Monday, February 06, 2006


Hiking in the lower Hudson valley

This is recycled from two things I wrote last summer and fall; I wanted to put them here, so I have, and I hope my IBM colleagues who've already seen this will bear with me. Besides: recycling is good.

I'd like to talk about the Hudson valley, where I live. You see, I grew up in south Florida: a place of excellent sand and great flatness, a place very different from this. We used to hitchhike to the beach (all year 'round; what's this thing about "Memorial Day to Labor Day"?). If we'd see a sand pile we would remark that it was the highest point in Florida; that was hyperbole, but it wasn't too far off, really. So imagine how different it feels to be around mountains, even the aged, relatively small ones here.

This is a beautiful place. There are many beautiful places around, and you, who are reading this, no doubt live in one too, but this is a beautiful place. River, cliffs (the Palisades), mountains, hiking. Hiking. It's such a wonderful thing to explore the many hiking trails in this area, to spend the day walking through the woods, getting to the tops of hills, looking out over the valleys and the river. Try Anthony's Nose, on the east side of the Bear Mountain Bridge (see below). Or Sugarloaf Mountain, Mount Taurus, Breakneck Ridge, or the network of trails in Fahnestock Park. On the west side of the river, hike Storm King, Popolopen Torne, or some of the many historic trails in Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. If you live here, go ahead: do some hiking. If you visit, schedule an extra couple of days and check it out.

Anthony's Nose, the mountain just on the east side of the Bear Mountain Bridge, about ten minutes from my house, is one of my favourite spots in the area. I've always used the Appalachian Trail approach from the bridge, but last fall I went up the other side on the Camp Smith Trail — a longer, but somewhat less steep hike. With some hikes, the hike itself is the point, and, of course, that's somewhat true here too: the walking, the climbing, the fresh air are all delightful. But the real point of Anthony's Nose (as it were) is being at the top, and enjoying the view.

At the top of the mountain there are wonderful views to the west and the south. To the west, you can see the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge below, and Bear Mountain, Popolopen Creek, and Popolopen Torne across the river. At the base of Bear Mountain, and extending to the south, are Bear Mountain State Park and Iona Island Bird Sanctuary. The view to the south includes Dunderberg, a good section of the Hudson, and parts of the city of Peekskill on the east side. Dunderberg, Bear Mountain, Popolopen Torne, Popolopen Gorge, and many other trails through Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks are wonderful hiking as well.

Being atop Anthony's Nose is like being in heaven, and looking down on what seem toy boats in a bathtub. The weather was fabulous, with bright sun, a few pleasant clouds, and a nice breeze. We spent over an hour at the top, just sitting and looking. Watching the boats on the river. Watching the cars crossing the bridge. Watching the hawks soaring in the sky. We watched a gaggle of kayakers paddling down past the bridge and around Iona Island; they floated down the current and seemed as Pooh sticks as they crossed under the bridge. It was such a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This is a beautiful place.

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