Another Harriman Overnight

Last Thursday I did another spontaneous short overnight between work shifts. In the current situation, it seems like the short midweek overnights are the way to get my fix. I will be going back to field work this month, so this may change things in the future. But for now this mid-week thing is definitely working. And it helps with parking too, though in these times the lots are mostly just as crowded as weekends. This time I went with my friend Whoops!, who you may recall hiked with me in January. This was her first backpacking trip, and it was great. The distance was short, but the rewards lasted the whole time. Perfect conditions and an even more perfect sunrise made for a great first experience for her. We may go again next week. I really can’t wait until my wife Fielden Stream can come along. That should be soon. In the meantime it’s really fun taking new friends along and showing them how amazing backpacking is. You don’t have to kill yourself with a 60lb pack and 20 mile days of 5,000ft elevations to feel like a champion out there. Do what’s comfortable and attainable. From there your abilities and confidence will grow with you. The mistake most new backpackers make is pushing yourself too hard and expecting too much the first time. This was a 2.2 mile hike each way. While it was uphill the whole time, it was moderate and gradual except for one spot. It was a perfect hike, and it’s so nice not to be obsessing over miles, just the smiles. You don’t have to do all 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire, or climb Everest to enjoy the outdoors and identify with it. Go out and enjoy!

Photos below, and of course, a video which has a lot more of the experience. Watch the video here:.

Miles total: ~5

— Linus

Linus at the start

Linus at the start

Bridge on the long path

Bridge on the long path

Rays

Rays

Brook crossing

Brook crossing

Whoops! at the cairns

Whoops! at the cairns

Whoops! on the rocks

Whoops! on the rocks

Linus by the shelter

Linus by the shelter

Camp

Camp

Big Hill shelter

Big Hill shelter

Linus and Whoops! at Big Hill

Linus and Whoops! at Big Hill

Warmth

Warmth

Sunset

Sunset

Linus at sunrise

Linus at sunrise

Whoops! at sunrise

Whoops! at sunrise

Whoops! on Big Hill

Whoops! on Big Hill

Whoops! on the trail

Whoops! on the trail

Linus at the brook crossing

Linus at the brook crossing

Whoops! at the reservoir

Whoops! at the reservoir

Reservoir views

Reservoir views

Linus on the Dam

Linus on the Dam

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

 

Harriman Overnight Backpacking Trip (NY)

Last Thursday I decided to finally realize my multiple threats (or should I say requests!) for a mid-week overnight backpacking trip between work shifts. I don’t know yet when I will be able to go back out in the field for work, and since there’s not really any open A.T. sections in my area that I haven’t done yet, I decided to find another great hike nearby. I have been tossing around the idea of Harriman State Park in New York since my previous two hikes on Connecticut’s Regicides Trail. This is mainly because they are very reminiscent of each other in ways.  I did research some other overnight sites in Connecticut but most were in state forests or parks that were not open. There were some options, but Harriman was at that point just calling me back. I did a solo overnight there in 2015 over the Timp and West Mountains. That was a scorcher! Well of course I became so pre-occupied since then with the A.T. and my various trail jobs on it as well as local Connecticut trails that this park just fell off my list.

But as I began to ponder and plan something there, I began to recall all the fantastic scenery that is to be enjoyed. Having done all of the A.T. in New York, we were also treated to another long section of trail in the park, including the famous “Lemon Squeezer.” This loop would take me within less than a mile of that feature, and was extremely reminiscent of the bear-troubled Fingerboard shelter and mountain, just north of where I camped. While this shelter did have a bear activity sign, being OFF the A.T. means a LOT less traffic and use, so I wasn’t too worried and didn’t have any issues. I am experienced in these matters and practice proper food storage and preparation guidelines and i know that helped. In fact I had the place to myself which was just what I needed out of this hike.  I did encounter many people day hiking, even a couple backpacking, but no one but myself stayed here.

Wow, was I right in my recollection of the scenery here. And I’ve only explored a tiny fraction of this park to date. I had some issues with one of my trekking poles on this hike, and my tent is trekking-pole supported. So when I got back I ordered some new poles which are on the way, and also a book of 35 circuit hikes in Harriman. Happy to give money to a great organization like NYNJTC (New York New Jersey Trails Conference) and I spend so much time on the computer, sometimes Its just nice having a book. I would print out maps for the hike and not bring the whole book along, but it’s also easier than scouring 100,000 web page reviews of best hike options for an overnight.

