We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
Fall Color Hike in Minnewaska State Park
The Tarpmaster had back-to-back business travel upstate and to Long Island over the past and coming week, so we had a rental car over the weekend. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to go upstate for some outdoor adventure. We planned an excursion to New Paltz, with a hike in Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a visit to Adair Vineyards, and dinner at Rock Da Pasta in town, which offers gluten-free options.
The day started out gloomy, with rain. The forecast was for it to clear up by midday upstate, though, so we packed our gear and lunch and set out at about 9:30 a.m., a little later than we were aiming for. The drive was uneventful, and it did, indeed, stop raining by the time we arrived at Minnewaska shortly before noon. We parked in the Lake Awosting parking area near the main entrance, and followed the route described on Hike the Hudson Valley, which I had printed out ahead of time. The description gives the hike a length of 6.4 miles for an estimated time of 4 hours, which is about what it took us with stops for views, lunch, catching salamanders in the lake, and climbing around on the rocks.
After a brief visit to the top of the falls, which are hardly more than a trickle this time of year (despite the rain), nothing like they are earlier in the summer, the loop hike took us up past the lake to Kempton Ledge for some spectacular views while we ate lunch, and then down around the end of Lake Minnewaska and up over the ridge on the other side, with more amazing views over the lake and the Hudson Valley.
The leaves in the city are just starting to turn, but upstate they were well along, although with more green leaves than bare branches. The swathes of blueberry bushes alongside the trail were bright crimson, the sassafras was bright yellow, and here and there fall-blooming witch hazel was in full flower. The sky remained mostly overcast, only clearing partially in mid-afternoon. It seemed a bit chilly at first, but once we got going we were comfortable in just sweatshirts.
Most of the trails were wide carriage roads for pretty easy walking, always going uphill or down. We expected the weather to have discouraged most people, but there were quite a few other hikers out besides us, and more as the day wore on. In fact, there were still people coming in as we were leaving about 4 p.m. (the park closes at 7 p.m.).
After leaving the park, we stopped at the Adair winery, where the men roamed around outside while I tasted five wines for $5. They were all really good and I left with a bottle each of the 2013 Landmark White and 2013 Mountain White. (The other tastings were two delicious fruit wine blends and a red.) Then we headed into New Paltz for a pasta dinner, dessert, a brief walk, and then the drive home.
Until I get my Flickr module fixed, you can see my photos here.