Friday, October 21, 2016

Rhinebeck 2016

Hello, everyone.

Last weekend was the annual jaunt up to Rhinebeck,  for the New York for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, coupled with hikes in Mills Norrie State Park and Ferncliff Forest.

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is always a good time, particularly since I can spend a whole weekend in the company of my best friend, catching up, knitting, eating all sorts of crazy fair food, seeing fabulous fiber, visiting with the beasties the fiber comes from . . . you get the idea. Fun stuff all weekend.

This year I stayed by myself in a cabin at the Mills Norrie State Park.  It gave me the opportunity do some hiking along the Hudson River. The cabins were very nice. While not heated (brrrr...), they did have electricity, stove and fridge, and a sink with hot water.  I could walk right out of my cabin onto the river trail and enjoy beautiful views of the river and the fall foliage.

Sunday morning I explored the Ferncliff Forest.  I followed the yellow trail through the woods, past a pond and up to the fire tower, where I watched the sun rise over the Hudson Valley.  The trail continued on, past a swamp before heading back to the car and more fun at the fiber festival.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cranberry Lake Preserve

Hello, everyone.

I found a lovely park just forty minutes north of the City with several miles of intertwining trails.  Cranberry Lake Preserve is located in North White Plains, adjacent to the Kensico Reservoir.  The well-marked trails wind through a fairly young woods, along stone walls, and around ponds and swamps. There are hills, but nothing too strenuous. The exception, is the loop around the quarry, which does include a bit of a rock scramble and isn't as well marked as the others.

I began at the northern-most parking area, just off Old Orchard Street. I walked past the park gate and, just a few feet further down the road, turned right onto the red-blazed trail.  I followed this trail along the edge of the park. Passing three other trails, I eventually turned left onto an orange-blazed trail. This brought me to a boardwalk through the swamp.

The orange-blazed trail intersected with a purple-blazed trail at the north edge of the South Pond. I turned left and, at the next intersection I turned right, merging back onto the red-blazed trail as I worked my way around the pond.  At the south end of the pond there is a marker for a blue-blazed trail. I found this trail to be impassible due to the mud, but a bird stand was accessible that provided a nice view of the pond.  I continued on the red-blazed trail as it circled around the swamp, eventually turning right onto a white blazed trail that met back up with the blue-blazed trail on the western side of the pond.  (There are a lot of trails, but a good map is provided here).

Once I reached the north end of South Pond, I retraced my steps along the purple-blazed trail, this time continuing straight, past an old tennis court, to the quarry.  The trail eventually climbs up the rocks of the quarry, following its rims. This is the most challenging part of the hike, in that you do climb for a short bit. But it offers some lovely views.

The purple-blazed quarry loop works its way back to the red-blazed trail.  I turned right again, and followed the red-blazed trail until it merged with the blue-blazed trail, following the blue/yellow blazes around Cranberry Lake.

I eventually turned right onto a white-blazed trail, then right onto a yellow-blazed trail, which brought me to a picnic area and the paved road that runs into the park, which I followed back to where I parked. 

All and all, a nice way to spend a rainy fall afternoon.  I will keep this park in mind for snowshoeing, but think I would avoid it in the summer months, since the swampland is a guarantee for mosquitoes.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Mine Hill Preserve

Hello, everyone.

This week's outing took me up to Connecticut to explore the Mine Hill Preserve.  The hike I followed led into the woods, a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, with lots of moss and ferns.  There were no views or waterfalls this trip.  The main attraction was the remnants of old iron mines and furnaces.

From the parking lot, I followed the blue blazes counterclockwise on a 3.5 mile loop. I began by taking the Donkey Trail uphill. The trail soon leads to a pond, mostly dried up when I was there in early fall.  At this point, the yellow-blazed nature trail leads off to the right.  This trail offers a 0.3 mile detour and joins back up with the blue trail further along.  (The nature trail comes to a t-intersection with a light blue trail. Turn left here. A short distance later the trail will come to another intersection. Turn right to rejoin the Donkey Trail).

