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Blackheads and WHP

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  • Blackheads and WHP

    Having already bushwhacked down the Blackhead Range valley's north side DEP parcel descending from Windham High Peak to the Big Hollow Rd last summer (with a road walk back up to the road end's lot) I had since been planning on a larger hike around the valley hitting the 4 35ers and 2 CHH peaks from one point, and discussing it in the other thread led me to pull the trigger on it. I planned on parking at the DEP field on Big Hollow Rd (where there is parking indicated on the NY/NJ maps) between the north and south road-state land connected DEP parcels. Sunday morning I parked at this field, on the north side of Big Hollow Rd, and started with the road walk to the DEP parcel leading up toward Thomas Cole.
    This was a very short stretch of road, less than 5-7 minutes, to the narrow road stretch of DEP parcel leading up to TC, and right off Big Hollow Rd there was an obvious old road leading up into the parcel, but the weeds were thick and at chest height, and even though there was apparent travel from either human or other animal the going was unenjoyable and I soon left this road for the nice open woods just off to the east side. Paralleling the road and checking my compass bearing, I made straight for TC's summit. For awhile it was open and not too strenuous with occasional rock gardens and crossing either natural or manmade minor drainages, then the upturn in slope began to get the sweat on. I consciously did not aim for either of the ridges extending down in this area, instead hitting the main drainage in this area towards its top in the "bowl" northwest of the summit, and at times the slope angle was definitely over 45*; afterwards the gps track shows about 1000ft elevation gain within the last half mile distance to the summit area. For comparison this is similar to last half mile of the “elevator shaft” trail heading up the col between Algonquin and Iroquious Peaks, and is definitely steeper than similar whacks in the cats straight up the fall lines of Rusk, Halcott, etc.
    I was very happy to finally get to the "blackhead" tree border, knowing i was approaching the summit, and i was usually climbing using my hands up through the pines and boulders, often below the lowest branches of the small trees. Customary of many 'schwacks, in this stretch I obtained many pine needles throughout my vest and clothes. There was finally relief in the slope angle and I could see light through the trees over to the other side of the summit area. Coming to the top on the ridge trail just east of the accepted summit rock, I met my first hiker of the day, who was going from Barnum Rd to BH and back.
    I had climbed up into the clouds getting to TC's summit, and was disappointed to still be in the fog at BD's viewpoints, so in the words of the band Cake, at this point I resolved myself to “he's going the distance, he's going for speed”; as there were no views I figured I would switch gears to get a good fitness check on the day. After getting some fluids and food at the viewpoint I retied my laces, and headed for BH. There were a bunch of tents at the Lockwood Gap site, and I realized that I dont know if I have ever seen any tents there the bunch of times I have been through. I caught up to 2 hikers and their retriever who had camped out in the gap themselves, and after briefly talking with them I headed down the escarpment toward Acra Point. I love the ruggedness of this stretch of the trail heading down, keeping a good pace to the trail junction with still no views over the valley at the bunch of ledges on the way down.
    At the trail junction above the lean-to i knew i had the option to head downhill to the road's end lot with a road walk back to the truck, but taking stock of my legs, fluid and time i decided to go for WHP. I had never been on this stretch of trail, and it was nice to keep a good pace between this junction and the next prior to Burnt Knob. I stayed on the trail past the knob, having hit the actual summit with Rory last year, and kept moving along, really enjoying the mix of smoother trail and relatively scrambly sections. I started getting a little tired right at base of last ascent for WHP, and afterwards i realized that it is just about 6 miles between the BH and WHP summits. I saw the markers and signs for the DEP parcel, my exit point as it was for last year's hike also, and passing some hikers sitting on the main eastern viewpoint i pushed on to the markers, summit and other viewpoints, before returning to the better viewpoint. I finally some views through the lifted clouds, I love this spot from the escarpment down over the valleys and flats and hills, having watched the sun slowly burn up the fog here on my first sunrise hike earlier in the year. I headed back down toward the DEP parcel, and setting my compass just in case, i followed the DEP's eastern border for awhile, where there was an obvious herdpath to start down. Sometimes following the drainage, sometimes paralleling, but eventually getting onto a well established skidder or 4 wheeler path which I was able to make good time on, from which I could keep an eye on the border drainage just off to the east. Even without the 4 wheeler path it would have been some of the easiest bushwhacking through nice open woods, and much less steep than my whack up TC's bowl. There were some obviously recent 4-wheeler tracks, making me nervous that I had accidentally passed through the border onto private property, but after checking map and bearing again figured I was still good, and descending down to the larger fields i passed through one more wooded stretch into the last large road-side field where I could see my truck.

    This was a great loop with very minimal backtracking, and only about 5 mins of road walk. Mileage was 12.56, and elevation gain just over 4200ft.
    I thought i remembered the trails up higher in this area being dry, and started from the truck sunday with 2L fluid and was sucking my last flask dry while heading down beside the drainage from WHP. Dont plan on getting water while on this route unless you drop off the top trail to one of the springs.
    Looking at the maps and route planner, next time I might extend the loop out even more by parking at the WHP Peck Rd lot and start with the road walk to the DEP parcel southwest on Big Hollow Rd, then bushwhack up to the BH range trail where it hits the “caudal”, ending by dropping down WHP's trail to the Peck Rd lot. However, the loop using the 2 land parcels and parking directly between WHP and TC is a great hike around the valley, with tons of viewpoints.
    "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
    "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

  • #2
    Thanks Bikerhiker for that informative trip report. I have never done the bushwhack up TC but I've had my eyes on it for sometime now. I'll do it soon but I think I will aim for the col between TC and Camel's Hump. Your climb, straight to the top sounds a little too steep for my liking.

    I have been up and down that bushwhack up WHP several times. I usually begin from the small strip of DEC land along the north side of Big Hollow Rd. There is room for one car to park. I have found a good way up. One needs to cross over the streams at the beginning. There are remnants of an old road that you can follow. It's easier to see it in the winter. At one point you need to follow a path that sidehills along a steep wall on the east side of the stream. The route finding took me a few attempts. Near the top of the escarpment, I follow the same drainage you refer to but on the east side. Next time I go that way I will try your approach. It sounds a little easier especially with the 4-wheeler track.

    Congratulations on your hike. That was quite a lot of mileage and steep terrain for a single day.


    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      My exit last year off WHP (ending up off the DEC land and not the DEP parcel) was probably right about in the area you describe, nice and open, was really a great stroll in the woods unless exploring about in the drainage.

  • #3
    In the springtime with good running water in that drainage, there are lots of pretty waterfalls. Nothing major, but quite enjoyable.