Mountainhopper helped me at the last minute decide which of several loops to do, as he had been doing this one (or a slightly longer version) the last few days and knew which roads and lots were still open from the Covid closures. The weather was glorious, even the rain overnight was no big deal. Though I’m much more tolerant of and accustomed to rain now! All part of the fun, embracing the suck.

Amyway, I made a video. Pictures are of course below, but if you want to see the video click here. I liked it so much it’s now my header image (using the panorama feature on my phone).

Miles total: 7

— Linus

Rules

Rules

I don't think we're in NYC anymore Toto

I don’t think we’re in NYC anymore Toto

Starting the climb up Hogencamp Mountain

Starting the climb up Hogencamp Mountain

Lone tree on Hogencamp Mtn

Lone tree on Hogencamp Mtn

Plenty of scrambles

Plenty of scrambles

Rock and vapor trails

Rock and vapor trails

Using Peakvisor

Using Peakvisor

Bald Rocks shelter

Bald Rocks shelter

Hey there Boo boo!

Hey there Boo boo!

Looking west over camp

Looking west over camp

RIding the mountain's spine

RIding the mountain’s spine

Approaching sunset

Approaching sunset

More sunset

More sunset

A bit more sunset

A bit more sunset

Gourmet

Gourmet

Sunrise from camp

Sunrise from camp

Hiking out on a soggy morning

Hiking out on a soggy morning just past sunrise

Rock runways

Rock runways

"Bowling rocks" just after sunrise

“Bowling rocks” just after sunrise

Laurel tunnels

Laurel tunnels

Morning fog over a lake

Morning fog over a lake

An old entrance to the Hogencamp Mine

An old entrance to the Hogencamp Mine

Hogencamp Mine. This is zoomed, Stay far away, if you fall in you are probably not getting out alive

Hogencamp Mine. This is zoomed, Stay far away, if you fall in you are probably not getting out alive, seriously.  This is the main shaft and VERY deep with walls as slick as slime

 

Regicides Trail Finale/Loop

Last week I managed to get out and finish the rest of the Regicides Trail in Hamden. CT. It was an overcast but dry day, around 55-60 degrees. After a lot of back and forth I finally figured out my final loop plan and still was off a little on the actual miles. But that’s okay. I only had myself to answer to, and I really didn’t mind it being a little longer than I thought. I got an even 5-miler in!

I parked on the far north end and took the mostly flat red-white trail through some meadow, young forest and pond-front terrain back to the yellow trail I came down last time. That yellow trail was a nice climb on the way up, visually and physically. Not really steep, but keeps your attention! It was about 1.7 miles back up to the Regicides trail on the ridge line. Here the Regicides trail bounced back and forth from the left side to the right side of the ridge, similar to how the Appalachian Trail follows and criss-crosses Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There were really nice views on both sides, and one real treat – the view of all of New Haven, East Rock and the Long Island Sound. I saw that view several times and it wowed me each time. There is some good hiking at East Rock, and you can find some of my entries for those hikes here – just use the search bar! A lot of these wooded ridgelines with occasional vistas really reminded me of my hike on the Georgia Appalachian Trail.

When I reached the end of the scenic ridge line walks the trail entered a gap. This is where three trails merge. The northern feeder trail (the Sanford Feeder), my road walk out, or a quick descent on the Regicides then back up a steep rocky scramble known as High Rock, where it meets the Quinnipiac Trail.  I knew from the profile it was a nice little climb. I saw it even before I got to the gap where the trail junction was. One giant rock pile about 300ft up? There were switchbacks but there were a lot of rocks to climb over too; similar to the Pennsylvania (or New York) sections of the A.T. And in one section, Barrack Mountain on the Mohawk trail which kicked my butt hard in January.  The view was worth it, though not much to get excited about in terms of celebratory signage! Well at least I can now call the Regicides trail complete. I walked back down and up the steep final portion of the Regicides trail and down the road, past an abandoned old homestead and back to the road I parked on.  A beautiful trail, easier done in one end to end, or maybe two because the access trails aren’t always the shortest loop options. Photos are below but I also made another video which you can watch here.

Miles: 5

— Linus

Time for the final section

Time for the final section

Young forest

Young forest

Through the meadow

Through the meadow

Back on the ridge

Back on the ridge

Walking the ridges

Walking the ridges

From side to side

From side to side-reminded me of Georgia!

