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South Doubletop, Big Indian, Fur from Bisquit Brook, 03/07/2021

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  • South Doubletop, Big Indian, Fur from Bisquit Brook, 03/07/2021

    Beautiful day yesterday, gotten really fortunate my last couple times out to have bluebird days. I got a glimpse of Doubletop in the morning sky driving past the YMCA (is this the area Bear Grylls did his episode in the catskills?). Getting to the lot before 7am it was pretty full already and a young guy in a big jeep was taking up the last 2 "normal" spaces but as he was still getting ready he kindly moved over the 2 feet to allow me to squeeze in (upon arrival back to the lot in the afternoon it had transformed into a car-tetris kind of game).
    My plan was to visit South Doubletop, Big Indian and Fir; having done these together as an out and back then loop in the soggy but snow-free months i kind of knew what to expect from that route, but i really really wanted to whack up SDT from the first ridge hairpin turn on the marked trail (specs, is this the area where you had gone from?). I didnt see any tracks from this area of the turn, but i had studied the different maps and gotten my bearing and plotted a gps track, and i could even see SDT from the turn..but i didnt know what those 2 or 3 crossings would be like on the way over among other deciding factors leaning on the con side of the decision. I decided to go back this summer to wander a bit in there when there wasnt feet of snow and a windchill possibly below 0, and yesterday just plugged it up the trail towards BI.
    microspikes were helpful in the parking lot, and perfect for the snowcrete marked trail up to the switchback ridge. i was going to switch to snowshoes and whack around the south of that ridge's bump toward SDT, but then i found a well established and packed path heading over that aways due west so i stayed a poacher and follower. I came up to two ladies and one dog, one with snowshoes, one in spikes, one with cute furry paws. I kept my spikes on for the way over and up to the state land sign, but on the way back down it was definitely getting soft in the morning sun so i switched over to snowshoes in the main col coming back from SDT's summit (with gear inertia these stayed on til i hit rt 47 a few hours later). I passed a couple solo 'shoers, then im guessing a club group.
    Getting back over to the marked trail was quick and easy with small milkcrates strapped to my boots, then the short hop over to the herdpath up to BI's can. The marked trail toward eagle from the turn off for BI showed no signs of any traffic whatsoever, but im guessing that blows in easy up there in the winter. I passed a couple just off the canister and signed in, and took in some views for a bit before getting my bearings and starting to follow some tracks toward fir. It was a beautiful day yesterday and i had no real time crunch, so i took the opportunity to bob and weave, sometimes following a semi-established path between the two peaks but also dropping towards the south of the divide, and i found some nice overlook ledges with great views. The only other time i was in that area it was rainy and in the low 40s and i couldnt see more than 30 feet, so yesterday was a real treat. Getting over to fir's base i split from the busier herdpath and skirted west of fir's summit, sometimes following random tracks, sometimes just bobbing and weaving some more, until at about 10 or 11 miles into my hike i thought i was starting to get tired and climbed straight for the last canister. i popped up onto the summit area, briefly greeting a couple ("uhh, is this slide?"), then signing into "Fur"s canister. I had a nice sit on the nearby tree for awhile before deciding i had enough fun for the day, and followed another established snowshoe path down the "normal" ridge towards the lean-to, and then out the marked trail, passing and greeting a couple more nice 'shoers on the way.
    Even the marked trail was really starting to soften up in the afternoon yesterday, so this report and the conditions therein are probably useless starting this afternoon, as i think we are all about to be given all we can eat mash potatoes followed by courses of thick and thin ice, and then ending with some mudslides that arent the tasty ones.
    "...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
    dang! I wish I knew you were a fellow board member. It was me and my hiking partner who were about to leave for BI when we saw you. I was slow on the joke because I have been at the receiving end of questions like that so many times (my favorite, just below Gray summit, if this was Marcy). as a side note, I have been to Fir and BI from BB a lot of times but never on a clear day. I echo your appreciation for the views. Amazing, especially when you are on the skinny part of the divide and can see peaks in all directions. Surprised that you popped over that side if you were coming from BI, but makes sense if you were weaving and making your own path. We were admiring Fir's ledges from the trail as we were heading back to the car - would love to ascend that way some day. they reminded me of graham from DT :( So I bet you found some views from the top of them! we stuck to the north and although did not see many ledges, there were a lot of excellent spots to admire the peaks. any photos to share from those ledges, by any chance?
    46/46 as of August 1st, 2014!


    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      haha, yeah i saw your name in the book and knew it was you i just missed. i think i found more interesting terrain on the BI side of the divide, i was probably just above most of fir's real good stuff when i contoured over then around and then up. going back through pics i actually didnt take too many between BI and fir, i do remember lots of terrific rock features to sit and take a break on and just look around and take in the day, and i think the only pic i took in between was of wind-sculpted snow very close to the middle of the divide, i imagine it comes across there really good.
      i was getting tired getting up to fir's canister, starting to question my decision to leave the established snowshoe path and wander around, so when i popped through some more thick stuff before finally getting to the top and saw other humans it was a good sign, and i imagined at that point i sounded and looked like clark griswold staggering out of the desert to the mechanic's garage.

    • YanaLG
      YanaLG commented
      Editing a comment
      bummer we missed you! we had quite a party there along with a group of 4 that just left ahead of us (but we were leapfrogging one another and shared the summits all day). thanks for checking the pics. Definitely need to come back, and hopefully, hit the sweet spot between the snow and the leaves.

  • #3
    Yes, we left the trail just a little past that sharp right turn in the trail.

    specs: 41.9970, -74.4916 (elevation 2,446’)


    • specs
      specs commented
      Editing a comment
      The crossings were easy in the deep snow as we were able to walk across on top of the snowshoe track. In late summer and fall they were a bit more to manage. The Biscuit Brook crossing was a long step over for me as the rock there is similar to smooth rock at the falls near the bridge on the way to Westkill. The Pigeon Brook was more of a flat area and a rock hop. Both of these crossings could be difficult at times of high water just like the ones on the trail are. I really wouldn’t want to be finishing a long hike near the end of the day through this section, so I’d prefer the clockwise loop — you could always retreat if the crossings were too difficult. Going counterclockwise would also give you an unwelcome uphill section late in the day from the last crossing to the trail.

    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for the great intel specs. I was definitely thinking clockwise if i had gone for it. Im hoping to scope that area out late this spring or summer, i imagine south doubletop is impressive and imposing as you get closer on the approach? i hadnt noticed it from the road area of the ymca on the drive in last time i went a few years ago, but that was something this last weekend just a few mins from the trailhead, looking over and seeing it out there with its south face. i am hoping to earn my winter rocker this weekend with a 'shoe around denning peaks on saturday, and then on sunday using your roundtop/khp route from gillespie (i actually had researched and plotted out pretty much that exact route for the same day you went but i had to pull the plug on that outing the morning of).

    • Blowdown Gang
      Blowdown Gang commented
      Editing a comment
      We've always done the route along the Frost Valley property line clockwise as well. Whack and navigate first, mindless trail walking later. Another fun hike is DT, BI, Fir, Steamboat Ridge, and back. Everything except the first and last 0.9 miles off trail.