15 January 2014

Eagle Cliff and Sky Top - 24 Aug 2013

(The TARDIS takes us back a week and across the Hudson to the beautiful Shawangunk Mountains.)

This trip was a repeat of a hike that Ken and I did last year, with a few alterations.  Ken, Justin and I headed out in to the Mohonk Preserve from the Coxing (Clove Road) trailhead.  We hiked along the Old Minnewaska Trail over to Giant's Workshop, and proceeded through that.  I decided to explore the cave immediately to the left of the entrance a little more.  It goes a few meters in, curving to the right a bit, and then appears to dead end.  While I was exploring the, Ken was attempting to fix some piece of gear.  Justin went on ahead of us, and ended up missing one of the turns.  He ended up at a completely different area, wondering what all the fuss was about.  Meanwhile, I pushed on ahead trying to catch up to him, and ended up at the top of the cliff with no one else around.  I headed back down to figure out what had happened, and caught up with the guys as they were nearing the top.

Eagle Cliff, The Trapps and Beyond
Eagle Cliff, The Trapps, and Beyond

After that we made our way over to the Eagle Cliff ascent, where we had yet another good laugh at the markers that are completely invisible to me.  The markers are red, and several of them I cannot see because I am colorblind and this particular color blends in very well with the rock.  I occasionally have a problem with red or green markers, but it's never as bad as it is with the markings on the Eagle Cliff ascent.  (Usually if I change my angle in relation to the marker I can see it.  With these, I had to use GIMP at home to shift the colors around so that I could see it.)

We made our way over to the Lemon Squeeze (the Crevice).  This time we found the correct side trail that bypasses the majority of the talus scramble to the base.  As we approached the base of the crevice another party let us go ahead of them, since they were in no rush to start up.  The ladders are a bit sketchy looking, and they're definitely intimidating at first, but they don't move and they're made out of solid wood.

There was a bit of a queue, and it took us a few minutes to move through simply due to the line ahead of us, but we made our way up to the top without incident.  It's nearly impossible to get through the top third of the route without taking your pack off, and we did a bit of pack shuffling as we made our way up.  Once on top, we took in the view, and then found the exit scramble and made our way up to the tower itself.   The usual crowds were loitering around the tower and the summit area, but we found a nice spot in the shadow of the tower to eat our lunch out of the midday sun.

On the way back, we checked out the spring labelled on the map, but it didn't look safe to drink, at all.  We made our way over and down to the Rhododendron bridge, walking at ease and talking about sports, of all things.  We took the Overcliff road back, instead of the Old Minnewaska Trail, but it didn't provide much in the way of scenery, and I wouldn't recommend it.  I dropped my map at one point and I (literally) ran back to get it.  This was when I was still recovering from my Achilles tendon issue, and I hadn't run in months.  It felt amazing to run, and that's probably the best way to traverse the Overcliff.  (It reminded me a lot of the Upper Awosting Carriageway: it served a purpose and offered a walk through the woods, but didn't seek out the best views, like many of the other carriageways in the Gunks.)

When we got to the end of the Overcliff, I was delighted to find that we were at the bridge over 44/55.  We gawked at the erratics for a moment, then turned right, and found our way to the old native trail, the Shogum Trail.  It led back to the Old Minnewaska Trail, and back to the car.  As we got close to the Old Minnewaska Trail, the trail underfoot was lined with many small rocks, forming a stone pathway of sorts, which I found very strange, and out of place.

We hadn't seen many people near the parking lot when we first arrived, but as we passed through now, the Coxing Kill was full of people out enjoying the water on this hot day.  We made our way back to the car and headed out.

(Next stop in our travel backwards through trip reports: a quick jaunt up an Adirondack peak.)

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