Hiking | Exercise | Fitness

A Pre-Dawn Waterfall Chase

Harriman State Park in New York is the second largest state park in the state, and honestly it feels pretty big when you’re in it. Still, it doesn’t feel like there should be this kind of elbow room so close to the gridlock of Metro NY. And yet here it is.

This story began two days ago, when I participated in a group hike with several co-workers. As these things go, our available time for hiking got compressed and we had a couple of people who were a bit slower than the average hiker speed. Combined this created a situation where we had a little more than an hour to hike one of Harriman’s most popular trails, the Reeves Brook Trail Loop. Instead of reaching a waterfall and pond we’d been hoping for, we had to cut the trip short and head back. Still, that waterfall stayed with me.

There was only one thing to do: get up early and take a solo hike to find it. If there’s a problem with April hikes, it’s that it doesn’t really get light out until close to 6 AM. I didn’t have that kind of time and headed out at 5:30 in search of the waterfall. I had a headlamp with a weak battery and two iPhones as backup for light, but found I didn’t really need any of that once my eyes adjusted. It helped that I’d done a good part of the trail two days earlier and knew the landmarks that might otherwise have been a mystery in the dark.

I eventually found that waterfall, just ten minutes away from where we’d turned around on the previous hike. So close and yet so far. But the waterfall looked smaller than I’d anticipated, so to be sure I hiked another ten minutes up to a bridge where the trail split. Looking at my watch, I recognized that there was no way I’d have the time to hike the entire loop around the Reeves Brook Trail Loop…. damn. The pond and rock scrambles would have to wait for another day. I headed back down with a solid hike completed and a hot shower waiting for me. And like the waterfall before, the pond now calls my name. Knowing there’s so much more to see, I’ll carve out half a day for going much deeper into the network of trails next time. Definitely something to look forward to.

Stony Brook lives up to it’s name
An elusive waterfall, wrapped in boulders and capped with a bridge.
Crossing this bridge convinced me that I’d best turn back and try again another day for the pond.

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