Sunday, June 28, 2015

Catskills 3500 Club: Bearpen Mountain and Vly Mountain

My uncle is a crazy hiker, more so than myself.  He completed his winter 46r in roughly one winer (which despite what we all might think, is only 3 months officially) Now that a lot of the projects at his new home are complete, he is all about being my guide down in the catskills.  

I had mentioned wanting to hike Bearpen and Vly mostly because it was 2 mountains for roughly 5 miles.  However, that was from a different trailhead than where we started.  The summary I had read started from the south and we came from in from the north. Its a dirt mountain road -- likely only accessable from jeeps and atvs.  We parked just past the last house and began walking up the road.  The trail is very similar in either direction, just longer - I haven't yet found an official distance. I'm not entirely sure of what our mileage ended up being, but we estimated just shy of 8 miles. 

When we approached the highest point of the road, we came to a hunters lodge.  Also an idea spot to hide from zombies.  I had read that we should walk in front of it to get to bearpen, but my uncle was a bit turned around since he had previously hiked it from the south.  We continued on the mountain road for a moment before backtracing to hike on the trails infront of the "lodge" Most of the trails were ATV roads but a few were normal single track.  This is an unmarked trail, which would be quite confusing because of all of the ATV tracks that zig zag around the mountain.

sketchy hunting lodge / would never want to meet up with the people who use this place.

the pied piper of dogs.  Marcy, Charlie, & Abby stuck on a single track for a brief moment
Marcy enjoying the summit of Bearpen
View off of Bearpen
old ski lift
ski lift
Marcy refuses to ever look at the camera when asked. 

Bearpen is an old ski mountain with quite an interesting story.   Even though it hasn't been a ski mountain longer than it officially was,  my uncle says that when he climbed it last, it was much more open than it is today.  There were a few open view points that we enjoyed as we relaxed.  I had made the mistake of giving Marcy some slim jim so she spent the rest of the time trying to guard my bag from the other dogs.  Take away: even though marcy barely eats her food at home, she is still possessive of it around new dogs.

We stayed on top for a while before deciding to head back down towards the hunting lodge, which serves as the hull between Bearpen and Vly.  Going back down seemed to be much quicker, often seems to be the case.  We lost quite a bit of elevation, and knew that we would have to gain it all back in a short distance to summit Vly.  The distance between the cabin and the summit is less than 1 mile with about 714 feet of elevation to gain.

enjoying a mid hike snooze (after a selfie of course)
catskill canister

There is no view from the Top of Vly, but because it is officially a bushwack (there is an easy to follow herd path these days - and even state boundary markings -i think) I came to my first canister to sign on the top of a mountain.  Al and I ate our lunches and gave our dogs the rest of the slim jims -- without any issues- and relaxed again for a bit.  We weren't in any rush and the weather had held so it was a nice day to enjoy the mountains.  


Along the hike down, a few views of Bearpen were visible,  in the winter I bet the views are even better. The climb down was quick, and Marcy had become more interested in chipmunks than me, so she was constantly running through the woods, which stressed me out.  Her coloring makes it impossible to see her. Luckily she came back every time.  We were spit back out the Halcott mountain road  at the lodge and began the walk down the rocky dirt road towards my uncles truck.

marcy never lays in cars, she normally spends the entire journey pacing in the backseat.  

It started to rain just as we got back to the truck.  We had initally thought we might also climb solo mountain Halcott on the way back to Albany, but the rain gave us the easy excuse to pass. Luckily it didn't rain for too long.  When we got back to my uncles, we hung out in the yard, watched the dogs sleep and enjoyed a well deserve tea .

Trailhead:  Halcott Mountain Road (North
Mountains: Bearpen Ranked 28 (3600 ft)
                   Vly Ranked 32 (3529)
Mileage:       7-8ish ?
Time:  6 ish ?  should have kept better notes including long breaks on summits
Gear used:  72 oz of water (hydroflask 40 nalgene 32) AsolosSmarwool Socks (new thin and awesome)  Deuter Pack, oiselle shorts

Progress: 9/39

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