Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Photo a Week Challenge: Out in the Country



Both of these pictures were taken at two different points in a hike that I took last week. The theme, “Out in the Country,” is well represented here in both photos by showing the isolation of being out in the country.


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“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir

Heading out into the woods anywhere in the Hudson Valley promises each person a wide variety of trails that are naturally built into each hike. Some are wide and can accommodate several people walking shoulder to shoulder, while others, as seen in the photo above must be traveled in a single file.  Hiking on narrow trails, especially when they go on for some length, provide you with a sense of not knowing what it going to come next. Will the trail open up? Will it stay the same? When I venture out and encounter long stretches like this, it feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Soft, secure and peaceful.


The World Awakens

One of the unique things about hiking and walking is you get to see the world in many different lights. Depending on the time of day that you venture out, you can, and probably will, have a drastically different experience than you would if you had decided to wait to head out, either later or even earlier in the day. On the days that I am not on one trail or another, I have several loops on the local roads that I like to walk to start my day. Because it has been so hot, I have spent just about the last week getting up and walking at 4:30 am.

Although I get up around the same to go to work during the school year, I can’t compare getting up to hike and getting up to go to work.  Not that I don’t love my job, because I do, but it is much easier  on the psyche getting up that early when you are doing something that is going to help your mind and body move forward on every level.


Now, the reason I mention this is because I have noticed that whether I am deep in the woods or on the road, each day starts remarkably the same way. On the trail, the woods are eerily silent and the only sound I hear, and quickly become in sync with, is my boots kicking up the earth as I explore my surroundings. As the sun makes its way over the hills and through the dense brush of the summer woods, you can start to hear the chipmunks and squirrels begin their daily routine of survival.

The same can be said of those living in the suburbs. At this time of year, all I hear when I start walking is the communal hum of air conditioners in the houses of those who are also beginning their daily routine of survival. Bleary eyed, or in some cases teary eyed, I see the people on my walk leaving the comforts of home, briefcase or bag in hand with looks of temporary despair as they start their daily journey to, where?

As the sun continues its relentless march upward and across the morning sky, the dew begins to dry on any exposed leaves and as a summer breeze moves in from the west, the trees silently stir. At this time of the morning, especially when I am on the trail, I’ll take a few minutes to just sit with my eyes closed and take it all in. The shift from the night slumber to awakening reality can be a real eye opener (no pun intended).

More and more life continues to stir and it is obvious to me that in both cases, each place has its routines that must be adhered to. Routines, that when looked at closely, follow a pattern that help determine whether, if followed, they are among the survivors that day.

Isn’t daily survival a short-term goal for everyone? Isn’t it important to start every day in peace so we can make the decisions going forward necessary to help maintain that peace? I am looking for peace at home, peace at work and just living life without the drama that seems to consume us. Think about how you can preserve your peace as well as those around you based on how you start your day.


Haiku-A Summer Rain

I could see the black rain clouds approaching from the northwest and I just sat and waited. Although people tend not to like rain, during the summer I always welcome it. Today, when the rain began, it was a sweltering 94 degrees. As it pushed through, the temperature dropped to a bearable and breathable 74 degrees. It goes without saying that we can always use the rain.

Creeping up slowly

Menacing dark clouds pour down

Welcome liquid life 

Jase Loving Life

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.”

“Dogs love to go for rides. A dog will happily get into any vehicle going anywhere.”

-Dave Barry


Before I say anything about the picture, I have to note that I in no way recommend that anyone take a picture of their dog in the side view mirror as they drive down the road. That would just be dangerous!!!! With that said, Jase loves riding in cars (as you have read before) and here he is with his tongue flopping in the wind.

Although any ride is a good ride for Jase, this one in particular was an especially satisfying one as he spent just about three hours with us, driving around and doing errands. To say that he loved every minute of it would be an incredible understatement.

Based on the look of bliss on Jase’s face, I will not say anything else. The picture tells the entire story.


