Julie McGuire Hits Blackhead On Skis
Written by Julie McGuire @queenofthecatskillsny
We got to the Blackhead trailhead between 8 and 8:30. That was just in time as there was a large group that pulled up looking like a funeral procession within 10 minutes of our arrival.
This was Deborah’s first time on snowshoes and watching her walk reminded me of what my dogs do when I put those balloon booties on their feet. Just kind of walking as though they don’t know how to use their feet anymore and not enjoying the new sensation.
While the coverage was still decent for the Catskills, it wasn’t rock free. There’s still a lot there that can really damage your skis.
About midway up the summit push from Lockwood Gap, I transitioned to crampons due to a couple of ledges. The large group from the parking area caught up with us and it reminded me of the line at the Hillary Step on Everest—or a Vail resort, albeit this moved MUCH faster.
I kept the crampons on the rest of the way to avoid wasting time transitioning back and forth. On the way down, I used my McGuire method of keeping my skins on even after I transitioned into downhill mode.
You can’t really make turns in these trenches and you have to control your speed to stay safe. This allows you to control your speed, ski, and protect your bases.
Furthermore, the snow is super dense and churned up, which wouldn’t allow you to turn easily even if you did have a wide trail. I later realized, while I transitioned my skis into downhill, I forgot to transition my boots. But fun was still had. I was able to keep my skis on the entire way, which I didn’t think I’d be able to do. In the flatter sections of the descent, I went back into walk mode.
PHOTOS by Deborah Padilla @pathswithpadilla