Sun And Snow Over The Mountains

12-26-2017

Coming home from Hudson, on a hill overlooking the River and the escarpment of the Catskill Mountains. The mountains are a dark purple blue mass against a yellow sunset sky. Random billowing clouds of falling snow glow peach and gold in the sun beams emanating from behind the mountains where the sun set a few minutes before. The light bluish snow covered ground looks like lace through the black leafless trees on the peaks. Every time I am in a spot that looks out over these mountains, with them rising in the distance like a landscape dream, I think (and often say out loud) “That is where I live!” This view is awe inspiring, breath taking, fascinating, bewitching, sublime and serene. Ever present, ever changing, mountain moods, mountains move me. I am but a mere reflection of mountain spirit, my eye mirrors to the mountain goddess.

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White Christmas!

12-25-2017

Awoke this morning to find snow falling on top of snow that fell overnight. Several inches of fresh fluffy pure white snow for Christmas morning. I have never really been sentimental about white Christmases the way the many people are. As an adult, Christmas is really just another day very similar to the rest. I get up, I go to work, I come home. However I was exceptionally pleased that it snowed for Christmas this year. I think I just like watching the snow fall, the subdued quietness it brings to the forest, the fact that you can see evidence of every critter that passes by the tracks it leaves behind, the way the landscape looks magical in its winter wonderland attire. Fresh fallen snow is enchanting and exciting, and this year it was perfect for Christmas morning!

Sunset Over Catskills

12-24-2017

I did my own little snowshoe trek after work today, vaguely trying to get in shape for guiding snow shoe tours. Started off on the same trail as before, tromped across the mountain, looking uphill at every ski trail crossing so as not to get hammered. Looking downhill at the lodge, the town, the valley, and the mountains beyond. The whole sky and landscape mirror each other in a uniform dark blue grey. It’s late afternoon, and I think the sun has slipped below the western horizon, but the dim blue grey light seems unchanged in intensity as the day progressed. Heavy low clouds linger around the black mountaintops, loitering like bores teenagers, waiting for darkness to fall. I find and follow an unused bike trail that goes off through the woods, picking my way over unseen rocks and divots in the uneven snow covered ground, my snow shoes making long oval tracks in the fresh granular snow drifting through the woods from the snow guns. It is darker in the trees, through some tangled brambles I see a sparsely covered closed ski trail and head for that. Breaking from the tree cover, a purple grey sky greets me as the last light leaves the open sky settling in the west as a violent purple glow that will soon be swallowed by encroaching darkness. I head downhill and back to the lodge through the purple night.

Eagle At The Bank

12-23-2017

Had a check to deposit, and errands to do, so I drove down the mountain stopping at the bank chain along the way. It is frigid today, didn’t want to get out of the car, so went through the drive through (not something I usually do). As I drove behind the building, I looked out over the field across the highway and right there front and center was a Bald Eagle majestically hovering on the air currents, white head and tail flashing bright in the winter sunlight. Stopping the car, I watched this eagle soar and dip searching for prey. I watched it until it was nothing put a distant unidentifiable speck in the blue sky. I thought of saying something to the teller, then realized that they would never have seen it, because the window faces the parking lot, not the fields. Oh well, my little secret bald Eagle flying over Cairo, NY.

Windham Path

12-22-2017 Magic Moment:

After work I took a quick jaunt over to the Windham path. I had noticed the parking area a couple of years ago, but hadn’t yet checked out the path itself. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in town at a store and saw that part of the path went through the field behind the shopping area. So today I decided to go see it for myself. It was a cold, grey, and blustery day, spitting snowflakes from the surrounding dark mountains like projectiles. The sun had set some time ago and darkness was slowly falling. The path winds over a field, through a small wooded patch, and then along a creek. I did not walk the whole two and a half miles because the temperature was dropping and the the weather was deteriorating rather quickly, both of which I wasn’t really prepared for. It is a good walking or dog walking trail, with a wide crushed stone path, gentle grades, and pastoral views. I do want to come back again and walk the whole thing. It could be a nice alternative to the walk I do up the road and back at my house, easy to do after work as it is just down the road from the ski slope. Just need to dress warmer and bring a head lamp!

Solstice Hike

12-21-2017 Magic Moment:

Winter Solstice! This is the shortest day of the year with an accompanying longest night. Tomorrow will be a couple of minutes longer. The sun will be reborn! I miss the summer sun terrible when it is visiting the other side of our planet. I always try to do something fun and outdoorsy for the Solstices.

Today I hiked out to Palenville Overlook. I haven’t been there in years and never with snow on the ground. I started out at the spillway at North South Lake, that being the easiest way to Palenville Overlook; mostly flat hiking with a small portion of down hill (up hill on the way back). The trail head is on the other side of the lake, but the park is closed for the winter so the spillway is the closest place to park. I was careful with timing, considering the shortness of the day, the coldness of the temperature, and the length and difficulty of the hike. I even took a thermos of hot apple cider to drink when I got to the overlook!

The whole adventure was simple wonderful. North South Lake was frozen, the first time I have seen it in ice! All the snow was frozen solid into a thick layer of bumpy packed ice. I used hiking poles for balance and my regular hiking boots were fine for traction. Snow shoes would not have worked. Once I left the state park and got into the woods proper, ,mine were the only human foot prints out there. The hiking trail apparently is a major thoroughfare for many woodland creatures: turkeys, deer, coyotes, raccoons. I never even had to look for trail markers because the trail was so trodden by all the forest animals.

The overlook itself was amazing, clear sky over the Hudson Valley. One other lone hiker appeared from the other direction (up from Palenville), took a couple of pictures and left back the way he came. I stayed maybe an hour, basked in the glorious day, the quiet beauty of the forest, the majestic view, drank my cider, took my time. But not too much time,when I started getting chilled, I too hiked back the way I came back to my car. Perfect Winter Solstice!

Sun Dog Snow World

12-20-2017 Magic Moment:

We are driving down a long lonely stretch of state road, through open snow covered fields and rolling hills. There is a thin translucent cloud layer in the uppermost atmosphere. Sunlight is muted and hazy, but the burning silver orb is too bright for the naked eye. Glancing out the window, I notice a partial rainbow like apparition above the sun. Putting on polarized sunglasses, I look closer and see there is indeed a thin ribbon of rainbow all the way around the sun. This cold snow world is going to get some more snow! The sunlight is refracting off ice crystals to make that faint rainbow circle. I watch this phenomena for miles as we travel. Some time later, I realize the sun now has a sun dog on either side! One big sun in the middle and two smaller brilliantly blinding “suns” on the horizontal axis in line with the rainbow ribbon. As our position changed in relation to the sun’s position in the sky, the sun dogs appeared. This is an amazing universe!