Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trip Report: Round Top Mountain 3/22/14 – 3/23/14

Spring is finally here. I figured I would use the first weekend of spring to go out into the woods. My plan was to go to the Catskills and search for the remnants of an old Revolutionary War fort which are supposed to be located in a col between Round Top mountain and Kaaterskill High Peak. My hope was that enough of the snow had melted so that it would allow me to see the remaining foundation. I also wanted to reach the ruins using an approach from west of the mountain. From what I’ve read, that was the way the fort was historically reached. This access however was abandoned in the early 1900s, so I would have to bushwhack the whole way.

My hopes of success were dashed as soon as I reached the forest. While at lower elevations, most of the snow is gone, here there was still between two and three feet of snow covering the forest. The warmer weather we have had over the past week had created an icy crust on top of the snow. That made it very slippery, but unfortunately was not strong enough to keep me from post-holing. I really needed my snowshoes, but I hadn’t brought them. I just wasn’t expecting this much snow. 


For this trip I had also decided to bring my dog, Rhea. I knew she would limit the approach I could take up the mountain, as she can’t climb up the same routes that I can, but for some reason I find this area of the forest particularly lonely, so I wanted to have her with me. I don’t think she understood why I was moving so slowly.


It was definitely too cold for her. The temperature was about 13F (-11C), and the winds were very strong at 55 mph. She was fine while moving, but I knew that eventually she would get tired, slow down, and get very cold. Even so, we kept pushing along. Progress was slow, and it was becoming more clear that we wouldn’t be able to reach the area at all. The realization was made even more clear when it unexpectedly started snowing.


I knew Rhea wasn’t going to do too well in these conditions, so I made the call to stop and set up camp. I was again using the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 tent.


Rhea quickly found her way in.


I took out the sleeping pad and sleeping bag, closed up the tent, and started trying to dry out and warm up Rhea.


She was very cold, so I got into the sleeping bag with her so she could warm up. Since there was nothing else to do, we took a nap and waited for the storm to pass. The tent was very warm, and held up well in the wind. There wasn’t any condensation, which surprised me. When it stopped snowing, a quick shake of the tent removed all of the snow.

I woke up after a while, and snow had stopped. The sun had actually come out for the first time that day. I took the opportunity to melt some snow and prepare dinner.


I once again made a stupid mistake, which I have made several times before. I wasn’t careful when removing the fuel canister from the stove. Some of the fuel sprayed out onto my finger, and immediately froze on contact. It was very painful, although it didn’t cause any frost bite.


After that, there was nothing left to do but wait for the sun to go down and then go to sleep.

The next day we woke up pretty late. It was cold, which made me not want to get up. It had gone down to about 0F (-18C) during the night. Eventually though, I got up, and ate breakfast.


After that I packed up and post-holed my way out.


I didn’t come anywhere near my goal, but I just couldn’t make the speed I needed to reach the area. It also would have been pointless as the ruins would have been buried under three feet of snow. At least I figured out the approach, so I can try it when the snow is gone.


Instead of the challenging trip I was preparing for, this one ended up being nice and relaxing; just a bit of fun with the dog. I can’t say I was too disappointed.

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