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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Halcott Mountain(Catskills)

Headed south to the Catskills this morning to hike 3520 foot Halcott Mountain, a true bushwhack hike, as well as my first solo bushwhack.  Although the calendar is almost ready to turn to April, extremely windy and wintry conditions greeted me as I arrived at the parking area along the west side of Route 42.  There is a well trodden path that leads away from the parking lot and heads south past a DEC board towards Halcott Falls.  This is where I got started at an elevation of 1852 feet.
Halcott Falls are very nice any time of the year and come tumbling down only about a few yards into the hike.  This is a nice spot to stop and take a photo before you really get going.
I crossed the stream above the falls and continued south past another stream(Bushnellville Creek), crossing this one quite easily as well.
A short distance past the second stream crossing, I began to ascend through an open forest.
The climb was steady, with steeper pitches followed by small level spots.
I love these Catskill ledges, some big...some small.
As I approached 2300 feet in elevation, snow began to appear in the woods.
Coming to an area of somewhat steep ledges.  They were tough, but nothing overly difficult to negotiate.
Even with the whipping winds, the blue skies have a way of offsetting any chill I felt.
As the steady ascent continues, the snow(about an inch of fresh powder) covered everything and screened views began opening up behind me.  Here is a nice look back north towards Deep Notch, where Route 42 winds through.
The climb was enough to get me huffing and puffing as I continued heading upward.
Snow covered slopes.
I found a nice break in the trees which provided a good view east towards Balsalm, Sherrill and North Dome.
After about 1.8 miles and an elevation of about 3500 feet, I arrived at a large plateau.  I continued north along this flat area for a couple hundred yards and then arrived at the last push up to the summit.
Arriving at the 3520 foot summit of Halcott Mountain! The summit is fairly nondescript but there is a large rock which provides a sliver of a view to the south.
My summit photo.  #25!
The summit canister.  Elevation gain from the parking lot is just under 1700 feet.
The "view" south from the large rock ledge near the summit canister.
After signing in to the canister and gulping down some Gatorade, I headed back down off the summit, at first following an obvious herd path and then simply climbing down the head wall near Bushnellville Creek.  Looking back up a small, dried up stream on the descent.
I soon arrived at the creek and basically followed it down the steep slopes of the mountain.  As I began to near the road(about .3 of a mile) I came to a series of picturesque falls on the creek.
Each falls downstream seemed to be more impressive than the one before it.
A look back up at several falls.
I soon could hear the sounds of Route 42 traffic through the trees and I crossed the creek, heading north about .2 of a mile back to the car.  Hiked about 4 miles RT, but being a true bushwhack hike it is certainly much more difficult than a trail hike.
A final view south back towards Deep Notch from a clearing along Route 42.  The side profile of Sleeping Lion Mountain(the peak just north of Halcott) can be seen clearly in this photo.

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