Saturday, September 01, 2012

Climbing the Mountain

I'm not going to lie.  When a hike is suggested, I don't automatically say, "YAY!"  I normally think, "Well, time to sweat like Patrick Ewing at the free throw line and prepare myself for pain in my back, legs, etc."

I loved Patrick Ewing (hated him in college) but the dude knew a thing or two about perspiration.
But Lisa loves to be active, and she enjoy hiking.  So Lisa becomes my inspiration (which is positively Walt "Clyde" Frazier-like: "Ewing with the perspiration, Lisa with the inspiration.").

Of course, the activity is good for me.  With that said, we left our campsite in Saugerties to climb Overlook Mountain outside Woodstock.

The buzz was that this hike would be unlike our previous efforts, to Kaaterskill Falls and North Point.  It is steep and more challenging.

Yep.  That's about right.

Sean elected to stay with the family, while Lisa and I went to the hike.  We passed that motley crew in the village of Woodstock.
That's Sean - almost to the sidewalk, wearing the hat.  I still think they look like an extended version of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road.

The drive was enough of a climb to begin with and the parking lot at the trailhead was full.  But we found a place to park and began our ascent.  The trail is everything that people said - very steep at times, and challenging on the knees, legs, and back.  It is a two-mile walk to the first reward: the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House (seen at the top of the post).

Now, fortunately, one thing I didn't know about this place was the rampant presence of timber rattlesnakes (holy f***, I got chills simply typing those words).  This guy doesn't mess with snakes.  But on this day, my slithering friends were, thankfully, nowhere to be found.  Lisa and I were able to take multiple pictures of the abandoned buildings and the nearby radio tower without any fear or delay.

One tower we would NOT be climbing.  Lisa might have, but the FCC wouldn't allow it.

We reached the abandoned hotel in about an hour and a half, but we weren't done.  Not nearly.  The fire tower at the top of Overlook Mountain awaited and I wasn't stopping without reaching the summit.

So after another half mile of walking, we hit paydirt.
Nah, it's not that bad, right?  I mean, I can handle heights.  No biggie.  I like scenic overlooks and have no problem with visiting observation decks, like the Empire State Building.
Hmm.  Umm.  Yeah.  It looks a little, er, high.  And I don't like open heights, like ladders.  But these are stairs!  Still, Lisa wasn't initially thrilled.  She doesn't love heights either.  So, um, we weren't going, right?

Well, we tried.  We went up a few levels.  Things didn't seem all that sturdy.  No, maybe that was enough.  In fact, a few levels from the top, we seemed to have the epiphany that we had reached our limit.  So that was good, right?
F*** NO!  Without a word, I...just...went.  I would have gone even higher if the room at the top was open (I actually hit my head on the trap door above my in that shot).  I also took a picture of Lisa at the top but, of course, I don't have approval to post said shot.  So here's a picture at the top that includes her shoulder.  That will do.
But wait!  There was more.  We made our way down from the top of the tower (but not until a, say, three year-old kid got out of our way!) and went to the scenic overlook.  Word of careful of the edge!
If you ever go there, check out the engravings on the rocks - some say they date to 1899!
The obligatory picture of your weary explorers.
The walk down was not as easy as it seemed.  The steepness of the mountain was tough on my calves (I seriously wondered if this would be the day in which I would pull a hamstring or something).  But, I'm proud to say, we made it without a scratch.  This was the first hike that I really felt after we were done (my legs and back were sore).

Indeed, I don't go into these hikes all gung-ho, but I'm always very proud and excited once we're done.  Each one has had a wonderful payoff - from waterfalls to scenic views.  They're also very good bonding times for Lisa and I and that might be the best payoff of all.

We also visited the intriguing Opus 40 sculpture (inspired by Overlook Mountain) on this trip.
All of the pictures are on Flickr!

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