I've been cooped up in a lab a lot lately, and I've been really itching to get out on a nice winter hike.
I have wanted to check out the rest of the Kanape Brook trail, to the Ashokan High Point for a while. We have some red oak research plots about a mile up the trail, but I had never been any further. (To the right is Kanape Brook, as seen in the afternoon on the walk back down. )
A friend I met during the Hubbard Brook REU program in 2009 drove up from Long Island Saturday morning. We got to the trail head around 9:30am, signed in at the registry box and started up the trail. It snowed the night before, along with some sleet, and we were the first ones on the trail! The snow was still very packed so snow shoes weren't needed, although if we wanted to do any serious bushwhacking they would be essential.
The Kanape Brook trail is an old abandoned carriage road. The forest along the road had been burned periodically for blueberries, which were picked by the locals during the Great Depression and sold to NYC markets. The trail follows a very gradual incline up and has flat stretches passing through some thick mountain laurel patches and a small (and very beautiful but odd/out-of-place) planted norway spruce grove. The trail for the most part is pretty rocky, but it is not noticeable with the winter snow pack, and it seems to be a popular cross country ski route.
As we gained elevation the forest gradually became blanketed in a thick sheet of ice. Every branch of every tree and shrub was encased in a layer of glistening ice.
Towards the high point the trail begins to get steep, then flat, and then several short steep sections before arriving at an opening in the trail providing a beautiful view (below).
Despite the cloudy day there was still a beautiful view from the summit (below), which is covered in stunted oaks and mountain laurel.
While at the top I noticed movement in the corner of my eye from up in a tree, and I discovered we were actually intruding upon someone else who was already there enjoying a meal and the great view.