Hiking in Moreau Lake State Park, New York • December 3, 2016
As you may have concluded based on the lack of current entries being posted on this site, the month of December has been on the uneventful side for us. We haven’t traveled, we haven’t gone out every chance we’ve had, we only hiked 10 miles this month. This is mostly due to Curtis’ new intense schedule and not having a normal “weekend”, but also because we lack motivation during these colder days. The few times we have been out on the trails weren’t particularly eventful, which is a good thing for us (always a good thing to return safe and sound!) but not at all interesting to read about. However, in the spirit of wanting to remember the little things, I’m still going to post about our few adventures — all of the other months this year are documented here, it would feel incomplete to have nothing for December!
Don’t mind the phone pictures, I did bring my camera, just forgot the camera battery! 😉
On the first weekend of December, we happened to have a beautiful day despite being a bit chilly, so we went for a hike. I had learned that many state parks in New York stay open year round, AND are free to visit during the winter months! (Don’t quote me on that, I’ve only checked a handful and that’s what they all looked like — do your own research 😉 ) Of course we’re going to take advantage of that. There aren’t many state parks around us (I think the only one we’ve visited is Saratoga Spa State Park) and with there being a multitude of mountains in almost every direction, we haven’t even thought about visiting one. However, we’re at the point in our chosen hiking challenge (the Fire Tower Challenge) that now the hardest part isn’t hiking the peaks, it’s having to drive over 2 hours one way to reach the trailhead. After doing a lot of driving on the weekend prior to this (our weekend in Montreal), we were looking for a nice hike within a half hour from home.
We had seen signs for Moreau Lake State Park every time we drove North on I-87, so today we decided to go check it out. Instead of going straight for the lake though, we researched the hiking trails, which led us to begin at a trailhead on the West end of the park, the opposite side from the lake. It was 37 degrees anyway, what does one even do at a lake when it’s that cold, but not cold enough for the lake to be frozen? We started at the trailhead off of Spier Falls Road, and were able to piece together a really pleasant 7 mile walk in the woods. (In case you’re familiar with the area: We took the Western Ridge Trail to Eastern Ridge, then across the Cotton Park Trail meeting back up with the Western Ridge.) Curtis had downloaded a map on his phone, and the trails were well marked so we had no problem finding our way through. Our hike involved lots of walking through the quiet woods, crossing streams, passing tall rock walls, and getting occasional vistas of the Hudson River.
The trail began with a climb to reach the top of the escarpment, and then evened out for the rest of the hike. We ended with the Western Ridge Trail which featured the best views out of the entire hike. I especially enjoyed seeing the Hudson River. We’ve driven over it several times, but this was just the first time we had stopped to admire it. Even Charlotte gave up momentarily from eating disgusting things off the trail to stop and gaze out on the horizon. *Cue quotes from “The Lion King” 😉 *
As we looked out at the Corinth Mountains to the Northwest of us (which is where Spruce Mountain is), we saw that they were covered in snow. Yet here where we were hiking, there was not a bit of snow to be seen. Instead, we were hiking through brown leaves and brown, bare trees (with some pines mixed in depending on the part of the trail). Initially, I always think of this as the worst, least scenic time to be out in nature — it’s not colorful, warm, or pretty with snow, so what is there to enjoy? But like always, somehow nature just goes and proves me wrong. Today, I realized that because the trees were bare, we had many more views of the Hudson River and mountains to the North. If the trees had had leaves, these views would have been obscured from our vision. Of course, there were a bunch of sticks in the way so I can’t really share pictures and make you jealous of any stunning views, but they came as nice little rewards for the effort we put into hiking. Every season has its pros and cons — it’s just better to focus on the pros if you want an enjoyable hike (or, you know, life in general. I always love life lessons learned from hiking).
I believe it was shortly after this hike at the beginning of the month that we got our first big snowfall, and the ground has been completely covered ever since. In years past, I might have let the snow affect my attitude, but not this year. I’m embracing the season with sweaters and blankets, reading and writing, puzzles and cuddles with Curtis and Charlotte, and lots of Christmas baking and trying new “cold weather recipes”. As for why we’re not outside more, the snow isn’t really what bothers us, it’s the cold. We know that if it’s cold where we live, the mountain tops will be colder and possibly windy. We also know that we aren’t prepared with the skills or gear for winter hiking — it’s something we’d like to improve on, and hopefully we’ll get better and obtain the expensive gear as the years go on — that is, if we continue to live in a climate that has a winter season! Our first small step for this year though is snowshoes. More on that later!