[Photo via Nature.org]
Note from GofG: Please welcome our guest writer "Muffy" coming straight from the Upper East side to share with us her weekend hiking
It was Sunday morning, 6am, I’m stumbling toward the foot of my bed after a marvelous night out with friends. To wake at 10am was dreadful, but ambitious plans for the day required an early start. I was headed to Bear Mountain to go hiking. Such a refreshing idea-a sharp contrast to my day to day would purify my mind, reinvigorate my creativity, allow me to spend time with friends in a different setting.
N and me met up with our friends H1 and H2, a vivacious couple with quirky interactions, and then set out on our journey in two cars. Bear Mountain is located less than 50 miles from New York which makes it a convenient escape. The drive to tranquility was anything but thanks to the two speed racers. N in his Jag and H1 in his Aston Martin decided to take full advantage of driving outside the concrete jungle. Bear Mountain is even closer when approached at speeds too alarming to be specified.
We parked at the base of the mountain, which is full of amusement park activities; picnic tables, ice skating rink, merry-go-round and the historic Bear Mountain Inn, where the trails commence. The breathtaking scenery is inescapable.
Little did I know, while I was enjoying my surroundings I was being sized up by the group and given a 10% chance of completing the hike. The unorthodox hiking gear I wore may have shaped the statistic. You mean cashmere leggings, a fur coat and 4” boots are not appropriate for a mountain adventure? Before you judge me, allow me to explain. When dressing for the day I imagined I would be strolling leisurely through the woods in an environment as controlled as central park. Now that I think about it-I’ve never officially hiked. Sure, I’ve gone running along the perfectly cultivated trails in Santa Barbara, I’ve walked in parks, I’ve been to the mountains; from the Alps to the Rockies; the ensemble was suitable for my definition of hiking. Furthermore, I had no sartorial related trouble on the rigorous ascent.
The trails are clearly marked by their worn path and color blocks conspicuously painted onto the trees. The color blocks remind me of a real life version of connect the dots. It’s easy to get absorbed by the beauty and lose track of your dots. We began the hike white trail but soon found ourselves off the beaten path. Sometimes, life is about the journey not just the destination. However, our destination was the Perkins Memorial Tower at the top of the mountain, and the indicators guiding our journey were nowhere to be seen. We improvised. We climbed up the side of the mountain-for close to two hours. The shortest route between two points is a straight line, n’est pas?
I came upon a lighthouse at the summit, Perkins memorial tower. From the top of the mountain I observed sweeping views of the lower terrain, including Hessian Lake and the Manhattan skyline. There were a few other people at the top but it was quiet and peaceful! We took in the views so rightfully deserved before making the descent. Taking the marked trail down was much easier and quicker than finding your own way, and is recommended for beginners.
I got home around 7pm, exhausted, yet with a sense of tranquility. Such an excursion is a genuine way to get to know people, bridge the gap between acquaintance and friend. Just be sure to dress appropriately.