I’m going to start this post reiterating to myself to never base a trip on the weather forecast, unless maybe there’s a hurricane or tornadoes. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
This was planned as a 2-day, overnight, 2-section outing. We were in the clear to get on the trail yesterday to do section 5, and stay the night at either RPH or Shenandoah tenting area if it was full, and do section 6 today. We knew it was going to rain. That was a given, and a factor we are well used to by now and really don’t mind that much. It was just that this forecast called for 100% chance of rain from 1pm yesterday to 8 pm tonight, with potential 38 mph winds. That just sounded downright unsafe, let alone miserable.
Being section hikers, we have the luxury of altering our plans accordingly. In fact based on this forecast, we almost didn’t go. I had gotten the time off already so I thought of maybe a trip to the Pequot Indian museum — a place I’ve wanted to visit again since going as a kid. I’m fascinated by Native American history and collect Kachina. However something must have been going on at the casinos there because every hotel with rooms under $200 a night in the area was booked.
Then we said you know what, no, we are going. We will just do a day hike, get one of the two sections done, check out RPH for next time and sill have a great time. It’s only an hour away. And we DID have a great time. We had a great hike, some beautfiul views, a nice chat with some local section hikers (Quicksilver, Skylark) and despite some rain, ventured on a bit into section 6 to check out RPH (Ralph’s peak hiker cabin) shelter. That place is amazing. It’s right by a road and you can order pizza or chinese there, there’s 3 bunkbeds, a desk, a covered patio, picnic tables and chairs, a large lawn for many tents, a water pump and a colorful outhouse. There was also a case of beer of trail magic from the night before, so we had a beer and signed the register before we left.
As we drove back, the rain steadily increased. It rained all night, and we told ourselves that we made the right choice. I did hear some wind last night. But to be honest we’ve spent many nights in our tent in a downpour, and woke to a drier morning to pack up and hike out. In fact just last time at Sages Ravine was quite a storm. But at RPH we could have had a great meal under the porch, socialized for several hours, and ran to the tent for bedtime. And we were lamenting this fact as we sat under the porch enjoying the beer.
Sure enough, I awoke this morning to no rain and the forecast of a 10% chance between now and 4pm when some possibility – 35% of thunderstorms – could occur. By 4, we’d be on our way back already. 7 miles of walking even at our pace would put us somewhere around 230pm if we got our usual early start. I’m kicking myself. Why did I let these predictions, which are almost universally inaccurate, cut short our trip? Grrrrr. Never again. Unless like I said… hurricane, tornadoes….tropical storm…
On the bright side it wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last trip of the season. We’ve already done 3 overnights since April, covering 25 miles of the trail and in doing so checked one state off the list and a nice chunk of another! Also we are taking my family (my little brother is visiting with his boys from L.A.) to car camp and do the Pine Knob Loop for the fourth of July weekend next weekend, then taking my son “Jiffy Pop” to do section 4 of NY (we skipped it to save it for him) two weeks later. Another few weeks later we will be in Harpers Ferry and also southern WV for a wedding and will try and complete the 6 miles of that state with him.
We’re already talking about doing an overnight starting at RPH after work on a friday night, and then hiking out this section the next day on one of the weekends in between in July. We have a 3-day 2-nighter planned to finish sections 8 and 9 with friends and make it to Bear Mountain NY in mid-October. And race and Everett in the Berkshires of Massachusetts in September – though we could switch that to section 7 of NY if time is more constricted then and get back to Massachusetts next season. My goal by the end of this season is to have covered all the trail from the Mass line across the Hudson to the top of Bear Mtn NY. We did the trail from the Inn to the top of Bear a few years ago already, and the awesome and steep Major Welch trail. We did Connecticut northbound but are doing New York southbound. Simply because of its proximity to our home.
Also on the bright side, it was a beautiful hike – even with the rain, and THAT is why we are out there at all. Lots of lovely ridge walking, great views of the Hudson river valley, the Shawangunks and the Catskills beyond, and even picturesque views of Interstate 84 and the Taconic State parkway! This land, known as the Fishkill plains, was 85,000 acres of formerly native American land that was traded to the English and Dutch in 1685 as part of the “Rombout Patent.”
Also, the trail maintainer, “Elvis Trailsley,” does a fantastic job of trail maintenance. There were many lovely corridors of placed stone and log benches, many cairns where we and other hikers are clearly enjoying adding stones to, and many small blazes on rocks in mid-trail so there’s no risk of ever losing your way.
He had an interesting sign on Stormville about the divide and water flow, and one at the creek by Hosner mountain road warning hikers of the danger of not treating the water there due to the farm upstream. We love seeing the different personalities of the maintainers of the different sections, and this man does a fine job! Thank you.
We saw and tasted our first wild blackberries of the season, and tromped through some beautiful fern gullies and hemlock groves. And got very excited for doing this next section knowing how special RPH is. Heck, we dont even need to bring our full packs if we did it that way! We could load up our car with trail magic and treat everyone that night if we wanted to then just leave our sleeping gear in the car and day hike that section. We will see! We’ve wanted to return the trail magic for a while.
I’m going to appease myself that I’m not hiking today by taking this opportunity to go to REI’s 4th of July sale and get some outdoor gear retail therapy! Need some more fuel and mountain house anyway. And, I get to spend more time with my kids today. We will have lots of guests on our hike blog next weekend. Until next week, happy trails!