The Valentines Day 1998 Kolia and I loaded in his sports car and headed to Catskill's mountains. However, that has nothing to do with love, just the weather was perfect and we had planned this winter hiking.
We stop buying the gas for a stove and around 1 PM we were at the beginning of the trail. It were a few inches of snow on the ground and it was very cold. After 40 min of hiking through the woods we reached the ridge where we ate spicy chickens prepared by Sherry - Kolia's girlfriend. Then the steep part of trail started. It was icy on the boulders and windy on the openings. But we were awarded by the great view of the Ashokan reservoir from the top of Willgtong mountain. It was almost sunset when we reached the Cornell summit. Kolia had problems with his right leg, but we still continued moving toward the Slide Mountain - the highest point of Catskill's. At the middle of saddle between Cornell and Slide mountains we gave up and pitched our tent.
It was very cold, our tent was standing on the snow and Kolia was ready to turn into icicle. We drink hot tea, some vodka and we were quite worm in our sleeping bags. I slept even better than in our apartment. Kolia went to pee in the middle of the night and was impressed of the moon light on the snow scene. We fall asleep at 8 PM and woke up almost at 9 am in the morning. Around 14 hours of sleeping on a bit cold! We packed our stuff, had breakfast and rushed to the top.
There are a lot of great views on the way up the Slide mountain. After a good sleep we did the steep climb easy. There were no people on the top, so we can enjoy the marvelous panorama of Catskill's in silence. The weather was just great - worm, sunny and no wind. We had some " traditional summit" chocolate and started descend. On our way down we met so many people - we were quite lucky to be alone on the top.
We had a short lunch right on the trail - there was a nice spring so we can get water, not melting the snow. Our trail went through some cottages and dogs bark at us in surprise - people don't walk there - they just drive. There was a nice lake covered by ice and signs "Posted - private" so we couldn't even take a picture of it. Last 3 miles to the parking lot were exhausting.
We jumped into the car and drove to the dumb of Ashokan reservoir - to get a panoramic picture of the mountain ridge that we covered. To get the best view I crossed some small fence and was spotted by a policemen. I really did his day - he was so glad to give me a written warning. That spoiled nice weekend. Depressed we went to Chinese restaurant stuffed ourselves and we suffered from spicy food all the way back to New York.
Story by Stas Yurkevich