After the frenzy of the holidays have passed, when days are gripped in darkness and temperatures hover near freezing, hardy adventurers from across New York State take to the trails for the Annual First Day Hike

With puppy in tow, Mutti, Jennifer, Nola and myself added a few extra layers of clothing and gear and ventured into the glassy terrain of the Catskill Preserve.  (Microspikes are wisely worn on days like today though I let new-to-the-sport Jennifer borrow mine). 

Our outdoor day of fun and fitness took place on Overlook Mountain.  The 5-mile roundtrip was topped off with young tree branches dressed thick with frozen ice slumped over across our path.   As evidenced by the photos in this blog, the winter wonderland made for a breathtaking obstacle.  

“Wow, look at that! Amazing! Incredible!” were expressions declared around every bend in the road and twist in the trail.   When the sun shone briefly through the clouds the dense forest would sparkle like diamonds. 

A few downed trees and limbs reminded us that risky conditions could jeopardize the allure of this magical scene.  The power lines overhead were a bit unnerving.   Sometimes sheets of ice would plunge to the ground – just ahead or behind us – so we proceeded with caution.   

Dozens posed for selfies at the skeleton ruins of the Overlook Mountain House.  Nola breathed a sigh of relief.  “No need to watch for  rattlesnakes today!” she said.   Nature’s growth curved in, around and through the 1920’s concrete foundation. 

At 3,140 feet, a stranger assured my safety offering up her microspikes so I could ascend to the top of the steep fire tower.  Such is the culture of the hiking community.  Even though the top was locked, stubbornly, the infrastructure refused to give up it’s sublime views.    This turned out to be the icing on an already awe-inspiring cake! 

Overlook Mountain is in the Indian Head Wilderness and encompasses the towns of Saugerties and Woodstock in Ulster County and the Town of Hunter in Greene County.   The trailhead parking lot resides across from the Buddhist temple in nearby Woodstock.  


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