Slam Dink

WARNING: This post contains all sorts of hikerly jargon and Catskillesque idioms.  Apologies up front.  Perhaps a glossary is in the offing.  Second apology: this is reposted from the ADK HIgh Peaks forum, listed in the Catskill Trip Reports.  There: my conscience is clear.

I admit it: I was a Dinkaphobe. I asked about traversing this PUD standing squarely between Friday and Cornell years ago, back when I spent more time looking at the map than actually walking in the woods. The answer came back in spades: “thickest stuff out there” and “terribly slow going” etc. I had all but given it up as a bad idea, when Ted put the bug in my ear. Let’s try it, he said. A short day – just a couple of peaks, just to wander around out there and see what it’s like. Let’s just try it. Actually the planning was a little more complex than that, and Simba’s recent bear incident added to this Dinkaphobe’s pre-hike jitters. Nevertheless, a route got planned and a group assembled and a date set…

And then I threw my back out. I think those Neversink peaks can smell my intentions because this is becoming a pattern. Oh well, nothing seems to cure back spasms better than a full day of ducking and dodging in the thickest stuff out there.

Meanwhile Ted rustled up Debbie and Valerie (ah, the wonders of Facebook) and the six of us: FatVegan, Niceguyted, Halia and Flammeus, debmonster and Valerie (Got a nickname that’s repeatable, Val?) parked next to hermit on Moon Haw Rd. and started up.

Scott got us started and Ted and Deb led the way. Uncomfortable when not telling people what to do, I took solace in being the negative whiny kid, and kept Eeyore-ing my way into the conversation: “This doesn’t look familiar. I think this is wrong.” No one paid any attention.

Past the cabin we stayed true to Deb’s bearing and headed straight up the ridge, staying on the high ground. It was a beautiful, challenging, varied route. Alternating lovely flat areas with bands of cliffs, we pretty much walked right up that bad boy, right to the can. Along the way, however, we did have some complex ledges and cliffs to deal with and FatVegan managed to do something to his shoulder that was described as involving crunch and pop sounds. Tom plied him with ibuprofen, and he did some deep meditation while the rest of us ate lunch atop Friday. I think all of us pulled him aside one by one, quiet and private-like, and tried to convince him that we could walk back down Friday and be done for the day. He was having none of it, and commenced singing about the Dink. Trusting the spiritual fatman to take good care of himself, we sallied forth.

This is where it gets good. We had our bearing and we had each other and off we walked into the sea of balsams. It smelled really great. I pushed out in front, following my nose, reading the landscape and calling out to everyone every few minutes, since no one was visible. Debbie kept me on target because although I get out in front, I don’t pull out my compass – I like doing it by intuition (LOL noobs – I would NEVER do that if I was alone. Seriously.). We all kept agreeing: it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was damn good. There were even a couple of views, but I couldn’t reach the camera (in Tom’s pack). Dinkaphobia cured. I’m a Dinkophile. It was perfectly lovely in there. I even got a massive eyepoke from a balsam branch – beastly proof of my Dinkaffection (or is that affectation?).

But for me, the best moment of all (and there were many delightful moments and much filthy repartee) was when, after one hour and about 27 minutes of wallowing through that stuff, I called over to Deb, “Hey. I see a dry stream bed. Should we follow it? It looks like easy walking.” “That’s because it’s a marked trail,” came the deadpan answer. I laughed my head off, whooped and hollered, screamed at Ted to mark a waypoint, and then repeated about 700 times “I can’t believe we did it. I can’t believe that we’re already here. That was so much easier than I thought it would be.” Tom disagreed – he thought it was pretty effin’ tough, but then again, he wasn’t a Dinkaphobe. When you start with fear, dread and loathing, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.

So then we went up Cornell. Love those views. Cornell is my new fave mountain. It’s the monkey in the middle and it has such presence. Yum yum yum. Ted led us around the Cornell crack, since I was not in the mood to fuss with dogs and ledges (we’d had our fill of that ascending Friday). Nicely done. Iske and Lily say thanks again, uberskinny dude. On the way over to Witt, Iske and Lily zipped off the trail for a moment and found something – Lily came running back, and Iske let out a sound I’ve never heard her make before: a yelping bark that put the wind up all of us. I fully expected to see a snoot full of porcupine quills emerge, but nope. She just reappeared intact and a little pale. We’ll never know…

The summit of Witt was empty, but we filled it with laughter and beyond raunchy comments about earning boy scout badges. Very nice. It only got better, topping out, I think, with talk of stilettos and fishnets in the car. Or maybe the filthiest inneuendo involved my answer to FatVegan’s suggestion “don’t eat the animal people.” Say no more.

Fatvegan led us out, flying down the mountain with ease and grace, and a very sore shoulder. Debbie and I yakked nonstop – what a beautiful thing to find someone who gets your every popculture reference. It got dim and then it got dark, but the LED light on my zipper pull magically turned on for a while (maybe it was all that talk of boy scouts).

Safely out, triumphant, grimy, and concerned about Scott, we headed home. Big thanks to Ted for being The Guy on this one – route planner, driver, facilitator, navigator, bear and dragon. Equally big thanks to all (especially our new girlfriends) for the awesome care, concern, effort and attention you lavished on my canine daughters. Couldn’t have done it without you. Biggest thanks of all to the Dinkspirit. I heart the Dink.

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