As you continue uphill on the Donkey Trail you will begin to notice openings in the rock outcroppings on the left.  Further up, there are barriers constructed over deep pits.

Continue following the blue blazes.  Eventually you will see signs indicating the top of the Donkey Trail 0.5 miles back the way you had come and the Quarry Bridge 0.5 miles ahead.  Continue ahead. When you reach the Quarry Bridge preserve, the Mine Hill Loop (marked with the same dark blue blazes) will continue to the right.  From here, the trail becomes a mountain road.

The road parallels a field adjacent to the Shepaug River. While you will be able to see the river for a short stretch, the trail never runs down to the river's edge.

Before reaching the parking lot you will find several large blast furnaces, left from the short period steel was manufactured at the sight in the nineteenth century.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shavertown Trail

Hello, everone!

Scotland's well and good (okay, Scotland's fabulous and gorgeous and I'd love to spend a few years there exploring all of it's nooks and crannies), but New York is pretty awesome too.  And it's getting better now that summer is winding down and the crisp notes of fall are in the air.  It's hiking season!

Home less than a week and I was back in the car. This time, heading out to the Western Catskills in Andes, New York for a 5.3 mile hike along the Shavertown Trail.  The trail starts about a tenth of a mile down County Route 1 from its intersection with Route 30, near the Pepacton Reservoir boat launch.  It is an in-and-out hike marked with red trail markers.  It was created through the efforts of the Catskill Mountain Club, with the help of the NYC DEP and the NY-NJ Trail Conference.

The trail climbs pretty steadily for the first mile, but then levels out for a relatively easy mile and a half through the woods.

The trail is broken down into two legs. The first mile takes you to Snake Pond. There is a 0.3-mile loop around the pond, ending with a lovely view of the reservoir.

This segment is fairly open and there are lots of wildflowers in summer.

The next mile and a half takes you into the woods. There is no big view waiting for you at the end, but lots of ferns and moss covered boulders linger under the canopy.  I'm sure the colors in late-September or early-October would be stunning.

The two and a half miles back out goes quickly, and offers some nice views of the surrounding mountains.  The day I was there was a big sky day. Not the greatest for photography, but with fall coming on the sun was gentle and the big, fluffy clouds against the deep blue just made me smile.

All and all, an enjoyable day out.   More photos can be found here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Scotland Day 7 (Edinburgh)

Hello, everyone.

Our last day in Scotland was spent in Scotland's capital, Edinburgh.  (All of our photos of Edinburgh can be found here).

We began with a morning walk to Holyrood Palace, home of Queen Elizabeth II when she is in Scotland.  The entry fee includes an audio tour that highlights some of the palace's history, including Mary Stuart and her second husband, Lord Darnley.  The tour also includes the ruins of Holyrood Abby.

After touring the palace, we headed back down the Royal Mile to Clarinda's Tea Room for an early lunch.  I had been hoping to stop at a tea room at some point on our trip, and was glad we finally were able to do it on our last day.  We enjoyed our sandwiches, but were particularly impressed with the selection of fresh baked desserts.

After lunch, we took a tour of the Royal Mile with Mercat Tours. The tour included some history of old Edinburgh and took us up to Edinburgh Castle.

The room where King James was born.

After the tour ended, we headed down to the Princes Street Gardens to enjoy another view of the castle, before making our way to dinner.

Our last dinner in Scotland was a huge departure from the rest of the trip. We had been eating more traditional fare or curries. For our last dinner, though, we decided to see how the Scot's did Mexican.  Panco Villas on Canongate was quite good. The salsa was a bit sweeter, and the cheese definitely local, but otherwise what you would expect anywhere in the southwest.

We stayed our last night at the Premier Inn City Centre (Royal Mile).

Again, special things to Absolute Escapes for their help in arranging our car and guest houses and providing lots of useful information to help us plan our itinerary.