Hiking, Mountains, USA
Comments 21

Footprints Above the Frozen Hudson

So, remember that lake I half-heartedly pretended to road-walk to a couple of times (here and here) — Moreau Lake?

Well, Kate and I finally got there last weekend, refreshing my respect for the automobile, which lets you gaze, lazy and detached, from an overheated interior at the miles of icy, uninviting roadside only a lunatic would travel on foot. And it gets you those eight miles in minutes — in relative safety!

(Forgive my glee in stating the obvious — it’s been 14 years since I owned a car.)

Anyway, I’ll write up that adventure, a nice frolic on our new snowshoes around the frozen lake, pretty soon — this post is about a trip a couple of weeks earlier, a few miles west of the lake in that same state park, and again I got there the sensible way, on wheels.

It was a work day — for a lot of poor suckers. My phone rang, which scared the hell out of me, and after hurling it on impulse to the far corner of the room, I came to my senses, retrieved it, and a voice as warm and husky as a sled dog in an overcoat was soon tempting me from my hermit’s hideaway — or as I’ve christened the study here, The Mothership.

“Goat.”

“Hey. Who’s this?”

“Dave. The Dude. You up for a walk?”

I hastily threw some gear together. Seemed the Dude and Trouble had the day off as well; within an hour they’d pulled in and up Route 9 we zoomed, turning left where I had in my doomed quest to see the General, but continuing further into the Palmerton Mountain Range, through the town of Corinth (“snowshoe capital of the world”) squeezed just inside the south-eastern border of Adirondack Park, and pulling over on a lonesome road near a trailhead.

Apparently we were right next to the mythic Hudson. This was so exciting, I requested a quick look before we started up the trail. Here’s Dude venturing out onto its waters, Jesus-like:

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What can I say about the Hudson? It’s one of those mythic American names that still give me a buzz, the way it did in 2006, a lot further south, when I walked across it (at a height of 110m), via the Bear Mountain Bridge while hiking the Appalachian Trail; the way it did last year as I shadowed its far wider and better-known New York City incarnation while circling the “shores” of Manhattan Island — another walk I should really get around to writing up.

I never knew back then that it actually starts its 315-mile journey in the Adirondacks, or that its upper reaches freeze over like this; nor did I realise till now that it’s often mistaken for one of the largest rivers in the United States, but it is an estuary throughout most of its length below Troy (Wikipedia)

Now I can appreciate just how close I am here to this famed waterway. But no time to linger, days are short — instead we started up the trail…

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..a little path of 5.66 miles along a ridge that parallels and overlooks the hibernating Hudson.

My friends have walked or run this path many times. It was their training ground before their PCT hike, and before that, Dude told me as we ascended, a sort of secret and jealously guarded pleasure, not yet a designated trail on State Park land.

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The trail was closed for a while by a utilities company feeding power from a hydroelectric facility —

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— today, though it’s officially open again, we passed just a single walker.

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We weren’t doing the whole trail, just a shorter loop of a few miles, incorporating another short path to get back to the start. The highlight was this stop — once their “own” private place, now a popular feature of the trail in Summer — at an overlook with lovely Hudson views:

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The Luzerne Mountains across the river

No snowshoes today, though they would have been fun:

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How can my humble footwear…

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..compete on the trail catwalks with the likes of this?

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Moving on through beautiful woods…

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..my companions were very accommodating of my frequent pauses for pictures, a hazard of group walks nowadays, necessitating lots of catch-up sprints:

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Waiting — again — for me to catch up after another photo stop

Now and then a feeble sun broke through the clouds and then the trees. Hiking in snow really stokes the furnace, and I was able to travel gloveless for most of this walk, a real treat.

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A nice moment as a little snow shower cascaded down from a bough in the afternoon sun:

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The sun was sinking below the ridge as we began the final leg…

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..and moonrise through the pylons back near the trailhead signalled the end of an unexpectedly bountiful day —

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— though there was just enough light remaining for a victory shot before the drive back to the Mothership (via the local liquor store for some celebratory ale):

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*          *          *          *          *

I almost named the trail here, then felt guilty about helping ruin the “secret”. There are plenty of obvious clues in this post if you really want to to find it!

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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21 Comments

    • Much appreciated, thanks! I really like that one of the sun through the trees too. Looking forward to checking out your blog tonight after a long-ish road-walk I am contemplating to take advantage of unseasonably nice warm weather today!

  1. Nice shots. I live the views of the Hudson. Try to get to its headwaters someday! Great hikes up there. Your beard is getting burly!

    • Thanks, Josh. Got a couple of maps on the wall here now which demonstrate how much of this state remains unexplored by me — and my burly beard.

  2. Thanks for dropping by my blog. I’m fine, thanks for asking. My partner recently had her hip replaced which means -although it went really well- we’ve been pretty busy here for the last few weeks.

    I know what you mean about cars and i wouldn’t worry about stating the obvious. The eloquent statement of the obvious is, arguably, one definition of good writing, writing that makes us stop and look at the things we take for granted.

    As for cars, although round here isn’t the middle of nowhere by American standards, it is pretty remote. Driving round, I’m very aware of how vulnerable I am in a car. It’s a warm, soporific way to travel around but if it breaks down then within minutes you’re sitting in a freezing tin box. I vividly remember taking two of my children through the Dales at night. They were both toddlers then, strapped in their “kiddie seats” and, fortunately, fast asleep. The car broke down. I suddenly realised my predicament. It was cold, dark, there was no mobile signal and I was miles from anywhere. Fortunately, while I was sitting wondering what to do, someone else drove past. They stopped and helped.

    • Great comment, Dominic. Yeah. I generally feel more vulnerable in a car. Driving demands much more concentration, far less daydreaming, and a misbehaving vehicle is way out of my zone of expertise. And I have to say, one or two of the coldest nights in my life have been spent in (stationary) cars. All that freezing metal and glass: ugh.

  3. Although our large lake here has partially frozen a few times in the past 40 years, I’ve never seen a frozen river. You really are way up north! Another great walk. Sweet that there was a sunset with moonrise. My favorite photos here are Dude (Jesus-like) and the one that is mostly all black and white with trees like calligraphy in subtle light and shadow.

    • Thanks, Am. I noticed on the weekend as we crossed the Hudson further downstream while driving home from a hike that most of the ice is mostly gone down there.

      I am really enjoying photographing the woods in snow. One thing I love is that you don’t look so much for grand vistas but more intimate, closer-up details. And I enjoy playing with shadows on the snow as well.

  4. Nice work again! What a landscape for photography, not to mention how peaceful it looks. It must be a shock to the system after Korea. Then again, I shouldn’t say that word, as you might start shaking uncontrollably from flashbacks.

    Officially, I’ve never seen a frozen-over river. An amazing sight from up high. Glad you’re out enjoying your new world. I can imagine you’ll be having a field day once the sun starts to kick in.

    • Thanks, Greg. The Winter has been long — very long — and cold — very cold — but it has been a useful exercise trying to enjoy its positives. I would say Spring has sort of started, but today never got far above 1C, so let’s hold off on the pronouncements at this point. I don’t care about the cold so much, though, when it’s SUNNY. And the frozen rivers and lakes (and puddles and pipes) are indeed novel. I hope future winters are less harsh — then again, Kate’s mother says there used to be hard ones like this one all the time in years past.

      Korea: don’t miss anything yet, really — well, maybe the sidewalks. Thin on the ground over here in the Land of the Automobile.

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