Hassan Basagic is an outdoor explorist and geographer who grew up local to the Catskills area in Hunter & Tannersville, New York. With research interest areas in glaciers, water, climate, and environmental change, his passions for geography started out in upstate New York when he would visit the area on trips returning home from college, eventually taking him out to Oregon to work as a Watershed GIS Specialist. In the 80’s-90’s he was apart of the Catskills 3500 Club and built his connection to these mountain ranges in a greater way by stepping into the world of peak bagging and summiting these local peaks.
Q: Growing up in the Catskills area, what makes it so different from other outdoor recreation spaces in the Northern East Coast/ New England?
A: The Catskills have a unique landscape. The rolling peaks, glacial history, and steep eastern escarpment contribute to a dramatic landscape, but it can remain hidden unless folks are willing to seek them out from viewpoints.
Q: What can you tell us about Catskills 3500 club?
A: The Catskill 3500 Club is a hiking club open to anyone who has climbed all peaks above 3500 feet in the Catskills. There are a total of 33 peaks, plus a several peaks that need to be climbed in the winter. The Club was originally designed to foster interest in the Catskill peaks. Today, it's members are trail stewards, advocates, and educators.
I hiked a number of nearby peaks in the Catskills while growing up. However, it wasn't until I left the Catskills for college that I learned about the Club. I began hiking the peaks during my visits home and after many years completed my tally. What I enjoyed most about the quest was venturing into places I normally would not have gone and learning more about where I grew up.
Q: What is something about the Catskills you take recognition in when looking at its’ geological landscape, hidden gems, history?
A: The geological landscape of the Catskills is ancient and complicated. It can be thought of as an eroded plateau that was subjected to waves of glaciation. The evidence can be striking, such as an erratic boulder perched along the eastern escarpment or subtle, like the peculiar river rocks that were transported to the Catskills from far away. For anyone with interest in the geological history I recommend any of the books written by Robert Titus.
Q: Can you recall any favorite hikes that you would suggest to a beginner/ intermediate hiker? And have you ever hiked the Long Path?
A: One of my earliest and favorite hikes was Sunset Rock, which leaves from North-South Lake State Park. The hike is short but has dramatic views of the Hudson River Valley. Those who are wary of heights should look elsewhere as there are steep drop offs along the way.
Q: What four things do you make sure to bring with you on a day hike?
A: Water, food, clothing, and a first aid kit. And a sense of adventure.
Q: Have you ever encountered a black bear and if so, what do you do?
A: Yes indeed! If the bear is close I announce my presence and make myself look as big as possible. Typically that is enough to send a black bear running. If the bear is curious, I repeat my introduction a bit louder and begin to back away slowly. I encourage everyone to read up on how to behave when encountering wildlife so you can enjoy the encounters and be knowledgeable on how to react properly. This will enhance your experience.
We asked Hassan Basagic—an outdoor explorist and geographer who grew up local to the Catskills area in Hunter & Tannersville, New York—some questions about the Catskills.