A couple of weeks ago I broke one of my most sacred rules of hiking-Never, ever, ever, ever hike to Anthony’s Nose during peak hours on a Sunday. Having not done so in a very, very long time, I forgot just how congested this wonderful hike can be. Usually on beautiful day like today I would seek out another place to hike where I know I wouldn’t see many people and be subjected to the congestion and mayhem that comes with everyone having the same idea as me.
Not thinking, however, I made the drive to the AT as it crosses South Mt.Pass and headed to the Nose. Everything was fine as I meandered through the woods, noting how the last time I was here we were still in the throes of winter and now, the trees were green and the ground was still wet from rain that had fallen the previous evening. And although the wind was blowing, the temperature was in the low 50’s and it was lightly raining, it felt good to be out in a familiar place.
Little did I know that my solitude would be short lived…
That good feeling lasted, of course, until I reached the point in the trail where the AT intersects with the Camp Smith trail. You see, whenever anyone writes about Anthony’s Nose and its virtues of being one of the most popular hikes in the Hudson Valley, the directions that they give everyone to get there are from Route 9D near the Bear Mt. Bridge.
Now keep in mind that until I reached the AT/Camp Smith intersection, I had not seen one person, not a single soul. I was being lulled into that mental happy place that I love to go to when I hike, especially here at the Nose, my Holy Grail of hikes. My most favorite hike of all time. Have I mentioned how much I love hiking to Anthony’s Nose? So imagine my shock and surprise when I crested the small hill just before the trail heads up to the Nose to see no less than 15 people coming off of the AT!!
As I worked my way past the group, I thought, “ok, a small group is here, it won’t be so bad. I can’t always expect to be here alone. Just get far enough ahead of them and they won’t make it to the top before you spend some time resting before you head down.” I really need to stop thinking. It only got worse. Working my way up the trail, I greeted three large groups that were headed in the opposite direction as well as two others headed to the view point.
When I arrived at the Nose itself, I can honestly say that I had never seen so many people at the top before. Now before I go any further, I have to make a few things clear. First, I fully believe that anyone that wants to hike should be able to do so whenever they want and wherever they want. With that said, however, as with everything else in life you have responsibilities, even when hiking.
Noting that, I am also a firm believer in proper trail etiquette. That goes for everything from leaving trash to listening to music to the volume of your voice (or your groups). As noted in the previous paragraph, the number of people, young and old was staggering. I literally had to weave my way through several groups of hikers to get to my favorite spot overlooking the Bear Mt. bridge.
Who wouldn’t want this all to themselves?
I can tell you with certainty that today, the folks that I was out on the trail with were lacking any form of trail etiquette. Here is a short list of what I encountered:
- People dropping trash on the trail and at the viewpoint. Young and old, male and female, I saw people dropping wrappers and leaving water bottles where they sat.
- A conversation between two woman (I was probably thirty yards away and I thought it was thirty feet) where one said to the other, “Doesn’t hiking to Anthony’s Nose make it easier to relate to Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods?” Really??
- A group of at least fifteen people who had just made it to the Nose for the first time. Although I applaud the fact that they made it to the top, they way they were carrying on about it, you would have thought they had conquered Everest. Sorry folks, not even close.
- One gentleman, probably around 60 years old and listening to some form of techno pop (without the aid of ear buds or headphones) noisily making his way down the trail, oblivious to everyone else hiking.
Not feeling the love, I decided to head back down to South Mt. Pass and call it a day. So, my first question is this-Am I spoiled and entitles hiker? To a certain degree I suppose that I am. I will admit that I prefer to have the viewpoint to myself or just a few other people, and for the most part over the years, I have. My next question is this-Do I expect to much from my fellow hikers? To this I offer a loud and resounding-I don’t think so. I fully expect everyone on this trail, and every other one, to exhibit the same courtesy that my friends and do.
My last thought will be this: Common courtesy should be a common virtue. Our hiking trails, especially in an area this close to NYC, should be considered sacred ground. I always go back to this variation on a theme- Treat people and things as you would want to be treated or you may lose them.