A Winter Hike at South Mountain Reservation by Barbara Dexter
Once again it felt like the four walls of my home were closing in on me and I just had to get outside and do something. It was a cold winter day this day. A hike in the winter needs a little preparation, but is not undoable. Think long underwear under your regular comfortable clothing. Proper footwear and socks for warm, and dry feet are also a must. If it is icy outside, adding ice gripping attachments to your shoes goes a long way to keep you from falling and injuring yourself.
South Mountain Reservation has a plowed road (Crest Rd) that is available to walk on year round. It is a frequent place for families with children just learning how to ride bicycles, or with baby strollers. It is also a favorite of dog walkers.
Well here I am hours on the road, driving and seeing nothing but pine trees. I have reached the end of the world. The cell phone has no signal, there is no internet service (well unless you drive back into civilization). I chose to do just that so I could post this to my readers. It is very cool during the day and first thing in the morning and just before dinner the black flies emerge. I am trying a new patch to ward off the black flies. I don’t know if it works. I know what definately works to ward them off is snow. Yes, I mentioned the four letter word S.N.O.W. I have arrived at prime apple picking time. The old trees in the orchard are loaded with them.
The country can be very rugged at times. You’ll notice some pictures of the path through the forest. I had a lovely hike over twigs, stumps, and roots some covered or partially covered by leaves. There was an old stream bed that was nice to walk in, because it was clear.
There are fabulous country views along the back country roads of RT 154 and 152. As well as a dose of civilization with a country church, grange hall, and a public library that was built in the 1800’s. The calico cat is my companion while at the library. He is such a friendly fellow.
Harvest time is a great time to enjoy the back country of Maine. It is both scenic and welcoming. Where else can you enjoy fresh produce while sipping on some Boone’s Farm Wine?
Today is warm and humid day with a high chance of afternoon thunderstorms. I chose today to go wandering through the sunflower maze in Sussex County. I was amazed at how extensive the maze was. I am told it occupies about 84 acres. The flowers are at about peak right now. I am told they will be at peak for about 2 weeks. So I decided to share my photos in case other people were interested in going here. The admission was $ 10 for adults and less for children.
Upon entrance to the field you are given a map of the maze. So in a sense it is not a true maze. People don’t get lost. It is very scenic and you can get up close to the flowers.
This is a great place to bring children, as they can search their way through the maze and also look for special objects. The lion above being just one of them.
The american flag was placed at the highest point on the field. There really was a great vantage point from near the flag. The whole field can be seen. It makes a lovely photo.
There is an old barn with silos at one corner of the field.
This photo shows the path through the maze is generous in width. This makes it easy to get around folks that have stopped for photos.
The rows are perfectly lined up and the blossoms have the characteristic bend near their tops.
The view from near the flag.
The website is www.sussexcountysunflowermaze.com
I hope you get a chance to see the sussex county sunflower maze in person.
Is This Essex County? A short walk around the reservoir. by Barbara Dexter
I decided to take an after work and check out the recently opened pathway that circles the Orange reservoir. There is ample parking across from the paddle boat entrance on Cherry Lane. The path is about 2.5 miles in length. The scenery is beautiful. This is a good, relaxing, and well lit walk. It is close to the Turtleback Zoo and mini golf. If you don’t want to bring a snack, there is waterfront dining available. Well the waterfront dining will cost you.
“My New Status as a Mountain Goat” by Barbara Dexter
It was a day much like any other except I signed up to do a hike with a group. The hike was labeled as difficult. I did not think too much of that since I have been hiking and biking for awhile now. I now know to remember difficult means you will earn your “Mountain Goat Status”.
As we scaled the side of the mountain, I felt I was doing free hand rock climbing and not hiking. I just kept going. The views of the Hudson were fabulous. It was such a beautiful day. The weather could not have been better. The group was fairly experienced with the more difficult hikes and offered helpful suggestions.
As soon as I thought we had finally reached the top of the mountain, I realized I was fooled. Well the path had taken a down slope and then all of a sudden went straight up again. I found myself grabbing for hand holds, watching to be sure my feet were firmly planted and than lifting myself up. I found it a challenge to find foot holds in some places since my legs are short and I could not reach the better spots. Fortunately there is always the slide on your butt technique. Let me say I am glad I wore jeans.
Down hill was slow going since the trail was littered with rocks, boulders and tree roots. It was embarrassing being passed by a little girl of about eight years old. I got over that quickly enough.
I am told there were so many people at the trail because the train has a stop near the trail head. All I could think of when hearing that was I did not want to be on a train for four hours. That is when I was told it was a train emanating from New York City.
We reached the end of the trail and what do we see but cars, lots of cars. The driver of one of these cars managed to start honking the horn as if that would get them out and on the road any faster. Welcome back to the chaos of life as I have come to know it.