Feel Good Friday - We Stuffed Our Faces. Now What?
The holidays are among us and (as we should from time to time), a majority of us have stepped away from our normal habits and indulged in quality time with family and friends. Traditional food and drinks, watching games on the television, naps between slices of pie; It is all an important part of the big balance of life. But as wonderful and satisfying as it may be, we know that around the corner is that “blob on the couch” feeling. Let me suggest one of my favorite ways to put those cookies to use and perhaps, feed your soul at the same time.
How About A Hike?
Temperatures are dropping, crowds are scurrying to find pumpkin spice flavored goodies, and the winter boots, hats and scarves are making their first appearances. Though the crisp air and grey skies might tempt the masses to indulge in winter’s hibernation early, a great many New Yorkers are gearing up for the fall hiking season.
As city dwellers, we are accustomed to stuffing as much as possible into our days. The pace of our city can leave us itching for wide-open spaces, fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature, and an opportunity to get out and stretch those arms and legs. And due to the extensive variation in length and intensity of trails in our area, hiking is truly a pastime for everyone! Living here in Western Queens, we are fortunate to be a little more than an hour away from some of the most beautiful mountain trails on the East Coast, many of them accessible by public transportation!
So where to go? Depending on the day, mood, hikers, and transportation options, you might try the Catskills, the Taconics, Harriman State Park- Bear Mountain, or even the Palisades. All are easy day trips, but one of the most popular and breathtaking areas to view the fall colors while getting a great workout is just around the bend in the Hudson Highlands. Not only are there numerous trails and climbs, they are served by the Metro-North train systems. The Peekskill and Cold Spring stations will bring you quite close to the trailheads and introduce you to some charming local businesses as well.
As you plan your hiking trip, I would like to stress that preparation is key. It can be the difference between inspiring and catastrophic. Many of the Hudson Valley hikes will not require much in the way of fancy equipment, but it is good to have an idea of what to expect and what necessities to bring to make your trail experience memorable and safe. As nature itself can throw twists, turns, and detours onto the trails, it is smart to research up-to-date information on local hiking areas.
Be aware of personal restrictions and physical capabilities. Sure, you can go out and attempt to learn while you are on the ground, however, you may find yourself lost and waiting for the rangers to find you. Packing lists, maps, pictures, hiking reviews, and emergency tips are at your fingertips if you know where to look. And if you missed the “how to read trail blazes” day of summer camp or scouts? You can find that mini lesson as well.
Two comprehensive and well-maintained sites to consult are:
New York New Jersey Trail Conference - www.nynjtc.org
Mike Todd’s Hiking Blog – www.hikethehudsonvalley.com
I check both of these sites before every hike and note GPS coordinates, trail changes due to weather, and events happening in the area. Hope to see you all on the trails. And remember, leave only footprints and take only memories!