Saturday afternoon I got a call from a hiking friend asking me if I wanted to backpack at Harriman State Park. Having just finished laundry and some other chores around my place, I was stoked to get out of the city. Since we were only staying one night in the woods I was able to pack very light.
By 4:00 we were hiking along the Appalachian Trail. Our plan was to hike in to West Mountain Shelter and crash for the night. A nice 3 miles in and 3 miles out in the morning. When we were approaching the shelter we saw more and more tents which meant that the shelter was most likely already occupied. This turned out to be the case. West Mountain is a great mountain to camp on. It provides views of The Timp, the Hudson River and even the skyline of New York City.
Instead of crashing near the shelter we decided to push on for another mile and camp out on the Timp. We were pretty sure we'd be the only ones there as most people stop when the get to the West Mountain Shelter. Sure enough, we had the Timp all to ourselves. The views were amazing, there was plenty of firewood and we even found a couple of reasonably soft spots on which to pitch the tents. The topography of the Timp is really awesome, in that it's covered with huge boulders and has many little nooks where you can pitch a tent. Lots of different spots to look out over the mountains.
The full moon on Saturday night was quite intense. This particular night, the moon was the closest to the earth that it has been in the last 18 years. I wished that I had brought my DSLR and tripod but was happy to sit in the moonlight and watch the shadow of the timp as the moon rose steadily from the west. I was amazed at just how luminous the full moon was. Holding out my hand in front of me, I could see the details, wrinkles and folds. I sat on the Timp for quite a while enjoying the scene.
Dinner was a dehydrated meal of chilli mac with beef. I used my Pepsi-can alcohol stove for the first time in the woods and it worked flawlessly. I had tested it in my kitchen a couple of times but was eager to put it to use in the wild. I boiled water for my meal in less than 5 minutes and lit it up again for a cup of tea. We sat around the fire talking about all sorts of things, though Star Wars seemed to dominate the conversation. I guess the moon and stars had a significant impact on us.
I slept well in my tent. My 20degree bag kept me warm and I was out-cold (but warm!) for a solid 5 or 6 hours. In the morning I unzipped the front door and let the morning sun fall across the entrance of my tent. I could tell it was going to warm up nicely.
Breakfast was a dehydrated meal of granola with milk & blueberries. I was a little skeptical at first but it had a good flavor, the blueberries were real and I shoveled through it pretty quickly. I made a cup of coffee and sat on the Timp looking out at West Mountain and the Hudson River. Hawks soared through the air and I enjoyed my vantage point overlooking an awakening wilderness.
We broke camp around 11:00 and hiked the 4 miles out to the car. We ran into a lot of people on the way out and exchanged hellos. Everyone seemed to be stopping at West Mountain Shelter and had no interest in the Timp. They don't know what they're missing.