The Fahnestock Special-7/20/16

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”
-Frank Herbert

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”
-Rosalia de Castro

“Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Today was a perfectly glorious day in the Hudson Valley. When I started hiking at 6:45 am, the temperature was a cool and refreshing 58 degrees with absolutely no humidity. The sky was blue and if only for the wisps of white fluffy clouds, the suns brilliance would have been absolute. For an early morning hike on July 20th, you weren’t going to get much better than this. Mornings like this are a rarity in this area for mid to late July, with days usually being much warmer and humid than what I was faced with today. Instead of being confronted with a hazy film and endless bugs that thought I was a good source of protein, the slight breeze that was present made my eventual journey into the woods a positive one

Leaving the house, the sun was slowly rising as I made my way around Lake Mahopac. I was amazed at its brilliance, but with no humidity to hinder its ascent, the warm glow basked everyone who was out shortly after sunrise.



One of the  best things about hiking in Fahnestock State Park is its proximity to where I live. Traveling north on the Taconic State Parkway, it only takes 15 minutes to get from my front door to the trail head.

Parking alongside Route 301, the Charcoal Burners Trail makes a hasty retreat into the woods where it meets with the Perkins Trail (Y) about .1 of a mile after you start.




Slowly winding its way uphill, the trail snakes its way further and further away from the heavily traveled route 301.


If you have never done this hike before, you will be pleasantly surprised when you come out of the woods, turn left and begin walking on grass. It is a welcome change from the usual rocks and uneven terrain that are a staple of every trail.



As you walk through the grass, be prepared for your boots to get wet!!!


After a short distance you turn right and in front of you will be a gate. Make sure that as you make your way through this area, you stay on the trail as you will be hiking on private property.


Instead of being confined to a narrow rocky trail, once you pass through the gate the entire world opens in front you. Breathtaking in its scope, a myriad of photographic opportunities await as you take a moment to reel everything in.





As you continue hiking, you will see horses on your left and cows on the right. The trail continues on some really nice terrain, and even though the grass was wet with a cool morning dew, it was somewhat better than the trails we are used to in this area.


This was a great place to get some excellent pictures of the surrounding countryside. Without the summer haze that you would expect in mid July, the mountains in the distance were crystal clear. Even more interesting were the tractors, some dead and some alive, that seemed to inhabit the area. They added some nice character to the pictures that you see here.


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Continuing on the grass, follow the trail markings (not hard to miss) and you will make the hard left turn.

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After walking for another 10 minutes, you will eventually end up re-entering the woods. As with everything else, all good things must come to an end and the trail picks up exactly where it left off, in the woods.




Once you get back on the trail, you will see that it  heads downhill for probably about a mile, ending at a small bridge. If you were to do this hike in reverse, you would have a pretty long climb, so if you decide to do this hike, choose your direction wisely! This is also an excellent place to stop and rest for a little bit because you have a small climb ahead of you.





After crossing Glynwood Road, the trail heads steeply up hill for approximately 1/4 of a mile and then turns on to a dirt where you will stay until it heads deeper into the woods.


As the trail gradually slopes downward, you will see a lake to your right. Now  marked by Blue Blazes, this will continue to be the color of the blaze that you will follow for almost the rest of the hike.

As the trail winds around the lake, it begins a slow ascent back to the Charcoal Burners Trail where, one mile from the end of the hike, you can rest for a final time at yet another lake.

After you rest and get some good photos, cross the bridge and follow the blue blazes until they turn left. You will stay on the red Charcoal Burners trail until you reach Route 301.


Overall this hike is 6 miles long. Technically it isn’t a very difficult hike, but it does offer a couple of small climbs that will get your heart pumping. As you can tell by the pictures, it does, however, offer a wide range of scenery that will allow you to get some excellent photos.

Peace and happy hiking!!



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Slowly he moved through the woods, hoping that as the hours passed, it would never end. Gliding effortlessly over the rocks and gnarled tree roots, the soothing fine mist of light rain fell slowly and cooled him to his core.  Although he felt chilled, he pushed on and thought to himself, “I would not want to be doing anything else.” The nagging thought of having to end the hike entered his mind and he didn’t want this to happen, dreading the return to normalcy. As the mist truly began to clear, he rubbed his eyes and wondered where he was. However, the one thing that he was sure of was that his dream had been a good one. Slowly swinging his legs over the bed, he started his day.