Monday, October 13, 2008

Schunemunk Mountain Hike

Yesterday I joined fourteen other bona fide city dwellers for a challenging hike up and around Schunemunk Mountain. The mountain, which is located a little over an hour outside the city, offers absolutely stunning views of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains. The name Schunemunk means “excellent fireplace” in the Lennie Lenape Indian language. (This tribe lived in a village along the mountain before the Europeans arrived in the area).

Our group met up with Outdoor Bound guide, Kirk, at 8am on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Outdoor Bound is a wonderful company based in Manhattan that leads day (and some longer) trips to various hiking locations around the northeast. I’d recruited a friend, Bianca, to join me for the nine and a half-mile challenge. After fueling up with soy lattes from Starbucks we were headed out for a full day in a place not only lacking coffee shops, but also bathrooms, running water, and other modern conveniences who’s absences make so many urban oriented people cringe when they hear the word “hike.”

The day couldn't have been more beautiful. In the early fall morning, fog covered the hills and roads on our drive to the country. It was a crisp 55 degrees when we began our trek, but by mid-day had warmed to a blissful 73. Not a single cloud hung in the sky, which seemed to make the mountain look even more majestic.

The hike itself was fantastic in its challenge. Rocky paths and steep rock walls offered a rugged workout, and a welcome change from my normal training routine. The highlight for me was definitely climbing up a 25-foot almost-vertical wall of rock to reach the next peak. My legs are still sore! The group chatted easily, mostly about jobs and life, but also about the beauty of the nature we were experiencing. The fall leaves have just begun to change and some of the colors are simply stunning.

Hikers are some of the greenest people around, and we practiced the “leave nothing behind” philosophy (which includes taking even things like apple-cores that technically could disintegrate, just to make sure no mark is left). Keeping the trails clean and litter-free promotes not only the health of the earth, but also encourages hikers to come back and use the resources nature affords us.

Being out in the natural world reminds me even more of why the environment is a worthwhile investment. The though of losing even an acre more of our precious planet to human error and irresponsibility is unthinkable.

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Rachel said...

So pretty!

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