June 9, 2011

The Summer of Hiking

I'm a huge fan of spending time outdoors. But while some people dream of the beach in the summer, I dream of mountains and lakes. Maybe it's because I spent my summers growing up fishing upstate with my family, or in later years, at sleepaway camp in the Berkshires. I have distinct memories of driving upstate with my parents and brothers, spending hours with my feet dipped in a lake, excitedly holding fishing poles until I felt a nibble. I used to love early morning campfires with my friends, overnights in tents where we'd sit around and tell stories, and sneak off to flirt with boys in the woods. And I've always loved hiking.

Jess & I getting ready to get our hike on
When I made my list of things I wanted to do this summer, hiking was on top. I spent a lot of time kayaking last summer, which was incredible and invigorating. But I missed my hiking and promised myself I'd start the season as soon as possible. So when I found out that one of my newest friends, Jessica, was an avid hiker I was pretty excited! After a bit of back and forth on available dates, Jess and I planned a hike in Cold Spring New York this past weekend and spent a beautiful day navigating up rocks, across logs, and admiring breathtaking views. Having lived in NYC since the summer of 1999, I can't believe I'd never been to Cold Spring before. It's a quaint little town, just an hour train ride from the city. The train leaves you off in town with cute shops, great restaurants, and a short walk from beautiful hiking trails. Jess and I boarded an early train at Grand Central, had a chance to catch up and plan our day, grabbed a cup of coffee, applied sunscreen, and headed out to for a few hours of what ended up being pretty strenuous hiking.
Love Cold Spring!
The first hour or so of hiking was pretty steep and involved navigating over lots of rocks. Although I hike for the experience and not for the exercise, I must note that it was an incredible workout. Jess is also a runner getting ready to train for the New York City Marathon and as we climbed we both found ourselves out of breathe and sweating bullets. At around 12:30, I realized I should probably put the coffee down and start some major hydrating (Coffee on a hike? Yes, I make stupid decisions from time to time) so we found some large rocks to sit on and stopped for lunch. Jess brought along a sandwich; I brought along Chickpea Salad, green apples, a giant bag of trail mix, and baby carrots. I brought enough food to feed a small family and yes, I ate almost all of it before the day was over. What can I say? Hiking makes me hungry!

Jess's very cool fanny pack! Note the water bottle & coffee cup ;)
The view from our lunch spot
Trader Joe's Chickpea Salad made the perfect hiking lunch
After lunch, we continued the steep hike upwards, found ourselves crossing little streams by walking across strategically placed logs, and searched for the trail markings to lead us along. One of my favorite moments during the hike was when we were walking through the woods and the trail just seemed to end. At that point, we were following blue trail markers and we looked around but saw no markers. The path that we had been following seemed to be cut off my several fallen trees and if you've ever walked through a forest, you know that there are areas where it's all just a bunch of trees and you have no idea which direction to go. Two-year-ago-Erica would've panicked and assumed we were lost which would've gotten us no where. But both Jess and I remained calm, pulled out our little map, and tried to retrace our steps to determine in which direction we should be heading. Within a few minutes, we figured it out, looked up to find the blue markers and were once again on our way. There might've been some cheering and high-fiving involved too ;) I couldn't help but be proud because I kept it together knowing that panicking wouldn't have helped and for the next few minutes, I reflected on the changes I've made over the last few years to get me to that mind set. It felt pretty freaking awesome!
Crossing Logs
Making new friends
Finding our way... red or blue?
... more logs
and a whole lot of rocks!
The rest of our hike involved lots more of the same: rocks, beautiful views, wildlife, cool streams, and a long road we named the "Stand by Me" portion of the hike since it reminded us of the movie. It really was an incredible few hours spent with a new friend who I feel like I've known forever. We ended our day with fresh juices in town, I picked up some yummy chocolate for a friend, and we headed back to the city totally exhausted but happy.

I'm already planning my next hike for this summer, hoping to hit some more trails and have some new adventures. Do you hike? Any favorite spots I should know about? Please share!
Photobucket

No comments :

Post a Comment