Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cold Spring to Beacon Solo Hike

I was unexpectedly untethered from the city today when the event I'd been planning to attend was canceled, so I took advantage of the beautiful weather and used up the very last segment on my 10-trip off-peak train pass, on the day it was set to expire.  That, in and of itself, was very satisfying!

I took a relatively easy route from Cold Spring to Beacon, starting up the gentle slopes of the Cornish Trail (blue). There weren't as many frogs in the little reservoir as usual (I only spotted three), but two of them were photogenic, and the light was quite favorable.

Possibly a juvenile bullfrog?

Just as I was approaching the junction with the yellow trail (Undercliff), a pair of hikers asked me if I had started from the direction I was coming from.  Seemed like a strange question, but I answered affirmatively.

Soon afterward, a tiny gleaming frog - about twice as long as a quarter - jumped up from the trail in front of me.  It tried to hide in some grasses next to the trail, but when I bent down to try to see it better, it helpfully leaped up to a nice flat rock where it promptly tried to pretend it was utterly invisible.  It did not move a muscle as I photographed it.

With leaf, for scale

Possibly a pickerel frog? Except they're supposed to be nocturnal. 
Continued up the Notch Trail (blue), listening to the latest episode of Kat & Curt's TV Re-View.  (I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and although I'm not crazy about Angel or the re-booted Doctor Who, it's still fun to hear them talk about it.  One of the things they talked about this time was "The Five(ish) Doctors" - apparently a humorous 50th anniversary special feature for Doctor Who, starring some of the classic Doctors.  Sounds pretty cool.)

As I climbed the hill toward the junction with Breakneck Ridge (white), I stepped aside to let a large group of people pass on their descent.  Lo, and behold!  I knew two of them!  Turns out it was a Redeemer affinity group hike, starring Bruce and Jonathan.  They were doing a short Breakneck Ridge loop.  Pretty nifty - if I'd been just a little faster, or if they'd been just a little slower, we'd not have run into each other at all.  Well met, indeed!

I continued north to Beacon as they headed back to Cold Spring, and eventually, I switched over to my Anglo-Saxon lectures.

"There's no future in Old English."  - Prof. Michael Drout,
echoing generations of Anglo-Saxon teachers before him

As I got onto the Wilkinson Memorial Trail (yellow), I found an incredible fungus growing on a tree stump.  It reminded me of brain coral in shape, and tropical fish in color: Bright yellow, with neon orange inside.  It was about as long as my forearm (elbow to fingertip).

With hand for scale

It's easily the most amazing thing I've seen on the trail, so I told the first two hikers I encountered about it.  I'm not sure if they understood me, since they immediately asked me if I came up the yellow trail.  The next group also asked me the same thing though, so maybe the paint needs to be freshened up a bit.

I was getting a bit tired, so I didn't take the detour for the amazing scenic overlooks, but instead turned onto the Casino Trail (red).

Which way to go??

Very Zen

All in all, it looks like this was a 10.27 mile hike (Main St, Cold Spring > Fair St > 9D > Cornish (b) > Brook (r) > Notch (b) > Breakneck (w) & Notch (b) > Wilkinson (y) > Casino (r) > 9D > Beacon train station.

I made the mistake of going straight to the train station in Beacon (rather than to a restaurant on the main drag), where I was 8 minutes late for the 4 o'clock train. Unfortunately, a few hundred sloshed beer festival attendees joined me on the platform for the 5 o'clock train - and they were one car short, so it was standing room only for a lot of folks.