The week of December 21st began with an overcast Sunday with noticeable moisture in the air and temperatures rising only intone upper 30′s. Monday and Tuesday appear to be cloudy with increasing temperatures but also increasing moisture in the air. The rising temperatures will peak on Wednesday when highs are expected to be in the low 50′s. Wednesday will also see a series of downpours throughout the day. Any drop in temperature could change some of the rain to snow or sleet. The temperature drop will begin on Thursday as the mercury hits the mid 40′s with a chance of snow showers. This trend continues on Friday and Saturday as the highs drop into the low 40′s on Friday and the high 30′s on Saturday. A shower is possible Saturday afternoon. This forecast is for the lower elevations. Snow and ice are accumulating on the peaks and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Saturday, December 20th I was ready to get out after a week of poor weather, coaching commitments and a stint as school nurse. I had planned to hike the section of the Long Path from the New Jersey Border to Nyack which is section 2 of the Long Path. This would leave only section 1 from Fort Lee, NJ to the New Jersey border for me to complete the Long Path. This section is a little over 10 miles so I knew I would need a ride. I called the Nyack Car Service and they said they could transport Shiela and I for about $20. It was about 23 degrees when we left Livingston Manor at around 7:00 AM. The forecast for the Nyack area was for temperatures in the 40′s with some sun in the mid-morning and I dressed accordingly. I chose the easiest route by driving down Route 17 to Harriman where I picked up the Thruway south. I knew I wanted exit 11 and expected some heavy traffic as this exit is near the Palisades Center Shopping Mall. After getting off the exit I turned left on Route 59 and parked in a strip mall. I called the car service and they were there within 5 minutes. I explained where I wanted to go and we were off. The drive was only about 15 minutes south on Route 9W and we were there at 9:00 AM. The driver dropped us off and we were hiking by 9:05 AM. As we started out on the trail passed the gatehouse for the Lamont-Doherty Observatory, a group of cyclists sped by heading north on Route 9W. The New York Cycling Club has adopted this section of road and use it regularly for hill repeats! The first .7 miles of the trail headed downhill and parallel Route 9W passing through some hardwood forest and eventually meeting Route 9W. The traffic on 9W was consistent but the road had wide shoulders. We headed north on the road until 1.2 miles where we crossed to the parking area for Tallman State Park on the other side.
There were a few cars parked and we immediately met a woman walking her German Shepherd “puppy” back to the car. The trail began as a wide woods road and bike path with a firm surface which made it easy to walk. We were walking east and then turned north at 1.5 miles on what was more like a hiking trail. A young woman came running toward us from the other direction and I said “Hi!” as she passed. I got no response since, like so may people today, she had earphones on to shut out the rest of the world. For the next .5 miles we hiked along a raised walkway with lower wetlands on both sides. Some areas were just marshy while others had small ponds. At 2 miles we turned east again but soon started heading NNW walking along the edge of the escarpment. Looking to the right the Hudson River was visible and there were some views of the large Sparkill marsh below. Trees limited the photographic opportunities until we walked down a hill to an area with benches at about 2.9 miles. I took off my pack and got a drink before grabbing the camera. I took some pictures of the marsh and the river before sinning the pack to continue our journey. We walked up a paved walkway and then turned onto a trail to get to the plateau that makes up what is called Tallman Mountain. We walked passed the shelter at the top on a paved roadway to a lookout just north of the shelter. I found the name Tallman Mountain interesting since the maximum elevation is only 171 feet. I again dropped my pack to take some pictures from this less obstructed viewpoint. I could still see the marsh below but could now also view the Tappan Zee Bridge and the village of Piermont below. The skies were a uniform gray even though it was now 10:15 AM when the forecast had called for sun. The most interesting feature was a long spit of land that jutted out into the river from Piermont. This is the mile long Piermont pier that was a terminus for the Erie Railroad. It also served as a point for ferry service to Dobbs Ferry on the other side of the river .I thought about walking out on it but decided I wanted to make sure I finished the hike. We walked a little farther and I found another lookout that had views down into Piermont. After a few shots, we got back on the main trail and walked down a steep hill to the road.
