Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hiking - Taconic Crest Trail

It was a cool windy day, with possible afternoon showers, so instead of biking, I went for a short hike on the Taconic Crest Trail north of Petersburg Pass. There are several named summits that the actual trail skirts to one side or the other, and I decided to bushwhack these and see what I would find.

First came White Rocks. It's a steep summit to the east of the trail as the trail descends sharply and then reclimbs to the ridge. There were no views, and very little reason to ever return here. But there was this nice open view to the west before I left the trail for the bushwhack.

Returning to the trail, I continued on toward Smith Hill. The woods were very lush, with ferns and Canada mayflowers everywhere.

Leaving the trail again, I headed for the summit of Smith Hill, once known as Jim Smith Hill on earlier maps. In the open meadows of the summit, laurel was in bloom, along with another low shrub with white flowers. And of course, the blooms of blueberries to come.

I left the summit without using the compass, thinking I knew where I was going, and eventually found myself descending the Birch Brook Trail down the Massachusetts side of the ridge, not what I wanted to do. As I climbed back to the ridge, a coyote darted across the trail not 50 yards ahead of me. These guys are reclusive, and I felt lucky to have seen one.

Finally back on the main TCT on the ridge, the setting was almost park-like, in stark contrast to the brutal winter conditions of my previous visit.

Finally, I headed for the summit known erroneously to the USGS as "Snow Hole". It's the 697-meter bump on the ridge shown on the map above. Locally, everyone knows that the "Snow Hole" is actually a deep fissure in the rock that has snow at the bottom even in the middle of summer. Its actual location is also shown on the map above. The mislabeled summit had no view whatsoever.

Having been to the real Snow Hole numerous times, and with time getting short, I now headed back to the car along the trail. It had been a nicer day than expected, and I had also largely avoided the hordes of people out enjoying the main trail.

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