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Old 03-03-2019, 10:18 AM   #1
DSettahr
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Has anyone here attempted a "Trans Catskill Route" thru-hike?

It is possible to thru-hike across the Catskill Park, almost entirely on marked and maintained DEC trails- with a minimum of road walking and/or bushwhacking in a couple of spots (especially the Big Indian area). A route such as the one I've identified would traverse somewhere between 120 and 126 miles (depending on how you calculate it), with 23,200 feet of elevation gain. It'd be basically the NPT on crack (the NPT is a similar length but with about half the elevation gain). Along the way, you'd summit 14 of the Catskill 3,500 foot peaks, plus an additional 6 peaks in the hundred highest.

I'm just curious if anyone here has attempted such a hike in one go. I'm tentatively toying with giving it a shot myself early this summer. My thoughts are that it'd probably be easier west to east (save the bigger peaks for later on in the hike, with the "relatively gentle" Western Catskills as a warm up), and to use Phoenecia for a mid-trip resupply. To minimize road walking in the Big Indian section, my thought is to bushwhack from Graham to the Slide Mountain trailhead by way of Doubletop, Big Indian, and Fir (obviously with permission from the private owner of Graham and Doubletop). I remember Doubletop being a bit thick but Fir especially was wide open forest with fern-filled glades. I suspect that this route will actually be a bit easier (and more scenic) than trying to drop down off the ridge through Biscuit Brook, and then having to walk the Frost Valley road stretch.

(Interesting aside- I understand that there's been proposals for a trail connecting the Balsam Lake Mountain area with the Slide Mountain area that date back decades. Such a trail would form the "missing link" that would essentially finalize the "Trans Catskill Trail." I seem to recall hearing from someone, perhaps even on these forums, that those proposals were more or less put on hiatus after someone took it upon themselves to attempt to construct such a trail without permission from the state- causing a lot of damage to trees in the process.)
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:05 AM   #2
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I did a trans-Adirondack traverse a few years ago, 185 miles from west of Boonville to Cumberland Point east of Plattsburgh. But except for several awful multi-floral rose SAR bushwhack experiences in the Catskills, have never spent much time there (partially for that reason).
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:51 AM   #3
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I did a trans-Adirondack traverse a few years ago, 185 miles from west of Boonville to Cumberland Point east of Plattsburgh. But except for several awful multi-floral rose SAR bushwhack experiences in the Catskills, have never spent much time there (partially for that reason).
Just out of curiosity, where did you participate in the SAR missions? I know multi-flora rose can be a problem some areas of the Catskills close to civilization (along the more developed river and road corridors, especially), but I've never encountered it in the backcountry in my memory. Catskills bushwhack can be thick in spots, but it's usually due to spruce and fir at higher elevations, not due to multi-flora rose.

The bushwhack portion of this route specifically had no multi-flora rose that I can recall from my previous trips into that area.

Of course, after my experiences working in the Monongahela River valley of Western PA, I might also just be jaded. Absolutely nothing can compare to having to wade through acre after acre of that stuff on utlity ROWs and across abandoned farm fields, for miles on end. The only time it wasn't bad was the day we had an ice storm, and the thorns were covered in half an inch of ice- it was a breeze wading through chest deep thickets of multi-flora rose then.
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Old 03-03-2019, 12:27 PM   #4
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You are right, those dozen or so SAR missions over many years were mostly near populated regions and in or within and between the wooded perimeters of farmlands, a few were somewhat remote, but not much in the mountainous regions. Almost always a very painful traverse through MFR. I do not experience that dense needle-like thorny stuff in the Adirondacks (blackberry bushes excepted). From that I assumed MFR would be a common problem even when deep in the cats backcountry.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:14 PM   #5
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Yeah, I would definitely suggest giving the Catskills another shot. While the area has less remoteness than much of what the Adirondacks has to offer (and the Eastern Catskills can turn into a zoo on nice weekends in the warmer months), there's nevertheless some spectacular hikes to be had throughout the area. A few years ago, a bunch of friends and I hiked the Devil's Path for our annual trip, and it definite ranks as one of my favorite backpacking trips ever. If solitude is more your thing, there's good opportunities for it in the Western Catskills also.

I don't blame you for being wary, though- multi-flora rose absolutely, 100% is a royal PITA.
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Old 03-03-2019, 09:14 PM   #6
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The trails behind my house are surrounded by MFR. It is a bear of a job to keep them back. I cannot imagine trying to bushwhack through them. Like a giant mass of barbed wire.

The trans-catskill idea sounds neat. Still working on my latest "project" but I will add it to my ever growing list.
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Old 03-03-2019, 10:09 PM   #7
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When marching along in a SAR line, sooner or later it will be your turn to plow through the thickest berry patch, or the deepest mudiest part of a swamp bog, or a tangle of alders, even MFR. You have no choice, you go through over or under, not around. Even so, the team can only approach, but will never attain 100% coverage of every inch of clue space. Everyone gets their turn at it. If the crew boss reports 100% coverage at ops debrief, they are lying.
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Old 03-04-2019, 06:54 AM   #8
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When marching along in a SAR line, sooner or later it will be your turn to plow through the thickest berry patch, or the deepest mudiest part of a swamp bog, or a tangle of alders, even MFR. You have no choice, you go through over or under, not around. Even so, the team can only approach, but will never attain 100% coverage of every inch of clue space. Everyone gets their turn at it. If the crew boss reports 100% coverage at ops debrief, they are lying.
Yeah, it's the same working on utility ROWs. You often just don't have a choice to go around it- you gotta go right through it to get the work done. I've been fortunate enough to be working in the Adirondacks this winter- where invasives are far less of an issue (and multi-flora rose especially is no where to be found). But come April/early May it sounds like I will be working in an area where invasives are a lot more prevalent- especially multi-flora rose.

I asked my supervisor once if I could expense a machete for work. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Might just buy one myself, anyways. (Of course, the multi-flora rose will probably try to fight back...)
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Old 03-04-2019, 08:06 AM   #9
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I asked my supervisor once if I could expense a machete for work. Unfortunately, the answer was no. Might just buy one myself, anyways. (Of course, the multi-flora rose will probably try to fight back...)
i've recently been going to Harbor Freight for cheapo stuff. If you join their mailing list you regularly get coupons for free stuff like flashlights, tarps, screwdrivers and the like. Discount coupons for other stuff of limited value too. I wouldn't buy anything of much value or heavily mechanical or electronic from there, but you can get a machete for about 6 bucks regular price. Cheap blade, but you can buy two at that price.
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