Monday, June 3, 2019

HIking Trip to the Catskills

Although the eastern edge of the Catskills are only about an hour from my house, I had hiked very little there–-Kaaterskill Falls and one day on the Escarpment Trail when it was so foggy all the views were obscured.

So I was excited to find a Road Scholar hiking trip to Frost Valley YMCA Camp in Claryville, New York.  It's a huge campus, over 5,500 acres, and includes a riding camp where we stayed, a farm camp and the main campus that can house 700 guests. Besides the summer camp, many programs take place throughout the year including retreats, conferences and education weeks. The woods are beautiful with many miles of hiking and riding trails. Our lodge was next to the East Branch of the Neversink River.

The last week in May was the perfect temperature for five days of hiking. We had some rain but mostly toward the end of the hike. The black flies were around at times but, thankfully, not always.

Our hike leader was Will Soter, co-founder and lead guide of Upstate Adventure Guides. He was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Catskills, the trails, the flora and fauna, the geology, and the politics of preservation. I enjoyed being on the trail with him and learning new things.

We were a great group of ten hikers and as I always say, "Hikers are the best people!"

The first day we walked over Wildcat Ridge
to High Falls, all on Frost Valley property.

A viewing platform gave us a wonderful lunch spot
with an unobstructed view of High Falls.
Also on YMCA property was an open building at the top of a large field with perhaps the best view of the Catskills!
The campers have overnights here throughout the summer.
The East Branch of the Neversink River ran beside the Lodge.

I loved the beautiful morning light.

The horsebarns for the horses for the summer riding campers.

Wonderful ferns, mosses and wildflowers were everywhere.

On the last morning, a short hike
brought us to the Red Hill Fire Tower. 

Amazing 360ยบ views from the top of the tower.

Had to do it--a selfie at the top!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Audubon Mural Project in Upper Manhattan

This week I took Metro-North to the Harlem/125th Street station and walked up to 146th St. and Broadway in Hamilton Heights to begin looking for murals on the sides of buildings and on business doors. The Audubon Mural Project uses the birds from the National Audubon Society's Birds and Climate Change Report, which declares that at least half (314 species) of all North American birds are threatened by a warming climate. The project, a collaboration between the Audubon Society and a New York gallery, commissions artists to paint a mural of a threatened bird in the neighborhood in which John James Audubon lived towards the end of his life. So far 110 birds have been painted. Most murals have one bird in them but some have multiple species of birds.

The murals vary in size from doorways height to those many stories high on the sides of buildings. There is an online map of where the murals are located. But we just walked up Broadway and found 12, from about 146th to 158th Streets on the east side of the street. All of the ones we saw are well done, colorful and fun!

It was a wonderful opportunity to see a part of New York City that I had never been to. My friend Mary and I walked about 8 miles to and from the station and on Broadway looking for murals. You can actually see more at night because during the day some of the business doors are lifted and the mural is out of view. I will return in late April with my hiking group, the Berkshire Hikers. We will have a tour guide who will show us at least 30 murals. Can't wait!