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There’s more to New York than NYC

2011 July 29
by Elizabeth

The Lemon Squeezer! Luckily we were slack packing this day or we may not have fit through!

Leaving the Murray Property basically moved us into New York. No fanfare, no streamers, just rain. But hey, what can you do?

Well, you can hike in it, that’s what you can do! Then after a couple days of it, throw down your trekking poles and go to a hotel.

Once we got to Greenwood Lake, NY we were ready for a break. We stayed at a place called Anton’s on the Lake. It is surprisingly hiker friendly, considering it’s more of a boating community. From the conversations I heard the owner having with other hikers, he was willing to slack pack all the way across New York if you were staying at his place each night, which is substantial since New York holds 88 miles of the Appalachian Trail. We didn’t opt for any slack packing, but we did thoroughly enjoy his incredibly comfortable beds and whirlpool bath.

Derek and Brooke--our gracious and pregnant hosts while in the Bear Mountain area

We left Anton’s after the rain, but everything was still VERY wet and foggy. There was standing water in the trail, and the rock fields were quite slippery and, frankly, dangerous. We struggled through 13 miles and almost as many wipe outs before once again throwing in the towel and calling our friend Brooke to pick us up. “You can walk a little further if you want,” she said. “Nope, come get us” was Muggle’s quick reply.

And come get us she did! She took us back to her lovely home with running water, fancy bathrooms (read: flush toilets) and even dinner guests bringing Korean BBQ! We spent two nights with Brooke and Derek Steinhiser, and she even generously helped us slack pack about 20 miles, allowing us to summit Bear Mountain without full packs.

There are over 800 granite steps on the descent from Bear Mountain going northward.

We were able to spend some time on the top of Bear Mountain, and the observation tower there grants a view of the NYC skyline on clear days. We couldn’t quite see that far when we were there, but it was a great view regardless. Then we dropped down Bear Mountain on the recently opened trail of 800 granite steps which was , in the words of a fellow thru hiker, “probably the best stretch of trail on the AT!”

From there we passed through the Bear Mountain Recreation Area, navigating a THRONG of people. It was a beautiful Saturday and everyone seemed to be out enjoying it, which was actually pretty nice! The AT passes through a small zoo here, and the bear cages are the lowest point on the trail at 124 feet. Unfortunately, we arrived after closing time and had to take the bypass trail around the zoo. We quickly recovered from that loss though as we crossed the Hudson River on Bear Mountain Bridge.

Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River

Crossing the Hudson River on Bear Mountain Bridge was very cool but also disconcerting, because of all the signs saying “Life is worth living. Emergency call boxes ahead.” I’m guessing thru-hikers aren’t the only ones on the bridge… or maybe the signs are for thru-hikers? There are still more than 700 miles to go after all.

The AT is beautiful in New York. The terrain has become a little more rugged, with short rock scrambles and mature forests and for the first time on the trail we’ve started seeing lots of natural lakes. However, even though we were surrounded by trees and rocks, we knew we weren’t really that far from civilization because we could always hear cars and other road noise.

A train station right on the AT. How convenient!

This portion of the AT also boasts a train station right on the trail which will take you directly into New York City! Unfortunately, We were on a bit of a schedule and decided not to go into the city. Besides, we’d rather go visit NYC when we have more than 24 hours to spare and more than one set of clothes to wear. But NYC isn’t going anywhere, so we’ll leave that for another trip.

I don’t think New York is technically considered part of New England, but it’s definitely starting to feel more New England-esque. We’re seeing more evergreens and the towns have more colonial-looking houses. We’re sure crossing into Connecticut will be even more so!

Until then, happy trails!

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