Monthly Archives: August 2016

Black Rock Forest

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The sign at the entrance to the parking lot.

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“The clearest way into the universe is though a forest wilderness.”

-John Muir

 

“Hike while you can.”

-Unknown

I’m pretty sure that it’s been over ten years since I did any kind of hike in the Black Rock Forest. Since today was another one of those rare cool mornings in August, I decided to do a loop that would take me over trails and woods roads to places that I have never hiked before. Parking was easily found just off of Route 9W.

Starting on the Duggan Trail, the trail quickly descends through some pretty thick woods that had some interesting rock walls and large rocks as stepping-stones.

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After following the red blazes for about a half of a mile, the trail ends and intersects with the blue blazed Reservoir Trail. Since this hike is a loop, you will encounter this trail again, this time going uphill. Crossing a woods road, you immediately come upon Ben’s Bridge, which will take you across a small stream.

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Ben’s Bridge

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A closer look at Ben’s Bridge.

After crossing the stream, the trail, at this point very rocky with a lot of loose dirt, begins a steep and winding climb that parallels the stream. The trail here was pretty cool because at times it was closed in and you got a feeling as though you were wrapped in a lush blanket of summery goodness.

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I also thought that it was great having the sound of running water to distract me from the climb in front of me. Cascading over the rocks, it calmed me and I thought how nice it would be to just be able to sit by the stream and vegetate! On this day, however, I had to keep moving. Most of the time I usually don’t mind steep climbs, but with all of the loose rocks and dirt that made up the trail, it just made it that much more difficult. After steadily climbing for a half of a mile, look to the left and you will see this:

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Apparently the reservoirs in the Black Rock Forest still supply water to the local communities and this is one of the pipes that accomplishes that. Directly across from the pipe is this awesome sign that not only tells you what trail you are on, it also lets you know what is coming up on the trail. If only all signs on all of the trails in the area were this detailed!!!

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After resting for a few minutes, drinking some water and tightening my boot laces, I threw my pack on and made the right turn up the Honey Hill Trail. This trail also weaved through the woods and after just coming off of the Reservoir Trail it to proved to be a pretty steep climb. Based on all of the write ups I read preparing for this hike, I thought that a nice view was awaiting me when I reached the top! Hmm…I’m thinking that maybe the folks that wrote about the views on Honey Hill did so in the fall or winter because when I got to the top, this is all I saw.

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If the trees were bare I do believe that the view would have been much better than it was today. Since I didn’t have t any type of view, I immediately headed down the trail. Be careful here because it is very steep and the terrain mirrors what you have already been hiking on-loose rocks and dirt! Be mindful and watch your footing as you make your way down this section of the trail because the drop off to the right could prove to be treacherous if you slipped and fell!

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For our hike, keep heading to the left down towards Aleck Meadow.

 

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Steps on the descent from Honey Hill.

I have to admit that the first thing I thought when I saw this tree was Blair Witch Project. If I had been hiking close to sunset I probably would have started running. Good thing it very early in the morning!!

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Blair Witch Project!!!

Staying on the trail, you either descend or stay level for another fifteen or so minutes. As you continue hiking, the sound of running water becomes  louder and louder and after rounding a corner, you are presented with this stunning view.

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Due to recent storms that had passed through the area just two days before this hike, water was actually flowing over the dam. Based on the time of year, I had fully expected it to be dry. This made up for my Blair Witch like scare just minutes before!

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The trail continues right to left over the spillway on the Stillman Trail.

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The Stillman Trail

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The Stillman Trail after crossing the spillway.

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The dam at Aleck Meadow Reservoir

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Aleck Meadow Reservoir

I had first decided to make the trek to Black Rock Mountain but after looking at the map I thought it would be cool to venture instead to the White Oak Tree. The tree,  conveniently located not to far along on the White Oak Road, was worth the diversion that I had decided to take.  How often do you see a huge tree that sits in the middle of a road?

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White Oak Tree

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You can sit and rest at the White Oak Tree on this bench.

To continue on the Continental Road, do an about face  and keep hiking. I know that the Black Rock Forest Consortium uses these roads, but I never thought that I would see this sign:

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You will follow this woods road for almost four tenths of a mile where the Continental Road continues straight. Directly to the right,  you will see the entrance to the Hulse Road. Continue on this road for the 1.4 miles. As soon as you round the corner in the picture below, you will start to descend rapidly through the forest. At times the descent is very steep so you need to be very careful, the trail here is also very rocky and if you aren’t paying attention you could easily twist an ankle.

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After completing the 1.4 mile downhill extravaganza, you will find yourself on the blue blazed Reservoir Trail again. The trail starts moving uphill again, but not at the same rate as the downhill you just completed. Two tenths of a mile after rejoining the trail, you make a left hand turn and you are back on the Duggan Trail. Stay on this for a half of a mile and you are back to where you started!

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This small building was just off of the Reservoir Trail after leaving the Hulse Road.

