Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hiking the Long Path -- New York

Hiking in My Backyard

This weekend I returned to a stretch of the Long Path that I last hiked 25 years ago. I stayed away so long because on the surface, it's uninviting. For nearly two miles the trail runs parallel to the Palisades Interstate Parkway, a four lane road that is often within twenty feet of the trail. Even so, once I got into the woods I found myself on a soft surface of pine needles and then began crisscrossing pleasant streams. I was even amused to be on a hiking trail in the woods and watching the traffic whiz by while seeing hubcaps propped up against trees and a few burnt out wrecked cars.

Leaving this stretch, I began the steep but short climb up Cheesecote Mountain, partly eased when the trail took old woods roads. After passing a largely lifeless new housing development that now dominates the top of the mountain, I began circling Cheesecote Pond. Here I got my reward for tackling this stretch of trail: I came up close to three wild turkeys. I have never been so close for so long to wild turkeys in the woods. It was definitely the highlight of the day. Just beyond I saw my first blue jay of the season.

While it's not a stretch of trail that I'll tackle often, this experience drives home the point to me that every trail has something to commend it if we keep an open mind about the experience.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Harriman Hikes - West Mountain

West Mountain -- A Wild Part of Harriman Park

The hills looked so barren in Harriman Park only hours before the biggest snowstorm of the season. By today, there was close to a foot of snow on the ground. On this hike to the west of Bear Mountain, I climbed West Mountain on the steep Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, covered the west ridge on the Timp-Torne and Appalachian Trails and descended by the equally steep A.T. It was quite a treat to see the icy cascades in the streams and hear the water falling freely. While it was a gloomy day, the views were good and I was able to see many peaks that will soon be obscured by the spring foliage. The second picture is of Bear Mountain.