Sunday, August 17, 2008

All-Girls hike in the Catskills

Having stayed up till midnight to watch the Olympics, we decided to wake up at 8 AM, which we did. DH decided to pass on the hike, leaving us girls to enjoy the day by ourselves. We packed our lunches, made PB&J and mint chutney sandwiches and cardomom tea for breakfast (food of course, was first priority) and pottered about till 9:30.

The sun was up and it was pleasant, a perfect day for a hike. The weather forecast predicted 20% chance of rain, which we optimistically shrugged off. Our plan was to drive to Saugerties, where we would first attempt the Devil's Path hike, later do the shorter and more scenic waterfall hike, then drive to Woodbury Outlet Mall.

We reached Saugerties at 12 PM and drove uphill to the parking spot, from where we would hike to the trailhead. We were warned to park the car off the road, which we did. Then, carrying our backpacks (with gatorade, water, trail mix and our lunches), we headed off. The first hour was rather pleasant. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the trailhead. We met several people on the trail, including children, and came across a blue stone quarry site. We needed no maps. The trail was muddy due to heavy rain the past few days) but well marked. Soon, however, the sky turned grey and emitted ominous rumbling noises. We continued, hoping the noises would go away. But soon, it started pouring. We had to watch our step to avoid sinking ankle deep in mud. For a while, we were able to avoid getting completely wet and carried on valiantly, but nature prevailed. Fearing flash-floods (in my ignorance) and a slippery return path, I suggested turning back. I did not meet with significant resistance, so we headed back. About 10 minutes later, the rain slowed down and the sun peaked out tentatively. We could not summon the motivation to continue our hike, however, and decided to return another day.

On the way back, we came across a family on their way back after summiting, who were totally lost. We pointed them to the way we had come, and soon, they disappeared ahead of us, in their hurry to get back to civilization and the rest of their party - they had been on the trail since 9 AM. We rambled on leisurely and eventually reached the parking spot. By now, the rain had stopped completely and the sun was smiling widely. WTF? We came across the mother of the lost family again, still desperately lost. We suddenly heard an excited whoop of joy from the children, though, which we all took to mean they had found the rest of their group.

We then rolled down the hill, burning the brake pads by incessant braking as we went. At the foot of the hill, we parked and left on the mini-hike to the waterfalls. Though we were drenched and rather uncomfortable, we enjoyed this hike a little more. By now, it was our stomachs doing the rumbling. We found a scenic spot by a waterfall, and with little conversation and a lot of speed, unpacked and ate our lunch. The rain had filled the streams and the waterfalls were overflowing. The water was very chilly. Brenda decided to lay about on the rocks, while Pearl dipped her feet in the water. I felt muddy and dirty and made my way to the waterfall for a quick shower.

We didn't stay long in the water though, and after completing the hike and changing to dry clothes, returned to the car.

The drive back was a little tiring, as it always is. Exits on Highway 87 seem so far apart, and when we finally saw the signs for Exit 16 and Woodbury Outlet Mall, I was ready for a break from driving. We spent about 2 hours at the mall, for the most part browsing. Brenda did find a
much-longed for Burberry cashmere shawl at a great price, the highlight of our shopping expedition. All in all, despite the fact that we did not summit, we had an enjoyable day.

The drive back to NJ did not take very long and pretty soon, I was seeing them off at Edison Train Station, promising to give them an update on Michael Phelps' final swim while they made their long journey back to Brooklyn.

Back home, DH and I watched the women's marathon as we fed on leftovers. Around 10:30 PM, Pearl called to say they had reached NY Penn Station and were waiting for the train to Brooklyn. Fighting sleep, I watched the men's 400m Relay Medley final, which the US team won relatively easily and the men's 100m finals, in which Usain Bolt thrashed the competition. Then, I dragged myself to bed.

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