5 am. Up and slightly groggy after only 5 hours of sleep. Yesterday was my long run day logging in 12 miles and many errands. My pups were rowdy so we played well into the night. I’m blaming my lackluster morning on them. The bag, clothes, and incidentals were all in check. Except those damn tissues that were nowhere to be found when I needed them most on the hike.
On the road by 6 am. Filled up the jeep and headed over to pickup my fiend Liz. I cannot underestimate the power of going on a hike with your badass soul mate. She’s a nurse, I’m a nurse. Beautiful – we speak the same language. She’s athletic, I’m athletic. Bonus – we’ll travel fast. We are both thrill seekers. Hell yeah!
We arrived at 9am to an amazing crowd of hikers. Did I mention that this specific hike was the group’s 6th year anniversary? Story has it that the first hike ever only initiated 2 or 3 hikers. I have always found it extra special to see the evolution of a small movement. So here I am with 50 other hikers. The diversity was palpable. One of the group leaders made a short and slightly emotional speech once everyone arrived. Oh yes! I did mention 50 hikers. It was controlled chaos but the sweepers were definitely on point. Here’s a couple of pics for historical value.
Finally, the hike. The plan was simple enough. A figure eight loop covering parts of the Buttermilk, Bluebird, and Stillman trails. Unfortunately, there weren’t any trail maps at the 9-West parking area. So we head up the mountain pretty much blind. This was our first ascent. Looking up. Scrambling, yes!
And here’s the first lookout. Really cool to see the main road. And the Hudson River. Stunning.
20 minutes into the trails and the group of 50 dispersed into smaller groups of faster, mid, to slower hikers. Who knows where Liz and I fit in. They were cool and everyone was doing there own thing. I shed my wool shirt and gloves. The group ended up stopping for a few pictures and taking in the scenery.
Miles later, it seemed like a good amount of people were able to regroup and snack. It’s funny to over hear some of the conversations. It was very clear to me that Liz and I were one of the very few people from New Jersey. The subject of Taylor Ham versus pork roll ensued. I just said the truth… Bacon is my answer to everything. I love bacon! Then the subject of health came up. It was very cool to see everyone eventually come to the consensus that you eat and live to enjoy life. When your time comes, it comes. Internally I thought, wow, these conversations are so different at work.
The terrain seemed to change from this point on. Parts of the path were ice covered requiring us to scramble above or below parts of the trail. Basically, side lying trees and trunks were your friends at that point. There was also a steep increase in vertical climb.
We made it to our second destination on the mountain. A great look out point to eat, while watching the Hudson river, and rest.
We hiked on. At this point we were in a small group of 5, then 3. It worked well. Another change in terrain shortly thereafter. One of the locals, Scott, told us about a brushfire from about 14 years ago that scorched through the area. Once I found out that he was a local, I just kept picking his brain. And he didn’t seem to mind. This is, of course, one of the better ways to find out about the local hot spots. We had also arrived at the last part of the trail. An incredibly strenuous climb to get back to the car. Let’s just say it was a combo of scrambling and super lunges. Throw in some patches of ice. My legs were on fire, begging for relief. I was drenched in sweat and loving it.
Arrived at the jeep. Final stats: 5 hours, 12.7km, and 4181″ elevation change. We opted on the local brewery. Reminiscing in the best way possible.