I just returned from a camping trip with some close friends at Kymer's campground. I use the word camping loosely as we had a cabin (although I did stay in a tent to enjoy the truest outdoor experience that I could). The few days away with limited telephone service and good times gave me the chance to really sit and consider how things have been going and the more and more I think about, August was an extraordinary month.
The month of August started with our first-ever social hike to Wyanokie High Point. I was worrying the entire week prior as the weather forecast called for clouds and rain.
That morning, as we all met in the parking lot at the New Weis Center, the clouds were thick in the white sky and it threatened to put quite a burden on our hike.
However, unexpectedly the sky opened up and were blessed with bright blue skies and lively clouds. Everybody enjoyed the day and it was apparent to me that we were doing something special. When I formulated the social hikes in my head, I wanted a certain vibe to be present - excitement, adventure, energy, and serenity - and I felt it.
On my way home from Wyanokie, the clouds rolled back in and it downpoured for quite awhile. We were lucky and I knew it.
The very next day, I would becompleting my first 5K obstacle course along with my friend David. We entered the Terrain Racing event - not as competitors, but just for the fun of it - back in March and now it was finally time to do it. Again, the weather called for rain, but the event would take place rain or shine.
The next morning, I got to David's house under thick, rolling clouds in the sky. Shortly after we got on the road, it began to storm and rain pelted my car. The rainfall was so severe that it completely obstructed my sight. It was slow going, but eventually we arrived at Raceway Park in Eatontown.
We parked as it continued to rain, but as we stepped out of the car and into the mud, the rain stopped, the clouds made way for the sun, and we entered the gates under a bright, clear sky. Once again, very lucky.
So here I was, about the attempt to complete a number of unspecified obstacles over a 3-mile, mud-covered course. I was at least a bit worried about my actual ability. As it turns out, David is a Sergeant with the U.S. Army and a NJ State Trooper, so he's clearly used to these types of physical contests.
I have been doing a lot of hiking and daily yoga, but I had not really gone through further preparation. Once I successfully completed a vertical rope climb for the first time, I got a boost in confidence. David and I kept a great pace and by the end of the day, I had completed all but one of the obstacles (David easily completed them all) and considered it a success.
A few days later it was time for our second social hike as we would climb the Giant Stairs of the Palisades. Please excuse this redundancy, but we yet again got lucky and the clouds temporarily exited for our hike, but it rained again afterward. To avoid retelling this again and again, I was lucky for every single outdoor event this month as any rain would hold off until shortly after I was done.
The hike of the Giants Stairs was another great time and it was first time visiting the location during the summer. The last time I was at the Giant Stairs was in the winter (although it was a very nice, unusually warm winter day). However, this time it was sweltering and was strenuous enough to count for a good exercise.
We went counter-clockwise, so I promised everybody a waterfall at the end of the hike. Unfortunately, after everybody had conquered the stairs, we arrived at the ruins where there is usually a stream into which Peanut Leap Cascade flows off the cliff above. However, on this day, despite the heavy rainfall we had been experiencing, the waterfall that was flowing so strongly during my previous trip was no more than a trickle dripping into a puddle below.
Nevertheless, we carried on and decided to take an alternate route back to the State Line Cafe for lunch. We walked along the Old Route 9W which was a nice, leisurely way to end the day along the abandoned road. As a fan of post-apocalyptic themes, this was another additional pleasure.
We finished our trifecta of social hikes with a twofer as we visited North Point and then Butter Hill. We enjoyed a beautiful day
and met others along the trail who we were able to share our mission with.
North Point has definitely become one of my favorite places to visit as I have now been there many times and have never been disappointed. It was great introduce this spot to many of those who came along that day as anybody who enjoys the Hudson Highlands (and who doesn't?) North Point provides an amazing perspective of the whole area, especially Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge.
As we pulled into the parking area at Butter Hill, I took a moment to appreciate the great work that was done on the repaving. Previously, the lot was broken asphalt and gravel. Although it was always spacious compared to many of the pull-offs and lots at other trailheads, it has now been expanded (and not intrusively) and beautifully paved. Good work.
The social hikes were all great successes and it with great excitement that we announced the next batch of hikes for September. Now we're looking forward to continuing to meet more and more of those like-minded adventure-seeking people and growing.
This month, we also happily announced the addition of Daniel (@myoutdoorhaven), Greg (@outdoorexistance), Steve (@nynjhiker), and Angelique (@while_I_was_wandering) to our team! I'm excited to be able to offer content created by these talented adventurers and look forward to expanding with their help. Their unique perspective, knowledge, and insight that they bring to the table makes me very optimistic for Proactive going forward.
Since it had been a while since I last completed a really strenuous hike, I decided to hike Stonetown Circular again. The last time I attempted this hike last year, I made many mistakes that led me to run out of water and get lost in the last 1/4 mile of the hike. Despite successfully getting back to my vehicle after hiking 10+ miles, I never felt satisfied.
This time, Christian came along for the trek. The day was overcast and cooler than it usually would be in August. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable day for the long hike. Stonetown Circular is considered one of the hardest in NJ and features a number of elevation changes and rock scrambles. However, it also is full of great views which makes all the hard work worth it.
We decided early on that we would be tacking on a little extra mileage at the end of the established route and would end the day with an extra mile to Horsepond Mountain. It turned out that the view at Horsepond was the best of the day and we rested there for some time before heading back to the car.
I really felt this hike the next day, but it was the best kind of pain. I was satisfied, as I needed a good challenge to end the month.
Christian and I took a test hike up to High Mountain in preparation of our first twilight social hike that is scheduled for 9/11. The view of the NYC skyline is impressive from the vista and it promises to be a great location to view the Tribute in Light beams that evening.
We went during a bright, slightly hazy afternoon, yet the view was still very good on the horizon. The trail and forest were surprisingly lush and very quiet for being so near civilization. A few deer were wandering about the trees as we hiked along. It didn't take much to make it to the vista and it is definitely a nice, easier hike for anybody who will be joining us for the social hike.
We visited Bear Mountain and had the privilege of taking a hike with Heather Darley of the NYNJTC. She led us on a tour of the work being done on the Appalachian Trail and we discussed some of the work we might be able to do in conjunction with the NYNJTC.
The day was ideal for the hike. Although the Hudson Highlands region is my absolute favorite place to hike and for the hundreds of pictures I have taken of the Bear Mountain Bridge from various viewpoints, I had never actually hiked up Bear Mountain. So, I was glad to be able to check that off.
The work done on the trail here is excellent, with many impressive stone stairs and lots of craftsmanship. We also got to see the unfinished portion of the AT that is currently being worked on and is currently closed off to the public. The work is nearly complete. Since the trail is so popular, it was eroding quickly and so it now being made to sustain for 100 years.
We were able to climb the Perkins Memorial Tower and spent some time taking in the views. Afterward, we took a quick detour through the zoo at the foot of the mountain through which the Appalachian Trail travels. It was nice to see the bears, the bald eagle, the reptiles, and the coyotes especially.
I cannot express my appreciation enough to Heather for taking time out of her day to show us around and for showing such deep support for our mission!
As the month came to an end, on August 31st, as the sun set, I arrived at Kymer's Campground for the weekend. I set up my tent alongside the cabin we had rented and built a fire. August turned out to be a full, successful month on many fronts and I am looking forward to what comes next. I thank everybody who is following, becoming a member, or visiting our site for your support and interest. Stay tuned for more...