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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Poestenkill Community Forest(East Poestenkill)

A cloudy but mild November day beckoned me to get out for a post work walk, so I stopped by the Poestenkill Community Forest, high up on the Rensselaer Plateau.  Parking is found in a marked lot off of Legenbauer Road in East Poestenkill.  I had previously visited the forest back in April 2016, when there was no formal parking area yet, as well as having a limited amount of trail options.  A large kiosk with a trail map is available by the parking area and many new trails have been added since my last visit.  I began by heading south on Gravel Ridge Road and then onto the Ridge Trail, which passes by several private residences through a lovely stretch of white birch.
 Stone walls can be found scattered throughout much of these 353 heavily wooded acres.
 Continued back north of Legenbauer Road on the beautiful but ominous Hemlock Swamp Trail.
 Eventually I found my way over to the Moose Trail, blazed in yellow, which runs right through the center of the property.  A sturdy footbridge has been built over an area I had to rock hop on my previous visit.
 The Rensselaer Plateau has an elevation ranging from 1000 feet up to 2000 feet, with much of these woods being between 1300 and 1700 feet.  This high elevation plateau has forests more reminiscent of areas much further north, such as the Adirondacks or northern Vermont.
 More stone walls near Sugar Shack Road.
 I continued northeast on what appeared to be the makings of a new or future trail, but wasn't found on the map.  This trail eventually brought me all the way up to the summit of an unnamed peak. 
 The summit elevation was 1729 feet, according to my GPS and was covered in ferns.
 Views aren't great but can be had through the trees, this way looking east.
 West views from the fern carpeted summit.
 I dropped southeast off the summit and soon headed up to a smaller summit bump with similar peek a boo views through the bare trees.
 A quick and sudden downpour caught me by surprise and had me drenched within a matter of minutes.  It even began to hail for a minute.  After the rain subsided, the setting sun made a quick visit as I passed by  very large beaver meadow on the Big Beaver Bog Trail.
 The setting sun and departing storm made for eerie setting over the beaver meadow.  There is no filter used to obtain this reddish hue.
 Heading back to the car, through the darkening woods. 
Hiked about 4.5 miles RT on a mild autumn day.  There are a lot of opportunities here for future exploration.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Spencers Ledge and Big Rosy Bone Knob(Catskills)

