To be honest, there’s never really a bad time to climb Mount Wittenberg. Considered by many Catskills enthusiasts to be one of, if not the best, peak in the park, it’s a truly magical hike from beginning to end. I was particularly lucky to be testing out some new gear on my mid-Summer hike of Mount Wittenberg, an exciting experience for any guide. For the trip, I brought along the Deuter ACT 28L for its first go on a day hike. I’ve been looking for a new day pack for quite some time, and was curious to see how the ACT 28L would fair.
As an assistant hiking guide, I have a lot of different responsibilities at any part of the day. Sharing history about the trail, pointing out ecological features, keeping up morale and making sure that if anyone needs a granola bar or some sunscreen, I have it handy. Of course, one of my primary jobs is much simpler, but very necessary: carrying food and gear. For this reason alone, having a well-designed pack is essential. Wittenberg is a good example of why. The trail starts steep and having a pack that keeps weight focused in the right areas--aka, my hips--so I can carry weight with my strongest muscles, is essential. I love that the 28L has an optional hip belt(!) so I can use it on the way up for my heavy pack, but actually tuck the straps into their pockets for the light flight down. Wittenberg starts off steep, as in 150ft at a 45 degree angle just to reach the sign in, so this feature was a huge help compared to my old day pack with a measly buckle that didn’t do much of anything.
The hike was, per usual, gorgeous. The trail on Wittenberg winds through old growth forest that feels like stepping into Narnia or some other magical world. The trees are ancient and enormous and simply breathtaking. The climb is also tough, with scrambles and a long route to the top. We were lucky enough to have a mild, but sunny day, which the ACT 28L also provided well for. While hiking, I don’t like to stop for long on a tough patch, and the three accessible pockets on the ACT 28L, on the body, and two in the brain, made it easy to grab my sunglasses or throw on some sunscreen and head off along the way. I also like that one of the water bottle pockets is covered, which helps keep water fresh and cool--much appreciated on a warm, long hike.
Our group on Wittenberg had particularly high spirits and were rewarded with an unbelievable view at the top. I personally think this mountain has the best view of the Catskills, with almost perfect 180 degree views over reservoirs, valleys, and peaks. The pictures speak for themselves, but to really appreciate the hike, you’ll have to hit the trail yourself.