Category Archives: hiking

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness

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As John Muir said… so many things. The world is big, and I want to take a good look at it before it gets dark. In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world. I could go on, I do go on, but really, the man said most of what there was to be said about why we should go outdoors.

Going to the woods is going home. Which is why, even though it was going to be over 90 degrees and humid this past weekend, even though work has been knocking me on the ground and kicking my ass, even though carrying a 30 pound pack over rocky terrain in 90 degree weather is like a checklist of everything a lady in my “condition” isn’t supposed to do, Raven and I filled our packs with clothes and snacks and gatorade powder and pursued our favorite mutual pastime.

And it was worth it. It was worth learning that hiking is harder now than it has ever been, worth being drenched and dizzy and exhausted, worth the several dozen mosquito bites that are now making me feel a little crazy, because when we set up our tent in that little glen and laid down, muscles weary, everything was better than it has been for months. I felt more like myself and more inside myself than I have in months. So that was nice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also got to watch the above-pictured snake slither out of the woods and across the path at ludicrous speed to snatch up a frog in its jaws. I’ve never seen a snake catch something before, and I’ve never heard a sound like the squeaks that frog made. I didn’t love this, but it was fascinating. Nature, red in tooth and claw. You guys do your thing, and I’ll try not to feel too bad about it.

If it had been a human, I’d have yelled at them. But snakes is doin’ as snakes do, so what can we say to that?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’d like to say that next time, I’m bringing a bathing suit to jump in one of those lakes. But we all know that isn’t true, because next time, I’ll be far too “condition”-y to even consider letting the world see that much of me.

Even if “the world” is just the odd hiker or two.

And hikers can certainly be odd.

 

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Van Slyke Castle

One of the things I’ve really come to love about living on the East Coast (yes, there might actually be more than one, although I’m not sure of that) is the presence of history, thick history, everywhere. The buildings are old, the roads are old – and best of all, there are ruins to be found, all over the place. I love it. I love it when we’re out hiking and come across surprise ruins – but there’s a lot to be said for the ones we go seeking, as well.

There happened to be a day recently when we rented a car to take care of some errands. And since those errands were only going to take a couple of hours, we decided to drive somewhere we would never normally be able to go. After a little research, and based mostly on this link, we decided to go to Ramapo Park where we could explore Van Slyke Castle.

It was so worth it.

The first part of the trail we took to the ruins. the Indian Head Trail, was built by a (possibly very crazy) man named Joseph “Ace” Tachine. Which I wouldn’t have known, except for the fact that his name was all over the place.

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And why was the trail so named?

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Tons of those. All over.

The trail got less crazy, though, and after an easy meander along a long, narrow, glacially-formed lake, we headed up a tiny mountain for the ruins. And up. And up.

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It was excellent.

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And while there is no part of me that is actually capable of imagining what life in this house must have been like, I’m glad that someone one hundred years ago decided to be a crazy rich person and built the house of their dreams.

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