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Friday Mountain, Trout Lilies, and Trillium
So how do you describe Friday Mountain and Balsam Cap?
"These hikes are intensive and demanding and should only be undertaken by individuals with comprehensive backcountry navigation skills and those who have spent significant amounts of time hiking on trail. These are not hikes for the novice."
"Friday is thought to be one of the most difficult of the trail-less peaks. " (Both quotes are from NY-NJ Trail Conference/Catskill 3500 Club)
According to Catskill Mountaineer, this hike has "almost 3,000' of vertical, and route finding is exceedingly difficult. While there are a lot of old logging roads on the mountain side, finding the correct route is difficult. About 25-30% of the hikers don't summit both mountains. Friday Mountain causes most of the problems. The beginning of the hike is also difficult. Because of the large number of logging roads, it is hard to determine which ones to take."
And it's well known that Friday Mountain is one of the few Catskill Mountains with a documented modern fatality. So that's exactly why we make an annual pilgrimage there to find wildflowers.
Admittedly, given the 80 degree heat that greeted us after our 45 degree recon 3 weeks ago, we were ready to quit when we hit the ridge. But we encountered two youthful, energetic hikers coming down from having hiked both Balsam Cap and Friday.
"Have you been up Friday?" we asked. "Are the trout lilies blooming? You know, the yellow flowers."
A moment's pause, and then the answer that steeled us to persevere despite the heat. "Oh, yes, they're up there."
And let's just pretend we never overheard the hiker's comment as they left, "The only reason I knew about those yellow flowers is, I stepped on them."
Nonetheless, they were blooming and glorious on Friday when we finally got there.