Monday, September 30, 2013

Hiking Indian Hill Loop Trail with a Crazy, Lazy Dog

So we finally did it. We have been threatening to make Desmond go hiking, real hiking, for almost 3 years now, and we finally followed through on our threat. This was no simple wooded walk through a park in Queens. This had inclines and rock climbs and a nice view and then a whole going-downhill part (those are not my fave).

We drove up to Sterling Forest State Park, north of Tuxedo Park, NY, in between Southfields and Arden, in search of a hiking trail that Joey's family used to go to, called the Red Dot Trail, about a mile from the Red Apple Rest, which was apparently a pretty big deal in its day. (I didn't know much about it, until the hubs filled me in. Pretty cool stuff.) If none of that rings a bell, you may have heard of Sterling Forest due to your interest in the Renaissance Faire. All in all, it's about 90 minutes north from NYC.

Problem was that we had no idea where the Red Dot Trail was or if that was even really its name. Joey's parents didn't remember it well either. And we learned how old we really are when Joey was talking to them about it. When my father-in-law explained that it's not so easy to remember something you haven't done in 25 years, Joey argued, saying that he and his sister had been there with them. And then Dad pointed out that, yes, that was 25 years ago. Le sigh.

So, we just sort of looked it up a little and went on our way and decided we would do whatever trail we could find, wherever it wound up being--wait, wait--my mom reads this blog.

No, that's not at all how we did that. I'm super joking. We totally looked up all the relevant information first and absolutely printed out this sweet trail map and took it with us and, it's all good anyways, because I definitely had cell service and a GPS the whole time...


Moving on...

So, we found two trail heads about a mile from the Red Apple Rest and went with the one that seemed bigger or more populated, due to the fact that it had a sign pointing to it from the road and a real-deal parking lot (with cars in it). The other trail head we found was just in the middle of a residential street and had more of a pull-over-here-and-leave-your-car-it's-cool gravel area.

Part of me was happy to see cars. The other part of me was like, oh crap, this crazy dog is with us. The other main reason we came up here to this random-ish area is because we need to go to places that are dog friendly but, well, have no dogs. It's funny because it's true! So I was immediately concerned about a freakout in the woods that would involve my husband getting dragged down a cliff or something. Not cool. Still, we went in.

Now, if you click on this sweet trail map I referred to earlier, you can see the trail we did (look at the top right of the map). It's called the Indian Hill Loop Trail. We did part of that trail (the yellow markers) and then part of the blue trail when those met, and then turned around.

When we got to the lookout, I was able to get a signal, and Google Maps told us we were here:

Come on--that's funny!
But I zoomed out to discover that we were here:

Thank you, Virgin Mobile, for giving me a signal at the lookout and providing a last-known-whereabouts for my body, in case I was to be ravaged by a scary mountain lion or man.
We didn't do the full loop, and we didn't make it allll the way to the top lookout, because we didn't want to push Desmond too far (and wind up having to carry him back down the mountain). But it was far more successful than I expected it to be.

I fully assumed Desmond was going to have an over-threshold reactivity moment followed by collapsing at the top of the mountain and refusing to move again, due to his being crazy and lacking endurance. I'm pleased to report I was wrong.

Not only did he not have any opportunities to go over threshold, thanks to a total lack of other people (we still have no idea what all the cars were doing in the parking lot), but he also rocked the crap out of the trail. He was having a blast! He kept wanting to go faster, having no regard for self-preservation, and when we stopped to rest--about 20 minutes--he was all ready to go again when we gave the signal.

Plus, on the hike back down, Desmond led the way. We kept him in front of us the whole time (on leash of course) and let him make the decisions about where to go, where to turn, what to climb over. It was seriously impressive. We're guessing he smelled us, and that's how he was able to figure it out. I don't give this dummy enough credit, huh?

Definitely a fabulous time, even though it wasn't the trail we were looking for. I'd love to go back and try to find it though. Especially now that we have a map! Here are some pix from the hike:

Just starting out 
And stopping within moments to sniff something awesome 
Really awesome, apparently

The changing colors were pretty sweet. I hadn't been hiking in the fall before, only spring and summer.

Lots of acorns were falling, and we were the only folks around, so the acorns made quite a bit of noise. Desmond kept stopping to "investigate." And by that, I mean look all around in a near panic. 

These old stone walls cut across the trail a few times. We had to climb over parts that were half knocked down.   
The tree trunk going across the pic was huge. This photo doesn't do a thing for it. I should have made them go stand by it. It had fallen right over the trail but landed in such a way that it doesn't block the trail--you just go under it.  I'm super glad that happened when we were not there.
We tried to get Des to climb up on this big rock, but he didn't seem to think he could make it
One of the rock-covered hills we had to climb up (and later down)
A snake Joey and Des totally almost stepped on. Excellent camouflage job, Mr. Snake.
Continuing up the rock hill. These rocks were a huge pain to get up, and I was a bit concerned about getting back down--for both Desmond's and my sake. Truth be told, Joey did wind up having to carry Des down the steepest of the rock-covered inclines. Also, the spaces between the rocks were all covered in twigs and leaves and whatnot, so you couldn't tell what was real ground until you stepped there--a lot of the spaces were really just holes your foot would fall into if you stepped there. You were actually better off using the rocks to climb up. Desmond, of course, fell into one of the holes at some point and earned himself a battle wound on his front right leg. 
At the top of the rock hill, it leveled out a little bit but there were these huge rocks--boulders or little cliffs or something--running all along the side of the trail. Hard to see here, but they are beyond the trees, the white/gray thing on the left is one. I think it we had kept going at the point where we wound up turning around, we would have climbed up on top of these eventually. 
Getting the first hint of a view
This is the first lookout area we came to, so we stopped here to rest for a bit and assess Desmond's energy level 
We could have kept climbing down a bit on these large rocks, to what probably was another open area to get a view, but we thought that might be pushing it with the wonky-legged dog. Some of them were pretty far away from each other.
"Climb down these crazy rocks? I don't think so."
"I'll just enjoy the view from here."

Pretty. Too bad I still have no idea what I'm even looking at. I can't figure out where this is exactly on the trail or which way this view faces. I kind of want to say it looks east, toward Route 17 and I-87, but it could easily be opposite. Or neither. I probably should have asked Joey before I typed this all out. 
Not that I don't appreciate this view, but I was hoping for more. More of a clearing. Less obstruction. More of a valley. Maybe a body of water. I feel like a loser for not making it to the real top. Desmond doesn't really care. Even though it's his fault.
He cared so little, in fact, that he just plopped down in the nearest, shady "soft" area. You know, on top of dry grass and a dry little weedy plant with lots of twigs.

And we're down for the count. Time to wrap it up. No summit for us today.
Some pix from back at the entrance
Very helpful info poster
Just missed hunting season, thank goodness. Not that I wasn't wearing fluorescent green anyway. Although, now that I think about it, that wouldn't really make you stand out much would it? What do you need? Electric blue?

Oh, and then this happened when we got in the car, which you may have seen on Facebook
And even after his long nap in the car, thanks to stupid, stupid NY traffic, he was still all tuckered out. Success.
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