better than winter hiking to warm a cold world.

For a full gallery of photos and videos CLICK HERE.

I will end this with three quotes from the guy that found the mountain and used it as a haven to read/write/reflect

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order” (Burroughs)

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” (Burroughs)

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” (Burroughs)

Tracking the Catskill 3500’s

These are the names and elevations of the Catskill 3500 footers. As I complete them I will make them italic and scratch them off. I have no idea how I will tackle the ones that have no trails, I have never bushwhacked before so it should be interesting to say the least. Time will tell.

  1. SLIDE MOUNTAIN — ELEVATION: 4180′
  2. HUNTER — ELEVATION: 4040′
  3. BLACK DOME — ELEVATION: 3980′
  4. THOMAS COLE — ELEVATION: 3940′
  5. BLACKHEAD — ELEVATION: 3940′
  6. WESTKILL — ELEVATION: 3880′
  7. GRAHAM — ELEVATION: 3868′ (no trail)
  8. DOUBLETOP — ELEVATION: 3860′ (no trail)
  9. CORNELL — ELEVATION: 3860′
  10. TABLE — ELEVATION: 3847′
  11. PEEKAMOOSE — ELEVATION: 3843′
  12. PLATEAU — ELEVATION: 3840′
  13. SUGARLOAF — ELEVATION: 3880′
  14. WITTENBERG — ELEVATION: 3780′
  15. SOUTHWEST HUNTER — ELEVATION: 3740′(no trail)
  16. BALSAM LAKE MOUNTAIN — ELEVATION: 3723′
  17. LONE — ELEVATION: 3721′
  18. PANTHER — ELEVATION: 3720′
  19. BIG INDIAN — ELEVATION: 3700′
  20. FRIDAY — ELEVATION: 3694′ (no trail)
  21. RUSK — ELEVATION: 3680′ (no trail)
  22. KAATERSKILL HIGH PEAK — ELEVATION: 3655′
  23. TWIN — ELEVATION: 3640′
  24. BALSAM CAP — ELEVATION: 3623′ (no trail)
  25. FIR — ELEVATION: 3620′ (no trail)
  26. NORTH DOME — ELEVATION: 3610′ (no trail)
  27. EAGLE — ELEVATION: 3600′
  28. BALSAM — ELEVATION: 3600′
  29. BEARPEN — ELEVATION: 3600′
  30. INDIAN HEAD — ELEVATION: 3573′
  31. SHERRILL — ELEVATION: 3540′ (no trail)
  32. HALCOTT — ELEVATION: 3537′(no trail)
  33. VLY — ELEVATION: 3529′(no trail)
  34. WINDHAM HIGH PEAK — ELEVATION: 3524′
  35. ROCKY — ELEVATION: 3508′

Tackling all the Catskill 3500 Peaks

For the past two years hiking has become my own version of personal therapy.  Whether I do a hike alone or in a group, every step gets me closer to self healing and awareness.  Up until a month or so ago I limited myself to the hikes in and around the Lower Hudson Valley.  We all know them, you have SugarLoaf, Bull Hill, Anthony’s Nose, Storm King, various different sections of the Appalachian (Cat’s Rock, Fahnestock, Depot Hill),  and the list goes on.  Actually, if you take a look at the Hike the Hudson Valley site, I was pretty much trying to tackle all of those specific hikes.  Then 2 months ago I did a 4000′ peak and two 5000′ foot peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I honestly loved it, it took me 6 hours or so with a group of friends and all I can say it’s oh my god.

We did:

Little Haystack Mountain, this is definitely NOT aptly named, we went up the Falling Waters Trail which was amazing.  Here is a shot from the top of that peak.  We started the hike on a very cloudy day and as we got close to the peak and the trees started to dissipate, it felt as if I was crossing the clouds to get to the peak.  Almost like crossing over to the top of the world.  Sitting at the top looking down you see the sky starting to break and a hiker about to crest peak.

Top of Little Haystack

At that point, I was hooked, sitting there after climbing 3000+ feet to get to it was mind changing. That peak quickly gave way to Mt Lincoln as we walked along the ridge. Walking along that ridge was a sublime experience, even though the day was cloudy, every where you look it felt like you were above it all.  Like there was no other place you wanted to be at that moment than on that mountain with my thighs throbbing, my glasses fogging and the next peak visible and seaming oh so close, but being way too far.

Here’s a shot from Mt Lincoln:

Top of Mt Lincoln

Finally we continued on Franconia Ridge until we hit the last of the peaks in Mount Lafayette.  Arriving at Lafayette felt like an unreal accomplishment.  I can see why there are many people that just do one of the two outer peaks and just turns around.  At this point, my legs were jello with the prospects of still having to drop over 3000ft in less than 3 miles.  With the only driving force being able to tell myself I did it, and hoping upon hoping that the shack on the way down was open and they had hot cocoa.

Top of Lafayette Group
Top of Lafayette Alone

I came back from that hike with the hunger to tackle something similar but closer to home.  I was gonna head out to the Adirondacks and even scheduled it and then said fuck it and headed to the Catskills to do Indian Head and Twin Mountains, little did I know that they were part of a major system.

Next up, a write up of those two great mountains and how I’m now convinced I will tackle all 35 3500 footers in the Catskills as detailed in this list: Catskill 3500 Peaks!!!

Changing over to Hiking

I’m shifting this blog to the one thing I have been doing the most of lately, hiking!!! It’s not just about the workout but also the serenity it gives.  The mountain becomes your best friend, the ground your one connection and as you climb or descend, the trail guides you.

So, keep posted.  I will write about some recent hikes I have done, and will escalate it to where I am now with a sudden desire to tackle as many of the Catskills 3500 footers as I can.  I’m looking forward to it.

Hello All…

To the one person that is going to read this… me… I say hello… You will notice as you read this that I really enjoy using the …  I am not sure why, it just happens as I am typing.  I’m starting this blog anew after quite some time without touching it.  This of course is not to say that I touched it at all before.  It will be my pseudo diary for the diatribes that come to my mind.  It will be everything from social commentary to my thoughts on some random tech subject.  Maybe I will get some 3-4 followers eventually.

The current splash pic of Gabriel, the youngest of my two sons.  He likes being called Gabe, we call him Gabby.   Anyway, that picture was taking in the Summer of 2011 in Ithaca at Robert H. Treman State Park.  They have a swimming hole there with a diving board right in front of Lucifer Falls.  At this point this was the 4th year in a row we visited Ithaca during the Summer and Gabe 5 when we started going, was always trying to build up the courage to take that 25ft plunge into 20ft deep water.