In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Warmth.”
So many ways to go with this one but, earlier today Dominica popped into my head and then when I saw warmth this only seemed natural:
The Valley of Desolation:
which leads to:
That is warmth for me…
As many of you know I am working to finish my initial work on the Hudson River. One piece of the project is to climb to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the officially designated source of the Hudson. This is a 10-12 hour climb (if you aren’t stopping to photograph) which is rated difficult. As many of you also know, I blew out my right knee in March 2012 climbing to Boiling Lake on Dominica. I haven’t climbed since. The knee is better now and so it is time to go! Now, when I was young and ambitious or stupid, take your pick, I would have driven off to Mt Marcy and said “here I go.” Now that I am not young although perhaps still stupid, I express it differently, I decided to do a few practice climbs and see if the knee is really ready and what climbing shape I am in.
It was a good news, bad news day. I really tested the knee and it passed every test. It felt and feels great. I, however, do not. I chose to do the Butter Hill/Stillman/Bluebird Trail Loop because it starts with a challenging steep climb over very rocky terrain. You gain about 400 feet of altitude in 25 or 30 minutes of climbing. Look to right and see 9W and the parking lot
look to your left and see the Hudson and Crows Nest Mountain.
After a bit more steepness you are at the top of Butter Hill. There are some very nice views of the Hudson from here but it was a truly hazy day so I will wait for Storm King. However, I was not alone!
Cicadas were everywhere. So far the climb had been “easy”. Steep and rugged but things were okay. From here there would be a lot of switchbacks and ups and downs for quite some time, more a hike than a climb.
This cairn marks the meeting of two trails. I went to the right and up.
You come to some flat rocks near the summit of Storm King. Best views of the river this day.
Pollopel Island with the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle
It was really hazy today
So while I am shooting this I get a text message from Abigail. Our internet isn’t working. What should she do?. Almost at the same time I hear a loud rumble of thunder and turn around to see this.
Deciding discretion is the better part of valor I start down off the ledge immediately and just made it under some trees when the cloudburst well burst. Wiped out the poncho, put it on, covered the gear, and discussed New York City internet via text with Abigail for the 1o minute duration of the rain.
After it finished I made it to the summit of Storm King. The storm had moved north to bother Newburgh.
A building over a shaft leading down to the Catskill Aqueduct which runs approximately 1100 feet under the river. Notice the train behind.
Looking down river
Before the trail descends into a forest you pass the junction of the By Pass Trail. The Stillman then descends into forest which I am sure is usually quite nice but because of the rain, it was sticky, the bugs were having a field day and the trees kept raining. Still and all, 3 hours into the hike (it would have been about 2:15 except for the photography) things were going well. Then I crossed over to the Bluebird Trail. This was the second steep ascent. Not as steep, not as rocky but significantly longer and 70% of the way through the hike. I thought I was going to die. It was hot, (did I mention it was 92 today?), humid and I couldn’t go more than 20 or 30 yards without having to stop and catch my breath. Apparently, you can’t go 15 months without climbing and get it all back at once. Who knew? Finally the torment stop and I was back on the Stillman Trail. Came again to Butter Hill.
and my trail map/guide said just follow Stillman out and back to your car in the lot. THis seemed a little strange to me as I had climbed the Butter Hill Trail to get to this point but hey, they are the experts. I came out about a 1/2 mile below the parking lot and had to walk up to the lot on 9W. Kids, don’t try that at home. These drivers are nuts.
So, clearly, a good day. Lots of good things and I will definitely be doing more practice runs before I hit Mt Marcy.
Ailsa’s theme this week is mountains
Mountains come in many shapes and sizes both in reality and metaphorically. Metaphorically I ran into a mountain today when I finally installed Photoshop CS6 only to discover that my computer’s graphics card can not handle it and Apple tells me that I cannot upgrade the card. That was a mountain to conquer to get today’s images.
When I had reached the top, above Dominica‘s Boiling Lake (for images of it click back one day), with my bruised knee, and sore calves, I was looking down on this amazing natural phenomena – the sound it makes is incredible – and despite the pain, everything was just about perfect at that moment.
However, there was a party of 3 Germans and a Spaniard who had arrived a bit earlier … and they insisted on chattering, loudly, and smoking. Here we are, having just walked up and down mountains for 14 km, at an amazing place in nature, and they are talking about the Spaniard’s business back in Chicago and smoking a well-known American brand of cigs. At least they packed the cigarettes back out.
As they were getting ready to head down, one of them asked me where I was from. I said New York City. The Spaniard responded. “New York – man, that means chaos to me”. Without a thought I said, “It means home to me.”
I love to travel. If I could afford it, I would travel 90% of the time. But what makes traveling for me is knowing that behind me or in front of me, is my home, my place, waiting for me. It hasn’t always been NYC. Once it was Boston, later Southern California, and in the future it may be somewhere else, but right now NYC is home and it is always nice to return.
So, we were scheduled to take a 6:30AM flight to San Juan on Sunday the 25th. That would get us into San Juan at 11:00 with an hour and 25 minutes lay over before getting on the plane to Melville Hall in Dominica. At approximately 2:30 on Saturday, I received an automated call from American Airlines informing me that, due to crew regulations, our 6:30am flight would not be leaving until 8:30am… Now I am no math genius but a quick count on my fingers told me that we were going to miss our connection to Dominica and there is only one plane a day…
I called American who told me that, indeed, my math was correct and it looked like we were SOL…unless we could get to JFK by 4:30 since there were still seats available on the 6:30pm flight to San Juan. They said they could probably get us a hotel when we arrived.
Of course, Katherine wasn’t home and Abigail and I were not packed, it can easily take an hour to JFK from our apartment and we had to decide … right now. I managed to track Katherine down, we discussed for 30 seconds and decided to go for it. Called AA back and said, “book it, Dano”. Abigail and I hurled stuff in to our suitcases, we got in touch with our cat feeders and said “hey, you are on,”, picked up some necessities at the drug store and we were off. Made it to the ticket counter by 5pm and were in San Juan by 10:30pm. Of course, none of us had eaten lunch or dinner but, hey…
As we got off the plane we spoke with Cora Vilmari, a wonderful ticket agent for AA, who arranged a hotel, and vouchers for taxis to and from the airport, dinner and breakfast. So, in reality, everything worked out for the best. We didn’t have to get up stupidly early to catch our plane, we were rested as we arrived in Dominica, Katherine and I got to watch the cream of San Juan strut their stuff at the casino next to our hotel and we had room and board. Of course, it turned out that I had packed one t-shirt, (but 9 pairs of socks!) Abigail had not been able to find her sunglasses, her backup camera was not with us etc. but hey, so it goes…
What follows are a few (well more than a few) highlights of the trip. Skim at your leisure…
“You can pretend for a long time, but one day it all falls away and you are alone. We are alone in the most beautiful place in the world…”
Jean Rhys (Born – Roseau, Dominica – 1890-1979)