Submitted by Jeremiah Zion Lo
It was late November when I decided to head back to Tuxedo, NY for another outing to reconnect with Mother Nature in Harriman State Park. I was traveling from NYC on this 30-34º day (see train schedule here). To my surprise, while I was riding the train, as we sped into Rockland County, there was snow everywhere! I was not prepared with proper footwear for snow because I did not know they had snow this soon! As I hopped off the train at Tuxedo Station, I smiled and thought to myself, "I'm still gonna do this."
Trekking through the white-blazed Kakiat Trail, I bumped into a triathlete who was speeding through the trail with 2 trekking poles. We trekked together for a while till we reached the cliffs of Almost Perpendicular and Claudius Smith Rock.
It certainly was a winter wonderland, with the most beautiful icicle formations I had ever seen. It was cold, but we managed to keep warm under layers.
Previously, during the early autumn, I had hiked this loop (read more here). With the entire state park covered in snow this time, it was a totally new and wondrous experience at the top of Almost Perpendicular, a cliff providing an amazing winter panorama. At this special moment in time, the worries of the world left my soul.
As we merged into the Blue Disc Trail, we eventually came upon an interesting squeeze through a rock formation named the Elbow Brush. Nature's wonder never ceases to amaze me. This conglomeration of large rocks is indeed a playground for all ages. It would even be a fantastic place for climbing or hide-and-go-seek. If you took the Elbow Brush Bypass detour, you will miss out a plenty!
Following the Elbow Brush, the Blue Disc Trail intersects with the Red Blazed Trail. It was time for us to make our ascent up Claudius Smith Rock. The ascent experience was a bit challenging- basically a rock scramble combined with snow. To make it more adventurous, I climbed up the rocks rather than taking the blazed path.
At the top of this cliff, we were rewarded with another panoramic view of the winter landscape. I took a short break for snacks and a refreshing hot cup of herbal tea. We parted ways from here and I made my descent on the Red Blazed Trail.
At the base of the cliff, named Claudius Smith Den, the overhanging rock provided a sheltered space for a large group of hikers, who were warming themselves with campfire. They were extremely friendly and asked me to join them. I had an enjoyable chat with them briefly as I warmed my hands over the fire. The aroma from the firewood brought back happy memories of camping.
Continuing my descent, the Red Blazed Trail led me towards a pretty overlook of the town of Tuxedo. This was certainly a New England Christmas Town and immediately, maple syrup came to mind!
It was time to say good bye to Harriman State Park again, as I rode on the Polar Express back home.
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