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My first Catskills TR: Panther, Balsam and Blackhead 10/13 &14

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  • My first Catskills TR: Panther, Balsam and Blackhead 10/13 &14

    Yes, these were strategic decisions.

    Despite the rain and my claim that I will never start a hike in the rain, I left my car, in the rain, at the Giant Ledge Trailhead. I ran into a guy with a full pack descending before the junction. He claimed it was a lousy to hike and that if I went higher, I would encounter snow. My response was "really? great!," to which he replied with surprise and an odd look. The rain continued till it changed to snain and then snow shortly before the 3,500 foot sign. All the trees were covered in snow and there was some on the ground, mostly off trail, so I encountered no issues there with just hiking boots. As I climbed, some of the snow started to fall off the trees and I realized that I wanted to be out of there before that got worse. Summit and done...

    One my way down, once I hit Giant Ledge and lower, I ran into a train of people. Many didn't have backpacks, appropriate footwear, were wearing jeans and city coats. One couple was hiking up with their son who could not have been older than seven. They had no backpack. I know that GL isn't far, but that leaves zero room for error should someone get hurt, which with the wet leaves and obscured trail because of said leaves, was certainly possible. The weather was definitely in the hypothermia department. I must have passed 40-50 people, but only 15, including me, had registered at the trailhead. The rain had stopped by this point so people were likely encouraged by the promise of blue skies and sun peaking out....little did they know.

    Balsam: I got in my car and drove down the road to the McKenley Hollow trailhead. One other car at the lot, but no one signed in. This trail trail kicked my butt. The return of the rain did not help. Thank goodness for the new hiking boots I picked up the day before...I only had trail runners and winter hiking boots, so given the conditions and weather, a compromise was needed. This came in the form of a pair of Salewa GTX boots, which after two days and some miles, are just fantastic. The rain continued in earnest, stop for five minutes, and then start again. Up on the ridge, I ran into a couple (the woman was wearing a white jacket, which is good for hunting season) and then another larger group as I headed up toward the summit. I would not see any of these people again. The descent was slow with lots of loose rocks and wet roots underneath the deep leaf litter.

    I had a stellar dinner at the Peekamoose.

    Sunday-Blackhead: Finally, a good day! I got a late start after breakfast at the Phoenicia diner. I departed from the Big Hollow Road trailhead and headed up Batavia Kill to the Escarpment trail. I wanted to see part of the Escarpment trail and it certainly lived up to its reputation. My legs were a little tired, but slow and steady got me to the top of BH in 1:45 after leaving my car. I came back via the Blackhead Trail. Saw people, most of whom were wearing backpacks, which was good.

    So, at the beginning I said that this was a calculated weekend. Four down (I did Slide two summers ago)...35 to go. I will be back for the rest starting 12/21...

    BTW, I am looking for someplace to stay in the Catskills during winter break. Due to my likely being unemployed, I am trying to save some money in order to get this project done. I just need a bed, shower and access to a kitchen. I am looking for someplace for December 21-23 and December 27-30. I would be happy to compensate someone for their hospitality. This is a hike-shower-eat-sleep-repeat campaign.

    I like the Catskills. They smell nice.
    #8335W, Solo Winter 46
    ADK Quest #119
    ADK Fire Tower Challenge
    NE 111 113/115


    One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
    Half Dome, 2009

  • #2
    welcome to the Catskills. A nice selection of peaks to start with. And a nice selection of weather. Hopefully we have a snowy winter for you, and with no snow shoe regulations , it will be a challenge to stay upright. The Catskills are more forgiving than the ADK's, thus the unprepared survive to hike and post hole another day. Any questions on routes, just ask.

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you, MH. I've got the "Catskill Experiences" book, sister to the "ADK Experiences" and that has been a wealth of what not to do cautionary tales. I've also got the ADK Catskills Trail Guide and am making lots of notes, got all the maps, and I study them often. I'm a wicked researcher and fond of the forum search function! I've got a handful of ADK HH bushwhacks under me too, so I'm fairly comfortable bushwhacking.

  • #3
    Hooray for a new list! Sorry that you didn't get the view near Balsam's summit; it's quite lovely. Hopefully it will be better when you return in winter. I'm curious to hear how the traction is on the Salewas. I've been thinking about getting a pair for shoulder season but haven't found many detailed reviews from east coast hikers.
    We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      View?? That would have been nice, but not required. I didn't have much a view from Giant Ledge or Panther either...
      Salewas have a vibram sole. These were perfectly grippy, even on most of the wet rock.

  • #4
    we must've just missed each other today on BH! you probably saw my mini parked at the Big Hollow parking lot! we were traversing from Barnum road and I managed to run into a number of friends all day... and I had plans to be on Panther yesterday too (hearing your report on the weather conditions, I am actually glad that we had called off the hike)!

    anyways, welcome to the magical woods of the Catskills and perhaps we will see each other on the trails this winter - working on my winter rocker and have 14 left, which I hope to get done this upcoming winter season.
    46/46 as of August 1st, 2014!

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      I did see your car on my way in! I don't regret my decision to hike on Saturday one bit...and I'm normally a fair weather hiker. It's good to get out in crappy weather, especially with the Long Trail planned for next summer; I'll likely have many days in the rain.

      That being said, yesterday was a stellar day. Nice to know they happen in the Catskills. I hope you enjoyed your hike, as well.

      I'm sure we will run into each other this winter...Catskills seem small enough.

    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh, I also wanted to mention I thought of you again when I found some Hen of the Woods mushrooms yesterday... yummy yummy.

    • YanaLG
      YanaLG commented
      Editing a comment
      How lucky!!! I only came across russulas yesterday and very old and obviously frost damaged honeys. But I scored more puff balls from my co-worker, so I am not completely empty-handed.

      Glad you had a great hike and got to experience the park at its fullest! I would have stuck with the plan to hike if it was a trailed hike, but not for going off trail and it ended up being the hike leader's decision to cancel the hike anyway at the end. all good! I got rewarded with my favorite range on a stellar day And indeed, the Catskills are small that I always run into friends, even on whacks!

  • #5
    Hey, missed you by one day on Balsam. You did pick some nice hikes to start. Too bad you missed the views. There has been a bit of that with all the cloudy rainy weather lately. Good luck with your peaks. You should have a lot of fun this winter. Hope to run into you somewhere!
    And because of all their tears
    Their eyes can't hope to see
    The beauty that surrounds them
    Isn't it a pity
    -George Harrison

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you. I'm hoping for some views this winter. I'm interested in learning what I'm looking at when I do too.
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