June 30

Start: South Mountain
End: Batavia Kill Lean-To
Mileage: 12.5

The weather really played games with me today. It was sunny when I woke up. Then it rained for two minutes around 8:00, only to get sunny again. For the rest of the morning it was sunny with a nice breeze.

Then around 2:30 it got cloudy, and I could hear thunder off in the distance. I was on my way up Blackhead Mountain, and decided to stop before the final ascent and wait out the storm (I didn't want to get stuck on top of the mountain when the lightning came). I put my rain gear on and sat on my pack, waiting. After a half hour with no rain (but thunder in the distance still), I decided to keep going. Five minutes later, it started to pour. So I stopped hiking and decided to pitch my tent and wait out the storm in the tent. I wasn't in a great spot but I was able to stay dry. After a little while I got out my sleeping bag and curled up inside it, listening to the rain hit against the tarp and the thunder echo through the mountains.

By 6:30, the rain had died down (though not stopped entirely) and the lightning had passed, so I packed everything up and started hiking again. I had hoped to get to Elm Ridge Lean-To today, covering 8 more mies, but the rain delay changed my plans. I took a small detour to get to the lean-to. Apparently the descent down Blackhead is one of the steepest in the Catskills, which didn't sound appealing while it was raining and the rocks were wet, so I took a roundabout way to descend and get to the lean-to. Even though it was 1.5 miles longer, I felt more comfortable not having to deal with the rock ledges in the rain.

When I got to the lean-to I made dinner and then tried to make a fire. There was some nice wood, but it was wet. I got creative and piled it on a metal grill that was here, which I held over my stove. Eventually the wood died and ignited, and I built up a decent fire.

There's nobody else here at the lean-to. It would've been nice to have company, but I was glad to get the fire going instead. According to the journal, this isn't a very popular lean-to. Many people wrote about a porcupine that comes in the middle of the night. Well I didn't have to wait that long - it came by while I was having dinner and now it's purring in the bushes.

This morning I passed a number of noteworthy historical spots. First was the site of the former Catskill Mountain House. The building is gone, but there's a spectacular overlook there. Later I passed Artists' Rock and Sunset Rock, two more overlooks that were the frequent site of paintings by Thomas Cole and other Hudson River school painters.

Later in the day, the trail passed a small two-person plane that had crashed into the mountain. It was right next to the trail, and was still pretty intact (given that it had crashed). It was very eerie to stumble across. I hope they survived. I wonder what the story behind the crash is.

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