Height-of-summer hikes have their issues; sweat, of course, and bugs, and water that turns tepid in your reservoir. But the only summer special that really gives me the heebie jeebies is thunderstorms. I had planned this hike for five days earlier, but then the forecast turned to torrential, gusty, hail-and-lightning-laden storms, and I thought it wiser not to be 3,730 feet up. So I stayed at home, and even down here the storms were bad enough, and lasted long enough, to delay the Fourth of July fireworks. Then Saturday and Sunday brought magnificent hiking weather, but that was family time (and two soccer World Cup quarter-finals as well). By the time I was driving to the Catskills on Monday, thunder and lightning was in the forecast again – a reduced possibility which, to the great relief of my heebie jeebies, came to nothing on Panther Mountain.
DATE: Monday, July 7th.
START & FINISH: Fox Hollow trailhead, Shandaken NY.
ROUTE: Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow Trail to Panther Mtn and back.
DISTANCE: 8.8 miles total.
TIME: 6.5 unhurried hours (11:40-6:10).
TERRAIN: 2,400-foot elevation gain on trail often made up of rocks and roots, and encroached upon by brush and pricklers. A few minor scrambles.
MAPS: AMC Catskill Mountains.
WEATHER: Mostly sunny and hot; breezy in places; two short showers.
WILDLIFE: Of the bug variety.
PHOTOS: Album here.
BREAKFAST: At home.
LUNCH: Blue cheese baguette and nuts on the summit.
– Smelling pines on reaching 3,000 feet.
– A siesta laid out on a slab of rock.
DOWNS: Bashing my knee on a misplaced boulder.
KIT: Poles used to whack pricklers as much as for balance.
COMPANY: None, except a Swedish hiker named Orjan who had climbed to the summit on the alternative (southern) route.