Because my usual climbing companion was tackling high peaks in the ‘daks, I was left to my own solo ascending devices on Saturday. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but I’ve never hiked alone (no furry beasts). Not because I thought it daunting but because someone has always invited me or visa versa.
But, an isolated little bump called Acra Point in the Black Dome Valley of the Catskills set forth the routine quite nicely.
Date of Summit: 2/08/2014
Trailhead to Summit: 1.7
Trip Time: 2.5 hours Round Trip
Ascent: 800 ft
Dozens of cars were parked at the foot of Acra Point but, curiously, when I opened the registration book, nobody had signed in for the day. The sky was blue, the temps were balmy and the path was well forged by snowshoes. Still, I didn’t bump into another hardy soul, not even a thru-hiker plodding along the upper part of Long Path or Escarpment Trail.
The sound of birds, cracking tree limbs, a gust of wind; everything is amplified when you’re alone. Without a busy conversation to scare away lingering animals, I was hoping to spot a wild turkey or a grazing deer. I crisscrossed a babbling brook by the name of the Batavia Kill littered with doe tracks but nothing more.
After a mile or so, I came to a fork in the road. The snowshoe tracks continued towards Burnt Knob, Windham Mountain and Route 23 but not Acra Point. A soft reflective blanket of snow looked too perfect to violate with Micro Spikes but the blue tree signs said that this was way.
At the summit, I found two intimate outcroppings to see Blackhead range to the south and a flatter horizon view of Greene County to the north. Both ledges were covered with several inches of snow so I didn’t wander out too far. Returning homeward, this sliver of solitude continued all the way back to the vehicle.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed or fearful carry a well-charged cell, compass, water and snacks. Even climbing a tiny little peak like Acra can restore your spirit, recharge your energy and build confidence. You may even find you prefer remoteness over masses of people.