Rainer and I had set aside a weekend for ourselves to go on a camping and hiking trip. I wanted the details to be a surprise for Rainer, but apparently I'm terrible at keeping secrets! In the end Rainer knew everything but where we were going, and which hike I had planned for us to do.
The destination was the Hudson Valley in New York. We hit some mind-scrambling Friday afternoon traffic on the way, so we arrived pretty late! The campground we ended up staying at was located in Harriman State Park: Beaver Pond Campground. I wasn't super impressed by the campground itself, as it was completely open and had very little privacy, which allowed for sound to travel easily. Upon arrival we checked in at the ranger station, where we were greeted by at least ten LARGE spiders in their webs, spun between the banisters. To say that I freaked out would be an understatement.
Hike: Finding trail, meadow, gradual ups and downs, steep climbs, meetup.com group
I planned for us to hike up to the summit of Schunemunk Mountain in a nearby state park of the same name. The first challenge we had was finding the start of the trail itself. Ha ha! It turned out to be opposite the parking lot, across the road. We probably spent a good ten minutes looking for it. Oops. The hike started in a beautiful rolling meadow through tall grass. It was an absolutely stunning start to this trek.
To start, the ascent up the mountain was gradual. It was almost like a warm-up for what was coming. As the trail steepened, we needed to take more and more breaks. It was definitely a challenge for us! Our goal was to make it to the top where supposedly there was a short trail to some megaliths with an amazing view of the Hudson Valley. Once we finally made it, we realized that the agony of the climb was definitely worth it! After about 10 minutes of hanging out and snacking at the megaliths, a large group of hikers arrived. They had formed a group via meetup.com, and had come to watch an airshow based at nearby West Point Military Academy. We watched with them and picked up some information about military aircraft while we were at it! The descent was also a challenge, mainly because we were exhausted, but also because of the slippery rock faces, wet from the previous week's rain storms. I wiped out a few times. :)
After spending a second night at Beaver Pond Campground, we headed home, thankful for beautiful weather and some quality time spent outdoors.