As many of you may know, I like to get off the beaten path once in a while and explore new places that many don’t see or even think about. It was almost a washout of a weekend, but since I spent a good portion of Saturday at the October Fest at Whiteface Mountain, I left Sunday to be my play day. Wouldn’t you know it, it rained most of the day, with a couple small windows of opportunity, which I missed? I headed over to Wilmington as planned to do a bit of scouting and thought about hiking up Catamount or going back to Copper Kiln Pond, but the weather just wouldn’t break and I didn’t want to get soaked or be out for a long period of time in bad conditions; that just didn’t appeal to me.
So, I drove by all these trailheads and eventually found myself over near Taylor Pond, then Silver Lake, then Union Falls, so broke out the quad map. The rain drops were a bit smaller and bit more spread out, not that I could dodge them but mentally it was more acceptable. I saw Kees Hill on the map and I hadn’t been there in a while so I decided to do a revisit. It was a short bushwhack of only about 0.25 miles from the road, but very steep as I remember. I was sure to get wet no matter, as the trees were already soaked, so it could rain all it wants, I wouldn’t feel it.
I wedged my car off the road as much as I could, took a big drink of water, threw on my pack, turned on the GPS and off I went. The climb basically started from the road and quickly I was fighting the steep slopes that were running wet with water, slippery leaves and slightly muddy conditions; I was soaked almost instantly from the first balsam that touched me. The steep slopes eventually offered up some rock scrambling and few downed trees. The rocky areas proved to be the trickiest, since they too were soaked and slippery. The downed trees were of no issue except in one spot where a bunch had accumulated. Eventually I stood on the summit ridge. Decent views from the top; would be better on a nice day. Colors were still decent as well, at least in the immediate area.
I decided to find a bit less steep descent to remove any risk of a fruitless slip. I headed a bit further north and caught a delicate line that kind of fed me down a narrow passageway of nice footing. The grade was much less steep and quickly I came out to the road about 200-300 feet from the car.
It felt great to get off the beaten path again, I think I will do this more often. If you are interested in doing some bushwhacking in the Wilmington/Whiteface Region or maybe want to work on your navigation skills, be sure to look for me at a local guide service to set something up. Need a place to stay while in the Whiteface Region? Wilmington is packed with outstanding lodging and accommodations.