Mental Health Hiking…

There are times when I feel like I need a disconnect.  Hiking to me is more than just a workout or the never ending search for that perfect view point.  It’s about getting out there and using the time to think/reflect/decide what to do next, what road to travel.   Introduce an old friend and a combination of Alander Mountain, Bash Bish Falls and the quaint little town of Barrington Massachusetts,  home to the Great Barrington river and you have what turned out to be a perfect day of reflection, friendship and mental health.

We started the day with Alander Mountain, we accorded to meet a 10AM.  Unfortunately, Hector did not arrive till 11AM, not his fault since I should have told him to make sure and have an offline version of maps since the area is not cell phone friendly.  Luckily, he made it and found the place, not sure how, so I am glad he is a smart dude.  Alander was/is a very simple hike, other than the length, it’s a simple 1200′ ascent to a beautiful mountaintop that offers close to 360 degree views.

On the way up to the mountain we ran into a cabin that belonged in a horror movie from the 80’s.  I knew the cabin would be there, yet knowing it would be there and seeing it in person are two very different things.  We made a stupid video entering the cabin because it did have that crappy horror movie, we are gonna die when we enter vibe coming from it.  Entering the Cabin Video

Shortly after the cabin and a quick ascent we came to the top of the Alander, it really is a sight to see.  The top of the mountain is a wide expanse of beauty.  There really is not a bad place to stand and awe at the beauty that is this great state of NY.  Let me show you instead.  Here is a video if you want a full view.



A quick jaunt down and we headed to the nearby town of Barrington Massachusetts and oh my was it quaint.  Turns out that Hector loves this town and visits it often with his family.  We walked around so he could show me the town and had burgers and ice cream, mental health can’t be health without ice cream.  It’s a main ingredient that cannot be forgotten.

The reason for Barrington though, was the Barrington River which has a couple of swimming holes.  We parked on the side of the road and headed down river for a good place to jump.  All this while having some amazing conversation with Hector, it was the first time we had this much time in years and it alone was worth the trip.  The Barrington River, excuse me, the Great Barrington River did not offer any real deep swimming holes, the 3 or so we found were all 4-5 feet deep, but the water was crystal clear and refreshing and sometimes that is all you need.  Had the air temp been warmer, it would have been utterly refreshing.


There was a second part of the Great Barrington we were suppose to visit, unfortunately access was no longer available so we headed to the final stop of the day, Bash Bish Falls.

Mind you, this whole day was really spent in three states, as all our happenings were in the borders between NY, CT and MA.  Bash Bish is half in MA and half in NY.  We parked in the MA side and headed down to the falls.  Swimming is strictly prohibited in these falls, but the water is so beautiful and crisp it’s hard not to take a quick plunge.  Just look at this!IMG_1605

If that picture does not say swim, I am really not sure what does…

The day did exactly what it needed to do, give me certainty on my current path and provided a great bonding moment with an old and dear friend.

If you want to see the rest of the picture and some great videos of the day, including the shack one, head over to the gallery for the day.

Alander Mountain – Great Barrington – Bash Bish

Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains

I was very excited about Wittenberg, one of my favorite websites called it the best view in the Catskills but a difficult, difficult climb.  Wittenberg sits at 3780′ and Cornell sits at 3860′.  This is not a simple jaunt that also included the infamous Cornell Crack

Cornell Crack

I started this hike the day after my son’s 14th birthday party which went a bit late, so I was on very little sleep.  The ride to the hike took me alongside Esopus Creek with very picturesque view of the Catskills on my left hand side as I drove.

Arriving at the place, there was a $6 fee for parking but no one in the area to actually charge the money.  If you go in the future, drive up a little further to the office for the park about another quarter mile further up the road.  I wound up paying after the hike, please don’t just park and leave.

The hike started with force and will behind it, as soon as you cut through some of the camping sites you find yourself with a nice wooden bridge crossing this stream:

Stream at the Start!
Stream at the Start!

Towards the end of the hike, the bridge over this stream would be the thing I long to see the most.  The hike really threw a curve at you in its unabating intensity and difficulty .

As you climb, which is intensive and brutal.  I remembered something Hike the Hudson Valley said referencing to his wife “She enjoys a good casual day hike, but the word “casual” should never be applied to a climb of Wittenberg, unless you’re discussing the dress code. (And even then, it should probably be something more like “casual synthetic chic” or “wilderness casual.”)”

One of the things I enjoying the most about the Catskills though are the rock formations similar to the Cornell Crack that pop up here and there along the hike.  Where you simply have to take a step back and ponder how best to tackle them.  As you arrive to the top of Wittenberg you get a sense that something big is coming.  Right along the 2500-2700′ mark you start seeing spots of a view on your left as you ascend.  As you get to the illustrious over 3500′ marker this trail becomes very anti Catskills.  Of all the hikes I have done so far in the Catskills the top of the mountain is usually very wooded, and the only way to know you are reaching the top is your GPS.  This hike was different, as you reach the top you see faint traces of a clearing and the actual summit hits you hard.

Look at this, this is the most beautiful view I have seen in the Catskills to date and I hope many more like it.

Top of Wittenberg Panoramic
Top of Wittenberg Pano 2
Top of Wittenberg

I truly did not want to leave this place.  It was one of the most serene places I have been in a while.   There was a small group there with me, luckily they were almost done and after a bit, I had this piece of heaven on earth all to myself.  I layed down on the ledge and just contemplated it all…

Alas, Cornell Mountain awaited a bit further down.  Just FYI, the best part about continuing to Cornell is the crack.  Once you arrive it will take a few minutes just to orient yourself.  Above I posted a picture from the bottom of the crack.  The amazement of it all, is that once you climb it, you question how the hell will I get down.  Let’s not overthink that though, I obviously made it since I am typing these words.

The top of Cornell was lacking, but only because Wittenberg was so majestic.

As a headed back down, there was another view of the Shokan Reservoir through a set of trees.

Shokan Through the Trees

On the way back, the Cornell Crack stumped me yet again, but I was able to descend it without falling to my eventual death.

Regardless., if you need to do any of the Catskill Hikes, this should be at the top of your list!!!  It was a great workout and the view was just amazing.