Before an evening of wine and reminiscing with my 101-year old Aunt Ilene, cousin Suzanne, and her husband Lou near Newburgh, New York, Hannah and I seek some Appalachian Trail Love at Bear Mountain on Palm Sunday.
Arriving just after noon at the Visitor Center/Bookstore on the Palisades Parkway just south of Bear Mountain State Park, I ask the ranger where we can access the Appalachian Trail and still find any place to park. You see, there is no way there is a parking spot at the hilltop trailhead of BMSP on this first sunny Sunday in spring. We hit gold as we learn that just a half mile up the road at Exit 17, there is access to the AT from the nearly empty 2,000 vehicle Anthony Wayne parking area.
Hiking in the Northeast is a rocky affair, not the sweet sandstone that caresses are feet in the national parks of Utah. Taking to the well-marked Fawn Trail, we zigzag for 25 minutes before spotting the holy grail – the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.
Being the Sunday when Tiger Woods wins his 15th major at the Masters (Do you find that a troubling name for a golf tournament in the South with its reference to slavery and plantations?), we have done him one better by hiking in the mid-70s on this iconic trail getting all the Vitamin N we could want! (i.e. Vitamin Nature).
It’s too early in the spring for thru-hikers to have begun the AT in Georgia to be here 1500 miles later, but we come across Jeff who is perspiring heavily in the midst of a ten-hour trail loop. Graciously, he stops to answer our “where to go” questions and suggests we take a picture of his map to have a reference for our climb.
Crossing the mountain away from the Palisades Parkway, we hear the roar of motorcycles racing down the country straight away. I wonder if any of the loud motorcyclists who hit speeds of 100+ on the weekend do so in part because they have little control in their work life and, perhaps, don’t have the happiest of marriages? Well, that’s a stretch, Dan. As I think about that, it does sound a tad judge-y. My bad.
On a mid-April day where the trees have not leafed out, we get an excellent workout over two hours. In the distance, we see the fire tower at the Bear Mountain peak. Though we will not summit today, we have two hours of trail walking. Tiger can have his 15th major, I’ll take an afternoon on the AT with Hannah any day.