My leisurely drive to Butter Hill was quite enjoyable. As I pulled off to park on the side of Rt. 9W, the initial view of the Hudson River and the valley off the edge of the mountain was amazing; clouds weaved in and out of the ethereal landscape. Blue skies and sun peeked through the cover and the day was looking to provide conditions for an excellent hike.
I lingered near my car for about 15 minutes as I put my gear on and finished my coffee, excited for countless views I would get the pleasure of photographing as I moved my way up the mountain.
I had last been here in January for my first hike of 2018. On that day, the temperatures dipped into the teens and the trees were mostly bare. The snow-covered ground glistened in the early morning sun and everything was fresh and clear.
Now, in May, I started out on a decidedly different path. Immediately, I moved along the trail underneath the thick cover of trees and up the steep, rocky mountainside. However, as I climbed slightly above the treeline, a thick fog began to roll across my line of sight.
Slowly, the view began to disintegrate, replaced by a impenetrable gray curtain. I could now only see a few feet in front of me and nothing at all off the edge of the cliffs. I kept moving further upward, hoping to suddenly pop through the clouds, but this never happened. With each outcrop or peak that I reached, the clouds persisted and there were no views to be had.
As the trail descended deep into the forest, the fog created an eerie atmosphere as it blanketed the trees and obstructed my sight. I decided to cut the hike short and found the bypass trail on my map. I moved onto the bypass trail, I slipped on a very slick, large stone on the ground. I flew off of my feet as if I had stepped on a banana peel. In what felt like slow motion, I braced myself and cursed the entire day. With a thud, I landed squarely on my backpack, sparing me any serious injury.
I quickly moved along the trail, careful to avoid and more slips, but excited to get back to my car. I have it in my head already: I will be back here next week as it is supposed to be sunnier and far less cloudy. I know this trail has so much more to offer and I couldn't fathom waiting any longer to go back...