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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Rip & Go: Devil's Path

Conquer the rocks, ridges, and ravines on the East's toughest trail.

by: Sarah L. Stewart

A hiker squeezes through a rocky chute. (Tim Seaver)
A hiker squeezes through a rocky chute. (Tim Seaver)
Key Skill: Harvesting rain water (Supercorn)
Key Skill: Harvesting rain water (Supercorn)
Reader expert Rich Orzol of New York City (Courtesy)
Reader expert Rich Orzol of New York City (Courtesy)

trip iconTAKE IT WITH YOU
Download a printable version of this entire trip right here.



KEY SKILL: Tanking up with rain

 
Readers know this area of the Catskills averages more than 70 inches of annual precipitation. “Every time I’ve been on the trail, it’s been pouring,” says Katie Levy (P. 86). Beyond rain, however, there’s curious little drinking water to be had. Be sure to fill up at miles 8.3, 14.4, and 14.7, and if it’s raining in camp, rig a tarp to catch the drizzle.
 
1. Attach guylines to the corners of a 6’x8’ tarp.
 
2. Fasten two corners to trees, so the rear edge is taut, level, and three feet high (to avoid flapping in the wind).
 
3. Tie the front corners to trees (or stake them) loosely, so the front edge sags to a few inches off the ground.
 
4. Pin the tarp inside your cook pot with a rock to direct in the rain.
 
5. Filter into water bottles and repeat.

LOCALS KNOW
Though the North American porcupine is best known for its 30,000 barbed quills, its most destructive tools are its front teeth. These wood-eating, nocturnal rodents have been known to gnaw just about anything, including trailside lean-tos, the fire-tower cabin atop Hunter Mountain, and the tires of cars parked at trailheads. “They are really not very discriminating about what they eat,” says Herb Terns (p. 86), who grew up near the Devil’s Path. The most notorious tale among backpackers: chewed-up boots. Hikers leave their boots outside to dry overnight, then awake to find them in tatters. “They’re kind of a popular target,” Terns says. Porcupines crave the salt left behind from sweat, so keep footwear inside the tent at night, not just in the vestibule.

THE EXPERT New York City reader Rich Orzol, 40, (pictured here at New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier) counts the Adirondacks’ Mt. Marcy via Avalanche Lake and the Whites’ Franconia Ridge among his favorite routes in the region. For last-minute adventure, he escapes the Big Apple to hike Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park, just an hour from the city.
 



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Rebecca
Jan 26, 2012

That sounds like one incredible journey! I would love to try it out sometime. My husband would rather go hunting then rock climbing. I have to try and find some <a href="http://www.hercamoshop.com">women's hunting supplies</a> so I can go with him. Maybe I'll try and talk him into going rock climbing with me.

Dorothy
May 03, 2011

I have heard that this traverse can be done in 1 day and I wanted to see if I could do it. I am no super hiker so I am happy to say that I did it this past weekend! It took a long time (18hrs) but that was the key for me and my friend to successfully finish. We paced ourselves so we wouldn't burn out like some of the other people in our group who had to bail out earlier, we took snack breaks every 2-3 miles to keep our energy up. It is a tough trail with many up and downs, and at times scary scrambling so it's not for beginners but if you've done long day hikes (15-20miles)with a decent elevation change and know how to pace yourself and are mentally strong, you can do it!

marco3x
Mar 04, 2011

This is not a trek for those who are not in top shape.
It is long and arduous, without a break. It is a spectacular
hike. Don't even think of doing it in one day. Two day
minimum. All preparation is worth it. I've trekked all
over US and this trail makes you feel part as if you and
The environment are one. Awesome yet intimate. You
Become the trail.

david
Feb 17, 2011

Note that Platte Cove Road is closed from Early November to April. I've walked the Devil's Path many times Years ago I mapped parts for the New York Walk Book. There was a group that did the entire trail in one day. I was asked to join, declined. I was asked could I do it. I answered "it depends on who was chasing me". Why did you not include Hunter and Rusk between Plateau? And why not be more specific about Westkill ?

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