Whitened Rock Caps on Appalachian Trail

On Christmas morning 12/25/2016 I was lucky to have my two sons, Mike and Joel, to accompany me on a short 4.8 mile hike which is New York AT Section# 5. Thanks to Bernadette for giving up our Christmas morning hike at the Mohonk Preserve for this last minute scheduled hike. Thanks also to my daughter-in-law Emily who helped with the car parking logistics which allowed us to park one car off Rt. 52 just below the I-84 overpass and permitted us to be dropped off at our starting point which was Miller Hill Road where it passes underneath the Taconic State Parkway (TSP).

At 6:45am we donned our headlamps as it was still dark and began hiking Northbound. From under the TSP, hikers walk past the northbound ramp for the TSP and then turn left onto Rockledge Road. After proceeding a short distance, the AT turns right into the woods and we began the climb along the Hosner Mountain ridge. We start at about 515 feet above sea level.

Most of the initial hiking is on the west side of the ridge so we did not have the benefit of the rising sun until a little later but we were rewarded with a platinum, white colored sun when we got high enough. It was beautiful. We took off our headlamps and continued hiking. We passed a blue blazed side trail on our left which runs as a short horseshoe type loop back onto the AT further up the trail. For some reason we missed the place where the blue trail intersected back onto the AT.  Most of the trail was easy footing but there were a couple of spots where the trail had a thin layer of slippery ice.

There were a series of turns in the trail and some of the white blazes on the trees had additional directional information carved into the blaze to assist both northbound and southbound hikers.

We had a fairly steep descent of about 500 feet as we approached the Hosner Mountain Road crossing. We stopped here to hydrate and noticed some warning signs on a tree.

We then crossed a small wooden bridge over a stream. Any hikers considering using this as a water source are warned to treat the water from the stream as there are cows on a farm located upstream from this location. We then reentered the woods to start the climb around Stormville Mountain which necessitated us climbing back up a little more than the same 500 feet which we had just descended. There was a sign nailed to a tree to mark the Stormville Mountain Great Divide.

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Sprinkled throughout the trail were small, sharp pointed rocks which looked like lower teeth in a jaw. They projected up through the thin coating of snow.The interesting thing is that a bunch of these rocks had been painted white almost as if a Dentist had applied white caps over the underlying teeth. I have not seen this before but it is probably a good safety measure to protect hikers from the trip or sprained ankle hazard of these rocks. Towards the end of the hike as we were approaching the Rt. 52 crossing, someone had written a thank you on one of the rocks. You can see the white paint on several rocks on the left side of the below photo.

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We returned to our car at 9:20am and drove to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and muffin. There was already a line inside the Dunkin Donuts!

Whether I am hiking with my wife at Mohonk Preserve or hiking on sections of the AT, I enjoy the sights, sounds and smells so much that I forget about having lung cancer. I just enjoy each footfall.

I have now hiked 73.1 miles on the AT (64 miles in NY and 9.1 miles in NJ).

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