Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hiking Balsam Mountain


Balsam is one of the four peaks that the Catskills 3500 club requires members to hike twice, at least once in the winter. I had not yet hiked it in any weather, so I took an opportunity to get another winter peak out of the way before March 21, when the club declares winter to be over.

Mileage-wise, it is fairly short - 2.55 miles by the shortest route. Like all the Catskills peaks, it's steep, and we went at a fairly brisk pace in our snowshoes. (Part of the climb up we opted for microspikes; the trail was mostly compacted in places.)

The weather was gorgeous - in the 20s, but brilliantly sunny. From the viewpoint near the summit we had a great view, and all the way up the sky was intensely blue.

We came back down a different trail than we went up. After coming down the hill, there are several stream crossings that proved to be much easier than foretold, although in spring snowmelt they would be tougher. The steepness was the biggest challenge on this hike, as it was much less rocky than some of the other peaks. Even considering that snow may have covered some smaller rocks, there was no scrambling required.

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