My buddy Jim and I have wanted to hike Big Rosy Bone Knob for a while, due to its...well...odd name.. and because we couldn't find much info on the peak, meaning not a lot of folks have climbed it(relatively speaking).  To make it more interesting, we planned on bushwhacking up to Spencers Ledge from below the ledges before continuing over to Big Rosy Bone Knob forming a large loop.  We drove to the end of Trails End Road, which climbs up to nearly 1800 feet at a parking area near the Long Path.
We began the hike on the Long Path, heading up and over the wooded, nondescript summit of 1972 foot Pople Hill.
Although the temperature was in the mid 30's to start, the past few days have been very winter like, leaving behind pockets of ice.
After 1.5 miles, we came to a bridge crossing over the Vernoy Kill on the Long Path.  This was where we decided to leave the trail and begin the bushwhack.
We headed north through a very open hardwood forest.  We spotted this gorgeous old stone wall along the way.
The woods walk was very pleasant and soon we arrived at a a boulder field nearing the base of Spencers Ledge.
The last ascent to the ledges was through boulder strewn, steep pitches.
The topo maps showed the most logical route being from the nose on the east side of the ledges, but we decided to head straight for it to get the unique perspective from below. 
The ice formations on the ledges were extremely impressive.
The ice on the ledges was hanging precariously above us, slowly melting away.  We decided not to linger below these too long.
Amazing icicles, showing just how cold it has been, especially at high elevation.
Jim, taking photos from below.
We flanked the ledges for nearly a quarter mile, before finally finding a way up from the east side of the ledges.  We then backtracked from above to Spencers Ledge and its marvelous views at about 2660 feet elevation.  The views to the south stretch all the way down to the Shawangunks.  All the way to the left in this photo is Big Rosy Bone Knob, our next destination.
Neighboring 3015 foot Little Rocky's long ridge stands impressively to the east.
As we enjoyed the vista, it began to snow lightly before picking up in intensity for a few minutes.  Flurries can be seen over the valley floor in this photo from the ledge.
After soaking in the views, we headed back on our breadcrumb trail to the descent off the ledges.  From there, the drop was very steep, but doable.
Looking back at our route down off the ledges.  Very steep drop down to about 2200 feet.
We stumbled across a small wetland, with a tiny stream ambling through.
The low spot between the peaks is 2160 feet, where we found this mystical little meadow.
The first 1.3 miles between the peaks was an easy, open hardwood bushwhack.  That all ended a little over a half mile from Big Rosy Bone Knob, when we could see this wall of mountain laurel ahead.
The mountain laurel was extremely thick and the going was slow and tough.  The summit can be seen here though the trees just under .4 of a mile away.
We were extremely fortunate to stumble upon an informal path that brought us right up to the summit area of Big Rosy Bone Knob.  The steep east slopes just below the summit offered up a fine, filtered view towards Ashokan High Point.
After hitting the 2220 foot summit, which was completely laced in mountain laurel, we continued down off the southwest side of the peak.  We had high hopes the the laurel would go away, but to no avail.  Thicker than before and this time with no path to help, we pressed on, with mountain laurel over head.  This made it a very tough, slow descent down.
After a grueling half mile descent we finally escaped the mountain laurel, hitting a woods road.  We were very grateful!  We left the road and headed back through the woods to a creek crossing over a tributary of Sapbush Creek.
A view downstream of the picturesque tributary of Sapbush Creek.
Once across the creek, it was a steep climb back up through hardwoods, with screened views back to Big Rosy Bone Knob. 
As we neared the top of the unnamed 1928 foot summit bump to the east of Pople Hill, we hit more mountain laurel.  This was quite an annoyance, but we fought our way through it, hitting open woods again, with the fleeting afternoon light serving as a reminder of the impending early November sunset.
We soon picked up a driveable woods road, which we followed out the last .4 of a mile back to the car, completing an 8.5 mile loop.  Elevation gain was roughly 1450 feet total for the day.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mahanna Cobble(Berkshires)

Headed east to the Berkshires after work this afternoon to hike up to 1896 foot Mahanna Cobble on a pleasant, sunny November day.  Mahanna Cobble is actually the northern summit of Lenox Mountain's long Yokun Ridge, extending all the way down to Bosquet Ski Area in Pittsfield.  Bosquet would be my starting point today, at an elevation of 1130 feet.
I started by heading left onto the Drifter Trail, where I almost immediately began enjoying views back to the north.
Climbing ski slopes.
One nice part of hiking ski slopes are the guaranteed views, and today didn't disappoint.  The views north towards Pittsfield and Mount Greylock were nothing short of spectacular.
Lift chairs and fine views.
The Taconics with Pontoosac Lake to the west/ northwest.
A steep ski run towards the northeast with the peaks(Day, Tully, Warner Hill) of the Appalachian Trail on the horizon.
Beyond the ski slopes sits a TV tower.
A short quarter mile trail south through the woods brings you to Mahanna Cobble.  The trail doesn't go over the summit but instead loops around to a very nice southeast vista.
The view southeast towards the Southern Berkshires.
A look back up at the clearing just below the summit.
I bushwhacked up and over the true, wooded summit and then dropped down to the far west side of the peak in search of views.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any openings in the tree cover, but the bare November woods did offer up very nice screened views out over Mud Pond towards Perry's Peak in the Taconics.
Headed back off Mahanna Cobble towards the Ski Area again, enjoying the marvelous north views.  Nearly all of Pittsfield is visible from this vantage point.
The broad, sweeping view over Pittsfield, with Greylock hovering beyond.
Dropping down the steep slopes in the late afternoon shadows.
Very steep descent.
Got back to the car feeling invigorated by the crisp November air.  Hiked just under 3 miles RT(with a lot of wandering around) with over 800 feet elevation gain.