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.
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.
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:
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.
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!!!