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Monday, November 13, 2017

Spencers Ledge and Big Rosy Bone Knob(Catskills)

My buddy Jim and I have wanted to hike Big Rosy Bone Knob for a while, due to its...well...odd name.. and because we couldn't find much info on the peak, meaning not a lot of folks have climbed it(relatively speaking).  To make it more interesting, we planned on bushwhacking up to Spencers Ledge from below the ledges before continuing over to Big Rosy Bone Knob forming a large loop.  We drove to the end of Trails End Road, which climbs up to nearly 1800 feet at a parking area near the Long Path.
We began the hike on the Long Path, heading up and over the wooded, nondescript summit of 1972 foot Pople Hill.
Although the temperature was in the mid 30's to start, the past few days have been very winter like, leaving behind pockets of ice.
After 1.5 miles, we came to a bridge crossing over the Vernoy Kill on the Long Path.  This was where we decided to leave the trail and begin the bushwhack.
We headed north through a very open hardwood forest.  We spotted this gorgeous old stone wall along the way.
The woods walk was very pleasant and soon we arrived at a a boulder field nearing the base of Spencers Ledge.
The last ascent to the ledges was through boulder strewn, steep pitches.
The topo maps showed the most logical route being from the nose on the east side of the ledges, but we decided to head straight for it to get the unique perspective from below. 
The ice formations on the ledges were extremely impressive.
The ice on the ledges was hanging precariously above us, slowly melting away.  We decided not to linger below these too long.
Amazing icicles, showing just how cold it has been, especially at high elevation.
Jim, taking photos from below.
We flanked the ledges for nearly a quarter mile, before finally finding a way up from the east side of the ledges.  We then backtracked from above to Spencers Ledge and its marvelous views at about 2660 feet elevation.  The views to the south stretch all the way down to the Shawangunks.  All the way to the left in this photo is Big Rosy Bone Knob, our next destination.
Neighboring 3015 foot Little Rocky's long ridge stands impressively to the east.
As we enjoyed the vista, it began to snow lightly before picking up in intensity for a few minutes.  Flurries can be seen over the valley floor in this photo from the ledge.
After soaking in the views, we headed back on our breadcrumb trail to the descent off the ledges.  From there, the drop was very steep, but doable.
Looking back at our route down off the ledges.  Very steep drop down to about 2200 feet.
We stumbled across a small wetland, with a tiny stream ambling through.
The low spot between the peaks is 2160 feet, where we found this mystical little meadow.
The first 1.3 miles between the peaks was an easy, open hardwood bushwhack.  That all ended a little over a half mile from Big Rosy Bone Knob, when we could see this wall of mountain laurel ahead.
The mountain laurel was extremely thick and the going was slow and tough.  The summit can be seen here though the trees just under .4 of a mile away.
We were extremely fortunate to stumble upon an informal path that brought us right up to the summit area of Big Rosy Bone Knob.  The steep east slopes just below the summit offered up a fine, filtered view towards Ashokan High Point.
After hitting the 2220 foot summit, which was completely laced in mountain laurel, we continued down off the southwest side of the peak.  We had high hopes the the laurel would go away, but to no avail.  Thicker than before and this time with no path to help, we pressed on, with mountain laurel over head.  This made it a very tough, slow descent down.
After a grueling half mile descent we finally escaped the mountain laurel, hitting a woods road.  We were very grateful!  We left the road and headed back through the woods to a creek crossing over a tributary of Sapbush Creek.
A view downstream of the picturesque tributary of Sapbush Creek.
Once across the creek, it was a steep climb back up through hardwoods, with screened views back to Big Rosy Bone Knob. 
As we neared the top of the unnamed 1928 foot summit bump to the east of Pople Hill, we hit more mountain laurel.  This was quite an annoyance, but we fought our way through it, hitting open woods again, with the fleeting afternoon light serving as a reminder of the impending early November sunset.
We soon picked up a driveable woods road, which we followed out the last .4 of a mile back to the car, completing an 8.5 mile loop.  Elevation gain was roughly 1450 feet total for the day.

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