Updated on January 3, 2016
Lone & Rocky, where trees hug you back
For all you tree huggers out there, there’s a place in the Catskill Mountains that reciprocates that squeeze. I’m not talking about a smothering embrace from the thick branches of a deciduous tree like an ash or elm. I’m talking about the playful tug or pull of barren or dead bushes and dense conifers, not unlike a little kid yanking on their mom’s shirt from behind.
When navigating a pathless summit, thorny limbs snag loose clothing and hold onto you in a death grip. Given my reverence for what I consider sentient beings, I revel in the idea that a balsam fir or spruce likes me enough to hold me back or brush up again me. It’s kind-of sweet.
Well, it’s kind-of sweet until that initial touch turns into a stinging whack across the face. Hence the term bushwhack.
While bushwhacking up Rocky and Lone Mountains in the Catskills on New Years Day, Rick Shortt, my climbing companion, was savvy enough to remember his baseball cap. I remembered to duck and weave.
Shortt is a repository of clothing prowess and geographical knowledge. He and one of his best friends are the only people (that they know of) to have climbed all 97 of Virginia’s 4,000 foot peaks.
Shortt picked out the best routes to traverse hollows, creek beds and cols for the 13.1 mile roundtrip hike. And had it not been for his Garmin, I’m sure we would have ran into much higher concentrations of hemlocks, both going up and coming down.
Here now are some photographs of the experience, one that earned Shortt another peakbagging feather in his cap – an official Catskill 3500 footer completion.