Tag Archives: hiking as meditation

The Promise Of Summer Hiking

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Summer at its finest in the Hudson Valley.

“Only by going alone in silence, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

-John Muir

Since my hiking last summer added up to an incredible almost 118 miles, needless to say, I have bigger plans for this summer. My first plan and goal? Not to do anything stupid that will end my hiking excursions in literally a second.

With that said, I am planning hikes all over the Hudson Valley. Bear Mt., Harriman State Park, hikes East of the Hudson, West of the Hudson and Fahnestock State Park. Anything and everything is fair game once the summer gets started.

I remember two years ago when I based many of my hikes from a book by Don Weise entitled, Circuit Hikes in Harriman, 35 Loop Hikes, and Trail Runs in Harriman and Bear Mt. State Parks and 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley by Stella Green & Neil Zimmerman. I had carefully planned out each hike carefully according to what is listed in the book. Filled with awesome views, each of the hikes that I completed were worth every step. This year, I can leave the book with either the page number or the number of the hike so folks know where I am.

Obviously, I still have several hikes from both books that I have not done so with the exception of a very few, I am going to try and do all new hikes.

And of course I’ll beat that dead horse again: My primary goal will be overall safety and hydration. I am way too old to do a repeat of last summer.

So what are the first five hikes am I looking at this summer?

  1. Anthony’s Nose-Only in the very early morning and on a weekday. Any other time and it becomes an overcrowded nightmare of city folks and small children. (Not that I have anything against these folks, but I do my best to stay away from the Nose on Friday’s and weekends.)
  2.  Parker Cabin Mountain-Chapter 10 in Circuit Hikes. Although I haven’t done this hike, the book boasts five summits and 1,640 feet of vertical climbing in a relatively short five miles. This could be a tough one.
  3. Pine Swamp Mountain-Chapter 18 in Circuit Hikes. Another hike I haven’t done, this six mile easy to moderate hike promises views of the remnants of several large iron mines.
  4. Hasenclever Mine-Yet another hike from Circuit Hikes that I have not done, this one offers a shorter hike and a longer one with views of rock formations, a Civil War Cemetery, and of course, Hasenclever Mine (chapter 19).
  5. Second Reservoir-Chapter 32 in Circuit Hikes, this falls under the category of Trail Runs and Walks. At almost nine miles, the book says you will see scenic lakes and wetlands on this hike.

Of course, the objective is to do many more than the five listed above,  but these are ones that caught my eye from reading the descriptions in the book and that I would like to do first.

As always, HAPPY HIKING!!!

 

My Favorite Place At A Snails Pace

“I dressed and went for a walk – determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.”
–   Raymond Carver, This Morning

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Of course with the long weekend ahead of us, it makes perfect sense that I would make the choice to get out into the woods. So at 5:00 am I left a nice warm bed to make the journey over to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Even though it was 64 degrees, a pretty strong wind was blowing, making it feel much cooler than it was. Any way you look at it, it was perfect hiking weather.

Last year before my ill-fated backpacking trip, I had bought another pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX  backpacking boots. Finally, today, I decided to start breaking them in. Compared to the last three pairs I have had, these killed my feet. Instead of the usual Green to Red trail, I decided to tackle the Brown trail. At 5.3 miles, the terrain isn’t that bad and with a couple of hills thrown in, it makes for a really nice hike.

The start of the hike.

So off I went new boots and all, thinking it wasn’t going to be that bad. Now, of course, I can’t just blame the boots, because I was damn tired. For whatever reason, I had two speeds today-really slow and stop.

But that’s ok. I was still outside, I was still hiking and all was good! Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is the perfect place to take stock of what’s going on and to also clear your mind. Getting out that early is almost beyond perfect solely based on the fact that at that time of the morning no one else is out.

The Brown Trail at different points.

For me, the fact that I get to hike alone and not be bothered by anyone or anything is exactly what I need to stay sane. Today I just wished my feet didn’t hurt as much as they did. But enough of the whining, even with the new boots it still beats being inside!

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HAPPY HIKING!!!

2019 Mileage

Hike #5-5/24/19-5.3-22.8

A Labyrinth…Of Sorts

 

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“With a labyrinth, you make a choice to go in – and once you’ve chosen, around and around you go. But you always find your way to the center.”
-Jeff Bridges

“A labyrinth is a symbolic journey . . . but it is a map we can really walk on, blurring the difference between map and world.”
-Rebecca Solnit

If you have read enough of my blog, you know that I hike for many reasons. Although the physical benefits are obvious, the ones that aren’t many times are the positive ones that you receive that are psychological in nature. After a good day, bad day or indifferent one, hiking offers the mental cleansing I need to keep moving forward, both literally and figuratively.

Recently I have been researching the Labyrinth as a form of walking meditation and I think I have found parallels to what I experience when I am out in the woods hiking, especially a trail that I discovered several weeks ago in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

The Labyrinth Society says  that:

“A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal, with a singular path leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things. Labyrinths are tools for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, religious practice, mindfulness, environmental art, and community building. ”

When I read the definition above, I couldn’t help but think of The Red Trail at the Ward Pound Reservation. At about 5 1/2 miles, the trail offers a varied enough terrain to allow for the same benefits that have been found with traditional labyrinths. Flat earthen surfaces combined with multiple short rocky climbs allow the hiker to find solace in the journey that they are taking. The trail has enough twists and turns as you make your way around the park to keep things interesting.

The most beautiful thing about this trail is that built within the loop are several other trails or connector trails that can either lengthen or shorten your journey. A little more than half way through the hike is a nice set of rocks that although during the summer do not offer many views, will be absolutely magnificent in the fall and the winter. You can sit on these and reflect on where you have been and where you are going. It is also a great place to eat lunch if you choose to do so!

The differences in a traditional Labyrinth and what I have described above are obvious. With that said, you can use what you have at your disposal to help achieve the peace that you are either looking for or trying to maintain.

Happy Hiking!!!

 

A Respite On The Nose (11)

“Thoughts come clearly while one walks.”

-Thomas Mann

“Never trust a thought that didn’t come by walking.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

As the week has progressed, the temperature and humidity in the Hudson Valley has risen into the 90’s. Being as hot and humid as it is supposed to be, I decided not only to keep today’s hike relatively short, but also something familiar. Soooo…..another trip to the Nose seemed to be in order.

When I started the hike at 5:50 am, the temperature was already over 70 and the dew point was equally as high. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I was sweating buckets! Even at this early hour, the hiking wasn’t easy with the oppressive air sitting right on top of you. But once you get to the top, it makes it all worthwhile.

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A hazy morning on the Nose.

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Looking Northeast from the Nose.

Summer 2017 Mileage:

7/19/17-3.7-54.62