Tuesday, January 26, 2016
I had planned to hike Blackhead in winter at last year's Winter Weekend, but the hike was called off the night before. Now it remained as my final required winter peak.
On my summer hike of Blackhead, I'd done it with Black Dome and Thomas Cole as a shuttle hike. In my blog post about it, I'd written, "We took the steepest [route], starting up the Batavia Kill Trail to Blackhead. Unlike Windham, this trail was pure Catskills - rocky and steep. (Blackhead is also a required winter peak; that approach is not recommended in winter.)" Take a guess as to the route we took up Blackhead this time ...
Our leader had also warned that there might be some nasty icy parts and had brought a rope and an ice axe. As it turned out, we didn't need either. There was enough recent snow that the icy climbs had some traction.
We also lucked out in that it was few degrees warmer than the previous day - plus clear and sunny. There are several nice views through trees on the way up, even though it's evergreens from a much lower elevation than most Catskills hikes. The best view, though, is coming off of Blackhead towards Black Dome, with a clear view of Black Dome and Hunter. (In the photo below, Black Dome is right up front, with Hunter off to the left, recognizable by its ski trails.)
We came out on the Black Dome Trail, back to Batavia Kill, a less rocky approach. Although I felt as though we were hiking more slowly than on the previous day's hike, we still were done quickly. The amount of snow was just enough to smooth out the rocks without impeding our path.
Now, I have all four winter peaks done, and 28 of the 35 finished.