This weekend: Lark in the Park

This weekend marks the start of Lark in the Park, a ten-day outdoor extravaganza of hiking and outdoors events throughout the Catskills region. In honor of the event, we are running this dispatch from Paul Misko, an avid member of the Catskill Mountain Club and leader of the Catskill 4,000 Club, a fraternity of hardy souls who scale 4,000-foot-and-higher Catskills peaks. Misko also took the above photo of Giant Ledge in Shandaken at sunrise.

There are hiking, mountain biking, and boating opportunities galore during the Lark in the Park across the Catskills. In a nod to the ravages caused throughout the region by Hurricane Irene, Lark participants are being asked to contribute to relief charities and to enthusiastically patronize Catskills businesses. For a list of all of the Lark events happening this weekend, check out our This Weekend column. For a full list of the many events and activities that are planned between October 1 and October 10, check out our Catskills events calendar or the Lark in the Park website. -- JR.

The Catskill trails are opened again and the leaves are preparing for a great show. It's time to get the hiking boots laced up, but don't stop there. Too many hikers set off for the summit with nothing more than some snacks and a camera. Going unprepared in the summer months is bad enough; to do so in the fall is very unwise. Even the most experienced hiker can become disoriented or get injured and then be forced to spend the night on the mountain. That warm sunny day can soon turn into a damp, frigid evening, especially when the wind picks up. So you need to go prepared. Here are some tips for safe hiking this fall:

  • Here is a short list of the bare minimum I carry in my day pack: rain jacket, sweater, hat, flashlight, lighter, and energy bars. A map and compass of the area can be invaluable as well. Your cell phone may get service on the mountain and is worth bringing along.
  • Be aware that the darkness comes on much more quickly in the fall than in the summer, so don't linger on the mountaintop, or you'll be using that flashlight for your descent in the dark.
  • Always tell someone where you are going, and set a time to return by. That way, if they don't hear from you by then, they know something went wrong.
  • Check out your map ahead of time and get a sense of the trail and distance. I always figure on allowing one hour for each mile I need to travel, but this includes rest stops and lunch.

These are just my opinions based on my experience, but if you go prepared, you'll have a better chance at enjoying a good adventure without becoming the next day's news story. Follow the trails to some great views this fall and support the local eateries after the hike.

-- Paul Misko, Catskill 4000 Club

Below: A group hike during last year's Lark in the Park. Photo provided by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development.