Sunday, June 2, was a wonderful day to end the Spring hiking offerings provided by Sleeping Giant Park Association.
At least most of the afternoon was sunny with lovely breezes. The drama came later when ominous, roiling storm clouds covered the sky, and a wind, much like in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, picked up leaves and dust and drove it horizontally across the trails. Fortunately, the hiking groups were back, or close to, before rain began to fall.
We only managed two groups this year, a hike for beginners, and a combination intermediate/advanced hike.
Beginners Hike - guest contributor Bobette Giorgi
~The Sleeping Giant Park Association likes to take hikers off the beaten path of the Tower Trail, allowing groups the opportunity to explore the park's diversity. The Nature Trail is perfect as a Beginner's hike, as it provides a compact view of this diversity, via the trails that it encompasses; mixed terrain, rises and descents, flora, fauna, with forty stations along the way, detailing interesting, sometimes fascinating, aspects of nature.
Our Trails Day participants for the Beginner's Hike included 15 or so Boy Scouts anticipating their first hiking badges, as well as several adults, including scout leaders. By the time we reached Station 28, several scouts had been begging for a rest, and I had overheard at least one adult exclaim “This is the Beginner’s Hike?!”
This station provides seating, a view, and an excellent station description from the Nature Trail Guide for discussion. I enlisted one of the scouts to read from the Guide, as everyone gulped down water and happily consumed their snacks. Danny Brass, Hiking Committee Chairperson and our resident geology expert, took the discussion further with some interesting points.
Following our break I endured many pleas by the scouts to see The Tower. So at the Station 30 junction, we took the Tower Trail to its finality, where we all enjoyed the views, and some respite.
On the way back down the Tower Trail, a storm was brewing, and the scouts had a baseball game at Amrhyn Field, so a rush down the trail ensued! I made sure to remind the group that at any time, should they wish to complete the Nature Trail in its entirety, it proceeds from the Tower Trail onto the Red Hex trail, and completes to Station 40 from there.
I encourage everyone to enjoy the Nature Trail at Sleeping Giant year-round. It may not be the easiest trail, but it is not the most difficult, either. You will get a great workout and learn a lot along the way. Thanks so much to my co-leaders Jean Incampo and Danny Brass, and to all of our Trails Day participants, for making our Beginner’s Hike 2012 such a success. ~
Ten folks set off around the parking lot towards the Blue connector and on to the river. At an intersection I often think of as ‘Grand Central Station’ because so many trials converge there, we started a short climb up the Red Diamond. It’s a good way to start a hike, gets the blood pumping.
We stopped for a short time in the Quarry, where Keith, the hike leader, shared some information about the quarry that operated there between 1911 and 1924. After that short respite, we headed up the Violet Trail.
Along this stretch, the path is fairly wide and relatively rock free … it was a ‘road’ constructed by the quarrying company in hopes of beginning to mine the north side of the Giant’s Head. That trail soon narrows and becomes more of a woodland path.
At the Red Hex we turned right, climbing a bit, and dodging mucky spots, heading towards the Tower Path. After another brief rest, we turned right onto the Tower Path until we could head up the White Trail, a left turn.
I love this stretch of White, primarily because it climbs then levels, then climbs again, nice twists and turns for variety. In addition, there are the steps, some of which are still evident today.
When John Heaton purchased the cottage on the Chest, he had 350 steps built into the trail for ease of his visitors, who in those days (1890’s) wore long dresses and suit & tie, even when hiking. Would they have envied us in today’s hiking attire, or been scandalized?
On the ridge, aka the Giant’s Chest, we could see all the way to Long Island. Just lovely! We could also see storm clouds approaching. Yikes!
We continued on White until it intersected with Orange and, where Orange turned right, we chose an ‘historical’ trail, once known as the Heaton Trail, which continues straight on, meeting up with the Red Triangle.
A quick walk on the Red Triangle brought us back to the Tower Path. As we headed back to the parking lot, we passed the turn off to White again. Strange, no one wanted to ‘go around’ again.
We made it back just as the wind picked up. Keith, 'out front', set a good pace; I had my usual job, that of sweep. For a time, we were assisted by Mike, Chuck, and Karen. It was a wonderful hike!