Thursday, August 13, 2015

Alander Mountain--from West to East

I have been up Alander Mountain three times this summer. The climb is moderate and doable and the views are magnificent. It has several trails on both the east and west sides and the South Taconic Trail runs along the top of the ridge. And it's practically in my backyard. What could be better!

I climbed it with the Silver Scramblers in mid-July. The weather was perfect, company was great and the views, amazing. We started on the Robert Brook Trail on Under Mountain Road in Copake, went north on the South Taconic Trail over Alander and down to Mount Washington State Forest Headquarters on the Alander Mountain Trail.

The trail began in a hardwood forest.
I'm smiling because, actually, I'm not lost!
The first opportunity for an extended view to the southwest.
Jay Weintraub is the leader of the Silver Scramblers.
Bella, the dog is an avid participant.
At the top were several beautiful red wood lilies.
Views all around.
The Catskills to the west.
Time for a short nap in the sun after lunch!
I love the open summit of Alander.
Views to the east of Bear and Brace Mountains.
July 16 and already a few leaves are turning!
Near the Mount Washington State Forest Headquarters,
the meadow has patches of Spiria, also called Steeplebush or Hardhack.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Monument Mountain Never Disappoints

On a weekend, the parking area for Monument Mountain can be filled with more that 100 cars. That's how popular this Berkshire natural attraction is. The trails are scenic, short (less than an hour to the top), and the view at the summit is amazing. Some sections are steep and some have beautiful stone staircases. Over the years much trail work has been done, but with all the traffic, parts of the trail are eroded and rocky with exposed roots.

I love the mountain and have been climbing it since I was a child. I have lots of great memories of various climbs with family and friends. As I walked down the Squaw Peak Trail and the Indian Monument Trail last week, my thought was, "Monument Mountain never disappoints!"

The lower sections of the trail are wide and easy walking.
Some sections require careful footing with exposed roots and rocks.
This lovely small waterfall was barely trickling last week,
although after a rainstorm, or in the spring, it rushes!
New this year is a stone staircase just past the waterfall,
built by a trail crew. Great work! Thanks!
Many rocks along the trail provide habitat for ferns, moss and lichens.
I just love the way the trail winds through the rock formations.
Lots of views become visible along the way.

Again, the rocks are amazing!
Windy Hill Farms apple orchard is at the bottom left of the photo.

More rocks!
The white pines frame the view into the Housatonic valley
with the mountains beyond.
It's the Old Man of the Mountain.
A rocky ledge extends south of the summit
with a separate chimney of rock standing by itself.

In the previous two centuries, the lower mountain was agricultural land.
In the 1800s most of the mountain's trees were made into charcoal used
by the thriving iron industry in the Berkshires
and nearby in New York and Connecticut.
OK! This has to be the largest mushroom I've ever seen.
It was over three feet across!