Here’s my trip report from Saturday’s hike. I don’t want you to think I haven’t been writing, dear reader. I just haven’t been writing very much here. Lots of email correspondence of late. I normally write for an hour or two each night – yup, you guessed it: right before I go to bed. So sometimes you don’t get to see my words. I’m sure you’re surviving without them.
Alien Landing & Anaconda Sighting on SW Hunter 9/11/2010
This weekend I decided to make my cat, Laila Jo Connolly, jealous and hang out with Iske & Lily in the Catskills. This naturally entailed spending some time with Halia & Flammeus. Flammeus was laid-up with a Level II Ankle Sprain, so FatVegan & I hiked with the eagle but not the owl.
We met at the Becker Hollow TH’s PA at 8:15AM. Parenthetically, I’d like to announce the FKT from Ridgewood NJ to said TH: 1:34:03.14159 – I’ve checked both VFTT and Wikipedia and have not been able to find a faster documented time. If any of you lurker n0obs belong to the NY State Police force, I am, of course, just kidding.
We signed in at the TH – Scott and I using our real names, as our trail names for one another tend to be somewhat vulgar – and headed up the blue-blazed Becker Hollow Trail, passing beneath the still-hanging widowmaker and giving it a good shove for luck and no rain. Instead of turning right onto the yellow-blazed Hunter Mountain Trail (which leads to the fire tower), we continued on to the west-facing ledge and to bag the view. It was glorious. Halia (hereinafter “Heather”) pointed out some of the viewable peaks – Peek and Table, Panther and Giant Ledge, Roundtop and KHP and Hurricane Ledge, the Burroughs Range, etc., and explained that three of the peaks form a constellation that looks exactly like a woman in repose: one being the side of her hip and the other two being her headlights. I found this to be a pretty exciting revelation and asked Heather and Scott to continue on while I “took some pictures” with my iPhone. They obliged and I now have the nagging sensation (not unlike that feeling of forgetting something) that I should be keeping my iPhone under my mattress. I’m sure it will pass.
I caught up to Scott and Heather as they headed south on the yellow-blazed Hunter Mountain Trail, and we all turned the corner onto the red-blazed Devil’s Path together. We made a right and stopped to put out the embers in the fire pit at Devil’s Acre lean-to (again – it seems that Scott and I are honorary sometime-weekend fire putter-outers at this particular LT. The LT is in sore need of a broom. Maybe the Catskill 4000 Club can donate one?
We continued on to make a left at the unblazed but very clearly defined (by cairn at the TH) and well-maintained Leavitt Mountain Trail along the old railbed. Scott and I were tired from the navigation-intense hike and, being ardent feminists, suggested that Heather lead us to the cansiter. She did a bang-up job of leading the bushwack and we all signed in to the canister a few minutes later.
We retraced our steps on the way out and had a nice conversation with a couple of fellow hikers back at the DALT, who were enjoying a couple of Coors tallboys in the shade of the LT. None of us said anything about their Timbos and Keds, because we’re Stewards of the Catskills and have to act the part. Besides, the dude was wearing a Yankee jacket and we’re damned Yankees too.
Realizing that Heather was going to be late for work, we kept the conversation short and boogied on up to the fire tower. On the way, with Scott and the dogs in the lead, we passed a massive anaconda that tried to bite my head off with its jaws of evil death. The dogs being oblivious and Scott being vegan, they walked right over it, but when Heather spotted it, she bravely (and properly, to her woods cred), yelled “Snake!” and shoved me into the underbrush before it was able to wrap its deadly coils around me. As I lay cowering in the dirt, she spoke Indian to it in a firm tone (like Native American Indian, not subcontinent Indian) and it slithered off the trail. At this point, Scott had rushed back and was able to place a vegan curse upon its back with his fingers. He says it will bond with the nearest tree and become completely non-violent within a fortnight.
When I finally stopped shaking and had managed to clean most of the poo from my Louis Vuitton hiking pants with my biodegradable trail money, Heather explained that it was, in fact, just a little garter snake. I thought it had markings more akin to a timber rattler, but Heather explained that garter snakes aren’t just black-and-yellow, but rather that god paints them in many colors, because Allah loves wondrous variety.
And so, with a strident cry of “To the trees!” we headed off to complete our journey to the fire tower.
There were a handful of people there when we arrived and Scott and I got busy opening the windows and such in the cabin, while Heather opened the fire tower itself and did her interpreter-thing. We spent the next several hours at the summit. Scott and I deputized ourselves deputy tenders, which basically entailed telling people that it was ok to walk into the cabin (when they were tentatively poking their heads in), as long as they don’t try to make soup. We brandished also brandished our big knives when unnecessary or when someone asked a question that wasn’t answered in either Heather’s training or in the interpreter’s handbook. Nobody reported seeing any fires, so we figure we did a pretty good job.
I only heard one person say “OMG! YOU’RE Heather Rolland – like, the author! I thought you’d be taller.” (and they literally said ‘OMG’, not ‘oh my god’ – I have no idea how they got the hyperlink into the statement), but my bionic hearing was on the fritz that day, so it’s possible that it happened more than just that one time.
At this point, I’d like to take the time to publicly thank the Catskill 400 Club for donating the toilet seat in the privy at the summit of Hunter Mountain. It was incredibly warm and clean when I availed myself of it. No reading material, but that’s ok because I’m a fast pooper.
Scott took a nice long nap and Heather and I pored over the VO map hanging on the wall of the cabin, trying to come up with hikes that would be painful enough to cause us to find another pastime. We think we have a few good ones for the winter, so don’t quit the forum yet.
On the summit, I also spent some time flipping through the menu items on my brand-new Garmin 60CSX, trying to figure out how on god’s green and beautiful earth the data fields were reading an average speed of 500-something mph and that we had traveled well over 3,000 miles so far. I have come to the tentative conclusion that Iske and Lily were sent by an ancient alien race to study humans, and that at some point during the hike they used their alien magic on us to put us to sleep and transport us to another dimension – about 2,994 miles away – where they would be better able to observe us. Putting together the facts from the movie “Earth Girls Are Easy” and the prodigious amount of time Iske spent making out with me on the summit (don’t hate), I am confident enough in my hypothesis to announce it publicly and willing enough to back it up in a duel with laser swords.
We headed back down around 4:30 or so and met Flammeus (who we simply call “Tom”) and Maya and Caitlin at Brio’s in Phoenicia for dinner. We noticed Snickers’ car in the parking lot and were delighted to see Cindy and Brian in the restaurant – freshly showered, as always – so we plunked our stinky asses into chairs at their table (well, we’re pretty sure Tom’s, Maya’s and Caitlin’s weren’t stinky as they appeared to be recently showered as well). We all had a lovely dinner together, at which Cindy extolled the virtues of the BLM fire tower and suggested that Scott and I might like to volunteer to become fire tower tenders as well. We responded that we’re still researching the topic (Red Hill and Tremper have already made very generous offers and Overlook as been courting us for some time now, but we will, of course give preferential treatment to forum members and 3500 Club compatriots).
So yeah, that was our day. Two more for the grid and a wonderful time spent with other 3500 Club members and random visitors to the fire tower. Scott didn’t get to consecrate the fire tower in the name of Lord Shiva the Destroyer, but that’s only because I forgot to bring the salt and entrails. =/
Oh, and Laila Jo wasn’t the least bit jealous when I got home. Here’s the trip over at EveryTrail, btw.