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A tale of two Catskills: West Kill (3/8), Eagle and Balsam (3/9)

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  • A tale of two Catskills: West Kill (3/8), Eagle and Balsam (3/9)

    Hiked West Kill Mtn from the end of Spruceton Rd. First car in the PA at 8:30 am (the best part of winter, midweek hiking). The Diamond Notch trail had some patches of ice, and I chose to put on my stabilicers for a couple of sections (as opposed to walking off the trail, as it looked like some people had done). Crossed the bridge and put the stabilicers back on for the beginning of the ascent. At about 2700', switched to Hillsounds. Frozen path the rest of the way up. Passed Buck Ridge Lookout, tagged the summit and returned to lunch on the ledge. While it was overcast at the start of my hike (even encountered some drizzle on my drive down Spruceton Road), the skies cleared and I basked in the sun, taking in the spectacular views of the Blackheads, Hunter and Plateau. After about 45 minutes of peaceful, invigorating solitude (which was only broken by an unruly flock of geese), I made my way back down. Had I brought my crampons with me, I probably would have chosen to use those in a particularly icy section or two, but the Hillsounds got me up and back down, safe and sound. On the way to the PA, I encountered one other hiker on the Diamond Notch trail, who was heading to SW Hunter. I hope he brought some sort of traction devices.

    Hiked Eagle and Balsam from Rider Hollow Rd. First car in the PA at 9 am. Took the Oliverea-Mapledale trail to the Pine Hill-West Branch trail. No snow or ice on the trail the entire way (actually, there was one ice covered rock, about the size of a serving platter, but it was easily avoided). On the way over Haynes and on to Eagle, there were small sections ice/frozen snow that were avoidable or had enough texture to walk right over. Made it to Eagle and dropped my pack at the large rock cairn. Grabbed a half sandwich and made my way to the actual summit (admittedly, during my first round, I stopped at the large rock cairn). Found a second, smaller cairn and returned to my pack. It was quite windy, and there is no view, so I did not linger. Made my way back to the Haynes/Balsam col and went out and back to tag the Balsam summit. Again, almost all bare ground. Made the uneventful trip back down the O-M trail and back to the PA. Bare booted the entire way. Still no other cars at the PA, and no other hikers encountered the entire hike.

    Surprisingly, the Eagle/Balsam hike (10 miles) took approximately the same amount of time as my West Kill hike (6.5 miles), although 45 min of my West Kill hike was spent sitting at Buck Ridge. Looking forward to seeing how today's snow (and the snow predicted for Tuesday) change the landscape...

  • #2
    Thanks! I take it the stream near the Rider Hollow Lean to wasn't a problem? I was there last spring and it was raging!
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” John Muir

    ADK46: 46/46 9W
    CAT35: 13/35(39)
    WNH4K: 21/48


    • #3
      Did Balsam Loop from Rider Hollow today. Stream is very easily crossed.