Sunday, April 28, 2019

Catskills: Balsam Cap & Friday Mountain, 4/24/19

Joined Mark & Marilyn Klim for a bushwhack/herd path trek to two of the more difficult peaks on the Catskill 3500 list, located in the "Bushwhack Range" SE of Slide Mountain. These were #34 and #35 for my summer/all-season list. Still have to come back and hike the four required peaks in winter.

Up the steep woods road from the parking area at the end of Moonhaw Road.

As we discovered on the way down, we might have had an easier ascent to the ridge had we turned onto another woods road at this tiny cairn.

Steep ascent on the north flank of Friday's east ridge. Cornell and Wittenberg Mountains seen through the trees.

Well-used bear tree on the crest of the ridge.

Heading up the ridgecrest herd path, above the state land boundary. It's important to avoid private land on the lower part of the ridge.

One of several nice hemlock-clad shoulders.

Rock buttress looming ahead.

Side view of the buttress.

Higher up, the east ridge becomes very steep and rugged, and the main herd path veers left onto a section known as the "rim path," skirting the steep headwall between Balsam Cap and Friday.

Looking down into the basin below.

Rough and rocky stretch on the "rim path."

Skies clearing nicely.

Remnant monorail just below the Balsam Cap/Friday col.

Into the conifers that gave Balsam Cap its name.

Steep pitch in a high patch of hardwoods.

An Adirondackish spot on the Balsam Cap herd path.

Cornell and Wittenberg from the viewpoint 0.1 mile before the canister.

The Devil's Path peaks, Plattekill and Overlook Mountains, Samuels Point and Ticetonyk Mountain.

These ledges are an inviting bushwhack destination, but likely not easy to get to.

The Ashokan Reservoir.

Nice walking on the Balsam Cap summit crest.

The Balsam Cap summit canister.

Mark and Marilyn at the Balsam Cap summit. I joined Mark for his 3500 finish on Rocky last June. Marilyn needs only Rocky to finish. We had hoped to get over there this day, but it would have been too late of an exit.

A glimpse of Friday's SE cliffs while descending from Balsam Cap to the col. Hmmmm....

Start of the Friday herd path. Mark and Marilyn waited while I went up.

The only other hiker we saw all day was coming down off Friday. He had biked 40 miles up to the trailhead from Poughkeepsie and had to bike back after the hike.

The herd path leads up through the impressive cliffs of Friday. With the wrong route, one could get into real trouble on this mountain

More cliffs.

Yet another cliff. The herd path ramps were easy to follow.

Nice shoulder at 3500 ft.

There was quite a bit of blowdown on the upper slopes of Friday. Had to whack around and relocate the herd path at one spot.

Took quite a while to find the canister as I was seeking it in the center of the broad, flat summit area with several meandering herd paths. This looked like it might have been a canister location in the past?

The spot was marked by two blazes.

Finally found the canister out at the east edge of the summit. This was peak #35 for my all-season list. I climbed my first peaks - Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide - on a Boy Scout backpacking trip in 1966. (During which we camped on the summits of Wittenberg and Slide - yikes! One of my fellow scouts cut his wrist on Wittenberg and had to be evacuated to a hospital.) Now I have to get down here in winter for the final four.

Happy to sign in.

Nice Devil's Path view next to the canister.

On the way down I made a short, thick bushwhack to the top of Friday's big SE cliffs.

View down Maltby Hollow.

Nice look at Balsam Cap with Ashokan High Point and Mombaccus Mountain in the distance.

Back down along the lower cliffs.

Lots of loose rock bushwhacking down the north slope of Friday's east ridge.

This woods road along the lower slope seems to be the most-used approach route. This was one of the most difficult and interesting trips among the Catskill 3500s.

Rocky, Balsam Cap and Friday, along with Lone Mountain, comprise the "bushwhack range," one of the wildest areas in the Catskills.

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