Harriman State Park, NY
January 1, 2010
We've always wondered what's behind the mountains that run alongside I-87 in our hometown county of Orange in New York State. All I see from the 14-mile stretch of highway in my daily commute are the steep inclines of the mountainsides busy with pine trees each standing tall and erect at over 100 feet. The next highway, Palisades Interstate Parkway, that runs parallel is about 5 miles east. There must be a huge swathe of wilderness in between the two highways. Having heard absolutely nothing of the place -- the map simply labels it as "Harriman State Park" -- we assumed there was nothing there but rugged mountainous terrain. On the first day of 2010, we found out we were wrong.

It was a perfect day as far as winter weather goes -- not too cold (upper 30s), no windchill, cloudy but with some sun, and best of all, it just snowed the previous day on New Year's Eve so the landscape was picture-perfect with its blanket of fresh, virgin, white snow.

Needless to say, Vi and I decided to go outdoors to shoot some pictures. After a quick scan of the map, we agreed on Harriman State Park. We saw a road that runs through it and planned on going there for a drive.

Harriman State Park comprises 72 square miles of public land. (In comparison, the island of Manhattan is 33.77 sq mi and Quezon City is 64.2 sq mi.) It is adjacent to the smaller but more popular tourist attraction, Bear Mountain State Park, located on its northeast corner.

Perhaps the locals prefer it that way, that Bear Mountain be all the tourists and noisy city-vacationers know about and go to. The trash they leave behind after all the barbecuing, boat riding, and hiking not to mention the noise pollution they take with them from their loud boomboxes are confined to one small place.

Harriman State Park, on the other hand, is a whole big region of pristine Nature. It has many beautiful lakes. In fact, the road that runs through the length of the park is named Seven Lakes Drive perhaps to reflect the number of lakes there which definitely total more than seven.

In one lake, Lake Tiorati, we spotted log cabins in the distance which we presumed to be a summer campground.

At another lake, Lake Skannatati, the surface was frozen so I stepped on it. Although the ice was thick and solid, I dared not venture more than two feet away from the banks as one can never be sure.

Along the road just before Lake Kanawauke we spotted icicle formations on naturally-formed rock ledges. We stopped to take pictures.

At Silver Mine Lake we saw a collection of families -- children and grownups -- sledding downhill on their plastic snow sleds, air-filled tube sleds, saucer sleds, boggan sleds, toddler sleighs, and whatnot. When they slow to a stop at the bottom of the hill after the thrilling ride, they then walk back up dragging their sleds behind them for another go. It was a perfect day to be outside in the winter and this was what these families were doing -- enjoying the day outdoors.

Instead of being the desolate place that we imagined it to be, Harriman State Park was teeming with activity. Sights must vary by season, too. In the spring, we can imagine the smell of freshness as leaves start growing on trees. In the summer, paddled boat rides must be a popular activity on the lakes. Backpacked hikers wearing boots and shorts must tread through the rugged trails. And in the fall, the changing colors must turn the park into a scene of breathtaking beauty.

When going for a drive outdoors, we always pick a point on the map to be our destination even if we know nothing of the place. This way, we have directions to follow and not simply be wandering about. If along the way we find spots that pique our interest, we stop. There is never any pressure to "get there". We simply enjoy the day. For this trip, we chose Lake Sebago.

But sometimes, as happened in this case, we never reach our destination. We've already had a satisfying experience making all the stops along the way that we can happily call it a day. When we don't make it to our destination, we simply save it for another day of discovery.

Harriman State Park is owned by New York State. So you can say that Vi and I own it, too. After having lived here in Orange County for almost 15 years and having made our own little discoveries, we feel that we are by now "locals".

If you ever come to visit the region, consider us your locals and feel free to impose upon us -- we will take you off the beaten path. If not, then we hope that the photographs we take of our corner of the world will give you the feeling of being here and allow you to experience Nature like you've never had before.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
We saw this from the road and decided to pull in to the parking lot.
We saw families -- children and adults -- enjoying the sleigh rides.
Father and son on the way back up for another go.
Silver Mine Lake.
Eastern shore of Silver Mine Lake.
Western shore of Silver Mine Lake.
Stream separating the hill where people sled and the parking lot.
View of Silver Mine Lake from the other side of the stream. Vi took this picture.
Another view from the other side of the stream. Vi took this picture.
Grassland in front of Silver Mine Lake.
Frozen banks. Vi took this photo.
A patch of grass seems to float above Silver Mine Lake.
Log cabin by Silver Mine Lake.
Closeup of the log cabin.
Ducks on the lake. Vi took this picture.
Enjoying the frigid waters. Vi took this picture.
Path alongside Silver Mine Lake. Vi took this picture.
Lake Skannatati. Vi took this picture.
Icicle formation on naturally-formed rock ledges by the roadside.
Icicle formation viewed at an angle. Vi took this picture.
Evergreens on top of the icicles. Vi took this picture.
Closer view of the icicles. Vi took this picture.
A closer look. Vi took this picture.
And still a closer look. Vi took this picture.
Shrubs “fossilized” in ice. Vi took this picture.
We heard loud knocking in the forest and spotted this woodpecker. Vi took this picture.
Another shot of the woodpecker. Vi took this picture.
Log cabins on Lake Asktoti.
Driveway by Lake Askoti.
Stone cabin by Lake Askoti.
We just can't get enough of the icicles...
...so eventually we included ourselves, too.
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