Trip Report
A Walk in the Gunks
Thursday June 20, 2013 1:08am
My favorite walk actually. Wednesday June 19 arrived bright and clear, with low humidity and moderate temperatures. Already a miracle for this time of year in the East! But around this time we also have the laurel bushes blooming, a brief botantical burst that is here today and gone tomorrow. So I decided to carpe the diem and headed for Minnewaska State Park.

Unfortunately, I left my cameras big and small behind, and had to make do with an iPhone. I shot some panoramas with it, but the iPhone lacks the control over exposure needed to disguise the evidence of stitched pieces. My apologies in advance for giving a glimpse of the man behind the curtain. [Edit: actually you can lock exposure. I didn't know this when I was taking the shots, however.]

Lake Minnewaska from near the starting point at the parking lot.
Lake Minnewaska
Lake Minnewaska
Credit: rgold

A brief climb on carriage roads passes some laurel blooms
Credit: rgold

and leads to an overlook, with the lake and behind it the Castskills.
Lake Minnewaska
Lake Minnewaska
Credit: rgold


Continuing around the lake, one encounters a funky bridge.
Credit: rgold

Shortly after, there is a view to the South, with Millbrook Mountain the high point of the ridge rising to the right.
Credit: rgold

The carriage road descends to the lake, at which point one leaves the wide crushed shale path for the Millbrook Mountain Trail, crossing the Minnewaska Lake outlet stream.
Lake Minnewaska outlet stream
Lake Minnewaska outlet stream
Credit: rgold

After diving into the first of many laurel blooms,
On the Millbrook Mountain Trail
On the Millbrook Mountain Trail
Credit: rgold

a clearing along the trail reveals Sky Top to the North.
Skytop from Millbrook Mountain Trail
Skytop from Millbrook Mountain Trail
Credit: rgold

The trail drops down and crosses a small stream
Credit: rgold

after which it climbs to the top of Millbrook. The view from the top here shows the Catskills to the left, Skytop right of them and the Hudson Valley spread out below.
View from Millbrook Mountain---Click to enlarge!
View from Millbrook Mountain---Click to enlarge!
Credit: rgold

One continues South along the ridge, encountering open slabs,
Credit: rgold

easy going,
Credit: rgold

more blooms,
Credit: rgold

boulder-hopping,
Credit: rgold

and petal-strewn walkways.
Credit: rgold

OK, time for a selfie:
Credit: rgold

Then, quite suddenly, you pop out of the woods onto the slabs that form the top of the crags of Gertrude's Nose.
Credit: rgold

Gertrude's Nose---Click to enlarge!
Gertrude's Nose---Click to enlarge!
Credit: rgold

Now the path follows the cliff edge on slabs sometimes riven by deep crevices
Credit: rgold

Credit: rgold

Laurel and a small patch of broom crowberry (Corema conradii)
Laurel and a small patch of broom crowberry (Corema conradii)
Credit: rgold

The broom crowberry in the picture above is a state-endangered species---its only known occurrence in New York State is at Gertrude's Nose.

The slabs eventually dip down the the Palmaghatt Ravine, and crossing this, you are back in the woods.
Credit: rgold

A sometimes steep ascent brings one back to a juncture with the Millbrook Carriageway, beginning a more civilized finish to the walk.
Credit: rgold

A feature of the walk back is a boulder called Patterson's Pellet, with the Palmagatt Ravine behind and, on the right in the distance, Hamilton and Castle Points.
Credit: rgold

A look back at Patterson's Pellet before continuing on carriage roads back to Lake Minnewaska, the parking lot, and the mechanized world waiting beyond.
Credit: rgold





  Trip Report Views: 1,369
rgold
About the Author
rgold is a climber from Poughkeepsie, NY.

Comments
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ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
  Jun 20, 2013 - 01:19am PT
Nice. Pretty as any place in Montana. And of course stunning in October, high above The Trapps.

Thanks Rich,
Arne
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jun 20, 2013 - 01:30am PT
Wow, what a beautiful place. Amazing photos too!
Thanks.
ladyscarlett

Trad climber
SF Bay Area, California
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:07am PT
Wow, it's so pretty!

Here, everything is pretty brown and I flash back to those lush east coast forests, where rock walls stand beneath a curtain of greenery, and the canopy creaks above.

What a great reminder that summer is a growing season...not a drying season!

Thanks for sharing!

Cheers

LS
kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Jun 20, 2013 - 02:13am PT
beautiful. a side to the gunks that this cali kid is less than familiar with.
David Lewis

Trad climber
North Conway,New Hampshire
  Jun 20, 2013 - 08:42am PT
A very unique place and even more remarkable is the close proximity to New York City.
Thanks for the journey RG.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Jun 20, 2013 - 08:44am PT
BBST!

DMT
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jun 20, 2013 - 09:00am PT
Bravo!
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jun 20, 2013 - 09:10am PT
Cool pics and report,
Tad
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jun 20, 2013 - 09:40am PT
Gorgeous photos.....thanks!
Oldfattradguy2

Trad climber
Here and there
  Jun 20, 2013 - 10:28am PT
Nice!

And just think, I used to get paid to do that same walk. Although I would have to remove an occasional deer stand, that more often than not belonged to a state trooper.
MH2

climber
  Jun 20, 2013 - 10:55am PT
Nice curtains! Man behind them making a obvious effort to look nice!

