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Bailey Hill and Texas Ridge. Hoffman Notch Wilderness.

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  • Bailey Hill and Texas Ridge. Hoffman Notch Wilderness.

    Most people are familiar with Hoffman (3704') and Blue Ridge (3468') of Hundrest Highest fame. In addition to those two peaks there are four more peaks from the 3000-footer list. These are Bailey Hill (3051'), Washburn Ridge (3054'), Texas Ridge (3176') and Blue Ridge West (3451').

    Gérald and I headed out from Loch Muller under bluebird skies and first did Bailey Hill, an effortless walk-up through hardwoods with some well-spaced big conifers at the end. Leaf-out was far from complete and we had views over to Washburn Ridge as we ascended. After a snack we aimed for a notch in Washburn's 4-mile (!) long N-S ridge and dropped 800' down steep slopes towards the east and then climbed up a couple hundred to get across Washburn before dropping another 800 to the base of Texas Ridge. We kept an eye out for the Hoffman Notch Trail but it is so seldom used we crossed it unknowingly just before crossing the North Branch of Trout Brook on some beaver dams.

    Turns out (in retrospect looking at my Spot track at home) we passed through a different notch through Washburn than we had thought. Didn't matter because we had full-on views of Texas Ridge and dialed it in. I was a bit confused at the time though due to a data mis-match but the visuals trumped all so I didn't fret over it, although something was clearly "off". As is usual for this region the drop off of Washburn involved some nice cliffs to either deke around or slither down through the weaknesses. As Texas Ridged drew closer it began to loom large and indeed the map showed the contour lines as being smudged together. But, in that area the interval is only 6 meters.

    After a long lunch and water refills we enjoyed an easy approach of very open hardwoods and gentle slopes while the hulk of Texas loomed progressively and looked more and more forbidding. Very abruptly we came to the sharp end of a very sharp stick. There was no transition zone at all and the slope became very steep and the vegetation extremely thick and in our faces. Black flies swarmed but did not bite. Being veterans (Gérald is very close to 700 peaks on the 3k list) we simply took this pummeling on the chin, rejoicing when the woods opened up a wee bit and digging deeper when they slammed shut over and over again.

    It turned out it only took 90 minutes from the trail to the summit (1.1 miles) so it wasn't that bad after all. We enjoyed a well-earned break on top and I noted it was 3 PM, which is exactly what I had predicted when we were on Bailey. I had suggested we do an out and back to Hoffman from Texas but that was now pure folly – driven by at-home computer mapping and an inability to learn. We decided to try and follow the ridge south all the way down to 2250 feet but this turned out to be overly difficult with numerous cliffy ups and downs and too-thick vegetation. And anyway our will had been worn down by the aforementioned “travails”, the day's goals had been achieved so we turned west and found the trail. The walk out was pleasant but dragged on. There is something about off-trail peakbagging that all too easily turns convenient egress trails into death marches.

    I want to go back now and do Texas Ridge from the other 3 compass points including a complete end to end longitudinal traverse (N-S or S-N, doesn't matter) and a Hoffman-Texas two-fer. This is the beauty of not pursuing a list, you conjure up all sorts of unlikely but super-rewarding and fascinating hikes.
    Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.

  • #2
    I took on Texas Ridge last spring and had flashbacks reading your report. I also came in from Loch Muller and crossed on a significant beaver dam area, enjoyed the open forest and then "took it on the chin". Very challenging climb at the end. Not a particularly stunning summit to say the least. Also tried the ridge walk south and bailed back west to the trail. I appreciate what you did but am content to have ascended Texas Ridge once. I look forward to the report on the other compass points. Well done.


    • CatskillKev
      CatskillKev commented
      Editing a comment
      It seems like you're saying that Neil is a glutton for punishment.

  • #3
    Nice...Do you have plans to tackle Rist, now that it is 'open'? I know you did a trip around Cheney Cobble a while back... I can only imagine what your clothing and any exposed skin look like after one of these adventures.


    • #4
      Originally posted by 2505 View Post
      Nice...Do you have plans to tackle Rist, now that it is 'open'? I know you did a trip around Cheney Cobble a while back... I can only imagine what your clothing and any exposed skin look like after one of these adventures.
      Did the North River Range (four 3k peaks IIRC) a few years ago via the Allen Trail as a whack-pack. It wasn't too bad in fact. The trick is to be where the cripple bush isn't.
      Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.