By Ralph Ferrusi, Poughkeepsie Journal , link to original post WITH PHOTOS
Hike name: A good day on 3,847-foot Table, the 11th-highest peak in the Catskills.
Location: Ulster County, Southern Catskills, west of the Ashokan Reservoir.
Length: 7.8 miles round-trip
Rating: Usually a bit tougher than you remember.
Dogs: A toss-up for Fido: a lot of good walking, but probably a bit too long.
Map(s): Peter W. Kick’s 2002 Catskill Mountain Guide, Map 1: Catskill Forest Preserve (East). New York-New Jersey Trail Conference 1998 Catskill Trails mapset, Map 43, Southern Catskills.
Features: Pretty much a Catskill Classic: short enough not to be a killer, long enough to be a decent workout, with some varied terrain, a lean-to and a couple of good views along the way.
Watch out for: The Denning trailhead is, arguably, the most complicated trailhead to get to in the Catskills from our area. We went through Winisook on the way in, and Peekamoose Road on the way back, and both drives seemed to take forever.
And, as I’ve already said (and will say again), for some reason this hike always seems to be tougher than your memory serves you.
Background: My AT (Hikes of the Week 08/13-27/’09, 09/17/’09)/Catskills hiking buddy Pete Ricci was up from Texas, and he and I and Ralph III got our heads together to pick out a Catskill peak or two. It didn’t take long to agree on Table; it’d been a while since each of us had tackled it, but we all agreed that it had been a bit tougher than our collective memories had served us. For whatever reasons, I did not recall the ups and downs on the way, but Pete and Ralph III did. The last time I climbed Table was with Mark Hudson during his Winter Peaks quest (HOTW 03/13/’08), and I recall a long, long snowshoe trudge through fairly deep unbroken snow, and most likely because of this I had a mental block about the ups and downs along the way. We had planned to go the extra mile and a half round trip to bag Peekamoose, but by the time we finally got to Table, Mark said, “Let’s not turn (this) into a death march,” and we bailed.
Speaking of Peekamoose, there are several Catskill peaks that are pretty much always done in pairs — pretty much mentioned in the same breath: Friday and Balsam Cap, Bearpen and Vly, Rocky and Lone, maybe Wittenberg and Cornell. Peekamoose and Table are just about always paired, but Peekamoose has worked its way out of the equation the last couple of times I nailed Table from Denning …
Hike description: The 1.2 miles along the Phonecia-East Branch Trail is always pretty much a cruise on the way in, when you’re fresh and eager, but inevitably seems to double in length on the way out. The Denning Brook “flood plain” has a brand-new super-bridge over Deer Shanty Brook and a reassuring hand cable along the Dreaded Double Log over the Neversink. Sure ’nuff, the trail kicks up on the far side, with an in-your-face boulder field, then a long ramp up to a ridge, with a viewpoint just before it levels out: for about 75 feet, before it abruptly plunges. Then climbs, then drops, then begins the long steady grind to the summit. The 3,500-feet sign is a blessing and a curse: you finally have written assurance of progress; you have about 38 stories of climbing left to go … Good news was the cairn marking the top arrived more quickly than expected. Three summit photos, then about-face to Denning.