First I must give full disclosure. I know Jeff Vincent. Let me say that I’ve known Jeff and his family for years now. I know that Jeff has a love for the mountains and has spent an enormous amount of time in the amazing Catskills.
Fast forward to my story which is my inability to use a compass or read a topographic map. I have been hiking these Catskills for years and getting away with it. Then one day, in my attempt to complete the 35 Catskill peaks over 3500 feet I was left with only difficult bushwhacks. My friend Karen and I prided ourselves on hiking by intuition. After we got lost on a bushwhack we realized we needed help. I contacted Jeff. We decided to hike two peaks: North Dome and Sherrill. With compasses around our necks we calibrated and mapped out our route. We learned about magnetic north, true north and how to navigate. We learned about topography and what those lines actually mean. We learned that reading a map and compass helps us to discover the safest route which is not necessarily the fastest and most direct. We took time outs so that Jeff could give us the education we needed.
We learned about present day attempts to protect these mountains. We learned about their history. We learned about the efforts to promote tourism because of these mountains. And we found both canisters at the top of each peak and finished North Dome and Sherrill.
This week we went out again and did Lone and Rocky. Feeling more prepared we were now a part of the navigation under Jeff’s guidance. We needed fewer time outs. We understood our mission. I used hiking poles which I resisted for years but under Jeff’s recommendation they made a huge difference. Most importantly we felt safe. We felt like a team with a mission. We achieved our mission and bagged another 2 peaks.
I now have 30/35 peaks done. First I am grateful that I reached out for help. These mountains can be tricky. Second I am grateful to know Jeff and proud to call him my mountain guide.