MOUNTAINEERING: 3 Hours 15 Minutes on Mount Tammany
Submitted by Jeremiah Zion Lo
I am a city boy who grew up in New York City without experience in high adventure due to family circumstances at the time. As I studied and worked hard over the years, I saved up and invested for outdoor recreation. Ever since my grandpa passed away a few years ago, I have invested spare time in the wilderness to ponder about life, search for answers to my life's questions, pray for inspiration, meditate, and search for remedy. Everyone has trials and struggles in their lives. I learned from hiking that if we have faith and endure, we can overcome obstacles in our lives. Experiences from hiking can be applied beautifully in many ways.
I am deeply grateful to have superb mountains close to NYC. The altitude of these mountains are perfect for day hikes and for those who are unable to get several days off for backpacking. Recently, I've developed a tremendous enthusiasm for alpinism, and our local mountains are a great training ground before travelling abroad. My goal is to train now, step by step, and develop the abilities to be able to climb The Matterhorn someday.
After riding on a cozy coachbus, I was dropped off at a station in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvannia. Walking through the little town of small giftshops and inns, I arrived at the Delaware Water Gap.
I was surprisingly greeted by the renowned Appalachian Trail signs which led me to cross the Delaware River on a bridge.
What a magnificent scenery to behold as I was crossing the Delaware! Large sheets of ice lay floating above the flowing current, as the river carves out the steep snowy banks. For a minute, it seemed like I was in the Alaskan wilderness.
Towards the end of the bridge, the majestic power of Mount Minsi appears before you.
After hiking along the adjacent, winding freeway, Mount Tammany mysteriously appears from the snowy fog. Weather changes the mood of mountains, and in turn, changes the emotion of hikers. Mount Tammany's summit and notoriously steep, sharp, west face was covered by a monstrous snowstorm cloud and fog. This is the mountain I am going to climb in the snow today...I was nervous...very nervous. It was a powerful experience in nature I will never forget.
An underpass under the freeway leads you to the parking lot where the red dot Tammany Trail begins. There is an alternate blue dot trail on the other side that also leads to the summit, but the red trail is said to be steeper and more of a fun, challenging climb in the snow. A sign warns hikers that this is really a venomous snake territory-home to rattlesnakes and copperheads. Research states that hikers will encounter them from a distance during warmer months along the trail.
I strap sharp-pointed crampons onto my boots, and with my ice axe in hand, I begin my solo ascent..!
I have made snow ascents up South Beacon Mountain and Mount Taurus of the Hudson Highlands last winter. This ascent was also strenuous in the snow. I had to make sure I reached the beautiful view at the summit and back down before sunset, so I constantly pushed myself on the ascent without taking a single real break. My heart was probably beating 200 beats per minute as I was sweating heavily on a cold day. Occasionally I would stop very briefly to make sure I get enough oxygen into my lungs. This was all part of my endurance training.
After ascending a great altitude, I came across an outstanding panoramic view of the partially frozen Delaware River. As I turned to observe on the left, there was more to go on the trail. I was surprised. It was a great effort to ascend for quite a while and now I come across a deceiving plateau with a view of Mount Tammany's summit further beyond and above from where I was standing. At this moment, I kept looking at my wristwatch and determine whether there was enough time to summit the mountain and return before sunset. I had faith I could do it. And I continued on. I jabbed the ice axe firmly in the snow and sunk my crampons deep for extra traction. Every second seemed like a minute, and every minute was like an hour on the ascent. Although we all want to reach the top of the mountain, it is the priceless experience along the journey that matters most.
Further along the trail, I finally reached the summit. Several yards downhill from the summit on a steep rocky ledge is the best dramatic view for The Delaware Water Gap and Mount Minsi across. Time for a summit break. I could not get enough of the view. The experience was powerful. I knelt down in prayer of gratitude and also prayed for those who are experiencing afflictions and those that are in need. I am deeply grateful for life and for these wondrous experiences that help me learn so much. At this moment, I pondered how I can improve my life at home, at work, and in the community.
Upon careful observation, the textures on Mount Minsi are just incredibly unique - as if clawed diagonally by a superior force of nature. I have seen photos of Mount Minsi during the warm seasons, but the snow here transforms it into a bold, majestic creation.
Minutes later, it was time to say good bye to this grand spectacular view. I back tracked to the red dot trail and descended carefully all the way to the trailhead before sunset. I felt like a new person, refreshed, and ready to return to and appreciate home. This was one of the best days of my life. I wish you were all there to experience the graceful journey.
"You cannot judge a mountain by its appearance. You don't know a mountain until you have actually climbed it in the snow..."
Jeremiah Zion Lo -
Below: A short video on my hike up Mt. Tammany