Graymoor Spiritual Life Center to Bear Mountain = 8.6 miles

We woke up to sunshine – only the second morning of the trip where this happened, and I for one was thankful. We didn’t have far to go, and the clear skies were supposed to last until noon.

Soon, we were back on the trail and hearing a sound that was familiar from our practice hikes in Wisconsin – gunfire. The trail skirts the property of the US Military Academy and West Point is close by. The hiking that morning was ideal – cool & sunny, the trail was flat and leaf-covered for the first 4 miles.

I was a little bit obsessed with a viewpoint along the Hudson River known as Anthony’s Nose (elevation 900 ft). It is reached by a blue-blazed side trail, and I was worried that somehow we would miss it so I kept checking the mileage stats and the guide book, because we weren’t CLIMBING anything.

No worries – soon, our beloved rocks started to reappear on the trail, and finally, we were ascending again. The sun was starting to be obscured by cloud cover, as predicted.

We signed the hiker’s register at the base of the trail to Anthony’s Nose, and of course, I had to see if Br’er Rabbit had been there…he had…my day was almost complete!

Getting to Anthony’s Nose required a little bit of mountain goat-style boulder hopping at one point, but it was worth it. I took the bitch off my back and went in search of a photo op.

That is Bear Mountain in the background, and the lake you see at the base of it is Hessian Lake, which is inside the park at Bear Mountain.

We ate lunch on this lookout, and then headed for the Hudson. Young Dave got anxious as he saw the road through the trees, and blazed his own trail downhill. As we walked along the shoulder of NY 9, we passed the Appalachian Trail about 300 feet later.

The Bear Mountain Bridge opened to traffic in 1924 and at the time was the longest suspension bridge in the world with a 2,332 foot span. It is 155 feet above the river, and there are suicide prevention callboxes positioned along the walkway.

The trail actually goes right through the zoo at the base of Bear Mountain. The animals in the zoo are all native to the state, and most have been rescued and rehabilitated. Young Dave and I were alone in the zoo as it was about 2 pm at this point.

There is also a statue of Walt Whitman inside the park, which has the verses to “Song of The Open Road” engraved on a stone nearby:

AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

I could have died a happy woman at this point. Leaves of Grass anyone?

We made our way into the rest of the park under threatening skies and sprinkles of rain. It is a beautiful park, and it is hard to believe that the state wanted to build a prison here back in the day. This is Hessian Lake, that you could see from the Anthony’s Nose viewpoint. The Harriman family donated 10,000 acres in 1910 to make this park possible.

After securing a place to sleep for the night – the heat was “off for the season” – Young Dave and I finally experienced the perfect Trail Magic in the form of free rides to and from dinner, which was a BBQ restaurant a few miles away.

As the rain pitter-pattered away on the windows that night, I slept soundly and looked forward to kinder weather conditions -at least warmer, if not drier – upon my return to the Appalachian Trail in 2009.

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