Sabbath Day – A Long Walk
I got up early today to take a long walk. What a beautiful day it turned out to be – warm sun with pleasant breezes and gorgeous nature all around – green, blue, purple, red, white and yellow. It was good to be alive and outside to enjoy it all.
I began in the Kitchawan Preserve, 208 acres of flora and fauna on the south shore of the New Croton Reservoir. I had passed this way a few months ago while hiking the North County Trailway and noted the serenity and seclusion of the park. After several miles of field, forest and shoreline I passed onto DEP property and the Teatown-Kitchwan Trailway (TKT). This is a 6.5 mile trail connecting Kitchawan Preserve, John E. Hand Park at Bald Mountain, and Teatown Lake Reservation. I took the yellow trail detour up Bald Mountain Summit, and made circles around Teatown Lake as well, making the most of the parks through which I was passing. Teatown has a relatively new Wildflower Park below the nature center. I had not run into a soul so far on this hike, but then encountered a group of about 20 from the Westchester Trails Association out for hike to the distant parts of the preserve. I met them twice going around the lake.
Having explored the nature preserve I hopped onto the green blazed path of the Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway, a 13.1 mile footpath through forest and wetland. the first 2.6 miles are south of Teatown, but the remaining 10.5 miles were my next project. I lost the blazes at one point and had to walk along a paved road before rejoining the trail. This took me through Croton Gorge Park and over the aqueduct, reentering the woods on the far side of Route 129. Past Colabaugh Pond (Cortland) the trail passes through the BM Sportsman Center. Listening to the gunshots near and far, I simply pretended I was in the Civil War, trying to find a safe way through and hoping not to be shot. At the far side of the center I entered Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill, and over Mt. Spitzenberg. Blue Mountain is our second largest nature preserve in Westchester at 1,538 acres. (Ward Pound Ridge is the largest at 4700 acres).
I had not intended more than a couple of miles here, but my feet hurt, I was distracted, and so I got lost. I don’t know how far I ended up walking here but I came out on the far side of the park. My ride home had also evaporated so I needed to hike another several miles through downtown Peekskill and down to the train station so that I could catch a train home.
What joy it was to step out of the woods and see the Hudson River. Having been turned around in the woods, I had both a sense of orientation and home when I saw the water. A quick train ride to Tarrytown took me along the river and within a quick car ride of home. Despite having lopped off a few miles of the BPT, but adding in a bunch of wrong turns, extra loops and the summit climb on Bald Mountain as well as the extra miles through Peekskill to the train station, I easily did 20 miles today.
And I feel like it.
Because of the early start this morning the dew had not yet burned off the first field I passed through and I ended up hiking with wet feet – thus the several new blisters I have tonight.
Yet this was a rich, full day which will send me to bed tired and return me refreshed for the work of tomorrow.