RAMBLES IN THE HUDSON VALLEY (page 6)
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A 14 mile walk from Ossining to the Croton Dam and on to Croton on Hudson
I am walking today without a destination in mind or map in hand. A long arc is traveled over new byways and trails as if I knew where every footstep would lead. By the time I reached Croton I had eaten my fill of the wild raspberries that lined my way.
An 8 mile walk from Tarrytown to Dobbs Ferry
This walk is an anomaly, I am hiking south instead of north. There will be no sun in my eyes today. The lack of contrast brings out objects and forms previously unseen. Light can so easily transform and old place into a new one. What is more magical than that?
An 8 mile ramble in Ramapo Mountain State Forest
From the cold black landscape I am born again. The sky circles around me and I feel the earth under my feet.
An 11 mile walk from Kingsland Point to the Pocantico Hills and on to Tarrytown
Upon entering Sleepy Hollow I was confronted by a long wall of gold. The bank of trees that grew along the roadside was in peak autumn color as I have never seen them before. Timing is everything, yet there are always too many variables to ever know with certainty when an optimal moment will arrive.
A ramble in Sleepy Hollow
The stream tumbles, a tree turns red. The true chemistry of fall lies beyond our understanding.
A 9 mile loop between New Hamburg and Bowden Park
It was already late in the day by the time I doubled back to explore the banks of Wappinger Creek. Its waters were so placid I could have mistaken it for a lake.
A walk in the Gunks
The Mohonk Reserve is nature made easy. For those willing to walk them its old carriage roads that wind across the most broken of terrain afford views of splendor. While it is no wilderness it is wild enough to provide a safe haven for the soul.
A 7 mile loop between Silvermine Lake and Owl Swamp
The day was dull and even, ending as it began. If not for my tired feet I would have thought no time had passed.
A 7 mile loop between Lake Minniwaska and Gertrudes Nose
In the midst of summer green the white ledges of these mountains glow like phantasms of the night. Now among the bright pallet of fall they are no less luminescent.
A 9 mile walk from Sleepy Hollow to Archville and down to Kingsland Point
I find a pair of Monarch’s wings in the grass. It is strange how we place value on things. Who is it that collects specimens of roaches, flies, or tics apart from the researcher? Yet we go out of our way to frame a and hang dried butterflies on our walls. Here in forest and field there is a different order where a butterfly’s value is reduced to grams of protein. I suppose the way we view a landscape is determined by where we sit on the food chain.
A ramble about West Point
The polished brass cannons and mortars were shocking to see. This is how they must have looked when first used. When I usually cross paths with such antiques they have either corroded to blue or have been painted black. Despite their historic accuracy it is difficult to imagine this area was ever fought over. I am walking through a picture book.
A short ramble in and a sail out of Beacon
Though not becalmed the air was still enough to hear distant whispers.
A 13 mile loop between Tarrytown and the Pocantico Hills
I can feel spring in the air today as everything comes alive in slow silence. All is that perfect green, unweathered and full of hope. How can these newly formed leaves conceive of the forthcoming trials of summer?
An 8 mile ramble from Yonkers to Greystone
There are no class distinctions in this Valley. Here stand lofty mansions and broken down shacks, yards fill with junk that have left their best days behind and long driveways fill with luxury cars. The Valley makes no distinctions, only we do.
A 9 mile ramble about Croton Point
Sometimes found shapes are too irresistible to ignore.
A 10 mile walk from Nyack to Piermont
As I left the road I gave up on my map to loose myself in the landscape. Wandering into the woods I came across long graffiti covered walls, parapets, corridors, and dark tunnels that stretched out through the forest with seemingly no rhyme or reason. The apparent purposeless of it all turned the landscape surreal. I explored this abandoned city trying to make sense of it but no explanation came to mind.
Postscript: Later, after looking at a map I realized my wanderings had taken me into the abandoned Blauvelt Rifle Range once used by the Army when this was open land. While I made a conscious effort to find meaning in what I saw that day I think I was more happy when it remained a mystery.
