Sunday, June 26, 2016

Eagle Cliff Area Scrambles at Mohonk

Mohonk Mountain House Area
Shawangunk Mountains
Ulster Co.,
New York

Hiking Trails:
Huguenot Trail: Hiking Trail
Whitney Road: Carriage Road
North Lookout Road: Carriage Road
Glen Anna Path: Hiking Trail
Fox Path: Hiking Trail
Eagle Cliff Road: Carriage Road
Undercliff Path: Hiking Trail
Lake Shore Path: Hiking Trail
Short Woodland Drive: Carriage Road
Eagle Cliff Scramble: Climbing Scramble
Humpty Dumpty Road: Carriage Road
Humpty Dumpty Path: Climbing Scramble
Arching Rocks Path: Climbing Scramble
Catherdral Path: Climbing Scramble
Plateau Path: Hiking Trail
Laurel Ledge Path: Hiking Trail
Fern Ledge Path: Climbing Scramble
Sunset Path: Hiking Trail
North Lookout Road: Carriage Road

Total Time: 3:30 Hours
Estimated Distance: 5.75 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Great views and excellent scrambles
Cons: Expensive entrance fee, no parking near mountain house and even shuttle to day area cancelled

Hiking Partners:
Shimmy Rosenberg

It had been a while since I visited the Gunks, and I took the opportunity to leave early on this fine early summer day with Shimmy to do some scrambling in Mohonk. Mohonk has some of the best scrambles in the area, and I hadn't been to the Eagle Cliff area in a long time. There are many different scrambling routes to take there.

We drove up to the toll gate atop Mountain Rest Road. Our intention was to get a good parking spot closer to the Mountain House so we would be closer to the scrambling area. I had acquired membership back at the end of December, and I was told by the clerk when I purchased it that I would be granted the privilege of parking near the Mountain House on quieter days or when the parking lot is not full. Being that we arrived early, we were looking forward to parking closer to our objective. However, the staff at the toll gate did not allow us in, and were in fact rude to us about this when we asked about this. Not only that, but they said that the shuttle from the parking lot to the picnic area near the Mountain House - which has always been running for years - is no longer in operation. Day Hikers, even members, must now always walk the additional distance. I was stunned and quite disappointed by this.

I intend on contacting Mohonk Public Relations about this, and should my efforts be ignored or not be genuinely addressed, I will devote a special article to this. This article will be widely disseminated to my followers and to the regional hiking community, and will hopefully attract proper attention to this.

Despite our disappointment, we decided not to let this ruin our day, and still visit and enjoy the area we intended to visit. So we parked out in the parking area, and took the most direct path to the Mountain House: The Huguenot Trail to Whitney Road, to North Lookout Road, Glen Anna Path, and then the Fox Path.

We then walked along through the botanical gardens, towards Mohonk Lake, and then along the Eagle Cliff Road to the Undercliff Path. We took some scenic photos of Lake Mohonk, and continued to the Lake Shore Path, and then Short Woodland Drive, until we arrived at the the Eagle Cliff Scramble. We climbed up the Eagle Cliff Scramble, which affords an excellent view of the south and the west from atop.

We then turned around and went back down the Eagle Cliff Scramble, took the Humpty Dumpty Road, and looped around to the Humpty Dumpty Path. From this point on its quite a dramatic scrambling zone along the route we took, from the Humtpy Dumpty Path, Arching Rocks Path, and then the Cathedral Path. We then took the Plateau Path to the Laurel Ledge Path, and then to the short but very steep Fern Ledge Path. From there we took the Sunset Path and then went around the riding ring, to North Lookout Road and then Whitney Road and the Huguenot Trail to the parking area.

