Thursday, 13 April:
As is typical on the day or two before a holiday break, I had to work dayshift. To ease the pain a bit, Rich decided to invite Aaron and me over for a little supper. While waiting for Aaron to arrive we watched from the open kitchen door a wild fifteen-minute hailstorm, after which the sun came out and everything sparkled. We shared ‘dawgs (with plenty of Rich’s special "first you get the sweet, then you get the hot" sauce, of course), beer and stories till just after 8:00pm, when it was time to go home, get some rest, and get ready for whatever adventures the next day would bring …
Friday, 14 April:
… which were basically nonexistent. The "possible afternoon showers" arrived as a steady chilling rain at about 10:30am, and lasted for the remainder of the day. Rich had to finish up that most loathsome of mid-April duties—taxes—so, in the interest of being free for the rest of the weekend he decided to stay in and finish filling out all the forms. I spent the day preparing for the "Friday night supper club" we’d planned on the night before. I was busy so I barely noticed the dreary afternoon—quite unusual for me. Rich arrived around 5:30pm (with most of his hair still on his head, I was relieved to note) and Aaron showed up about fifteen minutes later. Dinner was a real success! We began with a little teaser of cheesy garlic toasts, and then on to the real meal: thick steaks (1/3 of a cow, apiece?!) with blue cheese butter, tabouleh, cucumber salad, beer, and of course Haägen-Dazs vanilla-almond ice cream bars for dessert. Our evening entertainment was a two-hour documentary on the Gospel of Judas, which we watched while continually shooing the cats away from Rich’s new pants.
Saturday, 15 April:
Saturday began just as foggy as Friday had ended. We had decided to join Dave and friends at the ‘Gunks, but hadn’t made definite plans to climb. Our entire drive east was foggy and cool and the thought of climbing/sliding on wet rock was growing less and less appealing. But by the time we were settled into our booth at the Bakery and were biting into our bagels and potato knishes, the sun was shining with the promise of a beautiful day.
We made several trips to Rock & Snow throughout the morning, met up with Dave, Jenny and John and were finally on our way to claim the last parking spot in the Trapps lot. We climbed for most of the afternoon, and it was a great experience.
Aaron and I learned to belay, and I did a few things I never expected I would’ve been able to do, like completing the second climb. Physically I was almost worn out by that point, but something happened to let me discover that it’s more about mind than muscles. That realization gave me enough strength to make it to the top, and then some. I hate giving up, and I’m glad I didn’t.
Thanks to Aaron for the following photos!
After wearing ourselves out on the cliffs, Rich, Aaron and I still wanted to fit in a short hike up to Millbrook Ridge. We left our climbing pals around 5:00pm and hiked to a spot near the HAVENS benchmark we’d found last September. We just sat, talked and took photos while trying to catch the last of the sun’s rays and stay warm in the chilly breeze.
Our dinner was a tasty Thai feast at Lemongrass. We devoured delicious Shrimp Spring Rolls before starting on our entrees (Yum Duck for Aaron; rice noodles with chicken, shrimp and Chinese broccoli for me; and hot basil chicken for Rich). Dave couldn’t stop talking about Admiral Byrd’s snow cruiser! We had a quick, sleepy ride home.
Sunday, 16 April:
Sometime overnight or in the early morning, Rich suggested a route starting at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area (part of Harriman State Park) and I agreed to it. Rich’s summary, to follow, is excellent and I have little to add except a precise description of our route.
After spending a very splendid, enjoyable and memorable Easter Saturday climbing, hiking, eating and chatting, Z! and I reasoned that we needed an easy "rest day" for Sunday, but actually doing something other than lounging around the house. A short hike seemed just like what the doctor would order, so after returning home from the ‘Gunks that night I flipped through the "50 Hikes" guidebook you guys gave me for Xmas and picked out what appeared to be about right: a hike in the Hudson Highlands (now one of our favorite places) of just under 5 miles. At 8:30am (Oh, yes … we did cheat a little and slept in somewhat!) we headed out on I-84 east, arriving at Anthony Wayne Recreation Area around 10:15am. The sun was already shining brightly and the temps were beginning to creep up into the mid-50s. All in all, these were the makings of another gorgeous day, if maybe a bit cooler than Saturday.
This hike turned out to be much more significant than we had expected. First of all it was awesome! It had everything: it formed a loop so there were hardly any repeat trails; the trails, the terrain, and the scenery are extremely varied (this is the time of year to go when the trees are still bare) with plenty of rugged and intense climbs and a nice reprieve on an easier woods roads (XC ski trail) thrown in for good measure; numerous overlooks and plenty of open views along the ridge; fun rock scrambles, and much, much more than I could relate in a brief e-mail. At the end we felt as though the entire hike was longer than had been described! We felt nicely "whipped" on the drive over to a Friday’s restaurant in a nearby mall, where the Guinness on tap was, oh!, so welcomed!!!
From the decrepit parking lot we followed the Anthony Wayne Trail northeast to its intersection with the Fawn and Timp-Torne Trails. We took the Fawn Trail east toward the A-T, on the way spying the Perkins Memorial Tower on Bear Mountain to the north. We made a note to visit the tower and check out any nearby survey marks soon! A short hop on the A-T and we were branching off again onto the long, open, winding Doodletown Bridle Path, a former Doodletown "highway" that’s now maintained for skiing. We gained some elevation as we hiked the road, but it wasn’t till we merged onto the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail that the serious climbing began. The trail led us on a steep, lengthy ascent up to the summit of West Mountain and being out of shape from the Winter, we were definitely "suffern".
Shortly after reaching the less-than-impressive summit, we came to a ledge with a nice view of the valley, nearby mountains, and the river in the distance. (The ledge was already occupied by a couple from Brooklyn, but we waited them out and soon claimed it for ourselves.) After a snack and a brief but relaxing rest, we continued southwest to the T-intersection with the Timp-Torne Trail. Turning right (northwest) took us to the most constently level, and outstanding, portion of our hike. We were hiking along the western ridge of West Mountain, on open rock ledges with wide views allowing us to see as far south as New York City! This trail continued northwest, featuring some tricky rock scrambling and a surprise "lemon squeezer" along the way, to the intersection of the Fawn and Anthony Wayne Trails, where we had begun our hike.