Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hiking - Knobs west of Moxham Mountain

Yesterday, I joined a Schenectady ADK hike to a series of small knobs on the west end of the ridge near Moxham Mountain, near Minerva.  A new trail to Moxham's summit was cut this past summer, shown below in yellow, and we used it to reach the top of the ridge before turning west.  There, we left the trail and bushwhacked a clockwise loop (red) around some of the trailless western knobs, all with open rock and great views.

Pictures below are keyed to the numbers shown
Leaving the trailhead, we soon reached the top of a ridge (0) with great views of its own, right on the trail.

View to the north from Ridge #0
Moxham's summit from Ridge #0
Reaching the main southern ridge and leaving the trail, we climbed steeply to the south-facing cliffs of Knob #1, where there was a great view back toward Moxham's imposing summit.

Moxham from Knob #1
Continuing on to Knob #2, I stood at the top of a sheer cliff to get this picture back to the east.  Distant views were not so good early in the day, but the nearby terrain more than made up for it.

Cliffs on Knob #2
By now it was getting windy, and standing around for very long was a bit chilling.  We continued on to Knob #3, where we found a wide open summit with more great views and reindeer lichen everywhere.

The open summit of Knob #3
This was as far west as we planned to go, so we headed northeast to visit a parallel series of knobs to the north.  Knob #4 had a great view toward the northwest, where we could see NY-28 snaking up the hill toward Indian Lake.

View northwest from Knob #4.  NY-28 is at center.
We found a sheltered spot among the pines here, and stopped for lunch out of the increasingly biting 40-degree wind.  Once refreshed, we set our sights ahead toward Knob #5, our final climb before returning to the trail.

Knob #5 from Knob #4.  Knob #2 is at right.
This was pretty rugged terrain, with dense undergrowth.  But once we climbed up out of the col, we found some of the easiest bushwhacking of the day, through tall red pines and very little beneath them.  The faint traces of a path that we'd encountered throughout the morning were the clearest here.  The skies were beginning to clear as well, and distant views were steadily improving.  Knob #5 seemed to provide the best views of the day.

Panorama from south-facing cliffs on western end of Knob #5
Crane Mountain in the distance
One last open view of Moxham's summit from Knob #5
Before the trip, in looking at Google Earth, we had mapped out several places on these knobs that appeared to have open rock and potential views.  So far, we were batting 100%, so were confident that the last target would continue our streak.  There was a large whitish patch on the northeast corner of Knob #5 that appeared to promise views to the north, which had been a rarity today.

A northern view from Knob #5?
Arriving at that "cliff", what we found instead was a large open patch of the same whitish reindeer lichen we'd been seeing all day.  Much hilarity ensued.

A large very FLAT patch of reindeer lichen
Descending now back toward the trail, we encountered some pretty thick brush and blowdown, and also some wet areas, but finally reached the trail somewhat below where we had left it earlier.

On the way in, we had passed a trailside beaver pond without stopping for a look, so we made that slight side trip now.  It was a pretty spot, with an old dam and beaver lodge still in evidence.

From there, it was a short climb back over Ridge #0, and then downhill to the cars.

This was a spectacular hike with rugged terrain and a plethora of views from the various knobs.  A return visit to Knob #5 alone would be well worth the effort.

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