Planning the rest of the 3500
Hiking blogs tend to cover, well, the hiking! But half of the battle is the logistics that go into planning and organizing your hikes. This post captures my current thinking and planning about what I have left to do to join the 3500 Club.
Here are the peaks I still need to complete:
- Hunter-West Kill Mountain Wilderness
- West Kill Mountain
- Rusk Mountain (bushwhack)
- North Dome (bushwhack)
- Mt. Sherrill (bushwhack)
- Halcott Mountain (bushwhack)
- Balsam Lake Mountain
- Big Indian Wilderness
- Big Indian Mountain (herd path)
- Eagle Mountain
- Panther Mountain (repeat)
That’s nine summits. Here’s my current plan for bagging them.
Hunter-West Kill / Halcott
Alex is attending a weekend Yoga retreat in Phoenicia, NY in mid-April. When she told me that the retreat center had booked up and she’d need to get a hotel, I got excited: what a perfect time to spend a weekend surrounded by new peaks!
Assuming the weather is good (a big if in April!) I hope to get 4–5 new peaks that weekend. I’ll hike Halcott on my own the afternoon we arrive. John will come up and we’ll hike North Dome and Sherrill together that weekend. And I hope to knock out Rusk and West Kill the last day if I still have energy. This would be a lot of hiking for a weekend, so I may try to do one of these earlier if time and weather allows.
We didn’t have time for Eagle on our winter Balsam hike and we didn’t have time for Big Indian on our winter Fir hike. Two misses means I need to go back!
The most convenient way to do just these two peaks would be via the Dry Brook Lot, an 11 mile hike. But I’ve had my eyes on a different hike for a while now, a 12 mile loop that could be shrunk to a 10 mile through hike with a second car, or even a bicycle to cover those last two miles on roads.
My main concern about this hike was that it might trespass on private land. Fortunately, hikers anonymous has extensive research on this exact question! There is a 10 foot wide strip of state-owned land that is not pictured on the map.
My hope is to do this hike sometime in late April or early May, ideally when there are some spring ephemerals but no nettles or pesky brush.
Balsam Lake Mountain
Balsam Lake Mountain also appears on the John Burroughs Natural History Society’s where to bird in Ulster County list. Alex has a goal of birding every day during May this year, so our goals nicely line up. Since spring comes late to the mountains, I imagine mid- to late-May would be ideal for this hike.
I’ve hiked Panther once and attempted to hike it twice. But the Catskills 3500 Club rules are quite specific that you need to summit Panther once in winter, and then a second time. So I have to hike Panther one more time.
I’ve approached Panther from the Woodland Valley Campground (by accident) and the Giant Ledge Trailhead (the usual route). That leaves just one more approach, from the Fox Hollow Trailhead. I think this would be fun to do as a last hike with a group. If we can stack cars, it would be a great 7.5mi through hike.
So, with any luck I’ll be a 3500 member by sometime in late May or early June!