Had to do Balsam before winter ended because it's 1 of 4 required winter hikes for the Catskill 3500 qualifications (I did the other 3 last year)...met Brian for the first time and we started app 8 going up Mckinley which is the steep way, i wanted to do that because i thought we could save some milage by going up an old logging road and do a short bushwack, we didn't do that, we stuck to the trail. According to the website it's supposed to be a 35% grade for a way, and boy did it feel like that. End result, there are no views no these peaks but the snow covered everything!...It was amazing, just like i saw last year on the New Hampshire trip, it was like marshmallow city dripping all over...Brian broke trail going up to Eagle for the 2 miles so i could follow, if it wasn't for him giving me positive reinforcement i wouldn't have continued, he was really good....goping back down that beginning part, stunk, I did glissade for a few stretches which helped me knees but the snowshoe caught a little and a felt a quick twist, but nothing worse than i already have...app 9 miles and 7 1/2 hours, worth the 300 mile round trip..working as best as i can to hike in Maine next week..it was #21 and 22 for me, I'm a list guy now...