Monday, August 11, 2014

Grant's Tomb-Greenbrook Sanctuary hike

ViewingOn Sunday, I led my first hike with the Ramblers. It was an urban/not urban hike, starting near Grant's Tomb and turning around on the Long Path.

The hike up the west side of Manhattan was unremarkable; we elected to stay high and reached the George Washington Bridge rather quickly. We crossed the bridge and walked into Fort Lee to have brunch at the Original Pancake House, and then headed up the Long Path. We made it to where a small road comes in, connecting Greenbrook Sanctuary to Lost Book Preserve, before turning around. On the way back, we left the Long Path at the Dyckman Hill Trail and followed the shore for a bit. The water was peaceful after listening to traffic all day. Then we headed back up the Carpenter's Trail - a steep 300-foot climb - and back over the bridge to the train.

The weather was decent, although a tiny bit of haze made views not quite as crisp as they could have been, but it made for a good hike. The full hike was 21 miles.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Delaware River, Lenape, and Minisink hike

Tri-state monumentBack to New York City area hiking - not quite as spectacular as what Colorado has to offer, alas. This hike with the New York Ramblers was a ten-mile jaunt near Port Jervis, a town in New York but bordering New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

This photo was taken at the Tri-State monument, which we encountered near the beginning of the hike. To get there, you have to walk through an impressively large cemetery. From the monument, you can see New York in the foreground, New Jersey on the left, and Pennsylvania on the right.

Technically, this first part of the hike was on the Delaware River Heritage Trail, although it primarily makes use of streets in this area rather than feeling like a trail. From there, we walked to the Lenape and Minisink trails. The Lenape, blazed white, follows a ridgetop; the Minisink, blazed red, has more ups and downs. Both offer a few viewpoints into valleys below.

Now those of you who have hiked with me know that I do not like bees. I am not allergic, nor have I had an Incident, nor do I even get stung often - but bees seek to be particularly attracted to me. They will surround me and ignore my companions, which is quite unnerving. I also don't like hornets, wasps, or yellowjackets, although that is more rational. (If you've ever been chased by angry, aggressive hornets, you understand.)

So when we were about to start the loop, and I realized we were stepping through a particularly buzzy area, anxiety kicked in. But by that point going back was as bad as going forward, so forward I went. Two of my companions were stung, although I was not. However, I realized that we were going to come back this way at the end of the hike, so I had several miles in which to nurse said anxiety. What species were they? Would I recognize the spot when we came to it? Would I be eternally embarrassed if I detoured a mile around it through the undergrowth?

In the end, I did not recognize the spot and did manage to get stung, which while unpleasant was not nearly as bad as worrying about it. Several other hikers got it the second time around, too. My surmise is that these were yellowjackets - they seemed to be flying low and thus probably ground nesters, and a fellow hiker who got a better look said they were black and white.

That was probably the most exciting part of the hike, unfortunately. Otherwise it was pleasant enough. The hike itself was not strenuous, with less than 900 feet of elevation gain. The humid weather presented its own challenges, but you can't blame the trail for that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hike to Lake Isabelle

Lake IsabelleAfter a day back in Denver to catch up on things, I did a solo dayhike to Lake Isabelle. The hike is listed in 100 Classic Hikes in Colorado and for good reason. It's not, as far as Colorado goes, a strenuously killer hike, but the rewards are tremendous.

The trailhead lot was full, so after paying my $10 entrance fee I had to park at the day use area. I walked the long way around Brainerd Lake to the Niwot Cutoff Trail to catch the trail to Lake Isabelle. Along the way, I passed the north side of Long Lake; the trail offered many scenic glimpses of the lake. Past Long Lake, the trail climbed above a waterfall to Lake Isabelle, shown in the photo - an incredible beautiful lake with steep mountains rising on three sides. I continued on the trail until it started to climb away from the lake.

On my return, I took the Jean Lunning Trail south of Long Lake. It was considerably wetter than the north side, with more wildflowers as well as boardwalks through marshy areas. Finally, when I got off the Niwot Connector Trail, I elected to walk the short way back to my car, which was an excellent choice - four moose were grazing just a few feet off of the trail. Moose!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rustler's Gulch hike

HikingThe hike to Rustler's Gulch was supposed to be our big wildflower hike, but previous day's hike to Ice Lake had already blown our minds. Rustler's Gulch was certainly pretty, and it had more wildflowers, but less variety.

We started off on an old jeep road. If you have a high clearance vehicle, you can park at the actual trailhead, but that was not us. This was also the steepest part of the hike, although overall it wasn't nearly as steep as either of the previous two days' expeditions.

Also working against the hike was that we were a little tired, as this was our fourth day of hiking; it was hotter than it had been, and the hike had little shade; and the number of bees, which anyone who has hiked with me can attest to my, er, lack of fondness for.

In spite of that, it was a very nice hike. We saw a field of ice lilies and several nice century plants, and the ground was veritably carpeted in yellow and purple. This photo is representative of most of the hike: long vistas with a profusion of flowers.