Saturday, August 30, 2014

Balsam Cap and Friday, Catskills

August 30, 2014
Distance: 7.3 miles
Time: 7 hours 20 minutes 
Map: Catskill Trails Map Set

Year to date miles: 342.6

Parking: Room for around 6 cars (3 small parking areas on Moon Haw Road)
Restrooms: None
Notes: Catskill 3500 footers #33 & #34

Directions: Balsam Cap Mountain and Friday Mountain

Notes: We had to spend a lot of time studying the directions which were super helpful. The hike starts out on old logging roads - this part is easy. We studied the instructions to try to stay on the right ones (there are multiple). At some point, we left the logging roads and headed up - no herd path. This part was super hard, as it was steep, and hard to get good footing. I developed a blister from my foot slipping in my boot too much. This became very tiring. Around the time we reached the first ledge (first of four sets of ledges up to the col), Trek found a herd path. Thank you Trek! Even though we were tired, it was encouraging. Trek did a good job of keeping us on the herd path, which was faint at times. The ledges were nowhere near as bad as we expected - the herd path took us around them. At times I felt discouraged going up, as it was just tiring. After reaching the col, the herd path just continued all the way up to Balsam Cap. I wasn't expecting that we would get a herd path! Trek found the canister and stopped at it (have I mentioned he is a brilliant hiking dog)? I was so relieved. Okay, maybe this hike wasn't so bad. We turned back and hiked to the col. We took a sharp left at a large tree and headed up to Friday. The hike up Friday was much steeper. Again, so tired. No issues with ledges (the herd path took us around them). I walked right past the canister, but Glen who is much taller, saw it. I was so exhausted, I just sat down on the ground to take a rest. After a snack and signing the register, we wandered around using our GPS to try to find the true summit. We went on and off herd paths at this point - it was a bit confusing. After reaching the summit, we headed back down to the col - now steeply descending. Unfortunately I had left my trekking poles in the car - thinking that they would just get in the way during a bushwhack. I really regretted not having them. I was less exhausted during the hike down, but was slow due to the lack of trekking poles - which I could have used to save my knees, and help with balancing. We followed the herd path down, not doing as well keeping on it. Eventually we left the herd path and started the bushwhack down. I'm guessing there is a herd path that goes all the way to the logging roads - but we didn't find it. Eventually found the logging roads, and retraced our path down to the car. This hike was a challenge for us! We left it towards the end of our Catskills list, due to us realizing we needed to be more fit to do it.

Logging road near the parking area

Turning right onto another logging road

Happy to be on a herd path! I think they call this the rim trail.
Mostly easy to follow - checked our compass periodically just to make sure it was going in the right direction.

Kind of a hazy humid day, so hard to get a good photo of the view.

So happy that Trek found the canister for Balsam Cap!

Exhausted at the Friday canister. Yes there is a view right next to the canister, but I was too pooped at this point to take a photo.

Hiking down, next to the ledges.

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