Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Friday Hike

On April 2, Good Friday, I took the day off and went for a hike with the family at Lake Minnewaska State Park.  The weather was sunny, in the 70s, with a light breeze and couldn't have been better.

Fortunately, there weren't many people up at the lake when we arrived in the morning (normally I avoid the place on the weekends or holidays since it's a mob scene).

I have to say that Lake Minnewaska really is a treasure - one of the most beautiful places in the area where I live.  Deep blue water surrounded by white rocky cliffs and green pines - on a sunny day, it's incredible and pictures can't do it any justice (clicking on pictures will embiggen them).

We started on the Millbrook Mountain Carriageway, an easy walk with some mild ups and downs, and followed that to Patterson's Pellet - a spectacular glacial erratic.  No one placed this rock here, it was picked up in a glacier during the last ice age when thousands of feet of glacial ice filled the Hudson Valley, and then dropped precariously on the edge of a cliff over the Palmaghatt Ravine when the glacier melted a bit over 10,000 years ago.

There is a lot of evidence of glaciation in the park.  Most flat bedrock surfaces of the Shawangunk Conglomerate (a rock composed of quartz pebbles cemented by quartz sands) have glacial striations (scratches) and chatter marks (crescent-shaped gouges chipped out by rocks carried in the base of the glacier).  Here's a picture of some striations (parallel the knife) and chatter marks (showing bottom to top movement).

After passing Paterson's Pellet, we came to the Gertrude's Nose Trail.  A footpath quickly climbed through the woods to a high point and then steeply descended into the Palmaghatt Ravine (to everyone's groans).  A pretty Hemlock forest and swamp were found at the bottom and then the trail started climbing some tilted slabs of polished and fractured bedrock (with some surprisingly deep crevices).

This is one of the most scenic hiking trails anywhere in the Shawangunks with expansive views to the south and, when reaching Gertrude's Nose proper, to the east over the entire Hudson Valley.  I noticed that some of the fractures were not simple fractures but were instead strike-slip (horizontal movement) faults.  Here's a view into a fracture showing fault striations (formed by ancient fault movement) on the walls of the fault.

There were also a lot more glacial erratics along the trail.

Here's my son Lucas (and Simon the dog) leaning against one.

After eating lunch atop the cliffs at Gertrude's Nose, we continued along the trail which followed the cliffs overlooking the Hudson Valley.  The trail once again descended into a ravine (more groans) with unsightly power lines and then steeply climbed back up to the tops of the cliffs.  A nice walk along more flat slabs brought us to the top of Millbrook Mountain which has the highest cliffs in the Shawangunks.  These are the cliffs you see from places like Wallkill and Gardiner in the Wallkill Valley.

Another rest was needed on the cliffs of Millbrook Mountain.  Here's my daughter Emily relaxing in bare feet (poor girl had a blister by the end of the day).

Another picture of my wife Jennifer.

From Millbrook we plodded back on the Millbrook Mountain Carriageway, dragging ourselves to the car after the 8.5 mile hike (Gertrude's Nose Trail, with its two ravines is what did us in).  First major hike of the year.  If you like hiking, I highly recommend this one.

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