After our snack, we started off up to our first peak: Wittenburg Mountain. The trail more-or-less follows the crest of the peaks from here to Slide Mountain. Soon, the trail transitioned fro leafy open woods to steeper, rockier, icier ground. We were heading uphill on a north-facing aspect, so it was chilly, shady, and a bit slippery. Nothing that couldn't be avoided, though, with good foot placement. It is at this point where the trail encounters several different areas where short scrambles are required. The rock is good and the going is quite fun - trails are more interesting when obstacles like this are thrown in your way!
After some very steep trail and fun scrambling, things flatten out at the top of Wittenburg. We round a corner, and emerge onto an amazingly wonderful summit ledge. Warm sun, a dry rock ledge and a small open grassy area make for a perfect stopping point. Stretching out before us is a beautiful panorama of the lower hills east of the Catskills and the Ashokan reservoir. What a beautiful spot! Lunch time!
Scrambling towards Cornell
Luke's knee seems to be working well, and everyone's in good spirits. There was talk of a turn-around for Luke and Sophie if they were finding things too hard, but they're doing great! So... it is time to be off to the next peak - Cornell Mountain, just a short hop less than a kilometre way.
Looking back at Wittenburg
From just past Cornell's summit, we get a good view of what's to come: a much larger descent into the col between Slide and Cornell, and Slide itself. It looks and is tougher, but we've made good time so far, so we feel like we'll be able to complete this part and the entire hike before dark (always a concern at this time of year when the sun sets so early).
The route down the south side of Cornell is suprisingly icy - quite tricky in spots, but even so we don't quite get to put on our yak-trax (ice gripping footgear). We make it down ok, and in the col, we have our second lunch.