Something from March I never posted:
March 2012, New York City, the worst of Winter has passed by. The trees are still bare and the freezing, cutting wind has been replaced by a cool, comfortable breeze.
Together with my good friend Yakov, I set out to hike Breakneck Ridge, one of the trails in Hudson Hylands Park in the Taconic Region in New York. I had heard about the place from friends, it was recommended as the nearest hike from New York City. It’s adjacent to the Hudson, a stones throw away from Clarence Fahnestock State Park (where we both have camped before), and a long swim from Bear Mountain Park (where Yakov regularly trail runs).
After a mere hour and a half drive, we arrived at Breakneck Ridge. Before starting the hike, we drove up to town to get some breakfast. Sitting outside the local shop, I met a local resident of Beacon ( the town nearby) having a smoke with his morning cup of coffee. He was an 87 year old man, a former Marine, and a big hunter. I spoke to him for just ten minutes, but he left a tremendous impression on me. Such fire in his words, such resolve in his eyes. 87 years old and still hiking trails, still being active, still fighting against life’s attempts to knock him down. One reply of his sticks with me till today- “The only meat I eat is deer meat. That I hunt. Myself. With my bow.” I sincerely hope I’ll be as proactive as that man is when I’m in my late 80s.
After heading back down, we easily found parking on the side of the road, just a 30 seconds walk from the trailhead. We started off on the White trail of Breakneck Ridge and climbed and climbed. The first section is very interesting, it starts off as a gradual climb and then all of a sudden you’re hit with steep slopes(relatively for a hike) and a rock scramble. You’re forced to use all your limbs, your feet for support and your hands to find a grip. Branches become useful railings, and you slowly make your way up the mountain.
Yakov and I, both in pretty good shape, quickly broke a sweat on our steady climb up. Immediately, the sweatshirts came off and we continued up in short sleeves. We reached the lower peak of Breakneck Ridge in about 20 minutes, and admired the view. We continued the hike for a few more hours, taking the Red trail back to the road (Route 9D).
All in all the hike was great. There’s quite a few eagles soaring above, but not much wildlife scampering about in Fall. The trail itself was devoid of people, leaving a quiet atmosphere for internal thought and meditation. This isn’t the case later on during the summer, when hordes of New York City residents flock up to Breakneck to attempt the hike.
To someone wishing to make the trip, I’d recommend purchasing a trail map of the region and bringing a compass. Some parts of the trail aren’t marked very well and it’s easy to veer off trail and get a little lost. Definitely start off on the White Trail. Do not attempt this trail after heavy rainfall, it’s extremely easy to slip on wet rocks and mud.