Ok, it was a busy weekend, but here’s the full trip report from Saturday’s hike:
As far as basic trail/weather condition info goes (which I would prefer to include early in this TR), there’s not much to say. Some black flies (though I don’t know that we really got bitten by them), many many more of some other kind of fly (I’ll ask you about them later), nettles in/on/around the stream-y areas, and plenty of bush to whack. It was hot and the views were mostly obscured by trees (leaves, branches…that sort of thing), though we did manage to find some enjoyable ones.
We started from the Seager PA and struck out off-trail right at the junction between the trail and that woods-road-thingy with the gates on it (there’s a bridge on the left). **Sorry, I don’t have my map in front of me, so this TR will be mostly sans-official-names.** Followed the ridgy-hump thing to the summit of Doubletop. There’s a decently followable herd path that starts a few hundred yards from the summit. Happily (mudhook), it scatters at the summit itself, so there’s nothing that leads too obviously to the can. As we stood at a junction about 30 or so yards from the can (trying to figure which way to go), I spotted the (grey) can through the woods. Rather than be all like “there it is!”, I said something more like “let’s go in THIS direction”. The idea here being that it’s Scott’s peak to bag, not mine.
Though I’ve been trying, I haven’t been very good about that during these last few hikes with Scott (FatVegan). I’m constantly finding myself telling stories about the last time I climbed whatever mountain we’re on (whether in the spring or the winter), and since my most recent memories of 29 of the 35 were this past winter, almost all of my stories start with “in the winter…” If it’s driving me nuts, I can’t imagine what it’s doing to Scott. I try to keep Scott out front as much as possible and not to give him too much guidance as far as overall route or the more specific “go left” situations go, but I have a big mouth and enjoy peakbagging in the Cats so much that I just can’t shut up about it. Sorry Scott. =/
Anyway, after finding the DT canister, we headed off towards Graham. There’s kind of a herd path that leads off the summit, but it peters out – maybe it goes back down, but I don’t think it leads to Graham. There’s kind of a land-bridge between the two summits – or at least a higher point on the col, so we shot for that. I absolutely LOVE the col between DT & Graham! It’s so stark: looking down it, it’s pretty darned obvious that there’s a mountain to the left and a mountain to the right.
I had a ball on the way up Graham. Scott kept a pretty steady pace and I spent the time finding more “technical” ways up the ledges or hustling ahead to hide in the ferns and then jogging past Scott to say “come on, man! I just lapped you!”
We crested the peak a little to the west of the actual summit and ‘whacked through that flat-ish section to get to the radio tower, whereupon we were summarily consumed by biting insects. Sadly, I lost Scott that day – I could hear the buzzing “hey guys! Come on over here – stop eating the one that tastes like dead cow: this one tastes like a soy latte!” Scott, I won’t forget you, buddy: these bites on my arms should serve as a reminder for at least the next 24 hours or so.
The views from the summit of Graham were very nice, if obscured a bit by the cloud of aforementioned buzzing insects. I broke out my Off! wipes, and we proceeded to fill in the little bloody pocks and scratches on our bodies with Deet – you know, the chemical that melts plastic. Estimated bug-deflection time in the Cats: 15 minutes. Sort of.
***I saw several black flies, but they were significantly outnumbered by a much smaller, light brown, dry-looking bug. I think these were the ones doing most of the biting. Does anyone know what these are?***
I’d say the trip from the summit of Graham to the Seager PA was around 1.5 miles or so, approximately 1.0 miles of which was suck. Very steep with a lot of undergrowth and, of course, all three kinds of rocks: slippery, pointy, and the ones that move. On the upside, we saw a porcupine trundling through the bushes. On the downside, Scott wouldn’t let me pet it. =/ “That’s what hiking partners are for,” he kept saying. Whatever, it looked female and cuddly to me.
I don’t remember which brook depression we ended up following down, but just after the grade evened out (around 3000′), we found the power/radio line right-of-way and followed that almost all the way back to the Seager PA. I was hoping to come out right of the woods on top of the car, but missed by about 40 yards to the left (west).
We both ended up with several (read: a sh*t ton of) bug bites and scratches on our arms, though I don’t think I ended up looking like quite as much of an emo kid (read: cutter) as Scott did (nor did I have any bug bites on my head). I also prefer to go AROUND things (trees, etc.), while Scott is more of a THROUGH kind of guy.
Afterward, we had time to shower when we got home, before heading down to Long Branch NJ for a 4-band metal show that started at 9PM and ended at 3AM. I headbanged my face off for most of that time, and possibly sweat more than on the hike (which was a lot). Happily, I wore one of my synthetic shirts I bought for hiking, so I was able to sweat through it and have it dry at least three times in a row that evening. Sunday was golf at Apple Mountain with the old man and brother and sister. Scott spent it in the pool at his dad’s; lucky dog.
NB: For whatever reason, I associate DT and Graham with female and male; I got along better with the old man on Saturday than I did with the lady.