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Kaaterskill High Peak, Roundtop 2021/02/28

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  • Kaaterskill High Peak, Roundtop 2021/02/28

    On Sunday we parked at the first of the two lots on Gillespie Road for what was to be the tale of two very different hikes rolled into one. Only one other car in the lot with two hikers heading to KHP. We set out before them as they were still getting their gear ready.

    it was a nice and easy walk on Hillsounds from the car to the canister on the snowmobile trail and up the unmarked trail on the north side of the mountain. This was the first time I had seen snowmobile traffic having packed down the snowmobile trail and it made for a delightful walk — we didn’t even need to stay in single file!

    At the canister we put on the snowshoes immediately and began a much different adventure. There had been some hiker traffic from the east approach and a faint snow covered track heading towards Hurricane Ledge which we followed for a bit before realizing consensus was that we would skip a trip to the ledge and start our journey to the real prize, Roundtop, which we hadn’t visited since June 2018 at the end of a long day. That one starting at Plateau and hiking across the eastern Devils Path peaks to Platte Clove and then continuing to close the horseshoe shaped route up the east side of KHP and then to Roundtop and our spotted car at Gillespie. This time we’d arrive to Roundtop under vastly different circumstances, with time to savor and explore and enjoy.

    Due to our short inadvertent trip down the herd path towards the ledge, our initial bushwhack track was an embarrassing meander as we tried to free ourselves from the tight conifers and deep snow at the random spot we started our bushwhack. As we zigzagged slowly trying to get lined up properly and find a slot through the tight woods, we heard the other two hikers arriving at the canister. Soon we were moving nicely through the still dense conifers and making our way down to where the woods change character and we had breathing room and nice views left and right. Soon we’d be in the col with the ledges of Roundtop looming over us.

    There’s at least one trick to getting up the from this side and we used the one described at length in this well worn trip description at the Catskill Mountaineer.

    http://www.catskillmountaineer.com/KM-KHP-RT.html

    Our ascent was slow and plodding at times with the full depth of this season’s snow to get through and absolutely no evidence of anyone having climbed Roundtop since it fell. It gets easier as you go, as unsurprisingly, it gets a bit Rounded up at the Top. The summit itself is not that remarkable and is said to be marked by a cairn (we saw it on previous trips) but our guess was that it was completely submerged in the snow this day.

    The real treat was when we swung around to the west side of the mountain on the way down following the old blue paint blazes which lead toward the magnificent view where you could stand and see the entirety of Plateau and Hunter and the ski area too. What a fantastic spot and such a great day to be there. From here Spruce Top looked like a pyramid in front of Plateau with its shape detailed by the bare trees and snow.

    We had a ball plunging down off the mountain in the deep snow which had a light crust but was generally like a giant white shock absorber. Rather that trying to pick a perfect line, we winged it going where the going was good and avoiding obstacles. After all, the entire mountain is ringed with a snowmobile trail that was packed down by snowmobiles. We landed on the south part of the loop about a quarter mile from the loop junction. An easy hike out to the cars from there.

    We celebrated a lovely finish to a winter round at our favorite go-to spot in the area, Mama’s Boy Burgers.

    specs: 2 Él Niños, a Devil’s Tombstone, fries, tater tots AND onion rings. About 6.75 miles and 1,650’ ascent.

  • #2
    High Peak is round and Roundtop is peaky. The reason for this is the names were reversed. Since it was thought that our 23rd highest peak was the highest in the Catskills, "they" decided that it shouldn't have the less distinct name of the two, and the neighbor shouldn't be considered high, so "they" switched them. So, no need to look for a whole lot of roundness in the Roundtop area.
    I might be kidding...

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    • #3
      The blue blazes go from summit to DEP/DEC line, and past to the stream, the old 60/40 trail.

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      • specs
        specs commented
        Editing a comment
        Interesting... I may try that next time!

    • #4
      that is a great viewpoint on Roundtop - supposedly, the spot from where Thomas Cole painted Sunny Morning on the Hudson River. But I would never skip Hurricane Ledge on purpose

      I have been hearing reports of the snowmobile traffic - curious if there is just that much snow that all that blowdown is not an issue? we came up via the Hurricane Ledge in December, just before the snow came, and the blowdown was all there. I suppose there should be that much snow, to cover it all.
      46/46 as of August 1st, 2014!

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      • #5
        You may be referring to a different viewpoint than the one we visited. Ours looks to the west towards Hunter mountain and Thomas Cole’s painting is of a view looking to the east with the Hudson River visible in the background.

        https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki...River_1827.jpg

        I’ve heard about that spot but haven’t found it yet. Any clues? Did he actually do his painting there or just sketches? How would he carry all of his supplies up there?

        The snowmobile trail was a pure ribbon of white without a blowdown or any other obstacle visible. It’s really great that the deep snow is hanging on even with the several warm days and rain that we’ve had recently. I’m rooting for the snow!


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        • #6
          We've been on Roundtop a few times and never found any spectacular views either. Just the screened views through the trees. Maybe YanaLG can enlighten us?

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          • mudhook
            mudhook commented
            Editing a comment
            Really? Which way have you been going? The western side has grown in a bit, and TC's is hard to get to, but both are worth it.

