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Wolff Wedding and Balsam Lake Mountain


Submitted By Michael Virdone

The Mountains & Stats

4 miles with 1200 feet of gain
  • Balsam Lake (3720 Feet, NY) globe Mountain

People On The Trip

Trip Report

     Jon's wedding was on Saturday and Nicole and I wanted to make the most out of the weekend by doing some activities down state. We drove down Friday night to Clarence Fahenstock State Park and set up our tent. The layout of the campground was nice but the amount of litter and noise was really disappointing (the bathrooms weren't that nice either). Saturday morning we woke up, got dressed and headed down to the Blue Mountain Reservation near Peekskill. We rode mountain bikes on some great technical single track from about 9 to 12 and then headed back to the campground to get dressed.

      We showered and got dressed and headed to the wedding. The ceremony was in a little church, and by the time that we got there (thanks to bad directions from google maps) there was only standing room in the balcony of the church (right near the pipe organ so it was quite loud). After the ceremony we went to the country club where the reception was being held. Due to the fact that we were nearly an hour early we had some time to kill. I went into the pro shop on the golf course and they let me borrow a putter to play around with on the putting green. After killing some time, other guests began to arrive so we went and enjoyed cocktail hour. The reception was awesome, the food was great, and the band was really good. After the reception Nicole drove us back to the campground and we slept off a good night's partying.

      On Sunday we woke up, broke camp, and headed out. We stopped for a terrible breakfast at McDonalds and then began driving to the Catskills to go hiking. We got a bit lost on the way to the trailhead (this time google maps was correct and the hiking book was confusing). At the trailhead we were un-pleasantly surprised to find there were still enough insects flying about to sufficiently annoy you. We got geared up and headed down the trail. The first section of the trail is an old jeep road. After about a mile the trail splits, with an option to climb steeply on a trail, or continue on the old road. I opted to continue on the road because I knew I'd be able to keep good time on the easier grades and footing. After about another mile we reached the junction at the col and began our climb to the summit. From the col to the summit the trail alternates between nearly flat, and fairly steep. After a few more pushes we made it to the summit (In about an hour!). When I came out into the clearing by the fire tower I was surprised to see Tom and Laurie (friends from VFTT), I knew they staffed the tower occasionally, but I didn't know they were doing it this weekend so it was a nice bonus.

      We enjoyed some time at the summit, Tom showed us some of the landmarks from the tower and Laurie showed us the cabin her father built. After a while at the summit we parted ways and Nicole and I opted to take the trail (which we had neglected on the way up) down the mountain. Laurie told us about a spring on the trail so we were looking forward to replacing the terrible water that we had gotten at the campground earlier that morning. At the spring we re-filled my hydration bladder and then continued our descent. The trail was a little steep in spots but nothing too terrible. After a short amount of time we were back at the trail junction. The walk down the road was uneventful.

      Once we returned to the car, we changed, and headed back to Syracuse, I had a hard time staying awake as we had a pretty full weekend and I was spent.

The Good and The Bad

The Good:

Easy trail up Balsam Lake Mountain
Visiting Tom & Laurie

The Bad:

Crappy campground

The Drive

Lots of driving, first down to the campground, then to biking, then to the wedding, then to hiking, then to home


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