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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Traversing The Catskills

Within easy driving distance of major cities like New York and Boston, this Northeast jewel is a photographer’s haven

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Bare tree in a blizzard, Woodstock, New York
During the spring and summer seasons, one of my favorite places to take photos is at the base of Peekamoose Mountain on Peekamoose Road near the town of Sundown. Its heavily wooded land is out of the way, but has incredible waterfalls and streams. The diversity and abundance of waterfalls next to the roadway make it easily accessible for capturing images.

There’s also a trailhead here that leads to many miles of hiking trails. When climbing around the waterfalls, waterproof boots are mandatory because of the slippery moss. The detail of the beautiful green moss found in each waterfall and stream area is best captured in low light. This is truly one of my favorite places to take pictures in the Catskills. Peekamoose Road also can be navigated in the winter for some icy waterfall images.

One morning last fall, I ventured on County Road 6 off of Route 42 near the town of Westkill and discovered an undertraveled road with foggy valleys and farm fields. I had noticed on a map that County Road 6 ended at a state forest trailhead area and had a feeling there might be some undiscovered territory. As I ventured down the 12-mile paved road, I captured unique fall scenes of streams, barns and fog-laden valleys that I had never seen before, after living here for 35 years.

This is just one example of the undiscovered nature of the region and what a little planning and a sense of adventure can produce. This foggy fall morning also yielded the correct lighting that provided me with many images. At the end of Route 6, you’ll find mostly undiscovered State Forest Preserve land with a pristine stream that’s worth exploring.

Peekamoose Road, near Peekamoose Mountain, New York
For spectacular hiking in the Catskill Forest Preserve, there are many marked trails that lead up to the peaks. If you choose to photograph sunrise in the fall, you have to leave while it’s dark, and it’s often cold at that time of year. Some trails, such as Slide Mountain (4,198-foot elevation), one of the highest peaks in the region, can be a challenging hike for catching sunrise. The trail itself up to Slide Mountain is a moderate-to-difficult trek and should only be attempted by experienced hikers—it takes an hour and a half to reach the summit.

When you love photography, and you live in a naturally beautiful area, it’s as if you’ve won the lottery. Every day, there’s a variety of material to shoot. I made a decision many years ago that photography would be my secondary career and dentistry would be my first. I’m fortunate that I can do two things that I truly enjoy, and that I live in such a geographically diverse region full of photographic possibilities like the Catskill Mountains.


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