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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Kate Hill & Mount Hayden(Catskills)

Finally broke out into real spring weather today with bright sunshine and temps climbing into the 50's, so I headed south after work to hit a couple small peaks in the northeast Catskills. My first stop was along High Peak Road off Route 23 where there is DEP access to Kate Hill.  Kate Hill is the 2390 foot bump just north of Windham High Peak. Elevation was just over 2000 feet where I started.
The woods were wide open and easy to bushwhack.
Even though it is April 21 and the temperature is in the low 50's, snow still remains in the shaded areas.
 Although it was a short route up, it was steep and provided screened views north to Mount Zoar.
 The woods on the summit ridge of Kate Hill are incredibly open and make for pleasant strolling.
I wandered around the summit area, being careful to stay on DEP land, and found an amazing up close and personal view of Windham High Peak, towering above, just a mile away.
 On my return I hugged the property line on the west and managed a small view to Mount Zoar with Route 23 winding below.
Although Kate Hill was very nice, it was incredibly short..not even 7/10 of a mile total.  With time still available, I decided to head down the road just a bit to hike Mount Hayden from the state access at the end of Nauvoo Road.  Elevation to start the hike was around 2000 feet.
Just beyond the gate is a continuation of the old road, which I followed for the first .4 of a mile.
 A side woods road leads up to a large quarry, which I decided to visit.
 From the quarry, I decided to make it interesting and left the woods roads, beginning the true bushwhack.  I passed through many wet, soggy areas where recent snow melt has saturated the ground.
The bushwhack was steep, with many cliff bands to contend with.  They were all easily dealt with though.
 As I ascended up and over 2500 feet, wintry conditions began to really take hold.
 Once up on the summit ridge, the snow got a bit deeper.  While only a few inches in most spots, it was even deeper in others.
 The 2924 foot summit is wooded with no views, but is pronounced.
 Once I hit the top, I decided to wander along the northeast escarpment checking for views.  Most of the views I got were through the trees, but I did manage to spot a couple openings down towards the Durham Valley.
Another valley view near the summit.
 I eventually found my way to the Long Path, which crosses close to the summit.  I followed the trail back southeast towards Barlow Notch.  Almost immediately upon losing elevation, the snow quickly vanished.
 The view south over partially frozen(still)Lake Heloise and towards the Caves(Ski Windham).
 Dropping down towards the notch, I crossed over this high elevation woods road.
 Once down in Barlow Notch, I had a nice, screened view at the next small bump to the southeast.
From the notch, I left the Long Path and descended the extension of Nuavoo Road, which was very muddy and wet in many places.
 Melting snow and warming temps means lots of water draining off the mountain.  I managed to spot this pretty cascade on a bigger drainage area.
 Took my time heading back, strolling along the woods road, which was much drier down low.
Sure felt good to have a nice spring day after a lot of unseasonably cold weather recently.  Hiked about 4.3 miles RT, with 940 feet elevation gain.  (5 miles total for the day with over 1300 feet of ascent)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Maple Hill(Berkshires)

After a long, 2+ week vacation overseas to the Greek island of Chios, it was nice to be back home.  Unfortunately, we did not bring back the good weather though! 
Took advantage of a small window of time after work this afternoon on an overcast, well below average spring day to hike a small peak in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  Maple Hill only rises to an elevation of 1768 feet, but looks like it might have a small clearing near the summit, so I headed over the state line onto Maple Hill Road(off Route 102 just south of I-90) and found a small Mass Wildlife Management Area sign and parked along the shoulder of the road.  There are no trails in the area, so it would be a short bushwhack to the top. Elevation to start the hike was about 1240 feet.  The woods were incredibly open through pines to start, and fairly steep.
 There was quite a bit of patches here and there with snow still remaining.
The Maple Hill WMA area is a very thin corridor with private land on both sides.  I basically followed this sliver of public land all the way up. 
After only about .6 of a mile, and one small area of mountain laurel, the woods opened up to a large clearing.
 Nearing the summit, I was quite surprised to see just how open the area was.  The views were much better than anticipated.
The true summit is in a clearing, with low bushes marked with several small rock cairns.
The view west towards Harvey Mountain.
 Just below the summit, there are very nice views south all the way down to Catamount Ski Area.
Another view south with Tom Ball Mountain on the left, and Catamount Ski Area in the distance.
It was an easy .66 mile bushwhack back to the car for a small 1.32 mile RT 'whack with over 500 feet elevation gain.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ashokan Reservoir(Catskills)