          • Blowdown Gang
            Blowdown Gang commented
            Editing a comment
            From Gillespie

        • #7
          Ok I clearly did not read it well, and I blame it on my lack of coffee by that point, as well as not knowing that there is another viewpoint west. Obviously, the reference to Sprucetop should have been a dead giveaway. Apologies. Now of course, I need to come back and find that 2nd viewpoint!

          Indeed, the viewpoint that I was referring to is the one looking east. I have no idea if TC had hauled up his paining supplies there, or took an artistic liberty to recreate that view from prior ascents, but if he had hauled his supplies, I certainly hope that it was not from the east side! As far as finding the view, it is not far from the summit and we approached it first, as we came up from the col with KHP. It is on the southeast corner.

          46/46 as of August 1st, 2014!

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          • #8
            I have seen a pen and ink or pencil sketch of the Cole party on Round Top. Lots of frolicking about, complete with the ladies in long skirts and gents in suits and ties . One campsite is reputed to be his.

            Comment


            • YanaLG
              YanaLG commented
              Editing a comment
              they did not stay at the tory fort, did they? and where there any dangerous bears there too?

            • mudhook
              mudhook commented
              Editing a comment
              right on the summit, looked very similar to Pan and his gang, they were quite the cavorters! Bears to the north, Tories to the east, the valley to the south full of marauding Mohawks, to the west, skiers! it was a dangerous, but exciting time to paint.

            • YanaLG
              YanaLG commented
              Editing a comment
              oh my. if you come across the sketch, would love to see it!

          • #9
            I know I am coming late to this, but Roundtop and KHP have always interested me and I have spent much time trying to find new ways (for me) of accessing these peaks. This is despite having had a couple serious injuries in the area and my wife telling me to stay out of there! I have read that in the days of Thomas Cole the summit area had been cleared of trees and hence he had many more views than we have today. I don't remember where I read that, may have been on Mountaintop Mountaineer.
            I once spent an hour or so traipsing around Roundtop's summit looking for any view at all but could not find even a good partial view. I did come across some pleasant overgrown fields, perhaps a good place for frolicking!

            I am aware of the blue blaze trail going south off hurricane ledge, of course. It is now getting quite sparsely marked but I once followed it beyond the snowmobile trail. Presumably it connected to Josh Rd and is now private property. I did not know there was a blue blazed trail from Roundtop. Am I interpreting that correctly?

            Comment


            • mudhook
              mudhook commented
              Editing a comment
              No, the blue marks go from Gillespie to RT. Also called the 60/40 trail.

          • #10
            Saturday March 13 was a beautiful cold and sunny day with no wind, a perfect day for a return to KHP and Roundtop with two more guests of honor. We followed much the same route and were very happy to find the snowmobile trail and the north side unmarked trail to KHP had survived the recent hot days. We made it to the canister on spikes again and met two other hikers heading nearing the finish of their winter rounds at the canister.

            Then off we went to Roundtop finding our deep footsteps from our last visit to be a faint set of surface level hard spots making the trip easy - no thinking and no sinking!

            Two of our party were delayed in travel and met us at the summit of Roundtop after ascending our exit track from last time. We skipped the search for views this time spending our time with tea and muffins at the summit cairn which is now just peaking out of the snow.

            We took a real nice route out along the gentle ridge that leads right to the snowmobile loop junction. We got caught in some tight conifers briefly which will be easily avoided next time. As usual the last destination was Mama’s Boy Burgers in Tannersville where they run a fine griddle for gridders.

            specs: about 7 miles and 1,600’ ascent. Él Niño remains most popular burger.

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            • #11
              It was going to really start heating up on the last weekend of the winter season, so our plan was to hike early on Saturday and have some nice, hard snow to walk on for at least part of our trip. This time we reversed the order of the peaks, visiting Roundtop first and saving Kaaterskill High Peak (KHP) for later. After all, that’s where today’s guest of honor was to unveil the desserts we were carrying.

              Parking at the first lot on Gillespie and walking down a totally bare road carrying our footwear to the big snow berm just past the last house and choosing spikes to start on the unplowed road surface beyond. We kept these on until reaching the summit of Roundtop where the change was made to snowshoes as the day began warming up.

              We took an approach to the summit on the southwest ridge which was quite pleasant with nice open flat areas punctuated by easily negotiated cliff bands. Very attractive they were, with ice formations and nooks and crannies to explore.

              We reached the west facing view after squeezing through the last ledges and spotted our first blue blaze there — none were seen along the way at lower elevations. Maybe we’re looking in the wrong spot or there just aren’t that many anymore? Who knows, but it’s not as if you’d need a trail to make your way through these easy bushwhacking woods this time of year.

              On to the summit where the cairn is just poking through with little melt off since the last visit. I left my two companions and scouted around for the Thomas Cole painting view and found it without much trouble. It was within 200’ of the summit in a southeast direction — a nice little framed window looking directly at KHP with the ribbon of the Hudson belong to the right, just like the painting. I brought the others over for a photo session.

              We took the familiar and gentle way down the north ridge and around to the col and made our way to KHP in the full sun of the day. Reaching the canister for a little celebration with delicious cookies, both gluten and gluten-free.

              On the way back we retraced our steps to the Roundtop ledge band and walked around the south side on one of those beautiful flat stretches to meet up with our ascending footsteps. Down we went and across the stream and back to the cars. We skipped our traditional stop at Mama’s Boy Burgers considering we still had other celebratory desserts that were deemed too fragile to hike with waiting in the car.

              specs: about 6.5 miles and 1,775’ ascent.

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