Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Carpenter's Trail Loop 2 Winter Hike

I've always enjoyed being in nature but after becoming an adult so much of my time was stuck indoors and usually in front of a computer. A point came in my life a few years ago where I needed to make some changes. One of those changes was making sure I stayed healthy, both physically and mentally. Part of that change was adding hiking back into my life.

Even though it's hard to get out in the winter I try my best, especially when I need to. These past few days I really needed it.

Here are some pictures from my last hike in Palisades Interstate Park following Carpenter's Loop 2. The day started out sunny and got as high as 50 F but by the time I was able to hit the trail the sun was completely obscured by cloud cover.

I knew today I wouldn't be doing as much running as I normally do. In fact this hike I normally complete in about 70 minutes took me 90. So I decided to take a lot of pictures with my phone then work on them like I would a photoshoot then post them online with my hike description. I kept editing simple. Just exposure, tone and temperature adjustments along with a combination burn/vignette layer for the most part.

I start from Ross Dock Picnic area in Fort Lee, NJ. In the off season there are no parking fees. I walk towards the George Washington Bridge along the paved portion of Shore Trail that leads to Hazard Dock.

Before getting to the bridge a series of century old stone steps make their way 300 feet up to the top of the palisades. This is the toughest part of the hike but the views make it worth it. It's also a great work out. If it gets tough you can take a break along the steps. Some days I can go up the stairs fast without stopping. Since I've been in my lazy winter mode and was recently sick for a couple of weeks I had to stop at nearly every turn to let my heart rate settle.

After the first set of stairs up Carpenter's Trail a couple of stone arches and steps support the roadway above and allow hikers to pass underneath shielding us a little from thoughts of modern life. In the spring and summer vines line the stone walls but in it's barren state I still find it appealing.

At the top of the stairs you can take a left to take the shorter loop or the right to take the longer loop. I try to make time for the longer loop.

This is close to the beginning of the Long Path which starts about 1/2 a mile closer to the George Washington Bridge. It's a long trail that leads almost completely unobstructed all the way up to Albany NY.

Each season the character of the trail changes with different types of vegetation taking over the ground on either side of the path. In winter everything is bare and you can see the bones of the park. Aspects that are hidden in spring are clearly seen.

This section of the Long Path is a nice spot for trail running. The terrain varies from dirt, to rocky and even some asphalt areas. It's not that difficult. This time I kept it to a brisk walk with a few short jogs as I get myself back in trail running shape.

The Palisades Interstate Parkway runs fairly closely to the left of Long Path. In some spots you can hear the traffic, in some areas you can even see it. For a couple of short bits you are completely exposed to it. But to the right you see a variety of trees and plants, small run  off streams that tickle down the face of the cliffs and views of the Hudson River and parts of Manhattan and the Bronx.

If you pay attention, you'll notice a couple of small foot paths leading to the East off Long Path. In the winter they are easier to spot. They lead to little overlooks which provide nice views of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge and parts of Manhattan.

The cliffs can be dangerous so be careful. Stay behind the fences. Sometimes people are careless and unintentionally fall off. Other times it's more intentional. This day I saw someone had written the words "I AM STRONG" on white cardboard. I couldn't help wonder what they were thinking. What made the write that. Did they come here to do something and then changed their minds? I used it as my own little inspiration to remind me that even though sometimes I hurt, frustrated or veer off the path I want to follow that I am strong and will recover, just like I have in the past.

Allison Park interrupts this part of Long Path. It's a small park with benches, views of the river and some paved walkways. You can find restrooms and a water fountain at the entrance. To the right upon entering the park is a small structure that a friend of mine would want to claim as her hermit shack.

After exiting the park and turning right onto the street, a short walk towards the Englewood Cliffs campus of St Peters University. At the campus entrance pay attention to the trail sign on the left to continue along Long Path. You'll have a nice view of St. Michael's Villa along this leg.

Another small stream leads run-off over the cliffs and into the Hudson and we're nearing the end of this part of Long Path.

This view sums up how I feel right now. A mess. Things are in disarray but I still find it beautiful and I can make out an order of things and don't feel completely lost.

The Long Path comes out of the woods and along the road where I make a right to head down Dykman Hill Road. Follow the yellow blazes to get off the road and follow the trail down for a more scenic view. Be careful as there was a downed tree along the trail. You may want to keep on the road.

But at the very leas take the short trip down the stairs and waterfall. This is the nicest part of Dykman Hill Trail. The rest is stone stairs similar to Carpenter's Trail but a lot easier going down than up.

At the bottom of Dykman Hill Trail is the Englewood Cliffs Boat Basin and picnic area. You can see You'll see a small snack shack at the end of the parking lot which is open during the warm seasons. Across the river you'll see the northern tip of Manhattan, Inwood Hill Park, the mouth of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek which connects the Hudson and Harlem Rivers and The Spuyten Duyvil railroad bridge and Henry Hudson Bridge which cross the creek.

To the right will be Shore trail which will lead back to Ross Dock Picnic Area. This is a flat trail that runs along the banks of the Hudson River. It's an easy path to start trail running as it's mostly maintained with stone dust. Along the right you can see up the wooded cliffs. With the foliage gone more details are revealed.

Along Shore Trail are little steps that lead down to the river. Back in the 50's the Hudson River was a popular spot for bathing. Sadly that isn't the case any more.

Even though the sky had darkened, the weather was brisk and the foliage surrendered to the season leaving some of the limbs looking downright creepy, this is one of my favorite trails and helps me heal when I need it.


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