Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Visit to Churchtown Dairy

(The Round Barn and Cow Barn behind a plethora of coneflowers)

I had never heard of the Churchtown Dairy before my sister gave Bill and me a Christmas gift certificate for the shop there.  We checked out the website and chose August as a good time to visit the Dairy, when the farm would be lush and productive.   According to the website events calendar, tours are only on Saturdays. We definitely wanted to go on a tour.  Last week, our calendar and the Dairy's calendar fit together perfectly.

The drive to Churchtown, just a few miles from the City of Hudson, was just under an hour. We arrived early at the farm which gave us ample time to wander through the gardens and to peruse the farm store before the tour began.  

(Flowers provide colorful accents throughout the property)

In the 1980s, as farmland in Columbia County became a high commodity for development, Peggy Rockefeller (wife of David Rockefeller) purchased more than 3000 acres of farmland as it came on the market, saving many farms in the Hudson Valley.  Two-hundred-fifty of those acres became the Churchtown Dairy.

Peggy and David's daughter, Abby, had a vision for the 250-acre parcel.  In 2008, she began sharing her dream for a dairy farm with builder, Rick Andersen, giving him one command, "it has to be beautiful." It took four years to complete the drawings for the project, but by 2014 the buildings and dairy were operational.

(The garden is crowded with many varieties of plants)

The flower garden that I had admired upon arrival was constructed a little later, in 2017.  Tours specific to the garden are on Wednesdays, when the gardener, Jean-David Derreumaux, explains the healing qualities of the plants and aspects of biodynamic gardening.  

Biodynamic gardens are created in harmony and beauty with the land and nature, abiding by such methods as planting and harvesting with the cycles of the moon.  This colorful and aromatic garden with its water feature, benches, and a gazebo tucked behind climbing plants, seemed the perfect place to escape from the pressures and stresses of today's world.  

I asked the guide if people request to have their weddings here.  She said, "They may, but we don't host weddings."  And, I thought, there isn't the financial need to do so.

(Swallowtail butterflies love the garden too.)

Thirty primarily Brown Swiss cows graze the Dairy fields, rotating from one field to another daily.  Ongoing rotations do not exhaust the soil which then can continually regenerate, a feature of a biodynamic farm model. Churchtown Dairy also raises about 30 grass-fed beef cows in a separate field.

Our guide wanted us to understand that, while most cows have their horns removed while young, the cows here do not.  Their horns pose no safety concerns for the farmers, since the small number of cows have plenty of space to roam.  She also explained how the cows use their horns. Sometimes one will affectionately stroke the head of another with a horn.  She described a cow who used her horn to move an object that was in the way.  Keeping the cows relaxed and happy are all elements of maintaining a respectful farm family.


(A farm worker brings the cows in for milking)

We walked away from the garden toward the Round Shaker-style barn and the cow barn.  I was astonished that these buildings, that appear as if easily 100 years old, were only constructed in the last 7 or 8 years.  With slate roofs, pristine white paint, and charming dormers and cupolas, how could anyone afford to build such a farm?  Our tour guide reminded us that this was not just a farm; this was a Rockefeller Trust Property.  The builder had ample funds to "make it beautiful."

(the "ramp" leads into the upper level of the barn)

The Round Barn is an object of beauty and practicality.  In the winter, when snow covers the grassy fields, the cows come here to eat.   As a bank barn, in this case with a man-made hill to the second level, both the upper and the lower floors can be accessed from ground level.  

Hay baled in the traditional rectangular cuboid shape is loaded into the barn's upper level.  When the cows come into the lower level through another entry, the bales are easily dropped to the barn floor, then loosened and spread onto the floor's outer circle where the cows await.


(the second level with stored hay bales, and the roof)

Outside of the building, I had admired the pointed design on the roof.  When I came inside with the tour group, I was stunned by the magnificent star motif at the roof's pinnacle.  Warm natural wood comes together in a design that creates art out of the practical need for a ventilation system in the barn's ceiling. 


A milking barn, attached to the Round Barn, was reconstructed from an 1850s barn in New Hampshire.  In temperate seasons, the cows spend almost all the hours of the day outdoors, coming in only to be milked morning and evening.  For these two brief periods, they eat hay and a small amount of grain.  When the milking is finished, they go back outdoors where they consume fresh grass in the fields day and night. 

(Most of the cows here are Brown Swiss)

Generally, the calves are born in the field. Despite the common thought that a large number of births require human or veterinary intervention, this is rarely the case.  If a cow doesn't return to the barn in the morning, a farmer walks into the fields to see that all is well.  After a day or so, the cow will come to the barn, with her calf alongside, and rejoin the others.  

There is no rush to separate calves from their mothers, unlike at most modern farms where calves are moved to the calf pen within 24 hours of birth.  At the Churchtown Dairy, mothers and calves stay together for a few weeks and reunite regularly once the calf moves to the calf pen, another aspect of biodynamic farming that promotes happier and healthier animals.

As our tour ended, a few families arrived to watch the milking.  What a great educational opportunity for children!


