We left the house in sunshine. About three miles from the house overcast crept in and a little further on the fog slipped through the woods to where we parked the car.
Winter is a time of greys. No, not those shades of grey, REAL shades of grey that fuse the landscape. Even the green of a pine tree can seem grey on a winter’s day. Add castle-like formations fronting a granite cliff and the world seems seeped in grey. The forest becomes spectral as visibility shrinks and the clouds and air become one.
Spring and summer attract herds of hikers to the woods near the trail head. It's hard, maybe impossible, to feel part of nature when the large groups of fair weather hikers crowd the first mile or so of trail. It can seem more like a fashion show than a day in the woods.
Winter though is different. And a medium cold day with fog and the promise of rain is very different. Even the squirrels seemed to be hunkering down today. Call me anti-social but I like it better in the off season.
Harriman State Park in the Hudson Valley of New York is an absolute gem for hikers and explorers. Today we had to choose between what I would rate a mildly-strenuous hike up and around Island Pond, a visit to an abandoned iron mine an old haul road, or a more leisurely hike just up to the lake.
We chose the long way home. Climbing up and around the rubble left by the last glacial period. Balancing across streams running with last week’s snow. Carefully traversing the steep hills of the rocky trail until we finally joined up with a much heavier used trail. A portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the park taking us back to the trailhead.
It's nice to avoid the crowds. And it's better doing it with your best friend.