The new sign for the Trails for People exhibit behind Bear Mountain Inn.
This is a public service announcement from your esteemed blogger-in-chief.
If you’re going to put in new hedging around your house, do NOT plant barberry. Please. Your friendly neighborhood invasive species removal crews will be eternally grateful. (Besides, a couple of states have made it illegal to plant barberry, because it’s such a nuisance of a plant.)
As many of you probably know, it was National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4. I’d joined the Invasive Species Task Force from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference up at Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park in just-barely-upstate-New York the year before. We’d spent an energetic – albeit prickly – morning removing barberry bushes, a shrub once popular for hedging but now deemed an invasive species, hence the PSA. I was game to try again – and crews would be planting some native species plants along the now barberry-free slope.
My mom was up for a visit and she was game to join in, so Saturday morning found us making the amble up the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
Another year gone by already – well, that didn’t take long. And it’s apparently that time of year again to reflect on how 2015 was for hiking.
My hiking time this fall was a bit limited, especially due to a rather brain-draining graduate school project that I had to wrap up over the last few weeks. (It’s also the reason why the blog’s been a little quiet of late. So I beg your indulgence on that one, oh trail heads.)
All things considered, it was a pretty awesome year for outdoor pursuits. I got to take on a short chunk of the Appalachian Trail back in June, during a National Trails Day gathering up at Bear Mountain. Took a first run out on some cool multi-use trails, including the Columbia Trail out in western New Jersey and the Pine Creek Rail Trail out in central Pennsylvania.
A view from the black locust footbridge, on the ascent up the Bear Mountain section of the Appalachian Trail.
It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that if you’re going to be taking on the Appalachian Trail, especially the bit that goes through Bear Mountain in New York, you’ve got to be ready to do a lot of climbing. Lots and lots of climbing.
It was National Trails Day on June 6, and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference was presenting a series of trail-maintaining activities at Bear Mountain (see my previous posting about the great barberry battle).
One of the conference’s longer-running projects has been a rebuild of part of the six-mile Bear Mountain stretch of the AT, including overhauling some of the many flights of stone steps you’ll find on the mountain. So one of the activities was a hike along the trail, and a visit to the parts that were being or had just been rebuilt.
The crew leaders and volunteers on the Invasives Strike Force go to work on removing barberry plants at Bear Mountain on June 6.
Up until now, I’d never really given much thought to the barberry.
I’d sort of known it as a source of edible fruit, mainly from reading Marsha Mehran’s Babylon Café novels set in 1980s Ireland.
But after volunteering for a morning on an invasive species removal crew up at Bear Mountain and Harriman State Park in New York this past weekend, I found myself knowing a lot more about the barberry (Berberis spp).
Mainly that it’s got lots of little thorns that are a real nuisance to pick out of your fingers, even if you were smart enough to wear garden gloves. Continue reading
So it seems to have been a world-setting kind of week (or couple of weeks).
Most of you have probably heard the story of the two guys who spent just over two weeks scaling El Capitan, the Dawn Wall, in Yosemite National Park.
My reactions to the news (and the photos of the vertical ascent) tended to fall into two main categories: “Wow, that’s really cool!” and “What the heck are you guys thinking!”
I just thought I’d throw this question out there by way of a short post.
Do any of you have a “bucket list” of trails or parks you’d like to hike in at least once during your life?
I really don’t have a list put together at the moment, truth be told, but if I did have a formal list, it would include the Appalachian Trail, the West Highland Way in Scotland, and the entire Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. (And one of these days, I do need to get around to taking on the Giant Stairs in the Palisades.)
What do you think? Do you keep a bucket list, or do you just prefer to take the trails as you find them?