We crossed Sparkill Creek on a bridge and started walking north on Piermont Avenue passing some small shops. The trail had been well-marked so far by aqua blazes and I soon noticed that they indicated a left turn onto a side street. We walked up Tate Street and near the top turned left up a set of stairs to Ash Street. At the corner across from us is the old Erie railroad station for Piermont. The building is over 100 years old but has been resided. We followed the blazes on Ash Street west to Piermont Place. We headed south on Piermont Place and then west on Crescent Road. Crescent Road was a dead end but the trail followed an old fire road at the end which we followed south and then west to Route 9W. We had been climbing since we left Piermont but the climb was not over. We turned right on Route 9W and then almost immediately left on Castle Road. We followed Castle Road for a short distance until the blazes indicated a right turn into the woods. As we turned I saw two mountain bikers coming down the hill so we stopped to give them the right-of-way. We continued on the trail passing through some woods but still climbing. The trail eventually took us to the roads that run through the Rockland County Cemetery where we turned right to ascend to the top of the hill through a switchyback. As we followed the roads heading north along the escarpment, we passed by many impressive grave markers some of granite and many with bronze plaques. At 5 miles we came to the memorial for John C. Fremont. Fremont was a colorful figure who had a checkered career as an adventurer, politician, and military officer. I took a few pictures of the memorial and then looked for the viewpoint over the Hudson as indicated on the map. Since I could find no lookout, we continued to follow then road until the blazes indicated a turn to the right off the roads. The trail headed west and then north continuing to climb and leaving the Rockland County Cemetery land to cross property marked as “Military Reservation”. The Long Path skirted the summit of Mount Nebo and then reached a high point at 585 feet on the shoulder of another unnamed hill. At about 5.75 mile an orange trail branched off to the right. The trail goes to Mount Nebo which was once the site of a Nike missile silo that protected New York City. It is now a recreation area.
The trail started to descend through hardwood forests as it entered Clausland Mountain County Park. At 7 miles we crossed Clausland Mountain Road and entered Tackamack Town Park maintained by the Town of Orangetown. We headed northwest for about .25 miles to a small pond where we turned northeast and at 7.5 miles crossed Marisco Court to enter Blauvelt State Park. This was the first time on the hike that we had entered a forest with evergreen trees as the trail began to swing to the northeast. At about 8 miles we crossed over a low cement wall and turned to the right. I remembered the hike description mentioned an old firing range. We soon came across higher cement walls. These are the remains of a World War I firing range and target walls. The tunnels connecting the two still remain here underground. As we continued on our way we met several more mountain bikers. We began another ascent crossing a few streams along the way some with and some without bridges. At 8.8 miles we crossed North Tweed Boulevard and continued to climb to the highest point on the hike at about 625 feet. A star on the Mao indicated a viewpoint but there wasn’t much to see. I did notice a large amount of broken glass on the rocks where inconsiderate people had found breaking bottles irresistible! We descended from this high point only to climb another and then another as we headed generally north toward Nyack. We left Blauvelt State Park as we crossed Bradley Hill Road at 9.8 miles, made a quick ascent and then started our last descent into town. We were now in Sean Hunter Ryan Memorial Park. Sean Hunter Ryan was a Rockland County resident who died with his climbing partner, Philip Otis, on Mount Rainier in 1995. The two young men were park rangers involved in a rescue mission under extremem;y dangerous cognition. They remain the only two rangers to die on a rescue mission on Rainier. I had been hearing fire sirens for some time but they we intermittent and did not sound like they were going to a fire. When we came to Waldron Avenue, I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. As we walked down the street, I saw the reason for the sirens. The Nyack Fire Department had several engines visiting neighborhoods with “Santa” on board distributing small gifts to children. Sheila and I walked down to the traffic light and waited to cross a very busy Route 59. We were back at the car at 1:40 PM having covered 10.5 miles in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
The week of December 14th begins with two days of mixed sun and clouds with highs reaching into the upper 30′s. Less wind will make the air feel about the same as the actual temperature. Tuesday’s temperatures will be nearly the same but there is the potential for rain most of the day. The rain may stay around for some showers on Wednesday morning but the afternoon should see a clearing trend with Temperatures rising to the low 40′s. Thursday and Friday appear to be sunny with some clouds but the highs may not make it above freezing. On Saturday there may be some snow showers with temperatures marginally higher. This forecast is for the lower elevations. Snow and ice are accumulating on the peaks and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Saturday, December 13th I was ready to get out after a week of snow and ice and coaching commitments. I had planned to hike on Friday but the low temperatures coupled with the stiff breeze dissuaded me. An early morning ambulance call on Saturday made hiking more difficult as I was pretty tired. In addition, the temperature did not seem any warmer and the breeze was blowing harder than the day before! I ha almost decided to wait until after church on Sunday but decided I needed to get out! Sheila agreed wholeheartedly with this decision. I planned to hike a section of the Long Path from Landing Rd to High Tor. This is the second part of section 3 which is one of the last three sections I have to hike. I also wanted to continue up to High Tor since I had not hiked the first part of section 4. I also remembered that the last time I was at High Tor with my wife we could not see much due to the fog. I knew that there was the potential for some great views. Continue reading
