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Balsam Lake Mountain and Graham 3/18/17

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  • Balsam Lake Mountain and Graham 3/18/17

    We hiked as a group of six, evenly split among one peak and two peak options. The two peakers spotted two cars at Seager for the exit from Graham and drove around to the Mill Brook Road parking area to meet up with the rest of the group. We headed up the trail which had been broken out nicely. At the register we saw that a party of two had hiked to Balsam Lake Mountain the day before. About half way up to the Balsam Lake Mountain trail junction, the tracks changed from a well defined snowshoe channel, to what looked like a single hiker's fresh snowshoe tracks. As we neared the junction, we encountered the solo hiker and his dog on the way down and thanked them for making our climb that much easier.

    We took a break at the junction and we were joined from behind by two hikers also heading for the fire tower. We made our way up as a group of eight sharing the trail breaking duties.

    We hiked back down to the junction, where we split into two groups, with three of the original group and the two other hikers heading off to Graham on the unmaintained trail which was had not been hiked since the snowstorm on Tuesday. We made our way along nicely, sharing the trail breaking duties and eventually reaching the peak where one of our party finished their Catskill 3500 Club requirements. It was chilly and breezy on the top, so we didn't stay long.

    We went a short way back down and followed the utility line down to Seager. With the depth of snow and the steepness it was quite a wild descent especially since it began snowing just around that time and visibility became poorer. We made our way directly to the Seager parking area and drove around to meet the rest of our group at Mill Brook, where they had arrived about a half hour before us.

    As the day progressed, the trail from Mill Brook to Baslam Lake mountain became a nice flat snowshoe highway. Our tracks to Graham were less polished since we only traveled over them in one direction.

    specs: 7.54 miles, 1,775' (-2,450') ascent, 6 1/2 hours