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Thread: Fir, Big Indian, and Doubletop - 6/17/09 (Catskills NY)

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    Senior Member DSettahr's Avatar
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    Fir, Big Indian, and Doubletop - 6/17/09 (Catskills NY)

    Just got back from a 3 day trip in the Big Indian Wilderness Area to climb Fir, Big Indian, and Doubletop.

    Tuesday, headed in to the Biscuit Brook Lean-to in the afternoon. Met one person on his way out from Fir and Big Indian, he had found the canister on Big Indian but was unable to find the canister on Fir. Spent the night at Biscuit Brook, it's a nice lean-to that doesn't seem to get very much use. The whole area in fact gets less use than I would've expected.

    Wednesday morning, got up and left the lean-to around 9 am. Made it to the summit of Fir in 1.5 hours. I followed the tributary of Biscuit Brook that splits off just north of the lean-to a little ways, then turned north to follow the ridge that sticks out from the mountain. The southern slopes of Fir are nice and open with plenty of fern glades, and only a 1 or 2 rock ledges that are easy to work around. Close to the summit, you can see evidence of those who have gone before you in the form on little herd paths that weave in and out of each other and fade out pretty quickly after you start following them. It's only when you get within a couple hundred feet of the canister that you'll find a definite herd path that is easy to follow. The canister is also a little bit farther north than where you start expecting to see it- even after the terrain flattens out, keep heading north.

    The route along the ridge between Fir and Big Indian is horrendous, and definitely was the worst bushwhacking of the trip. At first, I went too far north before turning west (I was using just map and compass) so I came back to the south a little ways and started following the ridge. It's pretty steep in spots going down the west side of fir, and the undergrowth in the col is very dense. There was also some blow down here and there, but nothing major- it was mostly the undergrowth that made this section rough. Made it from Fir to Big Indian in 2.5 hours, managed to hit the summit right on. The herd path from the trail to the summit is in pretty good shape and is easy to follow.

    After eating lunch, I started over towards Doubletop. The ridge between Doubletop is thick, but wasn't as bad as the section between Fir and Big Indian. There is a bit of a herd path that follows the property line, but it is hard to follow in quite a few spots, so don't count on being able to follow it the entire way. The NYNJTC map shows the property line as following the height of land, in actuality, the blazed line seemed to be a little bit to the south of the height of land. There are some decent ledges on the east slopes of Doubletop that the property line goes straight up, in order to find a way up these ledges a significant detour to the side is needed. I hit the southern summit of Doubletop, and then turned to the north. The herd path shown along the Doubletop ridge on the NYNJTC map is actually a bunch of different paths that intertwine with each other, but it's not difficult to find the canister if you keep following the ridge north. I looked briefly for some of the lookouts shown on the map, but was unsuccessful. It took me 3 hours to get from Big Indian to Doubletop, and 2.5 hours to get back. I found the property line to be slightly easier to follow on the return trip.

    Upon returning to the Pine Hill-West Branch Trail, I followed it back down to the lean-to. This trail is in pretty good shape, but sections of it on the southern slopes of Big Indian are very overgrown and it is hard to follow in one or two spots. Made it back to the lean-to, built a fire to keep the bugs away, ate dinner, and went straight to bed. Total time spent hiking, including breaks, to do the 3 mountains from the lean-to: 11.5 hours.

    Bugs weren't bad at all, they are definitely worst on the summits on the mountains. At the lean-to, occasional black fly or two, same with mosquitoes; a fire does a good job of keeping them away, and at night they are attracted to headlamps but leave you alone in the dark.

    Overall, a good intense day hike with the opportunity to stay in a new lean-to. I'm closing in on a quarter of the way to my goal of staying in all the lean-tos in the Adirondacks and Catskills, this was number 60 for me.

    Edit: Photos here.
    Last edited by DSettahr; 06-18-2009 at 09:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
    The route along the ridge between Fir and Big Indian is horrendous, and definitely was the worst bushwhacking of the trip.
    Nice Trip!

    Be thankful you did not fall down North into the Valley of the Nettles! Not only are the Nettles very 'healthy', you come to an almost vertical headwall in order to get out.
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
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