Long Breaks, Long Walks

I started off August by running out to several spots in need of updated pictures. In many ways, most of these trips were little more than nature walks by my standards. Moreover, car trouble was leading to some uncomfortable breaks in action. Two famous NJ forest staircases -- Stairway to Heaven and the Giant Stairs -- would help mitigate this lull in activity. But nothing gets me going more than a couple of hikes with double-digit mileage.

Mount Newfoundland

Newfoundland, NJ - The day after the Norvin Green Tour, I wanted to keep my momentum going. I went to Mount Newfoundland, traveling on the northern extent of the Four Birds Trail. My body was just not having it. I even had trouble running downhill. All of this on a relatively flat path. A mile down the trail, views slowly begin to open up. Finally, one panoramic view presents itself. It's not very high, and the ridge of Copperas Mountain cuts down on sight distance. Still, it's a decent view and a nice change of pace from the usual Highlands. On the way down, I could see a view off the trail, near the edge of Newfoundland's cliff. The deadly perch gave me the best view yet.

Wyanokie High Point

Ringwood, NJ - Proactive's first Social Hike was a success! I love showing people my favorite spots for the first time. Meanwhile, shooting at Wyanokie High Point during morning lighting is not an opportunity I often have. I took advantage.

High Mountain

Wayne, NJ - It occurred to me that although I've been to High Mountain several times, I had nothing but garbage cell phone pics. A short hustle up an unmarked trail got me to the summit in minutes. Nice way to kill a Saturday afternoon without too much commitment. A vivid view of the city was waiting for me -- a recurring feature along the Watchung Mountain range.

Wawayanda Mountain

Vernon, NJ - I was treating my cousins to a hike in North Jersey. One of them wanted a taste of the Appalachian Trail. I knew just the place. AT parking was barely available at Route 94 on a busy, beautiful Sunday in Vernon. This past week brought several torrential downpours into the region. This caused flooding in much of the lower elevations of the trail. Once the Stairway to Heaven began to climb, the trail dried up. Resident vultures welcomed us to the striking view of the Vernon Valley. My group was joined there by at least 30 other hikers. Not surprising -- this view is popular for a reason.

Federal Hill

Riverdale, NJ - It's been years since visiting Federal Hill. Trailless and near quarry property, care must be exercised. Sense of direction gets you to where you need to go in this place. To get to the view I needed to pass by German Pond, a few abandoned WWII-era bunkers, and a gas pipeline. The overlook itself is a wide-open view of Riverdale, NJ. Views looking down into the quarry are possible, but very much NOT recommended due to extreme fall hazard and trespassing (which quarry management takes VERY seriously).

Giant Stairs

Alpine, NJ - Another Proactive AHW Social Hike in the books! We tackled the Giant Stairs of the Palisades under hazy summer skies. Along the clockwise route, the Giant Stairs stairs starts a mile into the hike. However, things don't really get started until you hit the 2012 rockfall.

Hasenclever Hill

Ringwood, NJ - Hunting for summer pics at the NJ1K hill named after Peter Hasenclever, a prolific German ironmaster active in 1700s Ringwood, NJ. Parking is at Blue Lake near IBM headquarters in Tuxedo Park, New York. There are no trails leading to the top, and any existing woods roads are highly overgrown. The beautiful views are just over the border into New Jersey.

Hunter Mountain

Spruceton, NY - I was excited to get some new Catskill pics. It's been a while -- Rusk and Halcott were not exactly photogenic. Hunter Mountain has much to see, including the Hunter Fire Tower, Geiger Point, and Diamond Notch Falls (Buttermilk Falls). We camped at the John Robb Lean-To and would hit the rest of the Hunter Mountain Loop in the morning, which was forecast to be sunny. I woke up in my hammock to find that the forecast didn't hold: Hunter Mountain was entirely enveloped in a cloud and the views were totally gone. The trip wasn't a complete disappointment, though. I added Southwest Hunter into my 3500 tally, and the beautiful view at the lean-to gave us a spectacular sunset before the clouds rolled in.

Butter Hill

Cornwall, NY - Thunderstorms were forecast for Proactive's final social hike of August. Instead, we were blessed with beautiful skies and temperatures as we climbed North Point and Butter Hill. However, we spent enough time on Butter Hill to see some of these storms come to fruition. Moments before leaving the view, we looked across the Hudson to see rain coming down upon the village of Cold Spring.

Windbeam Mountain

Ringwood, NJ - Circumstances and weather led to a long break between hikes. I really need something brutal to get my system rolling again. Joe asked me if I wanted to accompany him to hike the Stonetown Circular in Ringwood. It was just what the doctor ordered. The first peak of the counterclockwise Circular is Windbeam Mountain, which has expansive views to the east, south, and west. This is its south-facing view, looking over sumac trees toward the Wanaque Reservoir and the towns of Riverdale and Wanaque.



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