Blue skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 40's were enough to inspire many folks to get out for an afternoon stroll along the Ashokan Reservoir today.  This is a popular spot for a peaceful stroll, a bike ride, roller skating or maybe even a jog.  I saw all of these today.
I headed north from the west parking area, passing by the outlet of the Reservoir, where the Esopus Creek emerges far below.
Ashokan High Point rising to the southwest.
Ticetonyk Mountain to the north.
The Burroughs Range to the west.
A closer look at Ashokan High Point.
I was pressed for time so I decided to turn around just shy of the weir.  One last view on my way back. 

Storm King Mountain(Hudson Highlands)

Headed down to the Hudson Highlands to hike 1340 foot Storm King Mountain along the west side of the Hudson River in the town of Cornwall.  Storm King Mountain, paired with Breakneck Ridge across the river on the east bank, form gorgeous narrows and the northern gateway to the Hudson Highlands.  Storm King is a very popular hike and offers tremendous views for relatively little work.  There are a few different ways that you can hike Storm King, but I chose to start from the trailhead along Mountain Road, on the west side of the mountain.  I was quite surprised to be the only car there when I arrived.  The trail begins just beyond the stone gateway at an elevation of about 475 feet.
The Stillman Trail is blazed in yellow and follows a wide woods road.  Only a few hundred yards into the hike I hit snow, but it was very trampled down allowing for easy walking.
The trail climbs steadily up the north side of the peak through gradually deepening snow.  The trail utilizes many switchbacks and is never very steep.
As I gained elevation, views to the north to Cornwall on Hudson began to open up.
Winter is holding up very tightly on the north side of the mountain.
Bright sun and temps in the 40's helped offset the deepening snowpack.
The trail soon climbs up to the first of many spectacular open views  to the south and east.
Directly across the Hudson is the impressive rock face of Breakneck Ridge, another extremely popular hike.
The southeast view focuses on Bull Hill and its rock quarry along its lower slopes.
A closer inspection across the river shows traffic rushing along on Route9D at the base of the mountains.
A look west at more open rock.
More south/ southeast views down the Hudson River with Little Stony Point below Bull Hill.
Climbing up to the north facing views near the summit.
Looking down at the Cornwall Yacht Club and the western banks of the Hudson River.
The north view stretches all the way to the Catskills in the distance with the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge spanning the Hudson.  Bannerman Castle can be seen on the small island in the foreground.
The view to the northeast shows Breakneck Ridge in front with Schofield Ridge stretching beyond.
The true summit sits only a few feet off the trail and was in very deep snow.  The trail, however, was very well packed down.
I continued west/ northwest along the ridge towards Butter Hill.  From a spot just below the summit of Butter Hill, I found a nice view back to Storm King.
Climbed up to the summit of Butter Hill, which, at 1380 feet, is actually higher than Storm King. 
A short walk off the summit found nice views to the northwest.
The north view to the Hudson River.
Just past the summit is a spectacular view to the south, where Route 9W can be seen carving its way through the interior Highlands.
The southern exposure and open rocks mean almost no snow just below Butter Hill's summit.
The wintry peaks of the Hudson Highlands rising to the southwest of Butter Hill.
After enjoying the views, I headed back east to the blue/red marked Bluebird Trail, which is a connector back north to the Stillman Trail.  Just prior to the steep drop, I found one more north facing view to village of Cornwall on Hudson.
The Bluebird Trail was a fairly steep drop through melting/ consolidating snow.
Once back on the Stillman Trail, it was a straight shot back to the car.  Hiked about 4.7 miles with 1100 feet of elevation gain total. 
After the hike I drove around to the north side of the mountain for a nice profile of the peak.