An 8 mile walk from the Pocantico Hills to Tarrytown
As I wind through the back roads of town I discover views that can rival those from a mountain.
A short ramble near Croton Dam
The color of the day was perfect but it was difficult even for me to compose a shot out from the tangle that lay before me.
A 6 mile ramble in the Gunks
The combination of weather, color, and terrain could not have been more perfect than what I found on this day. I shifted back and forth from capturing dramatic panoramas to the more subtle colors found within the sharp bend of a road. It was hard to do wrong. If all days were like this I think they would still seem special.
A 7 mile round trip along Kanape Brook in the Catskills
The thick forest that grew along the banks of the brook reigned in my view despite the falling leaves. I made myself stop every now and again just to hear the rushing water above my trampling footsteps. The trail suddenly rose steeply as I neared High Point. As I climbed into the low cloud cover I could barely make out the trail ahead of me. Realizing there would be no great panoramic view at the summit to photograph I stopped and pondered. Would turning back now be a denial of the experience when no tangible gains could be achieved, or was I just pursuing a meaningless abstract goal to reach the top. Soon I was content with the company of the cascading brook on the long return.
A 6 mile walk from Beacon to Breakneck Ridge
Most of my attempts to find views this day were thwarted by the high overgrowth of late summer. Only at Fishkill Creek did I find solace but even this view on the riverbank was dominated by green. Summer is about being green. Yes, there are subtleties to be found, but under the hot sweltering sun they do not always come easily. Here the lilies stretched so far out It was easy to believe they would reach the far shore if the frosts of autumn failed to arrive.
A ramble about Dobbs Ferry
A garden ruin next to a small pond proved a hidden oasis on this sweltering day, that is once the geese let me enter.
A ramble about Garrison
Holiday decorations in the city, no matter how garish they may look become an accepted part of everyday life. But once placed in a more natural setting they can seem as if they are leftovers from part of a more sincere pagan ritual or they can look totally absurd.
A 12 mile loop between Garrison and Fort Hill
The late winter snowfall was a damp one clinging heavily to every facet of the trees. But by the time I reached the Valley the snow was already falling from the branches despite the absence of wind. It had all but disappeared in the warming air as I climbed into the Highlands. Only upon reaching a small pond surrounded by hemlocks did traces of the morning storm remain. As the snow melted from their branches it poured a thousand droplets at once into the waters below. The pond’s surface vibrated with crisscrossing ripples moving in every direction. The sound was mesmerizing like an endless string of chimes. I could not bare to move from this spot.
A ramble in Sleepy Hollow
When walking through Sleepy Hollow it is sometimes easy to forget that I’m on a working farm. All seems laid out as to be nothing more than pleasing to the eye until I return to a former fallow field only to be greeted by long walls of tall cornstalks. Even long after a harvest when all is cut, surprises still await for gleaning birds and photographers.
A 12 mile ramble between Tarrytown and Pillipse Manor via Raven Rock
For the most part it is easy to forget that a railroad once ran through these hills. Only through a careful study of the grades, straight a ways, and other subtle hints can I can follow the old bed under the new road. But I’m easily distracted from what is underfoot until I reach one isolated section where the old railroad bed snakes through a long deep cut, deep enough to keep me focused. But no place is immune from distractions. Here the rocky walls were decorated with icy streamers where water seeped up through deep crevices from origins unknown. Around one bend lay a small stone drinking trough with a simple image of a dog carved on its side.
Postscript: The area of the deep railroad cut has since been closed off for public use.
A ramble between Lake Welch and Lake Tiorati
The trees were all leafless, the ground full of dry grasses and weeds. An occasional green plant stood out in full denial that a change of seasons was well on its way.
A 7 mile ramble between Lake Skannatati and the Greenwood Mine
The dull autumn light was perfect for this trek through bogs and along old mining roads. Most of the leaves were already down but the damp air moistened the grasses and twigs until they glowed with the last remaining life in them. As the dampness turned to mist, and then to drizzle, and then to rain, my camera filled with water until it was no longer usable. A few last shots came my way just as the cold rain turned this warm day otherworldly.
Copyright 2009 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved