It’s amazing how restorative even short trips can be… we left for the Smoky Mountains on Friday and spent the next two nights in Townsend, TN; during the day, we went for long hikes and scenic drives.
In many ways, though, the most memorable part of our stay was waking up to the mist-covered mountains that our bed-and-breakfast’s windows faced. It’s from these mists, apparently, that the Smokies got their name, and they are no less amazing to behold when you know you can expect them.
It’s hotter’n hell in New York, but before the heat wave struck Sunday, I went for a holiday hike near the Monksville Reservoir in Ringwood, New Jersey.
First, we saw a wild turkey running hard in the opposite direction. Then we saw a pile of dung on the trail. Finally, we spotted this beautiful black bear eating blueberries from a nearby patch. She (or he, not that I could tell the difference) didn’t seem to mind being photographed, so I took a couple shots to document the experience.
Afterwards, we even managed to pick a few berries for ourselves… at a safe distance, of course.
This Saturday, we got up early and headed out to Sterling Forest for a mist- and fog-filled hike. There was a light rain (it was, as the English would say, “spitting”), and by the end we got quite wet, but a forest in fog is a treat, silent and lovely and full of humid expectation.
As many of you know, I often go hiking on summer weekends near the NJ/NY border—lovely perk of having a car… A couple weeks ago, before heading out to Ramapo State Forest, we stopped by the Great Falls in Paterson, NJ. They didn’t disappoint: big cliffs, gushing water, and a footbridge that stretched out across them where you could take it all in.
What may have impressed me the most, however, were the Canada Geese that were standing quite literally at the top of the falls and pecking at the fish that went by. I don’t know how they managed not to get caught by the water’s momentum, but I’ve got the evidence on camera. Unfortunately, in my eagerness to capture the closeup I didn’t pull back to convey how tall the cliffs are and how fast the water’s moving, but there’s a still picture after the jump that should give you an idea. (Or you can check out one of these other videos of Paterson Falls.)
The latest entry to our “Where to Go” contest comes from Julie Bynum, who writes in with an account of her trip to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, or BWCAW.
Last summer (August) I spent 3 days canoeing and camping in the BWCAW. Now believe me, I am not the outdoorsy type, but the area is absolutely awesome. The trip I took was through the International Wolf Center, which is located in Ely, in partnership with Outward Bound. The people and the area is not to be missed. It is on NatGeo’s list of top 50 places to visit. Here is a link to my photos of this trip and here are two of my favorite photos; and this is me!
I forgot to mention the best part of this trip:
NO CELL PHONES
NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES OF ANY KIND
In fact, the only sounds of civilization at all during the trip was the two times that the Park Ranger airplane went over.
Guest blogger Kate Marshall of K’s Notebook is back this afternoon with what we hope will be the first in a series of posts about “where to go”—offbeat urban and rural destinations that our readers think are worth checking out. More info about that tomorrow. For now, read on to learn about Kate’s recent trip to Cook Forest, PA…
As someone who’s lived in suburban and urban environments, I’d never really spent much time in real forests, what with the trees, and the furry woodland creatures, and the sweeping mountain vistas that make your ears pop at high altitudes. All that changed recently, when I visited Cook Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. This was my second trip, having previously been there in October. The campground’s entrance sits on the Clarion River, which traverses the 6668-acre forest. In addition to canoeing and kayaking (which were closed until mid-March), there is also hiking, camping, horseback riding, and fishing.
Being up in the forest for four days was extremely peaceful. By the end of my trip, I was entertaining ideas of permanently relocating to some quaint, remote forest location where the nearest town is a 20-mile drive. Besides hiking, I also enjoyed just walking around the campgrounds and taking pictures (and writing in my journal all the while, like the big geek I am).
While I’m not quite ready to pack it all in and become the female Thoreau, I’m seriously considering another trip to Cook Forest at some point (and yes, I will be bringing my pens and journal again).
It was a perfect day in New York this Saturday, not too hot, not too humid—utterly uncharacteristic of the typical August swelter. Some friends and I went out to Sterling Forest State Park, near the NY/NJ border in Tuxedo, for an easy day-long hike. First we climbed up to the old fire tower and snapped pictures of the view. Then we picnicked at a lookout spot a little further along the trail.
Later on, we crossed paths with an enormous rattlesnake—a timber rattler, endangered in this area—slithering calmly across the path and paying us no mind. It must have been at least 4-5 feet long, but we couldn’t manage to take any good pictures since the surrounding brush was so dense. I’ve never seen such a large snake outside of a zoo.
We also saw a flock of wild turkeys closer to the mountains’ base. They, too, were unalarmed by our presence, clucking happily along a couple yards away.
All in all, it was quite the adventure for a bunch of city dwellers! More photos after the jump… Continue reading »