Tag Archives: Catskills Winter

The Catskills 35 (W): Blackhead Mountain

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

There’s a part of the final metres of the ascent to Blackhead Mountain that is a vertical climb and one from which you should not look back down if you suffer the slightest vertigo or you will invite a case of the wobblies. It’s even worse now that it’s entombed in ice. My husband and dog hopped up it like mountain goats and I was left in the metaphorical dust, grappling with uncertainty, stabbing my spikes into the ice and, finally, hoisting myself up over the rocks with the roots of an aging birch tree. As I finally managed to haul myself over the top, I wondered if there was such a thing as hand crampons attached to a set of gloves because they would have made the job much easier.

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The Catskill 35 (W): Panther Mountain

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Oh, the joy of crampons. It’s nice to muster a decent pace with a good, long stride on the Catskills trails and I’m talking about the sort of stride that confirms the saying “to stretch the legs”, which British people call going for a walk. The only way you can do that in is in the winter on long stretches of iced mud, wearing crampons or “spikes”. Most Catskills trails are rocky, and I understand when I hear about hikers who go barefoot in good weather, because it’s easy to lose your footing if it’s wet or mossy. In the autumn, when the trail is covered with leaves, it’s too easy to slip between rocks and turn an ankle, especially when you’re on your descent and tired. Crampons are inadvisable other than when it’s icy or snowing because otherwise you’ll punch up the trail. They and snowshoes both make winter hiking rather special. Hillsound make a fabulous set for a reasonable price and I wore a pair yesterday for the very first time. Hillsound had sent us two pairs to try out for free and I love them.

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Daily Catskills: 12/22/15 Yuletide & The Winter Solstice

47˚F at 9am, overcast and raining. This morning the evergreens twinkled in the rain while a new winter sun rose behind a thick veil of cloud cover to mark the  Winter Solstice and the ancient tradition of Yuletide.

© J.N. Urbanski 11.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 11.15am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

© J.N. Urbanski 9am