New Haven, East Rock, and Long Island sound

New Haven, East Rock, and Long Island sound

Lush ridge walks

Lush spring ridge walks

Approaching the end of the ridge

Approaching the end of the ridge, high rock in view

High rock climb coming into focus

High rock climb coming into focus

Climbing up High Rock

Climbing up High Rock

Looking down the climb up

Looking down the climb up

View from high rock

View from high rock

On high rock

On high rock

 

 

 

 

Hike on the Regicides and Connecting Trails, Connecticut

Happy 50th Birthday to Earth Day! We have this fantastic day to thank for so many of the laws in place to protect our natural and wild places and species. Make a few minutes in your day to make an impact however you can, whether its use less electricity, or water, or food, planting, cleaning up a trail or park or your backyard or even just spreading the word to others. Together we can make an impact. The planet needs more than ever!

While my contributions today don’t include a hike, here’s one I did a week ago in the New Haven, Connecticut area. Curious about the name and history? Watch the video. It’s in the beginning so don’t worry you don’t have to watch all 45 minutes. But hopefully you will enjoy more of it than that. I did. This does put me over my 200 miles of Connecticut blue-blazed trails, and 1,300 total miles since I started tracking my hikes in late 2013. So that’s kinda neat. I hope to be on a trail again later this week.  Thanks in advance for coming along on some of the walk. The video covers it all, go check it out here!  There’s a few spots where the wind makes it a little harder to hear, but maybe only 2 minutes of all of it, so don’t let that scare you off! If the 45-minute length does, well then I understand!

Miles: 6.4

— Linus

Linus the man behind the mask

Linus the man behind the mask-parking lot safety!

Starting out along the rocky ledges

Starting out along the rocky ledges

Reinding me of the southern A.T.

Reinding me of the southern A.T.

Round the bend

Round the bend of rocks

Plateaus

Plateaus

Another Eagle beak?

Another Eagle beak?

Up the plateau

Up the plateau

Powerlines

Powerlines

a trail's dropdown menu

a trail’s dropdown menu

More dropdowns

More dropdowns

Love beds of pine needles

Love beds of pine needles

Strange places in the woods

Strange places in the woods

Thru the lookout

Thru the lookout

Pillars and pathways

Pillars and pathways

In view

In view

follow the yellow blaze road

follow the yellow blaze road

Always a joy to find yellow trout lily

Always a joy to find yellow trout lily

Will have to come back in June for the Laurels in Bloom

Will have to come back in June for the Laurels in Bloom

Carriage roads

Carriage roads

 

Birthday and Anniversary Hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (NY)

Just one week later we decided to go for another hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation to celebrate Whoops!’s birthday and my and Fielden Stream’s 10 year anniversary. Parks are still open to encourage fresh air, sunshine and healthy distancing, so long as that is able to be maintained. Whoops!’s brother was visiting her and came along as well. We met several years ago at a BBQ and so it was nice to see him again, from a distance! We took separate cars, for starters.

This time we headed for the Leatherman’s cave and the vista above as our adventure, with a detour back to the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp to show Whoops! and her brother, and to see the bits we didn’t catch last week (see the entry below this one). For a little info on the Leatherman, check out the infographic plaque in the photos below.

Most of the trail we did was a wide carriage road except the one up to the cave and over the hill the cave was on, so the miles were easy except for those two climbs. I don’t know of a name for that hill, but the one just southwest is called Joe’s Hill and its about 70ft higher. You get a nice view of it from both vistas on the cave hill, as well as a wide view of the Cross River Reservoir and mountains and valleys to the west and north. I believe I spotted the hills along the Connecticut New York border which the Appalachian Trail straddles in the Kent area. But I did not pull out Peakvisor this time to confirm!

There was a good number of folks out enjoying the park again this time, and the park was free, i imagine to limit human exposure to each other, and to the attendant at the gate. Photos below.

Miles: 4.2

— Linus

A pleasant brook

A pleasant brook

About the Leatherman

About the Leatherman

Climbing up to the cave

Climbing up to the cave

Whoops! and her brother

Whoops! and her brother

Linus and Fielden Stream

Linus and Fielden Stream

Linus in front of the cave

Linus in front of the cave

Looking down the hill from the cave

Looking down the hill from the cave

Linus the Bear Man

Linus the Bear Man

View to Joe's Hill

View to Joe’s Hill

Linus Pointing to a distant peak

Linus Pointing to a distant peak

Linus on the hill

Linus on the hill

View from the vista

View from the vista

Whoops! and brother at Cross River vista

Whoops! and brother at Cross River vista

Linus looking over the expanse

Linus looking over the expanse

Wittling

Wittling

Linus breaking for the view

Linus breaking for the view

Site of old CCC camp mess hall

Site of old CCC camp mess hall

 

