Friday, August 30, 2013

High Point - Beginning the SRT North

Lauren at High Point
With an unusually cool August day, I found the opportunity to continue hiking the LP by-pass route at High Point.  My daughter Lauren wanted to go with me with the added premise that we would spend the day Geocaching as we hiked.  I introduced that particular GPS game to her years ago, but she now loves it so much it’s really a part of her everyday experience.  We drove across Jersey to High Point state park to begin the southern section of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT).  We paid our $10 in state fee and parked near the 220ft tall memorial.  For those just seeking a day trip, the park is really nice and has a beach and many picnic areas, as well as a 360 panorama of the surrounding countryside.  We immediately climbed to the top of the tower going up (and up) the stairs, but the small top windows were basically fogged up and the views were nearly non-existent, so it was really just something to do and check off the bucket list.
Start of another hiking season
and the beginning of the SRT.
We hiked downhill on the SRT trail (southbound) to meet the junction of the AT. This is where I last stopped so I needed to cover that 0.2 miles or whatever that little distance was.  Lauren complained a bit because we immediately turned around and had to go back up the hill to the tower.  Long distance hiker call this “EFI” (Every F##king Inch). I’m not a purist, but I do adhere to the mindset that you need to complete the full section. I took a picture exactly where I last left off last time (see entry "High point or Bust"), and the contrast is winter snow verses summer green.

Looking up at the Tower Stairs -
An "Escherian" experience
We set out along the ridge and the views were incredible.  I could see the southern Catskills clear from here and the line of the entire SRT head northward and a bit Easterly to the Hudson River.  Everything was green and rolling. The Vernon ski areas were to the east and Port Jervis was nestled snugly on the Delaware to the Northwest.  That was more or less where we were heading.  We stopped for many, geocaches as we wound down the ridge.  I think we found 11 in all on our way to the Greenville turnpike on the NY side.  We crossed a bog using well built boardwalks and learned about the unique plants that still thrived there (post glaciation) in a relatively cooler, protected climate.
Lauren with Port Jervis in the distance.
It took us a really long time to get to the end of the section with all the geocaching we did along the way and I was worried about making It back to the car before sunset.  I had no reserves or safety supplies and we only had one water bottle left between the two of us.  Lauren recognized that look in my eyes and simply sighed knowing that pain was about to become our reality.  I was like a drill sergeant and marched us double time over the next few miles, including long trail runs, often up hill.  Lauren was a good trooper but was hurting a bit from the extra effort it took to cover the miles at double speed.  We would have benefited from a map.  At one time, our GPS told us we were actually going significantly away from the parking area, so I was confused as we stayed on the SRT going back the way we came.  It didn’t seem like the trail wound around a big feature, but I guess it did. We made it back to the car in record time and I had a few waters stashed there for recovery which went down fast.   I had previously coaxed Lauren up the last big hill with a promise of mint, rum and lime Mojito’s when we got back home (yes she is 21) and of course stopped at the store to buy the mint and limes.  Later when we arrived home, we looked at the trail map and saw we could have saved almost 2 miles on the return journey taking a different red green trail as the SRT did a bit of a loopy thing near the state line.  I’ve already printed out the next few sections, as there is no excuse not to carry a trail maps in an unfamiliar and large tract of woods.

I think we did about 4.5 miles on the SRT and hiked about 9 miles during the entire day and we geocached.  I’m thinking about taking the metro north to Port Jervis, then get to the trail by taxi and then hike to the next station in Otisville for a return train back, maybe on Labor day.  After, I plan on completing the main section of the LP on September 13 and 14th with Chris.  Anyone interested in joining doing the last 25 miles should contact me.            

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