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Alander Mountain - October 23 - 24, 2004

Jodi and I started our hike late Saturday morning under heavily overcast, leaden skies. The hike starts with two short but challenging climbs over Round Mtn and Mt Frissell. On the summit of Frissell there is a trail register which makes entertaining reading because it is full of comments from High Pointers (people who climb to the highest point in each state) who are there to 'collect' the high point of Connecticut, which uniquely is not a summit but rather the point where the state line between Connecticut and Massachusetts crosses the southern slope of Mt. Frissell. 

The trail we were on left the summit and proceeded to the aforementioned high point, where for a brief moment we were the two highest people in the state. :-) Soon after we passed the tri-state marker marking the point where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York converge. Then we continued west until we reached the western ridge of the Taconic range overlooking the Harlem Valley in New York. The weather was starting to break now, affording about equal intervals of sun and clouds. We stopped and ate our lunch here, while enjoying the views across the valley and off to the Catskill Mountains in the distance.

After lunch, we turned north and followed the South Taconic Trail which soon left the ridge and mostly follows the remains of old roads through the forest. The occasional stone wall testified to past uses of the land. About mid-afternoon we passed a brook and, not sure if there would be more water before we reached Alander Mountain, we stopped to filter water and fill up all of our water bottles. We did pass another brook, but it was dry. Good decision on our part!

We finally reached the base of the climb to the summit of Alander. It was a steep climb, and Jodi left me in the dust. I think we reached the summit about 4:00. There were a few people there, most of whom hiked up the opposite (east) side, which is the shortest route. We continued out to the northern shoulder of Alander, which is my preferred camping spot. I've never run into other hikers out here, but when we arrived there was a couple of day hikers sitting enjoying the view. We dropped our packs but moved a few dozen yards away to let them enjoy their isolation. We knew they had to be leaving soon in order to make their hike down before dark. Sure enough, they were gone in ten minutes or so.

The ridge here is only 30 or 40 feet wide, and offers views to the west, north, and east. There is a small spot that is nearly level and just big enough to pitch the tent. Jodi sat in the late afternoon sunshine enjoying the views while I set the tent up. Then I brewed up some tea and we sat together and enjoyed things for a while. Finally, it was time to cook dinner before it got dark.

It gets dark early this time of year, and with sunset came a rising wind. It was cold and damp out of the east, which is unusual as our weather usual comes from the west here. So we were driven into the warmth and calm of our tent early. We read by headlamp for a while, but were asleep soon enough. Jodi woke up a couple hours later, and woke me to look outside. Before I even opened the door I could see shadows on the tent. We stepped outside to find an incredibly bright moon illuminating a few passing clouds and lighting the world well enough that we could pick out individual houses in the valley below us. This alone made the whole trip worthwhile.

The clouds returned overnight, and Sunday was thoroughly clouded over all day. Jodi was having problems with a blister on her right foot, so we cut the day short and hiked down to the parking lot a couple miles east of the summit. Jodi sat at a picnic table here while I walked about 3 miles down the dirt road to where our car was parked. I enjoyed the walk, as the road passes only a few isolated houses and summer cabins. I only saw two cars, and enjoyed the mixture of field and forest. I wish I could figure out how to live in such a place and still make a living.


 
Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011