Last week I did my first hike with the Trailseekers Crew in Minnewaska State Park. I’ve been wanting to get up there for some time now so I jumped on the chance to go when I saw that this group was going to be leading a hike there. I really needed the miles as I had been slacking so far in my 2,016 miles in 2016 challenge and it would be hike number 3 towards my 52 hike challenge as well. The weather wasn’t looking too good leading up to it, but the hike was going to be on, rain or shine. My only concern was being able to get home in time as I was hosting a dinner party for my family’s Christmas gift exchange that evening. With the weather not looking great and the party looming, I had thought about backing out at the last minute. I am so very glad that I did not.
We were scheduled to begin the hike at 10 so I wanted to try and get up there a little early as it’s about an hour and 45 minutes away. I left at 7:35 which should have been plenty of time, but problems with my GPS had me sweating most of the way there. My GPS app, which is usually pretty reliable, had the travel time at almost 2 and a half hours. I had looked at directions on Google Maps the day before and realized that must not be right. So instead of following the GPS preferred route up 287 and the NY Thruway, I took the scenic route through Sussex County and NY State. Well once my GPS updated the route about 30 minutes later, it still showed that it was going to be after 10:15 when I would get there. So imagine my relief when I pulled into the lot at 9:15 and saw my friend Liz there, and the GPS still said I had almost an hour to go.
We ended up having 10 people come out for the hike, a really good turnout for a cold, foggy, and sometimes rainy, day. I had met Glenn and Liz on a previous hike that I had led through the Yonder Buds group, but the others were all new to me. Byron, the leader of this hike, is also in the Yonder Buds, and was kind enough to invite me into the Trailseekers Crew and on this hike.
Our hike today would take us out to Gertrude’s Nose, one of the most scenic trails in the Shawangunk Mountains with spectacular views, some pretty cool glacial erratics, and deep crevices in the rock. One of the first things we encountered on the trail was this beautiful wooden bridge that crossed above the Minnewaska Lake Carriage Road that we were following out to the Gertrude’s Nose trailhead.
Wooden Bridge in Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2016
Soon after the bridge we came to the shore of Lake Minnewaska. The lake was eerily beautiful as it was shrouded in fog and partially iced over. We paused to take a few pictures before continuing on and up a short climb to where there’s this pretty little gazebo overlooking the lake. Unfortunately, the fog that made some of the things look really cool, also obscured most of the dramatic views.
Partially Frozen Lake Minnewaska - January 9th, 2015
Pretty soon Byron had the entire group doubled over laughing. At Kim’s request, Byron told us of one of his more memorable first date adventures, including falling over twice while trying to mimic the pose of the “cat lady”. Between the total hilarity of the story and Byron’s affable nature, he quickly had the group loosened up and having fun getting to know one another.
Gazebo Overlooking Lake Minnewaska - January 9th, 2016
The beginning sections of the Gertrude’s Nose trail were slow going at times. There had been some rain and freezing rain in the days leading up to this hike which resulted in a lot of very slick, slushy, and icy spots on the trail. We had to bushwhack around some sections of the trail that were completely iced over, but it just made for more fun and better photo ops.
Icicles Along the Trail - Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2016
The weather was really not cooperating and the perpetual fog was often joined by a light drizzle. We were constantly taking off our outer layers as we would quickly overheat on the ascents, only to have to put them right back on when the rain started back up again. And while the rain and fog dimmed our picture taking, it certainly didn’t dim the cheerful mood of the group. We had a great time talking with each other, including some pretty deep and personal conversations about our lives and the trials we have endured. It’s amazing to see how much in common we can have with total strangers once we open ourselves up to sharing with them.
Trailseekers Crew - Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2016 - Photo Credit: Byron Estrada
One of the women on the hike, Kim, really moved me. She recently closed up her successful floral and event business in order to take a 4 month, solo backpacking trip around Africa. This is not her first trip like this, as she left a career in public relations about 6 years ago to spend a year travelling the world. She has spent time in South America, Africa, Asia, and India, where the inspiration for her floral business came. She truly gets it that life is so much more than the typical “American Dream” of collecting material things. That the most important “things” in life are those that you experience and the memories that you make while doing so. And she realized that that’s not something that you can do while working every weekend to make someone else happy. It’s not easy to give it all up and head out on the road and I admire her tremendously for doing so. And while I am definitely going to miss her over the next 4 months, I’m looking forward to living a little vicariously through her as I follow along on her journey. You can too, on her new blog, "This Lovely Little World", at: www.thislovelylittleworld.com
Watching Her Step - Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2015
And she wasn’t the only one on the hike that had plans like this. Taryn, had recently returned home from a 6 month trip to Scotland, where she is hoping to move to this year. It was so refreshing to see other like-minded, adventuresome people breaking away from the rules of society and living life on their own terms. I have been contemplating making some big changes in my life this coming summer and meeting people like this only helps to reaffirm that the life and adventure I’m craving isn’t so crazy after all.
Fun on the Icy Trail - Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2015
When we finally made it up to Gertrude’s Nose, it certainly didn’t disappoint, even with the fog cover and not being able to see the views of the valley below. The glacial erratics, cliff face, deep crevices, and wind swept trees were well worth the hike up there. We spent some time here taking pictures and had some fun exploring before heading out on the return trip.
Gertude's Nose - Minnewaska State Park - January 9th, 2015
We had one last steep rock scramble before linking up with the Millbrook Mountain Carriage Trail for a leisurely walk back to the lake and parking lot. The hike ended at 3:45 and I had to quickly say my good-byes as I was already running late for my dinner party. Hopefully the next time out I’ll be able to stay and enjoy the company of these wonderful new friends with some after hike dinner and drinks. Until next time. Namaste!
Here's some more pictures from my adventure to Gertrude's Nose
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