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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Northern Terminus Taconic Crest Trail

With rain in the forecast, I was a bit hesitant to go out hiking, but a small window in the morning allowed me to get out for a bit.  Headed to Route 346 in Petersburg along the New York/ Vermont state line as well as the northern terminus of the Taconic Crest Trail.  Unfortunately the DEC parking lot sits atop a small unplowed hill, so I had to park at the bottom of the hill, along the shoulder of 346.  Elevation at the trail head is a touch over 500 feet.
 I signed in at the trail register and quickly began to ascend into the woods.  There were only one other set of footprints in the snow, which was only an inch or so deep at the trailhead.
 After a steady uphill section, I arrived in a clearing, with a glimpse east towards the main ridge.
 I continued on through gloppy snow and small sections of mud for the first mile of the hike, climbing about 500 feet.  Soon, the trail began climbing steadily and then steeply.
 As my elevation increased, screened views to the north became more prevalent.
 The ascent was quite steep as I gained the main ridge line around 1700 feet, and some more screened views north and east into the Hoosic River Valley of North Pownal Vermont and Petersburg, NY.
 After a short flat area on the ridge, a small but steep hill made for some sketchy footing.  Thankfully my trekking poles helped with my balance.
 As the trail continued south and east, I enjoyed broken views through the trees ahead along the main ridge towards Prosser Hollow.
 A short drop was followed by a steady climb through drifted snow on a wide section of the Taconic Crest Trail.  I began noticing yellow conservation easement signs through this stretch, with far reaching peek a boo views beyond.
 The trail continues a steady climb where I spotted some better views in a tiny clearing towards Pownal, Vermont just off trail.
 One last push up to 2000 feet and 1500 feet of ascent in 2.2 miles rewards you with some fantastic views.
 A great viewpoint to the southeast into Vermont from the large clearing. 
 Looking directly east over Reservoir Hollow into Pownal, Vermont.
 Across the trail to the west is a fine view towards the Petersburg Valley in New York. 
 Looking southwest over Prosser Hollow.
 After enjoying the fine views from the unnamed 2000 foot peak above Prosser Hollow, I turned back, retracing my steps.  Pausing to enjoy some more of the north facing views into Vermont.
 Although small, this hill provided major anxiety.  This is a look back once I had happily arrived at the bottom.
 The hike back was quick but a bit tricky in spots due to melting snow and muddy trail conditions.  Thankfully the rain held off until I got back to the car.  Hiked about 4.4 miles RT, with over 1500 feet elevation gain.

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