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Balsam 2/8/2019

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  • Balsam 2/8/2019

    I had missed several opportunities to visit Balsam with friends over the past few weeks, and I hadnít summited yet this winter, so with another dry and sunny forecast off I went on a hastily arranged solo mission to Balsam Mountain.

    The water was high enough to create white caps in the Dry Brook, so Iíd be avoiding the water crossings today. Usually thatís a simple matter of taking the Mine Hollow trail up and back, but I wanted to try something a bit different. Putting on my spikes in the ice sheet parking lot, I began up the trail, across the bridge and took a left at the junction following the yellow blazes of the Mine Hollow trail. Just for a bit though, over its rerouted section to where it drops down and begins to parallel the stream. A designated camping sign caught my eye on the other side of the stream and across I went. This stream here is a smaller tributary and was easily crossed. Thereís a large tree across which could be used if necessary. Now I was at the base of a western ridge of Balsam and as I walked across the flat campsite area I saw the Rider Hollow shelter off to the right. The ground and the ridge ahead were completely bare, so off came the traction.

    The ridge ascended easily through fairly open woods and I estimated that Iíd hit the trail north of the summit and viewpoint after about a mile. As I climbed I could see blue sky over Belleayre over my left shoulder and nice views down the hollow behind me. Lots of interesting huge boulders, overhangs and tiny caves were encountered along the way as were patches of snow. When I reached the changeover to the conifer forest at about 3,450í I encountered some icy patches in the shaded woods. With steep sections visible ahead I put the Hillsounds on and proceeded slowly up and around boulders and through the tight conifer forest angling to the right at each opportunity having decided now to aim for the viewpoint. Soon the terrain flattened out and the woods opened up and the ground was covered in at least a foot of soft melting snow which I trudged through easily. I saw the trail to my left but stayed off it until I saw the viewpoint. What a sight coming in from that angle directly to the opening! The sky was perfect for an extended stay soaking in the view. I needed a break so I set up for lunch.

    I put on my snowshoes for the short out and back stroll to the summit. The trail was well traveled but the snow was soft and I probably would have made a mess of things without the snowshoes on. I took the little spur path, passing the anti-gravity tree, for a quick photo session at the summit monolith.

    It was a simple trip down back past the view and taking the Mine Hollow route down and out. The shoes came off for spikes at 3.150í and to bare boots at 2,850í just beyond the trail junction.

    specs: 4.64 miles and 1,617í ascent in under four hours.
    snowshoe specs: green heel-less MSR EVO


  • #2
    Alice needed a walk, I needed Slide so Friday we agreed to go. Not much to say but the stream crossing from the parking area was very exciting! You made a good decision to avoid water crossings.

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    • #3
      That's a nice route, but home to a very large angry bear.

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      • specs
        specs commented
        Editing a comment
        I’m glad I didn’t run into him/her. It would have ruined my day.
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