Twig Adventures

AT Day 42: Bear Mountain NY

Saturday September 4th, 2021, 0600-1800
Canopus Creek to stream past Bear Mountain, SOBO AT mm 791.7
22.3 miles
5364 gain, 5433 loss

It was another fun and action-packed day in New York. A lovely and quiet morning greeted us, filled with the gentle and soothing hoots of great horned owls. It was easy to forget that we were so close to major cities. My shoes and socks had dried some and my feet were feeling a lot better, so I was loathe to get them wet again when we came to our first water crossing 5 minutes in. I decided to try my luck using my camp shoes…maybe I could prolong the dry shoes all day. My bet paid off…there were no more wet-feet crossings so I enjoyed dry and pain-free feet all day.

Well almost, an ingrown toenail had been giving me trouble and today I discovered that it was slightly infected. I did a little surgery to drain the infection and slathered on neosporin. Good as new….or shortly I’ll need to amputate it, not sure yet. One thing that is for sure is that I must try to keep it dry, or the infection will continue to get worse.

The morning miles went by quickly because we were once again aiming for a deli that was right on trail. We got there mid-morning, so I ordered a sub to have half for brunch and the other half for dinner. Stellar inhaled 2 breakfast sandwiches in the 30 minutes before I even arrived and also packed a whole sub for dinner… this is a good example of the differences in our calorie consumption. As I tell people that marvel over his giant legs, there’s a cost to having all that muscle mass. It’s good that he can walk faster so that he has more time to eat at the delis.

The middle if the day wasn’t too remarkable except that we started seeing lots of day hikers around Anthony’s Nose, a hill on the east side of the Hudson. Labor day weekend and perfect weather had brought out the masses. We didn’t bother with the side trail to the top, as we figured we’d have great views from the trail on top Bear Mountain, the prominent feature on the west side of the Hudson.

In a fashion reminiscent of crossing the Bridge of the Gods (Columbia River) on the PCT, we crossed a huge suspension bridge across the Hudson. This bridge at least had a sidewalk and was a pleasure to walk. This is the lowest elevation along the AT.

At the other side was a small zoo that houses injured ambassador animals that are native to the states. I gazed at a lot of sad looking animals in small enclosures, especially the birds and the black bears. What a juxtaposition, to see these wild creatures behind bars, me being the one living free in the wild. So sad. May they be free to roam in another life.

The only bear I’ve seen on this hike so far.

We stopped to buy some overpriced ice cream at the vending machines, then broke out into a scene of Labor Day madness around Bear Mountain rec area and lake. There were hundreds of BBQs and can you believe it, we didn’t manage to yogi even one beer or hot dog. It was absolute torture walking past, smelling the smells and seeing all the goodies roasting. It was like witnessing 100 trail magic tents but not one of them for hikers. There was a concession selling expensive hamburgers and hotdogs but I declined.

It must have been an act of desperation that I was looking forward to climbing Bear Mountain, just to escape the picnic area. At the trailhead were a few park rangers, patiently answering questions about the hiking trails in the area. I marched up to them to ask where I could hike. They laughed and said, I think you know. We continued past a great display that showed the various types of trail building techniques and construction, including bog bridges and puncheon, steps, split rock, etc. I found it to be a fantastic display but I was probably the only one all day that even gave it a glance. Even hikers don’t care until they’ve actually stepped up to do trail maintenance. Then you start to see trails in a whole new light.

I caught up to the guys as all the steps to the top began. I had a good playlist going and was feeling energetic, so I flew past, mentioning that this was a lot like the Grand Canyon. Of course Stellar clued in to my challenge, having been the target of my first step challenge while hiking the Arizona Trail. Up we went, parting the waters of days hikers out for a stroll. I don’t even know how long or high the climb was but I do know it only took me about 4 songs on my playlist, so pretty fast. Still, the stairs seemed endless and I was happy for the top, a little out of breath and having sweated just a bit.

Stellar couldn’t be shaken on such a sort climb but at least I managed to turn him into a sweat bucket. Picky arrived a little later, having no clue about the race to the top and probably all the better for it. Well, it was fun and made the climb go by quickly. Probably the most fun was seeing the look on people’s faces as we dashed by with our packs…they might have been making faces from our smell too, hard to say.

The views were great…we could clearly see the Manhattan skyline. There were tons of people at the top, because of course there’s a road to drive up. Also. There was a large memorial tower but it was closed. We moved on, eager to find some water and a place for the night. There was a shelter in a few miles but we figured it would be packed for the holiday. So we settled for some stealth sites near a stream. I worried about our proximity to some roads and turns out, I was right to worry. To be continued…

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