Hikes and bears on Giant Ledge
|Someone was kind enough to clue us in.|
Hike name: Giant Ledge (on Panther Mountain)
Length: 7 miles, but we did about 7.5 due to a wrong turn/singing Disney tunes and not paying attention to trail markersPeak elevation: 3,170ft (966m)
It was a girls weekend, something I'd never done! And of course we called ourselves "Team Bad" in homage to Michael Jackson. Eda, Rachel, and I drove up to Rikka's house and the 4 of us ventured out to the Woodland Valley Campgrounds near the town of Phoenicia in the Catskill Mountains. Saturday was for campin' and hikin'. Sunday we breakfasted in Phoenicia, and then rode jet skis in the Hudson River (a first for me!).
|.75 left to Giant Ledge, after the first 2.75 miles.|
The way down was slightly quicker, slightly quieter, and mostly providing us with the idea that soon we would be at the campsite cookin' up some hot dogs and s'mores. We thought the animal encounter highlight of the day was the sweet little chipmunk who dared to eat organic berries and fresh almonds from our hands. We were wrong!
|Amazing sketch I did of what I saw. Amazing.|
Although Rikka was in front of me, I saw the bear first and said "There's a bear." It took at least 60 - 75 seconds to convince her, she must have believed some part of me because she remained still, looking at me while trying to convince me to quit joking around. I could see this teen bear (bigger than a cub) behind her and all I could think was "Stay still, don't make eye contact, be cool." Rikka was convinced and we stepped back a few feet to meet Rachel and Eda. "There's a bear on the path," I said, and once again no one believed me!! Not until Rikka slowly, quietly peaked over and said, "There's a f**king bear" was everyone onboard. In the haze of adrenaline (panic, fear, excitement, shock), we forgot we were hungry and dead tired and quickly, literally slid down the rest of the hike. There were maybe 50 feet of slightly damp leaves off to the side, and down we went. The bear followed us down too, slowly and curiously. We came out onto someone else's campsite and informed them of the bear, which I got one last good look at, and they all hopped in their cars to honk horns, and make noise.
Needless to say, we were pumped up the rest of the night and the park rangers came over to us twice to hush us up. We couldn't help laughing, singing, and being loud to scare off any other bears hoping to get some of our food! We got to learn some more information from the second park ranger who informed us that the teen bear and mama bear had been spotted around the campground after our hike encounter. He said that there are bear sightings on the campground at least twice a week because they're after food, but seeing the bears on the trail was a once in a lifetime experience. He also clued us in to a sad fact: the bear population in the Catskills is the highest it's been in decades at about 2,800, whereas not too long ago there were 500 of them. As a result, hunting season was opened for huntin' bears this month.
|The signs posted in the bathrooms.|
|Most of the path looked like this.|
|Steep climbs, excellent for the bum.|
|Hi, there, chipmunk.|
|Goofin' off on the Giant Ledge|
|Chipmunk who clearly hangs out on Giant Ledge gets all sorts of food from the passerbys.|
|Feeling alive...not have inkling of the adventure to come!|
|On to the camping portion of the day.|
|S'mores. Can't decide if they are delicious or disgusting, but I'm thinkin' delicious.|
|On s'more duty.|
|Rachel conked out early. We stayed up singing Queen.|
|Just in case you thought we changed since this video, we haven't.|
|Mornin' in Woodland Valley Campgrounds.|
|Drinkin' in that mornin' light.|
|Wild flower heaven 1|
|Wild flower heaven 2|
|Then we jet skied and swam in the Hudson River with a view of this historical lighthouse and the glorious Catskills!|