I actually started writing this quite a while ago and never finished. 2018 has not been a hiking year for me. It has been a running year as I have been dedicating myself to doing the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. The mountain is seemingly calling me and not to do a measly 4-5 mile hike in the Hudson Valley, I need a gruesome, blood sweat and tears hike in the Catskills, the Adirondacks or The Whites. I think next week I will venture into the whites to redo some of those trails.
In sum here is what I wrote a while ago,. no modification just what I found in this draft. Excuse typos and errors, I will not correct this draft:
“Hiking is a difficult venture. You go out and play a game against an imposing mountain. The mountain says, I am too difficult for you young one, go hike a hill, or a nice flat park. I am mountain, you are weak, turn around now! So it would be safe to say then that hiking a mountain in winter is doubly as hard. Part of what hiking gives me is that peace with nature, that battle against the imposing behemoth. It’s David and Goliath, every bagged peak is a won battle against a never ending ridge.
This hike I did under a sheet of ice with a friend. Ever since I took him on my last mental health hike, he wanted to do another but in winter, to battle the elements and add that extra level of difficulty to the hike. I told him fine, but you need special equipment, get these micro spikes and if there is too much snow we cancel, because then you would also need to invest in snow shoes. So we pick what seemed a perfect weekend, there was 1-2 inches of snow over a sheet of ice at the beginning of the hike and 3-4 at the summit, again, under a sheet of even thicker ice.”
That being said., or rehashed from 8 months ago. I ran into someone the other day with whom I spoke of this hike and the terrors this hike in-viewed in this person has brought me back to finish this post. Writing about such an endeavor so many months later, can get hazy. I actually have not spoken to Hector in a while and will reach out to him soon to discuss this and hopefully after my marathon, get back on a trail with him, just not in winter.
I will say that back then I debated how honest to be with my story , you see, I had told Hector get these very specific spikes or better. Katoohla’s to be exact and he went on and got some cheap 30 dollar spikes from Amazon. I will say this, never skimp on devices that can save your life.
Please remember I am remembering from 8 months ago and we tend to recollect the best of things, never the worst. The morning started weird, first with Hector not having the right socks, and us scrounging at the beginning to find an open store. Thankfully, we were close to a ski town and found a place. Then, I noticed the spikes and I said, Hector I said these or better. He said, these will be fine. They probably could be, for a stroll in an icy park, no to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain, a very difficult hike without the elements, sitting at 3800′ this is not a stroll in the woods. In this moment, and I did not tell Hector this, or maybe I did, but I thought to myself. This is a bad idea, this is a bad and ominous start.
But we headed on, and it looked easy and simple. Look at the beauty of this beginning:
It looks simple and welcoming, and Hector looked happy, growling at the mountain he was about to defeat, even if the end left him a bit scarred.
It did not stay as such. As we start walking and the snow starts getting deeper and the temperatures slowly start to dip as we climb one of Hector’s spikes is left behind. The spike literally got caught in the ice and decice to leave Hector’s shoe. Again not a good sign. He cannot seem to get a good hang of them on his shoes. But we keep moving, continually adjusting the maladjusted spikes.
And the climb is difficult but quick, but the climb is not what I fear since what goes up must come down. The descents are always so much harder than the climbs in this type of weather. The descent is when sure footing becomes such a critical part and Hector’s spikes have a vendetta against his boots. Before we discuss the descent though, look at the beauty of the top!
But then comes the treachery of the descent. The descent was ICE and more ICE and then more ICE. Combined with a couple of straight down climbs that are difficult without the sheets of ice. In this descent down I have seen Hector go past me, not once but twice. TWICE., to the point where I am grabbing my phone and thinking, fuck, I’m gonna be one of those calls. What am I to do with this man if he breaks something in one of these falls. Thank god Hector is built like an OX.
Then we reach the place we spent an hour considering the ideas, plans and circumstances that led us to this point in our lives. On the side of a mountain on a seemingly 90 degree drop in a thick sheet of ice. With Hector’s spikes being nothing more than set decorations. After some crazy ideas that involve jumping from a ledge to a tree and shimmying down. I tell Hector look, let me get down, cause while treacherous I can see a way down, but it requires sure footing and trusty spikes that can actually grab on. I say something like, once I am down, we will have a better vantage point in which to figure out a way down for you. As I slowly make my way, I hear you know what I’m gonna try this way… Let’s just say when I got down, Hector was next to me, he went the Wile E. Coyote route and jumped from the ledge to the tree.
After this the rest of the way was, let’s just say a slow impending feel of death adventure down a seemingly harmless beautiful mountain intent on killing my friend Hector.
The ice is not your friend though… Sorry about this pic friend:
Blood is a beautiful motivator to be careful as fuck!
Anyways, we made it down. The mountain DID NOT KILL HECTOR… Yet oddly enough he wants to tackle that fickle bitch again but with proper gear. Proper gear is of such paramount importance. Gear, Layers and pack like if you are gonna get lost and spend the night.
I remember it took us 9 hours for what should have been a 3-4 hour hike. The burger I had after was among the best of my life. The beer never tasted so delicious.
Until next time., I will continue my tackling of these Catskill beasts the moment I finish this freaking hell of a marathon. Until next year when I tackle the last marathon I will ever do, NYC.
See the rest of the pics of Sugarloaf CLICK HERE FOR ICE AND SNOW, BUT NO DEATH