Tuesday, August 27

Hunter Mountain Hiking Trip

I'd been bugging Erik all summer for a hiking trip and finally we had a day free two weekends ago to take a trip out to the Catskills and climb Hunter Mountain. Since it would be a day trip we could pack light with just some snacks stuffed in our CamelBaks. We ended up driving Erik's motorcycle out to Hunter since it's way more gas friendly than his jeep. It was about a hour and a half drive to the mountain and it was still quite chilly, but I'd pick chilly over boiling any day of the week.

When we finally made it to the DEC parking lot at Notch Lake I was pretty frozen and ended up leaving all my gear on for our walk to the ranger station at Devils Campground. We paid the 3 or 4 dollar fee for motorcycle parking and headed back to the lot to get suited up.
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The first part of the hike was probably the best part because there were some rock formations you got to climb over and hoist yourself up. After about a mile the path mellowed out and you basically ended up zigzagging up the mountain through a beaten path. I can't say that this was the most exciting hike up a mountain and sadly on the way up there were no views of anything...just a lot of trees. It was a pretty cool and dry day and I ended up keeping all my layers on the whole time. I had borrowed one of Erik's thermal long sleeve shirts and paired with my over-sized hiking pants I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. Actually my pants are so big and baggy that we realized they actually fit Erik perfectly so I gifted him them after the hike. I'll be spending some cash at Eastern Mountain Sports later for sure.

The hike up was pretty uneventful. I had raced in a time trail the day before so I was a bit sore but nothing hurt too badly. We took our time on the climb and if a group caught up to us we just pulled off the trail and let them pass. We both share the same thoughts on hiking luckily in the fact that we just want it to be quiet with minimal people noise. There's nothing worse than a loud group chattering away the entire time, so we always happily let people pass to ensure that our hike remains peaceful.

We made a two stops up on the way for snacks. Erik had packed individual serving packs of trail mix and since I am highly motivated for snacks I was easily entertained awaiting the next food stop. It took us about 2-2 1/2 hours to hike to the top of the mountain and once we were on top we had to climb a fire tire to see the real views. 

It's funny, I don't consider myself afraid of heights. I've gone on all the roller coasters at Ceder Point when I was younger and flying doesn't bother me. However, as I climbed the stairs of the tower I found myself with a death grip around the railings. About half way up looked back and was a bit concerned at the rate I was going up. Basically the girl who runs up stairs two at a time was one step away from crawling up them. I couldn't even look anywhere but the stairs I kept telling myself that it was no big deal and it was a very sturdy structure. Thankfully I didn't chicken out and was able to climb the entire tower to see the views. 

I'm not sure why I felt the need to climb the mountain with my cycling sunglasses on my head. Maybe I had grand plans that involved finding a mountain bike to descend the other side of the mountain down the ski slopes or something?
At least I didn't look too terrified in the picture, that's always a plus. Of course anytime we moved I swore I could feel the whole tower move and I maneuvered around the little room so cautiously that Erik couldn't help but laugh. I would barely stand next to the window because obviously I'd fall out. It's funny how you just assume heights don't bother you and then you're completely terrified.

After another snack we made our way back down the mountain, but we took a different route from the way up. I'm pretty positive there is nothing worse then going down a mountain, especially if you're super cool like me and can't feel the bottom of one of your feet. I constantly have to look at my foot planted on the ground and hope that it's in a study spot. Luckily Erik knows that my pace down will slower than a snail so he doesn't rush me at all which is nice. He even found me a pretty sweet walking stick which oddly made a big difference...maybe it was all just mental?

The only downfall to taking a different route down was the fact that we would have about a mile walk on the main road back to the motorcycle. After hiking a mountain there is nothing more boring than walking along side the road.

By the time we were done it was around 4 and I was starving. Luckily Windham is near by and Cave Mountain Brewing was open so we more than made up for our work with local beer, a soft pretzel, sandwiches and a slice of deep fried cheesecake. I'm pretty positive one of these days Erik is going to need to roll me out of a restaurant!

Even though we both agreed that this wasn't our most favorite hike, we still enjoyed the day and for NY the weather was unbeatable. I wouldn't say the hike was too challenging but it was tough enough to leave me sore for days and unable to sit and stand easily too for a while.

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