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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

(South Sherrill)Mount Sherrill and North Dome Mountain(Catskills)

Stuck in the middle of a hot and sticky summer, I have been a little hesitant to go out exploring too much lately.  When I had an offer from my hiking buddy Jim to bag 3540 foot Sherrill and 3620 foot North Dome Mountains in the Catskills, however, I jumped at the chance.  These are two of the three remaining Catksill 3500 mountains that are left on my list to do, to have climbed all 35 such peaks.  Jim, having done these summits previously(multiple times), was looking for a new way approach for this bushwhack hike, so we talked it over and chose to do a thru-hike, using a shuttle.  I parked at Mink Hollow off Spruceton Road and then we drove Jim's car south along Route 42 to a small sliver of state land near Erika Drive.  This is where we parked and began our journey.  The route is pretty straightforward and tough, ascending at a steady rate through open hardwoods.
 Approaching one of the few small bands of rock cliffs along the way. 
 After about 1.7 miles we arrived at the nondescript flat summit of South Sherrill Mountain.  With an elevation 2883 feet, we had climbed roughly 1600 feet from the car.
We paused briefly at the summit(a Catskill 200 highest), and then began our descent to the northeast into the col between South Sherrill and Sherrill.  A nice breeze accompanied us along this stretch, as the woods dropped down to just under 2600 feet elevation.
 We were a bit surprised to see wildflowers blooming along the way.  We passed several areas of bee balm and coneflowers.
 The ascent up Sherill is steady, but manageable until around 3000 feet.  From there the climb began to get quite steep.
We found an old woods road and followed that up quite a ways.
Passing through a maze of huge rocks and boulders on the Sherill's shoulder.
While following the woods road, I happened to notice an old circa 1950's school bus, parked in a small clearing.  The bus is now used as a rough shelter for hunters and campers.
Jim posing with the bus.  He was extremely pleased as this had been on his radar for quite a while and had proved elusive.
 Shattering Jim's bucket list.
The woods level out above 3400 feet and gradually ascend to the 3540 foot summit. 
 The summit canister. 
Signing in at the summit canister.  My 33rd Catskill High Peak.
We bushwhacked southeast to some of Sherrill's steep cliffs, where we were able to find this decent view.
The descent off Sherill's summit is about 500 feet in a little over half a mile.  Nearing the col, the slopes get a bit steeper.
 We found a neat looking break in this rock band between the two peaks.  Upon closer inspection we found... old rusted stove. 
Continuing nearly due east, the woods are mostly all hardwood until the last half mile below the summit of North Dome.  In one section, there is a really interesting, large bog.  Very rare for this elevation.
 Picking up a good herd path, the forest changes to conifer as we soon arrived at North Dome's 3620 foot summit.
 The summit canister.  This is my 34th Catskill High Peak!!  One to go!!
We dropped off the summit area, heading generally southeast on the herd path and then began bushwhacking to North Dome's southeast ledges.  A small opening in the trees provides outstanding views.  St Anne's Peak is directly across Mink Hollow, with West Kill Mountain behind that and Hunter Mountain behind that.
Sweeping 180 degree views provide a great place to stop and relax.  Here is a view southeast.
 Private Timber Lake Camp sits a bit southeast, hemmed in by steep mountains in all directions
 Incredible views down into Spruceton Valley.
 A close look to the south and east provides a glimpse of the Ashokan Reservoir through the peaks.
 Windham High Peak poking out behind Rusk Mountain.
 Cloud shadows on the north slope of St Anne's Peak.
Wildflowers growing along the steep rock face of the ledges.
The east side of North Dome is extremely steep, no matter which route you take.  The further south you go the steeper it gets, with some areas being unsafe to pass.  We found a safe route down, dropping about 1300 feet in about one mile.  From there we crossed mostly dried up Mink Hollow Brook, pausing to cool off in the cold mountain water.
Once crossing Mink Hollow Brook, we picked up the Devils Path, staying on the trail north for just over a mile, arriving back at my car.  We had a great day in the woods, bagging three summits.  Total mileage was a little over 8 miles with over 3000 feet elevation gain.

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