Wildcat Mountain Road is a lovely high elevation, dead end, gravel road with several camps and even a couple of year round residents. We decided to walk the scenic road for about a mile, until its terminus. Elevation to start the day was a lofty 2250 feet. Took a moment while passing by this apple tree in the front yard of a lonely looking seasonal camp.
The end of the maintained part of Wildcat Mountain Road is the start of DEC land. A very rough road continues into an open hardwood forest.
Jim leading the way on a cold, but pleasant winter morning. Temps to start the hike were in the single digits, but a lack of wind made for comfortable going.
Gorgeous stone walls just off the woods road.
We were both a bit surprised to see almost no snow or ice until about 2500 feet. Even then, the snow wasn't much more than a dusting to an inch. The ice was quite impressive however. We carried spikes in our packs but bare booted the whole day.
A light dusting of snow covering a batch of shining clubmoss and evergreen wood fern.
A typical scene along the Wildcats in an almost 100% deciduous forest, making for great bushwhacking.
A final push up our first small peak, with crunchy, crusty snow underfoot.
The first bump along the way is a 2865 foot summit without enough prominence to count as its own peak. Was still very lovely, with a bit more snow and ice at this elevation.
The area between peaks is a checkerboard of public and private land, so we were very mindful of this, keeping one eye on our maps as well as the property markings.
Arriving at the first "official" peak of the day, the 3160 foot summit of West Wildcat.
A small rock cairn marked the summit, my 77th CHH peak.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we continued on in a northeast direction, climbing up and over a couple of other minor summit bumps on our way to East Wildcat. Just before the ascent up East Wildcat, we arrived at the gorgeous "bavarian forest". An unlikely dark, hemlock grove stands in stark contrast to the hardwoods that make up most of this entire range.
Wandering through this magical hemlock stand.
Just beyond the dark forest, the ascent commenced. Some of our steeper climbing of the day occurred along this stretch. Nothing too difficult though.
Even over 3000 feet, much of the open areas were snow free, making for easy going. This was the last summit bump before East Wildcat.
Jim wandered along the southeast facing slopes in search of a view, finally finding a nice lookout towards Slide. East Wildact's long ridge dominates the foreground.
A jumbled pile of rocks on East Wildcat's higher slopes.
As we gained some of our highest elevation of the day, the woods became noticeably more wintry.
The nondescript 3340 foot summit of East Wildcat. My 78th CHH! Yeah!
We continued the bushwhack northeast, heading up and over a couple of other minor 3300+ foot twin summits before a steep drop brought us down to the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail. From there, it was an icy 1.5 mile trail hike back to the first spotted car.
Just prior to arriving at the car, we came to a difficult creek crossing over the West Branch of the Neversink. High water and ice made things very tricky. We both got wet feet, but managed to cross safely. A long 11 mile(9.5 bushwhack) hike, with over 1700 feet elevation gain.