Map of the Route
Shawangunk Trails, Mohonk Area

Large Map Kiosk at the Parking Area

Mountain Laurels in Full Bloom

Shimmy Descending a Staircase Along a Cliff Wall
at the End of the Fox Path

Mohonk Mountain House in the Distance,
with Botanical Gardens in the Forefront

Me Walking Through a Vine Trestle in the Botanical Gardens

Shimmy in the Vine Trestle

Large Trout in Mohonk Lake
These Fish are Usually Visible from the Dock

Mohonk Lake from the Dock at the Mountain House

Tower on Sky Top, Viewed from the Undercliff Trail

Mohonk Lake, Viewed from the Western End

Me at Mohonk Lake

Water Lily in Full Bloom

At the Eagle Cliff Scramble

Shimmy Navigating Through the Eagle Cliff Scramble

Shimmy Posing at the Eagle Cliff Scramble

View Atop Eagle Cliff, Facing Southwest
The Trapps and Millbrook Mountain are in the Distance

Me Atop the Eagle Cliff View

Clouds Developing Over the Catskill Mountains
View from Eagle Cliff Facing West/Northwest

Zoomed Out from the Above View

View of the Southwest Trending Shawangunk Ridge, from Eagle Cliff
Note the Small Forest Fire in the Distance Near the Ellenville Area

Me at the Eagle Cliff View 

Shimmy Navigating Along the Humpty Dumpty Path Scramble

Along the Arching Rocks Path

Shimmy on the Arching Rocks Path

Me on the Arching Rocks Path

Shimmy Under Rocks that are Arching on the Arching Rocks Path

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keshet Cave (Rainbow Cave)

Park Adamit
Nahal Betzet Nature Reserve
Galil Region

Hiking Trails:
Keshet Cave Trail: Blue blaze
Red Trail: Red blaze

Total Time: 0:45 Hour
Estimated Distance: 0.6 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Level of Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Points of Interest: Beautiful natural arch and good view
Cons: Ease of trail and built up areas

I had made a trip in to Israel, and while I did not have the time to do any serious hiking on this relatively short trip, I did have a chance to visit this very beautiful natural arch called Keshet Cave, which means Rainbow Cave in Hebrew. The cave is named for the arch in the shape of a rainbow, which formed from a cave that had part of the ceiling collapse but the arch part remaining intact.

The area is on the northern fringes of Israel, very close to the Lebanon border. North of the Nahal Betzet (Betzet Creek) rises a mountain ridge with a steep escarpment. The arch is located here at the top of the escarpment, and commands sweeping views of the area below, and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

I parked on the top after climbing Route 8993, at the parking lot in the Park Adamit. There is a paved, wheelchair access path that leads directly to the arch. Its a relatively short distance and takes no longer than 10-15 minutes to get to the arch. The arch is an amazing site to see.

After taking many pictures of the arch and escarpment views, I headed along the red path along the side of the ridge, and then cut through where the path goes back up towards the parking lot, for a short loop hike.

Map of the Route

View of the Arch

Me on the Arch

Me Posing in Front of the Arch

Me in Front of the Arch

Another View of the Arch

View from the Escarpment. Village of Yaara in the Distance.

View and Sign from Atop the Arch

View from the Arch Zoomed Out

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sterling Pond,
Smugglers' Notch State Park

Lamoille Co.,

Hiking Trails:
Sterling Pond Trail
Long Trail

Total Time: 1:15 Hours
Estimated Distance: 2.1 Miles
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Level of Recommendation: Recommended

Points of Interest: Beautiful, serene mountain lake
Cons: Lacks good views along the trek

I had traveled to Vermont for a weekend wedding in the Burlington area. We arrived in the afternoon on Friday, and being late in the day, I opted for a short hike for Friday, and a serious hike up Mount Mansfield for Sunday. However, the weather on Sunday was terrible, with strong rain all day long. So this ended up being our only hike while in Vermont.

We drove through Smugglers' Notch on Route 108, driving through the narrow and twisting part of this road. We parked at the trailhead at the Sterling Pond area, and took the Sterling Pond Trail up the mountain, climbing about 1000 feet. We then took the Long Path at the intersection a short distance to the pond. This pond is a natural mountain lake with crystal clear water. It is exceptionally scenic. After taking some pictures, we turned around and headed back down the same way to the trailhead.

Map of the Route

End of the Sterling Pond Trail at the Long Trail

Slight View from a Partial Clearing, Facing North

Zoomed into the Above View

Approaching Sterling Pond

Sterling Pond with Madonna Peak in the Background

Sterling Pond at the Outlet

Me at Sterling Pond

Cliff Walls Along Smugglers' Notch