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Sabbath Day: From Battery Park to Bear Mountain

December 3, 2016

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Today, Thursday, Dec. 1, I completed a three-month long hiking project: a 56 mile walk from Battery Park in Manhattan all the way to Bear Mountain. Known by shore walkers as the Batt to Bear Trail, it forms part of the Hudson River Greenway.

I like the title BATT TO BEAR
For those who like walking from here to there.
– the late Pete Seeger

Readers of my blog will have read about and seen photos from earlier parts of this journey, though I avoided naming them as parts of a larger hike. My final leg on this trail consisted of a six mile walk north from the Stony Point State Park, the location of a battlefield and historic lighthouse to my destination at Bear Mountain.

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North of Stony Point, a quarry, a Con Edison facility, private property, and the route of the fiercely resisted SPECTRA/AIM Pipeline require walkers to utilize 9W for several miles from Tomkins Cove up to Dunderberg Mountain at the Southern end of Harriman State Park. Uninspired walking! West Shore road does allow one to leave 9W for a mile or so and stay close to the water, but only under the very suspicious eyes of numerous police officers wary of those rightfully opposing the pipeline construction.

Along the way, I passed a monument to the Hudson River Defense Reserve – the site where nearly two hundred obsolete WWII ships were once stored – in case they should be needed again – but which mostly served as storage facilities for surplus grain. Directly across the river can be seen Indian Point Nuclear Facility, obsolete and currently operating without a permit. The SPECTRA gas pipeline, if completed, will pass within 400 feet of the pipeline. What, me worry?

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Just north of this monument walkers can follow River Road to a dead end where the Jones Path Trail leads into a lovely wooded walk above the railroad tracks but quietly below 9W. The path leads around Jones Point, formerly Kidd’s Point – the supposed location of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure.

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On this day, the real treasure was the beautiful and wet world created by the last several days of non-stop and much needed rain. The sound of running water was constant off Dunderberg Mountain, as streams and ravines flowed toward the Queen of Rivers, the Hudson. Stretches of the trail were 2-4 inches deep in running water (and I was grateful for my purchase this year of my completely water proof Vasque hiking boots, which performed marvelously). Along the way I found both deer and coyote tracks as well as several piles of hair-infused scat of a large carnivore.

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The final stretch of the Jones Path brought me in sight of the wetlands surrounding Iona Island, a national landmark. The walk out to island was well worth taking. The wind moving among the fragmites left me with the sensation that people (or spirits) were constantly whispering about me, while at another point I heard what sounded distinctly like a typewriter – for a moment I actually (and absurdly) considered whether a writer could be hiding among the reeds. I assume it was a bird of some sort…

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The last mile or so toward Bear Mountain was familiar, having walked it several times on my way to Oktoberfest when it was still held around Hessain Lake. Here, across the Iona Marsh, the Bear Mountain Bridge can be seen in the distance.

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I had intended to finish my hike with a celebratory hamburger at the Bear Mountain Inn. For some reason I really wanted a hamburger (the BATT to BEAR has afforded some unexpected eating opportunities). Instead, I got a call from a friend and had the opportunity for good conversation – always more nourishing than food.

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Those who wish to learn more about this stretch of the Hudson River Greenway should check out Cy Adler’s Walking the Hudson: From the Battery to Bear Mountain, or explore New York City’s shorewalkers.org. A complete map of the BtB trail can be found here. I have blogged about most of my hikes along this trail.

I hope all of you, too, have found time to observe the Sabbath in this most busy time of year. It is essential to perspective, humility and inspiration. Happy Sabbathing!

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