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Rip & Go: Devil’s Path

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

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.

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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