Monday, April 30, 2012

BEARPEN/VLY/GRAHAM/BALSAM CATSKILL 35 MTNS (The "Good Fortune" Hike)

I headed to the Western Catskills for the 2nd time in a week to hike the 4 Catskill 35 mountains left in that area. I went to the end of Rt 3 near Halcott and drove my Jeep up to the pass between Bearpen and Vly Mtns in Bearpen State Forest, just outside the Catskill Park. I parked on state land and started up the easy to follow property line herdpath that leads up to Vly Mtn. It was a steep climb in spots but very short, it took less than 30 mins to reach the summit canister, my fastest Catskill High Peak!...
There was a survey marker nearby too...
On the way back down there was a view through the trees towards Bearpen Mtn...
I made it back down to the Jeep and got some more water and hiked past the hunters cabin on the snowmobile trail towards Bearpen Mtn...
I enjoyed the spring wildflowers along the way including Trout Lillies...
Eventually I came out to the summit area with the remains of an old ski area and some nice views towards the Schoharie Reservoir...
I wandered around to find the true summit according to my GPS...
I headed back down the snowmobile trails back to the Jeep, stretched and got ready to head to my next hike...


I headed over to the Dry Brook Ridge TH on Millbrook RD to hike Graham Mtn. I headed up the trail, an old Jeep Rd, towards the junction with the Graham herdpath. I came across this interesting rock formation in a boulder along the way....
I found the herdpath (old rd) to Graham and headed east. The path was very easy to follow and I made good time enjoying the spring wildflowers along the trail...
The trail switchbacked up to a small overlook just below the summit with a view of the Dry Brook Valley...
Shortly after was the summit with the remains of an old TV tower. There were pretty extensive views over the small trees near the summit...

video
I headed back to the Dry Brook Ridge Trail and back to the TH quickly so I would have enough time before dark to climb nearby Balsam Mtn.

I got back to the Jeep and headed over to Rider Hollow for my final climb of the day up Balsam Mtn. This was my 2nd climb up in the last few months as this mountain has to be climbed twice for the Catskill 3500 Club requirements. I arrived and quickly began up the trail. I ran into one hiker and we chatted for a few minutes.
About 2/3 of the way up the mountain I was really struggling from all the hiking I had done already when I looked on the trail and saw, of all things, a fortune from a fortune cookie! It read "Good fortune is always on your side." I thought this was a rather odd thing to find on a hiking trail, but it distracted me from the task at hand for a while.
 The skies started to cloud up a bit on the ascent and right near the summit some hail pellets fell for a few minutes, even with the sun shining!
I headed back down Rider Hollow and enjoyed the late afternoon breezes and sunlight as I followed and crossed the streams.

Nearing the Trailhead I also noticed a "No Camping" Disc on a tree, but because of Hurricane Irene it was now located in the middle of the stream!
I made it back to the trailhead as it was getting dark in the valley. A long tough day out, but a great day to be out in the woods for sure.


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