Friday and Balsam Cap on Cover the Peaks Day

I joined Pathgrinder for the Cover the Peaks Day (Oct. 14, 2012) – Friday Mountain. Knew it was gonna be a good day when he said that he didn’t own a GPS. We’d bushwhack with map, compass, altimeter, and his experience. It was nice to meet Jay H and Hermit at the Moonhaw Road Trailhead. “Just follow this woods road and make the second left.” We did so, but soon were ‘whacking up the steep, rocky, wooded slope (a cliff?).

I can’t do better than this Friday Mountain and Balsam Cap trip report on, for complete directions and photos of landmarks,A few general and supplementary trail-finding notes:In general, we followed the ridge, bearing WNW from the parking area to Friday. Below 2000 feet, we stayed to the right (north) side of the ridge, to avoid the cabin. The white area of private property shows very clearly on the NYNJTC trail map #143. From 2000 to 3000 feet, we stayed approximately on the ridge crest, passing through 2 or 3 flattish sections of Hemlock groves. The word “crest” is a bit misleading, because the terrain is rounded and heavily wooded, so there’s no distinct “crest” that always visually obvious. Newly-fallen leaves somewhat obscured the paths, that are much easier to follow in Spring and Summer.From roughly 3000 feet, the cliffs and outcroppings force you to the left (south). This is fine. Traces of herd path go this way. At 3250 feet is Whale Rock and the nearby Burled Tree. Here is a way up to Friday. We turned right (east) here and made our way to the Rim Trail, which, to me, seemed to be a fairly well-defined herd path along the base of the cliff that runs between Friday and Balsam. From here to the top of both summits are more paths, that sometime braid and meander, but are quite easily followed to both peaks.

On the way back down to Moonhaw Road parking area, Pathgrinder noted that Samuel’s Point is an excellent target. Aiming for that brought us right to the trailhead.

(We parked on Moonhaw Road, at the “2nd parking area, across the street from the trailhead, 0.14 miles beyond the one-lane bridge,” per the trip report. As the photo shows, it can accommodate 4 or 5 cars, not just 2, as noted in the TR. A trivial point perhaps, but finding an unfamiliar parking area/trailhead can be tricky.)

Our Day

Pathgrinder had volunteered to cover Friday for Cover the Peaks Day, but I asked if we could tack on Balsam Cap as well, as I need it for my Catskill 35. Agreed. We were at the Friday summit at noon and Balsam Cap at 1:20. We were not usually leaf-peeping or view-seeking, more focused on the hike itself, but we did enjoy the nice views of Ashokan Reservoir and Wittenberg from the viewpoint near the summit of Balsam Cap.

Despite some early rain, it was a great day and a great hike. I had a few minor mishaps: lost another pair of reading glasses, ran out of water, got a two-inch scratch on my head, and was generally huffing & puffing. But there was a decent puddle of good-looking water trickling off the cliff. I funneled two liters into my Camelbak, treated it with Aquamira, and we were off. Halle, of course, had no problems.

We hiked from 9:20 to just after 4:00. Pathgrinder estimated the round trip at 6 miles. The TR noted 7.69, for a somewhat lengthier outing. I’d split the difference and say 7.

Photos of our bushwhack up Friday and Balsam Cap from Moonhaw Road.