Sunrise in Spring: Wittenberg Mountain

It's safe to say spring is the most unpredictable time of year, at least when it comes to hiking. We all know what to expect on a hot summer day, or a chilling winter morning, but spring is split. You can hope as much as you want for a warm, snow-free hike, but you end up getting sleeted on with a relentless whipping breeze. Case in point, our overnight sunrise from Wittenberg Mountain, which turned out not as we expected. While discomfort plagued our trip, it still had no effect on our enjoyment of another sunrise.


Sunrise from Wittenberg Mountain.

Immediately after our arrival at the trailhead, it began to sleet, which, as we continued down the trail, escalated into snow. It's important to note that this is the first mountain I've climbed in the Catskills, so I had no idea what to expect when it came to terrain. After a steep climb up from the creek, the trail found it's way to a flat area, only to become steep yet again. The trail climbed atop an escarpment of sorts, with several waterfalls coming down to us.


The bridge that initiates the hike.
A part of the escarpment, with heavy fog to the left.
A spring exclusive waterfall.

The weather was awful. There were cold winds striking us and sleet soaring over our heads. It was difficult when it came to keeping our feet wet, as the trail was flooded, and many areas being intensely muddy. After a long walk through flooded trail and sodden leaves, we arrived at the junction with Terrace Mountain Trail, and soon the Long Path, which we passed by.


Lucy sniffing.
The junction.

Luckily, the trail was no longer flooded, as it had morphed into an old cart road, but the winds still howled against our backs. After another half mile, we began to notice large chunks of ice along the trail, something we were not ready for. The ice was very slick, and we continued to be pelted with pellets of icy sleet. We found ourselves at the first of many steep pitches, this one covered in ice. We carefully made our way up.


The trail before the steep pitch.

Another steep pitch followed, and another, and another. For those that have never been to the Catskills: just because the area is about two hours from New York City, doesn't mean it's not difficult. The skies were cloudier than ever when we made it to the top, but there was no snow, so that was good. We turned back and set up our tent beneath the summit. We went inside, not knowing that the next time we'd get out would be at six o'clock in the morning.

When we awoke, the ground was covered in a dusting of snow, but the skies were crystal clear. The wind had kept up all night, and was still blowing strong. We got the cameras ready and made our way to the summit, where we received a beautiful sunrise with just enough clouds in the sky, which made it even more special.


The sunrise.
Overlook Mountain (left) with the sunrise.

The sun rose beside the many peaks of the Devils Path: Plateau, Indian Head, Sugarloaf, Twin, and many others. Overlook Mountain and Black Dome were also visible to the north. Ashokan High Point and Ashokan Reservoir were easily visible, and Friday Mountain, along with Balsam Cap were visible to the south. Behind them could be seen Peekamoose Mountain.


Ashokan Reservoir
The sunrise and Devils Path.
Looking south to Ashokan High Point.
(Left to Right): Balsam Cap, Friday Mountain, Peekamoose Mountain
Ashokan Reservoir, yet again.
Another view.
A few partially illuminated ridges as seen from Wittenberg Mountain.

The sky began to turn blue, and we packed up camp in the midst of the snow dust. We had no crampons, so going down to the Terrace Mountain Trail junction was difficult, but with the now beautiful weather and clear skies, it calmed us as we skillfully maneuvered our way down the ice. Right before the first steep pitch, there was a pleasant view looking to the Devils Path yet again.


The view from the pitch.
The pitch, or chimney, with Lucy sitting atop it.

We slowly finished the hike, and made it down at a very reasonable time. The contrast of spring is something best exemplified in hiking, the first day it can be stormy with snow coming down, the next it can be bright and sunny with clear skies. Much like spring, I don't know what the future for hiking holds, but I hope I will be able to return to this unique, beautiful range before the year ends.

2 comments:

  1. Great pics and a wonderful write up, once again! Thank you so very much for sharing your awesome adventures...

    I really loved the pics, as always, especially the one where there is fog off to the left. It looks so cool. The trail appears to be kept together by tree roots hanging off a cliff just above the fog... very mysterious looking.

    So exciting just to wonder where your journey will take us next...

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    1. Thank you for reading as always. I hope to come back to the Catskills this summer!

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