July started with a trip to Minnewaska State Park to hike Peter's Kill with Christian. We claimed a rock ledge with a wide view of the Catskills under a blue sky and flowing clouds. There was no better backdrop to discuss the next steps we would take to move Proactive along. The day was brutally hot and although the hike was rough, I left the forest feeling even more motivated than I did going in.
The very next day, July 4th, I took a friend of mine out onto the trails for his first hike to visit North Point and ascend Storm King Mountain. It was a bit hazy and overcast - not quite ideal - but the temperature was comfortable and the pace was leisurely. As we lingered on the side of Storm King Mountain, across from Breakneck Ridge, I handed him binoculars to get a better view across the valley at the boulder of North Point that he had relaxed on earlier.
The following week, I revisited Mount Beacon (one of my all-time favorite hikes). I used to be apprehensive about any fire towers (I avoided climbing the Beacon fire tower on a previous windy visit), but lately I have been climbing and placing more confidence in these susceptible man-made structures. Views from both North and South Beacon Mountain were both distinctly amazing and we lingered for a bit at each.
Proactive performed trail magic for the first time at Culver's Gap in Stokes State Forest. We had the opportunity to meet a small, diverse sample of the thousands of thru-hikers who are attempting to traverse the roughly 2200-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine this year. As genuinely appreciative as they all were for the drinks and snacks we offered, we were thankful that they took time out of their trek to share some of their stories from the trail.
Once we wrapped the trail magic, we ran the Tower Trail (and climbed another fire tower) to take in the great views from Kittatinny Ridge.; we also ran back down the trail, making this a quick route. Afterward, we visited the Sunrise Mountain Pavilion where we took in the 360-degree views and ran into some of the thru-hikers we had hung out with earlier in the day.
Near the end of the month, after I had celebrated my 32nd birthday, I received notice that Proactive was officially added as a NYNJTC member club. This was an important moment. Seeing something evolve from a thought to realization is certainly inspiring. I'm looking forward to meeting and working alongside the dedicated people of the NYNJTC in the very near future.
Christian and I took a day to learn about trail maintenance with Jon, the trail maintenance supervisor of the Rock Cores Trail in Worthington State Forest. Punishing rain storms made the physically demanding task even more challenging and I have an even deeper respect for those who maintain all the trails that we love. All of us, including our hear, were absolutely soaked.
The sky eventually cleared up and made lugging heavy equipment through the lush, fern-filled forest enjoyable. The Rock Cores Trail eventually leads to a massive cairn (with a very noticeable bright green stone on top) which acts to draw hikers towards huge rock cores that had been drilled by the Army Corp of Engineers decades ago. These cores were originally drilled to determine the feasibility of a dam that would have flooded much of the area, which is very hard to imagine.
To end the month, I visited North Point yet again, but this particular day was far more beautiful than it had been
during any of my previous visits. I ran the trail to the summit and spent about 45 minutes meditating atop the same boulder I mentioned earlier in this post. The shadows from the clouds danced vigorously across the landscape. Rain had been persistent over the last two weeks of July and this picture-perfect day was a fortunate conclusion.
Despite being stuck at my day job more than I would have liked and the weather being less than ideal, I'm happy with the progress that was made in July. Looking ahead, with our first-ever social hikes, a Terrain Racing 5K obstacle course, and hopefully better weather, I'm looking forward to writing next month's wrap-up.