Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gertrude's Nose

Well, my favorite hike was the Ricketts Glen Falls Trail, I need a least favorite, and this would be it. Well, to be fair, it wasn't all bad, let me start at the beginning.

First, DO NOT attempt to park on State property before 9 am (even if the gates are open). I know you hikers like to get out early, but since NY can't tax it; they prohibit it. And, I think the High Point employees were helping out in NY the day we hiked. Yep, just plain not nice!

So, finally allowed to park, off we went. The hike to Gertrude's Nose was amazing. It was relaxing and well maintained with spectacular views. That's L&O in the picture to the left, it was a perfect day!

Then we left the cliffs. GRRR! When Gertrudes Nose Path ends and the Millbrook Ridge Trail begins the hike turns deadly (okay, no one died, but I did fall back on my pack and like a turtle I couldn't get up! That could have been bad). Seriously, for most of the hike back to the parking area the trail is not really maintained. The path is overgrown, not well blazed, and follows a water run-off trail, which means a lot of rocks and moisture, a deadly mix for sprained ankles.

Wait, sorry to interrupt, but I have to tell you this! A few weeks ago I requested that the house I live in get real recyclable containers from the county, so I wouldn't need to make my own anymore. Well, the genius from upstairs just came downstairs, once again, to argue with me that not only is recycling a scam, but polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam) is the most biodegradable material on earth. LOL, welcome to my world! This is why I like to hike, it's peaceful, beautiful, and no (or very little) people! Okay, back to the hike!

Before you attempt this 8+ mile hike (some guides claim 8 miles, some 9), remember that you actually hike down to Gertrudes Nose, so on the last end of the loop, it's all uphill. Had you been hiking the day we were, you would have heard me complaining about this for at least 2 miles .

A little background, Gertrudes Nose is a part of the Shawangunk Ridge (a.k.a. The Gunks). It's a ridge of mountains in Ulster County, Sullivan County and Orange County in New York extending from the northernmost point of NJ to the Catskill Mountains (and yes, High Point is included in the Gunks, it explains a lot, huh). Known for it's rock climbing, the ridge has also been designated by the Nature Conservancy as one of the "75 Last Great Places on Earth". I would agree with the last statement, it was beautiful, just not a great hike, there's a difference.

To hike the route we did, visit: www.nynjtc.org/trails/record/080703.html

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA

I'm not quite sure what to say about Ricketts Glen State Park, I'm still speechless from the experience. By far my favorite hike, the 7.2 mile, difficult Falls Trails leads hikers past 21 waterfalls ranging in height from 11-feet to 94-feet, all are amazing in their own way.
If you park in the trailhead parking on Rt.118, called the Evergreen Trail Lot, the entrance to the Falls Trail is directly across the road. For an added bonus, another waterfall, the 36' Adams, is located at the end of this parking area.
Ricketts Glen Natural Area is a National Natural Landmark comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties.
Bring lunch, a good camera, and sturdy boots (the trails get very wet and slippery). The hike itself is very challenging, but I didn't fall once, so that's a good sign!
For more info, visit:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

High Point State Park, NJ

Well, where do I begin? The trip to High Point was disappointing to say the least. Granted, it was very foggy when we went so great pictures weren't expected, but a great hike was.
We ventured to High Point with the expectations of seeing three states (NY, NJ, & PA) from the highest point in New Jersey. The fog put an end to that dream right way. No worries, the AT passes right through the park, so we headed off to find our beloved trail. We stopped first at the visitor's center for maps and directions. The woman at the window did not share our excitement, and when asked about trails, she handed us a park map and told us we could find something on there. Hmmm...big difference between state park employees in New Jersey and every other state I've ever hiked. Okay, maybe she was having a bad day, off we went.
We paid our $10 for admission (a little steep!), and drove into the park. Unable to spot any trail heads, we headed to the monument to have a look and pour over the map. While there, we said, "Hey, why not go up?"
So, passing another state employee who looked to be drifting off to sleep, we entered the monument. Let me stop here before I get mad again to say, don't do it! The monument is hotter than Satan's den, the windows dirtier than a boy's locker room, and there is no viewing area, it just ends. So after reaching the top, we angrily headed back down.
Back at the bottom, now drenched in sweat without ever hiking even a foot, we pulled out the map. If I handed any 5 year old child some crayons and told them to draw me a map, we would have been better off! I know New Jersey is trying to save money, but come on! So L&O decided to ask a park employee who actually looked like they were breathing.
The employee (who was very nice), told us to get to the best views on the AT you need to go back out of the park. Hmmm...they must not get paid well. We already paid the ten bucks, so we found a green-red trail to follow instead.
Well, after following the trail for almost an hour, the trail markers just stopped. We retraced our steps and headed down an unmarked trail instead (the map was of no use). The unmarked trail brought us to a swamp area (which, actually, was very nice) with a long boardwalk over the swamp. We walked for a while, saw a beautiful buck and listened to the loud conversation of two other lost souls on our path. We followed this trail for at least another hour until it brought us back to where we started. Nice.
Well, a storm was rolling in, so we just decided to call it a day. We followed the original red-green trail back out and headed home.
As we drove past the visitors center we noticed a sign we hadn't seen before, Appalachian Trail Head Parking. To all High Point State Park employees, the AT is BEHIND the visitors center! Nice!