 

Family Hike at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation (NY)

On Sunday we decided some fresh air and sunshine would be good for us so we took our dog Jojo and my son Jiffy Pop (trail name of course) to New York’s Ward Pound Ridge reservation (park), a mere 30 minutes away and Westchester County’s largest park at almost 5,000 acres.  I had been to this beautiful park in the past for a hike to one of the famed Leatherman’s caves, but it’s been many years.  This park contains many stone shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during FDR’s new deal, and there was a CCC camp here as well for the workers while they built the shelters and other stone works. The park has 35 miles of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, campsites, fishing, several picnic areas and a trailside nature museum. More info at: https://parks.westchestergov.com/ward-pound-ridge-reservation

In my new role at the Westchester Parks Foundation, this is one of the parks I will be at often to do volunteer park improvement events. So I was eager to get back there and re-aquaint myself with it. Of course, we only hiked 2.5 miles out of the 35 but it did serve the purpose at a basic level. I will get to know it quite well I am sure.  I did identify a few trail features I want to go back and address as a future project.

I was excited to get our dog Jojo back out on another hill, and my son Jiffy Pop as well, on this beautiful day. We did the Fox Hill trail, and a little bit of a walk through the Marsh. There were a lot of people it turns out, but given all the space and fresh air I’m not too worried it was a bad decision in this time of social distancing.  Photos below.

— Linus

Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Linus, Fielden Stream and Jojo

Linus, Fielden Stream and Jojo

View of Fox Hill

View of Fox Hill

Linus and Jojo on the Fox Hill trail

Linus and Jojo on the Fox Hill trail

Jiffy Pop stream crossing

Jiffy Pop stream crossing

Skunk Cabbage coming up

Skunk Cabbage coming up

Phenology Trail

Phenology Trail

Fielden Stream and Jiffy Pop and Jojo

Fielden Stream and Jiffy Pop and Jojo

CCC Camp was here

CCC Camp was here

A CCC-built shelter (one of many here)

A CCC-built shelter (one of many here)

 

Jojo’s first real hike, Topstone Park

We’ve been treated to some very spring-like and beautiful days in the last week and change. So we took advantage on Monday and I took Fielden Stream and our dog Jojo for their first hike at Redding, Connecticut’s Topstone Park. This was Jojo’s first real trail hike . She’s gone on some nice walks in the woods with us but those were more like rail trails and are manicured, graded and wheelchair accessible. So this was her first real hiking trail, and with quite a steep grade to start with.

Overall it’s only about 300ft but most of it is in the first quarter mile of the Chase Long View Trail. It rises steeply with little in the way of switchbacks, for about .2 miles and then levels out and is otherwise easy everywhere else we walked. The two views up there are great reward, though even in winter foliage and a bluebird day, I couldn’t see Long Island sound like they say you should.

We did see 3 juvenile bald eagles enjoying riding the wind updrafts.  I also really enjoy the base trail which follows the bottoms of the large rock outcrops the summit trails traverse. So we took that trail back, and visited the beach shortly on our walk back to the parking lot. This time of year the gate is closed so it’s about a third of a mile up the road to the pond and beach and start of the trail up the mountain. There is one long trail from outside the gate around to the end of the pond which I did last time. Not knowing how Jojo would do, I didn’t want to make her do too many hills.  She did great though and loved it. It did make her quite tired though!

I prefer to go here off season as I’m not a town resident and with the beach and swimming hole I imagine it’s quite a different experience in the summer. I am wanting to take Jojo out on longer hikes down the road so this is just the first outing testing the water with her. We went for lunch at a nice cafe on the way home and Jojo got a nice big bowl of water and some of my peanut butter cookie!  Photos below.

Miles: 2.2

— Linus

Linus and Jojo on the Chase Long Point Trail

Linus and Jojo on the Chase Long View Trail

Linus and Jojo at Chase Long View

Linus and Jojo at Chase Long View

Fielden Stream and Jojo at the pond overlook

Fielden Stream and Jojo at the pond overlook

Topstone Trail

Topstone Trail

Nice treechair

Nice treechair

The cliffs along the Base Trail

The cliffs along the Base Trail

Walking the base trail at the base of the cliffs

Walking the base trail at the base of the cliffs

FIelden Stream and Jojo

FIelden Stream and Jojo