On Sunday, December 7thth, I wanted to get out and hike since the weather forecast for the rest of the week indicated a mix of rain, ice and snow starting Tuesday and extending through Friday. It had been two years since I lost my best hiking companion, Sheba, to Lyme disease and I knew taking a hike with Sheila would make me feel better. Sheba was a little over 14 years old and had a very bad case of Lyme Disease diagnosed in the spring of 2012. She was still very alert but her hips had deteriorated to the point where she could hardly support herself. Knowing that there was only one way to eliminate her pain didn’t make saying goodbye any easier. I will always miss her and always remember what great trail dog she was when she was healthy. Fortunately, Sheila, my new dog has proved to be a great companion at home and on the trails. I decided to go to the Neversink Unique area after church since there had been some rain recently and I wanted to check out the water falls. Continue reading
The week of December 7th began with a warmer Sunday with temperatures rising to near 40 degrees and beautiful blue shies. Monday will be cooler with increasing clouds. The forecast for the rest of the week is unsettled with a winter storm watch in effect. An approaching storm will bring rain, ice and snow to the Catskills but the amounts of each will depend on the storm track and the location within the area. Currently the forecast calls for the precipitation to begin on Tuesday and continue through Thursday morning. Any snow will be heavy and wet and the worst conditions are expected to be from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. Some snow showers may hang around for Thursday. High temperatures during the day will hover right around freezing. By Friday the sun returns and temperatures rise until early next week. This forecast is for the lower elevations. Snow and ice are accumulating on the peaks and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Friday, December 5th I planned to hike a section of the Long Path from Nyack to Landing Rd. This is the first part of section 3 which is one of the last three sections I have to hike. When I awoke at 7:00 AM the temperature was 16 degrees and the weather forecast for Livingston Manor indicated snow and ice were on the way. The forecast for Nyack was calling for mostly cloudy skies with rain in the late afternoon. I decided to take my chances and attempt the hike despite the questionable weather. I got ready dressing for twenty degree temperatures as we left Livingston Manor at 8:00 AM. I chose the easiest route by driving down Route 17 to Harriman where I picked up the Thruway south. I knew I wanted exit 11 but forgot that it was the last exit before the Tappan Zee Bridge! The traffic was heavy but moving and we got to the exit at about 9:20 AM. I took a left at the end of the exit onto Route 59. I immediately pulled into a parking lot and parked just east of Mountainview Avenue. I put Sheila on her leash, stowed my poles in my pack and left the Microspikes in the car as we started our hiked at 9:30 AM. Continue reading
On Thursday, December 4th I had almost decided to stay at home as I had planned a long hike for Friday. After hanging around the house and looking at a forecast of rain for Saturday, I decided to get out and do something just for some exercise. Family commitments had eaten up the beginning of the week and both Sheila and I were anxious to hike. The skies were overcast but and the air seemed raw despite the 30 degree temperature but that did not stop us. We arrived at the Frick Pond parking area at 10:30 AM and were immediately on the Quick Lake Trail to Frick Pond. I tried to resist overdressing and did not put on tights underneath my MH Winter Wander pants. I also wore only a single layer on top underneath my Mammut Hoody. Continue reading
The week of November 30th began with a warmer but overcast Sunday with temperatures rising to near 40 degrees. Monday will be mild with some sun with highs in the mid 40′s. The forecast calls for a cooler day on Tuesday with temperatures only reaching slightly above freezing. The forecast for Wednesday calls for some ice in the morning with temperatures rising again into the mid 40′s. The temperatures for Thursday will drop into the mid 30′s with mostly cloudy skies. Friday seems to be a repeat of Thursday while Saturday’s forecast calls for some ice in the morning. This forecast is for the lower elevations. Snow and ice are accumulating on the peaks and traction devices are HIGHLY recommended! Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Saturday, November 29th I planned to hike a section of the Long Path from Mount Ivy to the Big Hill Shelter in Harriman State Park. I had already hiked the Tors so this hike would connect them to the rest of my Long Path sections and leave only section 1 to 3 for me to complete the entire trail! I mentioned my plans to my son Kurt and he said he would be able to hike with me. This meant we could spot a car on Route 106 where the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail crosses the road. We could then drive to Mount Ivy and hike the Long Path to the Suffern bear Mountain Trail near the Big Hill Shelter. The rest of the hike would be only the Suffern Bear Mounatin Trail back to Route 106. This would also allow us to pass by the Jackie Jones Fire Tower and the ORAK Mansion, two points of interest that I though Kurt would like. We agreed to meet at 9:00 AM but Kurt sent a text early in the morning asking to delay our rendezvous until 9:45 AM. The new plan would allow me to get there a little early to see if Route 106 and the parking area were plowed. Continue reading