Hiking Alone
Gardiner, NY - September 11, 2010
I wanted to get to Lake Awosting in the Minnewaska Reserve to take sunset pictures but wasn’t so sure about the 3.5 mile hike. Not only that, but I got to the parking area off Aumick Road late -- about 40 minutes before sundown. Even if I made it to the lake I would be spending at least another half-hour taking pictures so I’d be walking in total darkness alone in the woods on the hike back.

But being already there, I walked up the trail mindful of the time so that when I turn back, there’d still be light when I reached my car.

On the way up I met a young man in jeans and T-shirt with his two dogs coming back. He gave me a friendly greeting. I asked if he made it to Lake Awosting. He said, “No, we just made the loop. Is that where’ you’re going?” I knew I couldn’t make it, not this late in the day, so I said, “This is my first time.” He gave me directions and said, “It’s nice.” Encouraged, I continued on.

The trail went up the mountain and ran parallel to a stream which started level with the ground. By the time I decided to turn around about half an hour later, the stream had become at least over a hundred foot drop below. When I checked google maps later, it said I only made about two miles before turning back.

On the way back I alternately ran and walked. I did so because the trail got boring and also because I still wanted to take sunset photos.

I was running when I heard a bike coming up behind me. I turned and saw a man in cycling shorts, cycling shirt, bike helmet, and really cool bike sunglasses. I thought I must have looked silly running in the woods with all the gear I was carrying like I was freaked out. When he passed he said, “Hi,” but didn’t slow down.

About five minutes later, his companion, a woman, came biking from behind me as well. She, too, said, “Hi,” but didn’t slow down.

When I reached the parking area, they were both there standing on each side of the trail facing me so I had to pass between them.

“Did you get the shots you wanted?” the man asked, smiling.

I shook my head and said, “Is there ever a clearing in the trail? Like maybe an opening with a view? It’s mostly trees isn’t it?”

He said, “Yeah, it’s just like this,” his hand gesturing at the woods. He said he’s sorry it wasn’t what I expected.

“That’s OK. I got some interesting shots,” I said. “Hopefully,” I added.

They then rode their bikes again this time going off on Aumick Road.

When I got in my car I realized they must have waited for me. They stopped to make sure I was alright. I was, after all, running when the man saw me.

I don’t know if I’d ever get the hang of hiking alone. You’d hear twigs and branches crack and fall on their own a lot more often than you’d think, so it’s not exactly quiet, but I can’t help wondering what if I heard footsteps other than my own and saw no one or noises I can’ t make out? On the way up I saw two black figures in the woods not far off the side of the trail. They were the size of bears and stood very still beside a pile of stone fencing that someone must have arranged for a campsite. Needless to say the figures unnerved me as I passed. On the way back when it was getting dark, I tried not to look at them.

No doubt there are dangers out there. So it’s good to know that hikers and bikers are aware of this and will look out for one another, even for those like me who are out of their minds foolishly going it alone.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
As soon as I saw a clearing where I can see the horizon, I stopped to take pictures.
There is at least over a hundred foot drop to the stream below.Later I learned from google maps that elevation is 800 feet and the stream below is called Palmaghatt Kill.
I heard a woman laughing followed by a man. They were either below or across the drop but I couldn't see anything. The laughter repeated every now and then while I took pictures.
I set up my tripod for a timed National Geographic self-portrait cover photo.
On the drive back I stopped on the corner of Tillson Lake Road and Bruynswick Road to take this dusk photo.
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