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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lone Mountain & Rocky Mountain(Catskills)

Lone and Rocky Mountains are infamously well known as the two toughest bushwhack peaks of the Catskill 3500's, and I had been putting them off for as long as I could.  When my buddy, Jim Hopson, offered to bag these two peaks with me, however, I didn't hesitate.  We had a beautiful, sunny day with low humidity in the forecast, so we met at the Denning Trailhead at 9am ready to go.  Just reaching the Denning Trailhead can be quite an adventure, as this parking area sits in one of the most remote sections in all of the Catskills.
 Got going on a wide old carriage road through conifers with private property on both sides.  Be sure to stay on the trail through this section.
A beautiful, sunny day under nearly perfect conditions with great company.
 This hike is known for its many bridge crossings, with this being the first.  A well built bridge over a small stream.
 After just over a mile, we arrived at a trail junction.  Straight leads ahead towards Slide Mountain.  We turned right here towards the East Branch of the Neversink River.
 Crossing over the rocky East Branch of the Neversink River.
A beautifully built foot bridge over the East Branch.
 Just past the first bridge over the East Branch is a second bridge over the East Branch, this one just two long logs cut with a plastic coated wire for balancing.
 Just after the second crossing, we left the DEC trail and began following the Fisherman's Path along the East Branch.  Here we are passing through a deep, beautiful evergreen forest.
 We soon came to a tiny brook crossing and then a second, more substantial creek.  This is Donovan Brook, and just after crossing this brook is where we left the path to begin climbing.
 Climbing up the slopes of Lone Mountain.  Passing a large boulder just below 3000 feet.  Most of the hike was through hardwoods with only a couple of small sections through evergreens.
 As we got into higher elevations, we ran into large fern glades.
There was a pretty easy to follow herd path through the ferns, which faded in and out all the way to summit.
Nearing the summit, we found a small opening in the trees with a small view north towards Slide Mountain.
 Arriving at the 3721 foot summit of Lone Mountain, with just under 1600 feet elevation gain in roughly 4.5 miles.
 A well defined herd path leads away from the summit canister to a fantastic view from a rock ledge.  This is a GREAT view east towards Ashokan High Point and Little Rocky Mountain.
 Jim enjoying the views.
 The clouds casting their shadows onto the nearby peaks.
Ashokan High Point.
Peaking around the corner from the ledge, we spotted a nice view of Peekamoose Mountain to the south.
After enjoying lunch at the rock ledge, we left the summit area and dropped down steeply towards the col between Lone and Rocky. 
 Fortunately, there are herd paths that lead mostly past the worst of the thick forest and blowdown.
 Jim meandering through the "jail bars" as he calls them.
 Bushwhacking through the col, which drops down to about 3200 feet.
 A welcome break in the thick bushwhack.
 After about 7 miles, we arrived at Rocky Mountain's 3508 foot summit.  Our second of the day and my 29th Catskil High Peak!
Rocky Mountain's small summit area.
 Signing in at the canister!
We found several paths that lead away from the summit to view points.  A steep drop off from these east facing cliffs provide views of substantial blowdown.
 Blowdown near the summit.
 A view over Blaslam Cap's shoulder(L) and Ashokan High Point(R).
 Great views.
 A small hole in the eastern rock fortress at Rocky's summit.
 A view off the ledges of the rocky ledges.
Rocky's taller neighbors Friday, Dink and Cornell Mountains.  That's Cornell sticking out in the back.
 A fantastic view of nearby Balsalm Cap Mountain.
After enjoying the views near Rocky's summit, we began 'whacking back down the northwest side of the mountain..
 Dropping down through a mixed forest.
 We eventually found a drainage off the northwest flank of the mountain and followed the dried up stream bed down steeply.
 The small unnamed brook flowing off the mountain, where it meets up with the East Branch of the Neversink River.
 The crystal clear mountain water of the East Branch.
The hike back basically led us west for 3 miles along the pristine East Branch.  Eventually we picked up the Fisherman's Path again, which got better and better the closer we got to the parking area.  We passed several gorgeous swimming/ fishing holes along this stretch.
A ruggedly handsome stretch of wilderness along the Fishermans Path.
 We arrived back at the parking area after about 12 miles RT of mostly bushwhacking, with just a couple of miles of trail hiking.  I now have 29 hiked of the 35 Catskill High Peaks as well as 2 of the 4 winter peaks to become a 3500 club member. 

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't jazzed about these two either. I actually finished the 35 on Rocky mountain many years ago.