One busy weekend of hiking and science
I have been very lazy to blog for a long time. I keep getting distracted by other activities and I am not disciplined enough to spend the effort. But I got to write about the interesting things I did this weekend.
On Friday night, it was turning out to be just another summer weekend with chores and some tennis. I was 2 weeks into my forced bachelorhood and was working a little on the weekends. My collegemate GK calls me at 9pm and asks if I am game for a hike along a trail. Ever since Nila is out, I am low on my physical activity needs and so I happily say yes to my first ever hike in the US ( my last experience was tramping in down under.) Interestingly, it is on the National Trails day (the first Sat of June). He had asked me to get ready by 8am, as we will need to leave early for the hike. I eat my breakfast quite early (thanks to my neighbour’s chicken curry) and eagerly await the trio – my fellow hikers (2 of my engineering mates and one’s spouse). I tried to read up on the splendid NYNJ trail conference site about possible hikes near NYC and there are quite a bit of them. I had selected Ramapo Mountains and Norvin Green state forest as the nearest from my town. But my more experienced friends had other ideas. They had selected the Fahnestock park for the trip. We picked up breakfast at the GSP rest area and proceeded to the end of the Palisades Parkway where we crossed the Hudson over the Bear Mountain bridge (pretty short one compared to the Tappan Zee or GWB). We read up the printed park overview and planned to park close to Highway 9 and combine 3 trails (the white School Mountain Rd, the yellow Perkins and the blue eponymous trail – white, yellow and blue in order). After a short detour, we found the parking spot and started on our hike. We are happy to see a few faces.
It is just before noon and the weather is quite pleasant for a hike. We plod on for a hour on the white trail and seem not to catch the yellow one. If we miss it, we will have no option except to come back on the white trail to trace our way to the car. Luckily we see a lady on the hike and she graciously shows her coloured map of the hike and gives us clear instructions to turn left when we see an abandoned house. We stay close to a stream and soon see the house where we take our first break. We keep walking while seriously keeping an eye for the yellow trail markers. We try several paths, but none of them are yellow. We go much further up the trail before we realize that we have come the wrong way. We did not see any good views yet and we were just continuing through the trees. The iphone location confirms our worst fears. We retreat back to the abandoned house. We have walked almost 1.5 hours all on the wrong side. My friend then spots the yellow trail just before the house. All along, we were searching for it after the house. Fate led us astray!
We decide not to go back on the white trail and instead take the yellow and blue trails as planned earlier. The yellow starts with a steep ascent, but in 20 minutes we hit the intersection of yellow and black. We decide that we need to hurry back, as it is almost 2.30 and we need to get back. The map shows that the blue trail has a couple of good views and we start on our hike back. We have walked almost 3 hours with just a couple of short breaks and we are getting tired. We eat our snacks and apples. Now the trail turns narrow and we are climbing rapidly. A big black rat snake just wriggles past in front of me and the four of us stay still for sometime. This has scared the wits out of two of us and now our priority is to get out of the park in good shape. I later read that this is a nonvenomous snake. We quickly rush fast but the hills are taxing us. We go uphill again and end up seeing a good view of the valley. One of my friends picks up a stick just in case. After a brief halt, we bump into two senior folks (it is interesting to see healthy seniors engaged in hikes) and they tell us it is about a mile and a half to the parking lot. We are very relieved to hear it.
It is mostly downhill from there. We catch a few more views – one includes Rt.301 and Rt. 9 where we had parked the car and that is further proof for us being on the right path. I walk on a fallen log across the simple stream and soon we are out of the park. We have hiked about 5 hours and 8 miles. We feel good about the experience. My legs are paining and I feel sleepy too. We have walked most of this loop except for the Red trail, which we have compensated by further venturing out on the white trail. We stop by the Mallu restaurant in Nanuet Karavalli, where we over-ate. Overall, it is a very satisfying day. The park itself is a good place to visit again.
We reserve our first weekend mostly for the BOFA Museums On Us program. BOFA had added quite a few good museums in NYC this year. As I was finalizing my Sunday plan for the museum of June, I chanced upon the World Science Festival street fair at Washington Square and decide to go there. We cannot help if they call a NY event a World Festival. I start early. My feet are still aching. It is my first visit to the Washington Square and I start at the Robotics stall. Science starts really early here and the many families/kids that visit the festival are proof. I glance at all the stalls – sign up for the Connect a Million Kids connectory, read about the Atlas Experiment and was amazed to hear kids ask very interesting questions. As an adult, my curiosity levels are getting lower and it will be a tough ask to appear intelligent to our kids. My wife and I must read science again. I stopped by the Smell Lab from IFF, where they concocted a special perfume just for me and I was able to associate colours to smells quite well. I always imagined that my olfactory nerves were weak. I walk up to the open stages and see funny scientific events like Doktor Kaboom. Also, the Math exhibits are quite interesting too. The upcoming Museum of Math will be a definite stop for the family next year. I also stop by the NY Hall of Science stall, where the Maker Faire will happen later this Sep. I realize, no wonder, NYC remains one of the top cities to live in the world. It will be difficult to justify moving out of here, in spite of the snow and the fickle weather. I wind up the day, with an interesting talk on Mammals from Dia Michels with her book If my Mom were a Platypus. Next year, I should hope to see it with family. This definitely counts as one of my memorable NYC experiences and finishes a perfect summer weekend.