Friday, July 3, 2015

Paragliders on Brace Mountain, NY

Yesterday I hiked up the South Taconic Trail from its southern terminus on Quarry Hill Road in Dutchess County, NY. I was with the Silver Scramblers, one of many hiking groups in Berkshire County. We climbed up to South Brace Mountain, continued north to Brace Mountain, then into Massachusetts before going back into New York and down the Robert Brook Trail.

The South Taconic Trail has incredible summits and views.
The first half-mile is very steep.
Because of recent rains, the brook beside the trail
was unusually full and made a spectacular cascade.
The rocks were a challenge but manageable.
We all made it up!
The view was our reward!
Many of the rocks had various lichens thriving on them.
Large rock outcroppings opened up the landscape
for long views toward the Catskills.
 
As we ate lunch and admired the view from the summit of Mount Brace, several hikers came up the trail. They were carrying large backpacks which held paragliders. We were excited to see and talk to them as they set up to take off. Brace is a very popular take-off spot in the Northeast; a good open spot to catch the breeze and the thermals which can lift paragliders high in the air. The Mount Brace Outdoor Club operates a landing field in the pasture below and regulates the paragliding and hang gliding on the mountain.

The setup included a careful check of the ropes to make sure none were twisted.
The pilot is strapped into a seat with his equipment.
First is a test to make sure all the lines are functioning properly.
Now the final check and he's ready to go.
And he runs off the hillside into the air. Amazing!
This man was being coached from the ground by radio communication.
I can't help but think how brave they are to do this!

A woman arranged her paraglider on the ground, ready to get in position for take-off.
Many strings (hundreds?) hold it all together. Spaghetti to me!
It looked like lots of fun, but a little scary!

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