Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Balsalm Cap from Kanape Brook(Catskills)

Met up with Jim, my partner in crime again today, to bushwhack another Catskill 3500 foot peak. The weather was pretty questionable everywhere else so we kind of landed on this hike by accident.  The plan was to spot a car at the end of Moon Haw Road and then drive down to the Kanape Brook parking area(the common trailhead for Ashokan High Point) and start the bushwhack to 3623 foot Balsalm Cap there.  We knew that it was going to be steep right out of the gate and it certainly didn't disappoint.  Immediately northwest of the parking area, the ascent began.  Elevation to start the hike was just over 1200 feet.
Did I mention the ascent was pretty relentless?  Fortunately it was 100% hardwoods and there were no loose rocks or damp areas to contend with.
We passed by many impressive rock formations along the way that made the climbing that much more interesting.
We skirted the eastern flank of 2568 foot Breath Hill and arrived on a series of old logging roads.  There were even some old rock walls, which I believe were from an old farm here in the late 19th century.
The logging roads were intertwined all over the peak, and even provided large clearings at intersections such as this.
As we continued our northern approach towards Balsalm Cap, we soon arrived at a 3088 foot unnamed summit bump with unique, wide open meadows.  This small peak is actually a western extension of Hanover Mountain, but we referred to it as Little Mini Cap.  The view north is towards Mini Cap, the 3446 foot sub summit of Balsalm Cap.
Another shot of the summit meadow looking south.  There were actually about three or four of these large clearings, but the lowest meadow provided the best views.
3446 foot Mini Cap on the left, and its parent peak, 3623 foot Balsalm Cap to the right, and slightly behind it.
We had fun exploring some of the ledges just below  the large meadows, where we found some nice views northeast over Samuels Point and all the way towards the Devils Path peaks.
Although it was cool, with temperatures hovering around 40, we spotted some signs of spring along the way.  Here is a painted trillium, fully open on an overcast day.
After a small drop, we climbed up the slopes of Mini Cap, and were immediately drawn to the gigantic rock formations on the southeast side of the peak.
Of course we had to climb up to the top of these large rocks, and from this vantage point, we found some pretty impressive views towards Ashokan High Point.
The view almost due south, towards some of the smaller Catskill peaks just west of of Little Rocky.
The most impressive view from the tops of these huge rocks, was certainly Ashokan High Point and the long spine of Little Rocky.
The rest of the climb up to Mini Cap's 3446 summit was through thick conifers.  This more than made up for the easy hiking the first few miles through open hardwoods.
After clawing our way to the top of Mini Cap, we made our way down to the saddle between Mini Cap and Balsalm Cap at about 3300 feet elevation.  We carefully explored the edge of the steep escarpment, and found a spectacular view east over Maltby Hollow towards the Ashokan Reservoir.
A slight turn to the south provided a nice glimpse at the ridge we had just ascended.
The thing I really enjoyed from this vantage point, was seeing how spring is arriving in the valleys first and moving its way up the mountains.  All of the lower elevations are already wearing a full coat of green, while the mountain tops still appear colorless.
Leaning out over the edge(safely) I spotted Balslam Cap's long eastern ridge.
Devils Path peaks in the distance to the north.
A closer look down to tiny community of West Shokan.
North views.
From the saddle up to Balsalm Cap's summit was an endless assault of conifer and blowdown.  This made the going slow and painful.
Just below the summit, we began spotting a light coating of snow from yesterday's snow squalls.
Summit snow certainly made it feel much more like winter than early May.
The summit canister!
We continued on past the summit, and arrived at the view from Balslam Cap.  This view is very similar to the one from the saddle we had just been in.
The one thing that this view offers that the other didn't, is a nice peek north to Cornell and Wittenburg.
Perhaps because we were constantly moving it didn't feel like it was too cold, but large icicles reminded us that the temperature at the summit was only in the 30s.
We dropped down towards the saddle between Balsalm Cap and Friday and took the low road down from there, dropping steeply all the way back down to Moon Haw Road.  We were pleasantly surprised to meet Catskill legend Ralph Rydnack there and we shared some stories together.  Afterward, Jim and I refreshed ourselves in the cool cascading waters of Wittenburg Brook.
An amazing day in the woods, with about 8 miles total round trip and about 2600 feet elevation gain.

No comments:

Post a Comment