Peekamoose is a Catskill 35 that can be combined with Table Mountain, also a Catskill 35, if you arrive at the parking area early enough in the day. Alas, I can never manage to muster myself in time. Work usually gets in the way. Moreover, on the day that I hiked it, the weather was inclement: foggy and raining, which made for a very enigmatic lunch at the summit. On top of a mountain peak, with your soggy sandwich, you are in the weather and this peak has two superb views made more astonishing by layers of fog and rain. Peekamoose is already an unusually lonely and desolate place on a summer weekday because the parking area looks like a spent weekend. Visitors, who bring their barbeque sets, chairs, tables and literally set up camp by streams and swimming holes in the area like the Blue Hole, leave all of their garbage: all of it.
Watershed Post reported on it this week and I just don’t understand why you can’t pack it in your car and take it home. Reportedly condoms, diapers and beer were the biggest haul by volunteers from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference who help clean up during the summer. When I hiked back in August, I also saw a five-gallon jug of olive oil stuck between tree trunks. Tourists, who like their creature comforts out in the wild, bring the contents of their kitchens. Don’t forget the Olive Oil!
Peekamoose is a strenuous, rocky climb up a steep trail with at least two large boulder formations to haul oneself up and over like a rock-climber, using both hands and feet. The rain made rocks, moss, fungus, blackberries and trees glisten in the foggy half-light of my ascent. It also made my sneakers squelch and the rocks slippery. I was ill prepared, frequently slipping around like a clown at an audition, but determined to climb at least one peak that afternoon. It’s a worthwhile hike on a dry day with a lot of time to spare. Another noteworthy mark of the trail is a large boulder with pebbles dashed into it, making the rock look like soft sponge at first glance.
The New York New Jersey Trail Conference does such a good job in maintaining these Catskills trails and on Peekamoose they have left beautiful accents like imaginary doors and steps in downed trees. They do sets of maps for $16.95. Their mantra is: take only photographs; leave only footprints. Piles of rocks called cairns are discouraged because the conference would like you to feel like you’re the one blazing the trail, but you have a map and the trail is marked with colored disks attached to the trees that you must follow, so it’s a stretch. Plus, the dog can smell everyone who has hiked in the past and doesn’t even need the colored disks to follow the trail. Actual unmaintained trails or bushwhacking will be saved for peaks like Rusk, Graham, Doubletop and Halcott. A sizeable number of the 35 peaks over 3500ft will be navigated with a guide, a compass, a map, a friend, a GPS satellite navigator or all of the above.
Catskill Mountaineer suggests approaching the Table/Peekamoose trail from Denning, but I parked in the parking area on Peekamoose Road (Route 42) and made my ascent from there. Details of this hike are also on the NYNJ Trail Conference website here. As for the trash, I wasn’t able to clear it up because I didn’t have a box or a garbage bag, but by the time I had descended most of it had been removed.