I remember the first time long ago when I climbed at the Gunks in June, which was usually too late in the school year for a trip. It was a cloudy day but the ledges and holds on climbs were covered in laurel petals.

Thanks for the look over the shoulder. Such a beautiful place. I'll be there next week to see what you people have done with the place.
Les

Trad climber
Bahston
  Jun 20, 2013 - 11:11am PT
Beautiful. Hard for me to forego climbing on a beautiful day like you apparently had, but one of these days I'll make it a point to explore those paths you so skilfully documented (though probably on a rainy day!).
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
  Jun 20, 2013 - 11:37am PT
Thank you for posting that.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Jun 20, 2013 - 01:21pm PT
Beautiful!!!!!

I haven't gotten over having to miss climbing with you yesterday. Crossing my fingers that next week will work.

TFPU!
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Jun 20, 2013 - 07:42pm PT
eggcellant!
little Z

Trad climber
un cafetal en Naranjo
  Jun 20, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
thanks Rich, great trip down memory lane. Did you see any Red Efts? my favorite Gunks critter
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 20, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
Cool, yet another place i must get to!!M
klk

Trad climber
cali
  Jun 20, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
a low humidity day in june-- that's a rare and prcious gift

nice
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
  Jun 20, 2013 - 10:52pm PT
Beautiful! Thanks!

A little off topic, but I was in Yonkers all last week for a training event, and wondered if there was any climbing on the Palisades. Lots of rock over a long stretch, but couldn't get a good enough view to see if it was choss, or solid.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
  Jun 21, 2013 - 01:49am PT
Late spring, eh?

Thanks for the flashbacks...
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jun 21, 2013 - 08:49am PT
Beautiful place Rich. Thanks for taking us along.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
  Jun 21, 2013 - 09:45am PT
Great report and pictures Rich.The weather the past few days has been spectacular. Having been stuck at work through it all, I'm jealous of your hike!!!

Mooser---Climbing in the Palisades is very illegal. The rock is volcanic, basically basalt or something similar, and variable. Similar rock outcrops elsewhere in the northeast and varies from very high quality (Ragged Mountain and other central Connecticut crags) to total crap. I've looked at several sections of the Palisades and they seem to exhibit the same variability. Some surreptitious climbing has gone on there over the years. There is even a picture in the Waterman's Yankee Rock and Ice of folks climbing a pinnacle someplace in the Palisades prior to World War 2.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Jun 21, 2013 - 10:27am PT
Nice, Rich thanks!
perswig

climber
  Jun 21, 2013 - 12:58pm PT
Pretty!

So much so (and pardon my presumption for the suggestion) that it would be wonderful to see the hike on a representative day of the other three seasons as well.

TFPU.
Dale
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jun 21, 2013 - 01:51pm PT
Rich, great photos. Having never been to the gunks I was surprised to see the large areas of flat slabs, reminiscent of a lot of alpine areas. The flowers and creeks were also somewhat surprising from what I had in my minds eye.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Jun 21, 2013 - 04:26pm PT
AHHHH - pictures make me homesick. Your report didn't mention any mosquito infestation, black flies, may flies, poisen ivy, or millipedes. New York and New England are beautiful. WIth the on and off again soggy spring we have experienced, I miss the place, mosquitos and all.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
  Jun 21, 2013 - 04:33pm PT
Not so dry here either Seamstress, the past few days were a wonderful exception in an otherwise pretty wet month. But please do come back east and visit soon.
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Jun 21, 2013 - 05:11pm PT
How beautiful. Thanks.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Jun 21, 2013 - 05:23pm PT
I recall one time in about 1977 my buddy Jean Guibord and I were bivied somewhere along the crest of the Near Trapps in the winter. I woke early, freezing, had a puff, and watched the sun rise. On that morning, looking east across the Hudson Valley, it was obvious that the earth was rolling through space revealing the sun, and that I was riding on it.

Love the Gunks.
Curt

climber
Gold Canyon, AZ
  Jun 21, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
Great TR. It is amazing that anyplace like that exists a mere 75 miles or so from Manhattan.

Curt
socialclimber

climber
CA
  Jun 21, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
Just thank you, needed a short walk, even a vicarious one, right now...

Charles
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Author's Reply  Jun 22, 2013 - 10:48am PT
Thanks for the comments folks. A number of people expressed surprise about the landscape. It is indeed unique, and is part of what makes the Gunks such a special place. As partial evidence of that uniqueness, I added a line to the TR about a picture that has in it some broom crowberry, which is an endangered species in New York State whose only known occurrences are at Gertrude's Nose.

Considering the richness and diversity of the area, it is a little sad that so many people equate the Gunks with just the Trapps, a lovely little climbing venue to be sure, even if now prone to overcrowding and the proliferation of convenience rap anchors, but just a small part of a very beautiful region.

But then, the propensity of many climbers to focus on little more than the crimps in front of them is part of what keeps so much of the rest of the Gunks pristine. On an absolutely gorgeous day, I saw just a few hikers on the Millbrook Mountain trail, and once on the ridge trail, I saw no one on the entire Gertrude's Nose loop until I returned to the carriage road. All this, as a number of posters mentioned, within an hour and half of New York City---and you can add Boston and Philly to the four-hour radius. It is a miracle that such a region exists and has been preserved, and another miracle that it isn't even remotely overrun, in spite of the population density of the surrounding countryside.
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