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Even though I didn’t get the view I was expecting from Honey Hill and also bypassed Black Rock Mountain, I did get to see the Dam, Aleck Meadow Reservoir and the White Oak Tree. They all proved to be interesting in their own unique ways and I’m glad that I got some pictures on what was a beautiful day. I would love to see the dam when the reservoir is cascading over the top at it fullest and head up Honey Hill when the trees aren’t fully obscuring what I am sure is a magnificent view! It looks like I may be doing this hike a few more times this year to see what I can see. Another excellent hike!!!

Happy hiking folks!!!!

Peace!

 

Eventually they all must go…

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My son, making his way to the dorm after saying good-bye.

Today was another one of those days that although I knew was coming, I was hoping that it wouldn’t. My son, who is now a junior in college, was ending his summer break and returning to campus. Even though he is in his third year of studies, this is only the  second year he has lived away from home. His first year of school was spent at a local community college and he commuted to his classes every day. That year was a good one. He buckled down, studied hard and was accepted the next spring at SUNY Albany where he now studies history.

When I drove him to campus last August, I had that feeling that I suspect most parents get when they take their first child to school for the first time. I was nervous about whether he would make friends, make the right decisions, study and eat right (the list certainly doesn’t end here). Would he be able to survive without the sage advice of mom and dad? Would he be able to survive without having us as a back up when he needed us? Even though he knew that he could call or text us at any hour of the day, I didn’t think it would be the same.

As you all probably have guessed, he made it through the year just fine. He made friends, made the right decisions, studied, and according to him, ate from the four food groups on a daily basis. When he came home in May, he endured the endless barrage of questions about grades, future plans etc. The summer passed without incident, and it was truly nice to have him home.  The sound of him coming out of his room to see what was going on and the creaking of the cabinet doors opening as he searched for food comforted me but at the same time made me sad.

As the day for him to return to school got closer and closer, I began to feel worse than I did last year. When he went away for the first time last August, I knew that he would be home for all of the usual college breaks. At the end of the year, he would come home for the summer and then return to school again. He would do the same again this year as well. But as the month grew shorter, things felt different.

Even though he still has two years of school left, after he graduates I will have to resign myself to the fact that his time with us will essentially be over. He will get a job, possibly marry his girl friend, and begin life without his parents. Of course this is what we hope for when we have kids and raise them with the values that we hope will provide them with a quality life. But, and this is a big but, we never think that time is going to go by so quickly and that the time for them to leave will eventually be at our doorstep. I will always think of him as my little boy.

As my son and I made our way to Albany this morning, the conversation settled on the usual topics. The upcoming college football season, his classes, and of course jeep wranglers. We talked as we did every day, and at one point, as the conversation dropped off and the miles flew by, I turned and looked at my now almost twenty year old son and remembered the day we brought him home from the hospital. I remembered the time playing catch with him, running and jumping in puddles after cool summer rains and playing outside after a heavy winter snow. Most of all, however, I remembered the hugs. Hugs that would come when he wanted something, when he was hurt or just when he wanted a hug. Hugs that I’m sure made us both feel good.

After getting him situated in his room, we returned to the jeep to make sure that he had everything. I felt a pit in my stomach as my son grabbed his lap top off of the front seat and I knew it was time to say good-bye. Will we both survive his last two years of school? Of course. Will we both survive when he graduates from college and starts his life? Of course we will. But time goes by without pausing for anyone or anything.

As we hugged and said good-bye, I told him that I loved him and could only think once again that life goes by way too fast. Oh yeah, that hug we had just shared? It felt as good as the first one did almost twenty years ago.

 

The End of Summer

“The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.”
― Henry Beston

Leaves, lives, loves changing

Dark days, darker nights await

Autumns light prevails

The Perfect Affirmation…

Written by famous self-help author Jose Micard Teixeira (and wrongly attributed to actress Meryl Streep), this affirmation is about a close to perfect as you can get. In an interview with Jerris Madison, he says, “That piece was written on a train ride from Lisbon to Oporto, One day when I was feeling a little disappointed with how certain things were happening in my life. It was sort of something that I needed to get off my chest written in twenty minutes that represented the accumulation of several situations over months and also a liberation through words that, deep down, represent what a lot of people feel nowadays. I’m passionate about writing about emotions and feelings. The true inspiration of everything I write comes from the realization and experience of that passion.”

I urge everyone to read this, take it all in and adopt it as their own.  It is that good…

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

― José Micard Teixeira

The Trees Do Whisper…

This is an FYI for my readers-The Joseph’s Star, a poetry form created by Christina R Jussaume on 08/06/07 in memory of her Dad. This poem has no rhyme, and is written according to syllable counts. Syllables are 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, and 1. The poem may be written on any subject, be center aligned, has no stanza limit, and should have complete statements in each line.

Hike

I  must go

Making my way up

Soft earth tranquil in the now

Listening as trees whisper

Mindfulness and peace

I am there

Calm

Narrow (weekly photo challenge)

Both of these pictures were taken on a recent hike in Bear Mt. on the Appalachian Trail. It went from the Bear Mt. Inn to Perkins Memorial Tower and the wonderful thing about this part of the AT is that it has been totally rerouted and improved. An excellent job by the Long Distance Trails Crew/New York-New Jersey Trail Conference!!

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