As I sit to write this post, and accumulate the stats for the year, I can’t believe another year has gone by. I vowed to get out more this year and expand my hikes, and I think I accomplished those goals. For the coming year, I’d like climb more, do more elevation; and I suspect that will mean trips to further destinations (and quite possibly more camping – I’m good with that.)
Since I seemed to get out more this year, I published more on the blog. The blog’s reach has expanded if the statistics are to be believed. And for that, I’m thankful to you, my readers. I hope you are able to get something from these posts that helps YOU on YOUR journey. Just a note to add, some weekends I don’t post due to hiking a trail I’ve done previously. While those hikes are certainly different from the original hike, I generally don’t write them up. I do, however, add those totals to the yearly stats.
With that, let’s see what I did in 2021.
2017 hikes: 12
2018 hikes: 10
2019 hikes: 5
2020 hikes: 23
2021 hikes: 29
2022 hikes: 33
That’s more than half the weekends in a year. I would certainly like to raise that number, but life does find a way to intercede. Further, there were some weekends where the weather was forecasted to be really bad. I’ll continue hiking when it starts to rain. I generally don’t like to start in a monsoon. And I stay away from thunderstorms, hail, and lightning. 40 trips in a year seems like a stretch; and I see accomplishing that by doing multiple hikes in a week – certainly a possibilty.
Let’s take a look at mileage:
2017 miles: 40.45
2018 miles: 41.54
2019 miles: 23.35
2020 miles: 149.57
2021 miles: 210.77
2022 miles: 236.97
That looks (and feels) right to me. The number of hikes increased by 4, which looks to be about four miles per extra hike. Mileage, to me, is not my most meaningful stat; but mileage is definitely interesting. I do not pick hikes based on mileage. 7-9 miles a trip seems to be the sweet spot. Of course elevation plays into that as well. 7-9 miles in the Pine Barrens is a whole lot different than 7-9 miles in the Catskills. Generally, if I’m driving farther to a trailhead, I’d like to get a full day out of it.
A note on mileage: I noticed this year that some of my GPS tracks were markedly different from the posted mileage on signs or maps. And I’ve been studying it for the year. I tried baking off Gaia and AllTrails, and the mileage on the two apps for the same hike sometimes differed greatly. I’ve seen comments on some posts asking about taking in the elevation gain or loss as factoring into the posted mileage. And that very well could be. Though, sometimes my track matches almost exactly. I know GPS isn’t 100% accurate. In the book Harriman Trails, there is a note that they calculated mileage using a distance wheel. And that leaves me with more questions than answers.
And finally, elevation gain:
2017 elevation: 2555 feet
2018 elevation: 3300 feet
2019 elevation: 2192 feet
2020 elevation: 17838 feet
2021 elevation: 29480 feet (1 Mt. Everest)
2022 elevation: 35038 feet
This is my surprise for the year. Four extra hikes, roughly 16 extra miles, but close to 6000 feet of elevation gain EXTRA from last year. I attribute this to hiking more in New York: doing two hikes in the Catskills, and numerous hikes in Harriman/Bear Mountain state parks (see below.) And this year, I think I hiked less trails in the Pine Barrens where there is not much elevation change.
What were my favorite hikes? This is always a tough question to answer. Just getting out is always a good. And I don’t think I had any “bad” hikes this year. We can get the negatives out of the way real quick. I fell twice: Once on rocks that had running water under leaves which I didn’t see. I fell about five feet or so, but that fall hurt. The second fall occurred when loose dogs from a family coming against me caused me to fall about 10 feet down an embankment. That didn’t hurt so much as it made me annoyed. Leash your dogs people. Finally, I took an unplanned dip in a stream in Harriman off some slippery rocks. Lesson learned: when the map says “bridge out”, even if the map is two years old, find another route. Oh yeah, the massive chigger bites after a hike in the Pine Barrens was not fun either.
One of my favorite hikes of the year:
For the second year in a row, I saw a bear. This picture was taken after he scurried off the path in front of me. Initially, we were a lot closer than the previous bear I encountered. This was another awesome sighting. And what makes this interesting is that this hike took place in a park that juxtaposes a pretty urban area.
Hike number two in the Cataskills, this picture was taken at the viewpoint after the brutal climb to the ridge to Plateau Mountain. My other Catskill trip was up Mt. Wittenberg. I really like the Catskills, and the elevation. The views are just great: forests, mountains and great hikes. Since I found a good campsite, I hope to spend more time in the Catskills in the coming year.
My Fall was spent hiking in both Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks. The drive wasn’t too bad, and the hikes were really great. I’ll list a couple of my standout Harriman Bear Mountain hikes below.
Probably my favorite hike was a loop climbing Bald Mountain, a jaunt over to the Timp, and returning via Doodletown. The climb up Bald Mountain was pretty steep, but once up, there was not much more to climb. There is a small col between Bald Mountain and the Timp, but the second climb is not bad. The picture above is from the Timp. Doodletown is a great historic location that I could have spent more time exploring. I did get to explore one of the cemeteries, which was extremely quiet and peaceful. I missed finding the Cornel mine on the way up, which gives me an excuse to hike the circuit again.
For historical hikes, I completed the Pine Meadow Loop, which circumvents Pine Meadow Lake and uses some unmarked trails. This hike did not get written up and was not posted on the blog. There are numerous historical markers as you go around Pine Meadow Lake. At the end of an unmarked trail you can find the ruins of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And, further unmarked trails will take you to the Conklin cemetery. The Conklin family owned much of this land early in the 1900s. A note on Pine Meadow: The Reeves Nature Center lots fill up quickly. This area is popular and sees LOTS of people – get there early.
I don’t have a name for the hike for the picture above. I started at Car Pond Mountain, and hiked to Parker Cabin Mountain, Tom Jones Mountain, and finally climbed Black Rock Mountain. While walking the ridge behind Black Rock Mountain, I climbed over the highest point in Harriman State Park. The picture above is looking East from atop Parker Cabin Mountain. This hike brought me to two shelters in the park which had great views. Climbing Black Rock Mountain had the steepest ascent, but had the best views at the top.
The last of my favorite hikes was a circuit hike I took using predominantly the Suffern Bearn Montain trail and the Timp-Torne trail. The Timp-Torne trail had some incredible views; both west over the Palisades, and east towards Bear Mountain. Also, there was some good scrambling along the trail that provided some unexpected fun.
A note on Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. After completing the Pine Meadow Loop hike, I bought the book Harriman Trails. I’ve mentioned it before in prior posts, but it bears (no pun intended) repeating. This is a great resource on the history and the trails/roads/mines/sites within the two parks. This is not a guide, per se, you won’t use it PLAN hikes. It is invaluable for giving color and history of the hikes you WILL take. It was one of the best books I read over the year, and I refer to it when hiking in the parks. The authors have a long history with the New York New Jersey Trail conference and have great familiarity with the trails in the parks.
Wrapping this up: My shortest hike was a hike at Garret Mountain Reservation at just 3.1 miles. The longest hike was at High Mountain Park Preserve at 11.17 miles and was where I saw the bear. I set new personal records for elevation gain at Mt. Wittenberg, and highest elevation at Plateau Mountain, both in the Catskills.
I already have some ideas for 2023, so the planning has begun. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. I hope you enjoy wherever the trail takes you in 2023.