A question for you: how do you think Tom & Emma spent what was probably the hottest Saturday of the year so far? Were they a) hanging out in some air conditioned mall or movie theatre; b) relaxing on the sands at Coney Island, or under a shady tree in Central Park; or c) schlepping upstate to walk 7 miles up a series of steep hillside trails, with the added possibility of encountering a bear along the way?
Fortunately for us the bears of New York state were taking it easy in a secluded and shady spot somewhere, so all the wildlife we had to contend with was a selection of persistent bugs and beetles and the occasional fellow
We were following a route from our new hiking book, both of which had been recommended to us, but in fact all the trails were so well marked that the directions weren’t really necessary. Coloured badges were nailed to trees (or marks painted onto rocks) at regular intervals, and changes of direction were indicated with two badges (the higher was always offset in the direction of travel).
Given that most of the walk was through woodland all the markings were very much appreciated – even with the most sophisticated map it would have been extremely easy to get lost, especially as the trails wandered around all over the hillside.
Once I’d got tired of worrying about bears, and complaining about the heat and the steepness of ascent (we travelled 2000 vertical feet, I believe, and most of them consecutively), it was actually quite an enjoyable day. The trees shaded us from the worst of the sun, there was a pleasant breeze blowing around the top of the hill, and we’d packed a tasty picnic of homemade pasties and flapjacks.
Possibly the only downside was me remembering that I don’t actually like walking in woods very much. It’s something about not being able to see very far in any direction, and how easy it is to get completely disorientated. I also wasn’t keen on the fact that we were completely alone for several long sections of the trail – I’ve clearly been living in cities too long as I feel much more comfortable when there are other people around (if only to divert the bears so we could escape more easily!). The trees also blocked most of the view, although we did come across the occasional clear spot with splendid views of the river (and seemingly endless trees).
Once we came off the trail we decided to spend a little while exploring the village of Cold Spring before catching a train back to Manhattan, and it was more than worth the additional walking on tired legs and feet. It’s a lovely little place, with a main street full of nice shops and cafes, and a pleasing mix of rather grand brick buildings and delightful clapboard houses with porches (and the occasional white picket fence). It also has a waterfront area which was the perfect place to sit with an ice cream and watch boats and jet skis zoom up and down the Hudson.