Hey there! My name is Christian Mena and for my first article for Proactive-AHW, I'd like to take you on a tour of some photos from my archive, along with a little bit of personal history behind each shot.
Years ago, my first time in the Hudson Highlands. The goal was Butter Hill and Storm King. This was at the height of fall colors. The main lot on Route 9W was a madhouse with not a single space to be had. Alternate parking lots were every bit as bad. We gave up on Storm King, but tried one more lot: North Ridge parking. It didn't disappoint, and I laid my eyes on Storm King, Breakneck, and Bull Hill for the first time.
I remember being shocked by the view on Carris Hill. I had no idea New Jersey had it's own A+ views in its pocket, and this was the first realization of that reality. The view isn't quite as spectacular as Wyanokie High Point, its trail not quite as interesting as Assiniwikam Mountain, and its climb not quite as brutal as Buck Mountain. Nevertheless, it holds a special place in my heart and will always be my favorite of many beautiful spots in Norvin Green State Forest.
From interesting rock formations, to unique vegetation, there's a lot to see in Harriman State Park. However, the views don't quite hold the same bang-for-buck per square mile as other views in surrounding areas like Bear Mountain State Park, Norvin Green State Forest, and others. But, there are a few really good ones and Ramapo Torne tops the list in my opinion. With so many features to gaze upon -- such as a prominent landfill, the New York State Thruway, the Sheraton hotel in Mahwah, the Mount Fuji steakhouse, Manhattan, and more -- you'll be spending quite some time soaking in the scenery. Just don't fall off the mountain.
Long since forgotten in my exploits, Mountainside Park features the closest trails to my house. It was a place where I learned how to handle many of the physical and mental rigors of hiking as I made the steep and steady climb out of being very tubby and out of shape. This photo was taken on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at the height of foliage season. This is also known as the day before the landfall of Hurricane Sandy. Power was knocked out for 10 days and twin conifer trees managed to hit my house. The trees were stripped bare of their leaves by the intense winds and the fall foliage season ended literally overnight. The white overcast in the photo is the cloud canopy of Sandy herself.
My family has a history in West Saugerties, NY that dates back to the 1950's. Moving from Brooklyn to North Jersey mid-way through my life, Saugerties was the constant from birth and has always served as a second home. As a result, I've always had a deep affinity for the surrounding Catskill attractions, like the Devil's Path, Kaaterskill High Peak, Huckleberry Point, and Plattekill Creek. There is no other viewpoint more familiar than Horseshoe Bend: a break in the trees on harrowing Platte Clove Road that provides a phenomenal view of Platte Clove, Plattekill Mountain, and Indian Head Mountain. Plattekill Creek can often be heard rushing in the valley hundreds of feet below the view.
Greenwood Lake is part of a geographic oddity called the Green Pond Outlier. Unlike anything that surrounds it, it awoke my dormant curiosity in geology that had been an interest of mine when I was a young child. At issue here is the easily-recognizable Schunemunk Conglomerate -- a reddish-purplish rock dotted with random samples of quartz and other wayward pebbles. The Schunemunk's resistance to the forces of erosion creates rock outcrops that offer sometimes-spectacular views, like that which overlooks the interstate Greenwood Lake.
Bridal Veil Falls
It would be silly to discuss my love affair with the Catskills without mentioning Platte Clove. This valley carved by Plattekill Creek and glacial processes boasts an impressive amount of waterfalls that become more difficult to access as one travels towards the eventual destination of Plattekill Falls. I may be attracted to the sights, the physical challenge of the scrambles, its inaccessibility, or the notorious and deadly history of Platte Clove and its most dangerous sections: Devil's Kitchen and Hell's Hole. Whatever the reason, Platte Clove remains my favorite and most-visited destination in the Catskills since the day I was born. Pictured is Platte Clove's tallest: Bridal Veil Falls at over 90 feet.
Adirondacks - Mount Colden
The Adirondacks are a different beast from everything I've encountered. From the weather, to the scale, to the effort required to visit even one peak, it's unlike anything I've ever seen. My first go at an Adirondacks High Peak was Mount Marcy. The intense fall weather certainly helped it live up to its nickname of "Cloudsplitter". Because of this, there was absolutely no view at the top, and the coveted Adirondack experience was not complete. This changed the following year: under beautiful, partly cloudy skies, my group conquered the peak of Mount Colden and the vista was more than I could've expected. Avalanche Lake wasn't too shabby either. It fully confirmed my suspicion that the Adirondacks are on another level.
Check out more from Christian Mena - @dahill_road