“Oh sure, there are black bears here and I’ve seen them. It’s okay though… you can run really fast, right?” Was this advice suppose to pacify me?
During my brief encounter with Jim Boughton (Keeper of the Canisters) and his companion Margaret, I had just passed a series of gnarly-looking paw prints coming down West Kill Mountain. I had also just shrieked at the sight of a slithering reptile. Ascending earlier, I wiped dozens of cobwebs spanning from tree to tree from my face.
Climbing mountains, in the Catskills or anywhere, isn’t all beautiful sweeping aerial views. But, Boughton assured me that the four-legged and creepy-crawler kind are probably a lot more scared of us than we are of them. That’s good to know!
With so much rain this week every orifice of West Kill was leaking. It made the slippery trail more of a gushing stream than a rocky pathway to the summit. George bounced back and forth on the tops of rocks to keep his feet dry.
West Kill is the 6th highest Catskill high peak and is part of the Devil’s Path range. It’s also one of 35 that need climbing to earn that elusive embroidered insignia that can be sewn to a backpack or sash.
We didn’t see any bears on Saturday, but, between the rock shelters, the thick patches of ferns and the high forest canopy, there’s dozens of places for them to hide.