The last two Sundays I’ve gone up to the eastern Hudson Highlands, just above Cold Spring. The earlier trip, I went along the Wilkinson Memorial, Notch, Brook, and Cornish trails. The Brook Trail, red blazed, follows Breakneck Brook, which cuts through the valley pictured below:That’s Breakneck Ridge and Sugarloaf on the other side. Picture taken this past Sunday, when I went up, along, and down Mt. Taurus (Bull Hill), which looms over Cold Spring, via the Undercliff, Nelsonville, and Washburn trails. You can see Manhattan and the Jersey City/Newark combine from the top of the Bull (with the spectacled eye, but not in this photo). Metropolis is a little less than sixty miles away. Also, you can get a good sense of the Hudson’s twisty route here through the ancient rock, north of the wide Tappen Zee.This was some great hiking, and so easy to access via the MetroNorth. Sweat-frothing scrambles, knee-thuddering descents (with my trusty blackthorn helping out), aerobic whatevers.
The paths were obscured by leaves, except for the western part of the Washburn, which is eroded to hardpan, showing its tremendous popularity. There were waves of wind in the trees. Pileated woodpeckers called attention to themselves one week, Red-bellied the next. Turkey vultures and Red-tailed hawks cruised by at eye-level at 1420ft, letting the thermals carry them. From somewhere distant, the bronchial croaks of ravens. And the colors, of course! Not quite “peak” but a great mix of the rainbow, with a lot of greens still in the mix. And a bittersweet surprise:American Chestnut. I noticed two saplings along the green-blazed Nelsonville trail, and below one of the doomed trees, yet another attempt:I feel a strange affinity for the American Chestnut. Must be my awareness of mortality….