(view through the milking barn to the field)

Raw milk is an important product of the Dairy.  Legal certification to be a raw milk producer requires maintaining a rigorous sanitation and hygiene program, along with weekly testing for pathogens.  In addition, the milk goes directly from the cow into containers, rather than through tubes and systems to a milk tank.  This avoids the excess use of cleaning chemicals.

In the store, I asked if people came from miles around for the raw milk.  "Yes, they do," she said. "Even if they have farms that produce raw milk closer to their homes, they often prefer our milk because it has passed the meticulous certification process."

(raw milk on the left; frozen beef on the right)

Bill and I contemplated how we would use the gift certificate my sister had given us. 

Besides milk, beef, and medicinal or luxury products made from the flowers, cheese is a reason to shop here.  A fresh creamy cheese, two types of Camembert, and a semi-hard cheese are cave-aged at the farm and are very popular.  The shop also sells books and gift items, some made by local craftspeople.  In the end, we brought home two cheeses and a "supernatural washable paper insulated lunch bag."

It was dinner time when we left the Churchtown Dairy and we were hungry.  One option, if we had thought ahead, would have been to bring a picnic.  Another is to visit nearby Hudson with its many shops and restaurants.  Or you may do as we did, and stop at a familiar restaurant on the ride home.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Hiking in the AMR, 2021

(Summit view from Dial Mountain)

I was curious about the new Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) pilot parking reservation system and decided that I would try it out for my annual solo hiking retreat.   I chose to be away the nights of June 15 and 16, and reserved a campsite at Heart Lake, part of the Adirondack Mountain Club's property within the High Peaks Wilderness area.  Next, I would reserve a parking spot in the AMR lot.

(Weather was a bit ominous upon my arrival at the Heart Lake Campground)

The Adirondack Mountain Reserve is 7000 acres of privately owned land nestled among high peaks and lakes in St. Huberts, New York.   The land includes the elite Ausable Club.  In 1973, New York State and the Ausable Club worked out conservation and foot traffic easements on some of the club’s land.  

In 2020, an unprecedented number of people chose to be outdoors in the Adirondacks.  Overuse and parking issues became a hot topic.  Often bandied about was the controversial idea of a permit system for parking and hiking.  As a private entity, the AMR had the ability to join the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in working out a 2021 pilot parking reservation system solely for the AMR lands.


(A young hardwood forest near the Noonmark Shoulder, perhaps new growth since the fire of 1999)

I wondered if I would like registering for a parking permit on a specific day and for a particular time slot for hiking.  When my daughter, Meredith, and I were hiking the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks, we often changed our plans based on weather or other factors.  A permit system would make spontaneity out of the question.

Still, I jumped right in.  On the requisite day, two weeks in advance of my camping days, I went on the AMR website and reserved parking and hiking time slots for the two consecutive days that I would be camping.  In the intervening weeks before my trip, I mulled over which trails I hoped to go on, now that I was technically through the gate.

(The Noonmark Shoulder whets the appetite to continue up Dial, at left)

Immediately before my departure days, the weather forecast predicted 100% rain for part of June 15.  I decided that I would skip hiking that day and drive up to my campsite in the afternoon. Before I left home, I cancelled my parking reservation for the 15th.  My cancellation went through instantly and I was able able to book the 17th as my second hiking day just moments later.  I was pleased with this efficiency.

True to the forecast, it started to pour within 30 miles of my destination.  As I pulled into the campground, the tumult lessened to a drizzle and I quickly set up my tent.  Then I took my salad-with-chicken dinner and folding chair to the lake before the rain settled in again.  The air was chilly and windy, and clouds hung heavy on Street and Nye Mountains across the lake.  No question, though, it felt great to be there.

(The summit view from Dial Mtn.)

There is nothing quite like being cocooned and dry in a small tent with my sleeping pad and bag laid out, my battery light and book ready for some evening reading, while the rain pounds on all sides.  When I got tired of reading, I listened to the rain and to music on my iPod. 

Later, I awoke to silence and stepped outside.  I could see brilliant stars through the trees above and decided to walk a few feet to a clearing.  The milky way crossed the black sky in glittering lights.  The next day would be perfect for hiking.

(I had been hoping to see lady's slippers on this hike, but did enjoy coming upon a lush community of bunchberry)

The night temperature had gone down into the low 40s. Daytime highs would rise to a comfortable 65.   After my yogurt and granola breakfast, I drove the half-hour to the AMR in time for my choice of an 8:30 a.m. slot.  A cheerful young man checked me in and instructed me to park between chalk lines.  How leisurely to arrive at the relatively late hour of 8:30 and not have to worry about a parking spot!

Of the many options, I had decided that on this, my only full day, I would hike to the Noonmark Shoulder of Dial Mountain.  From there,  I would decide whether to continue on to Dial's summit, the 41st of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. 

In 1999, a forest fire burned 90 acres of the Shoulder's forested ledges clearing the terrain to bare rock.  Hikers have since been treated to an impressive view. 

Alone on the rocks, I had a snack and a short rest.  I checked my watch.  Only 10:30 -- why not continue on to Dial's summit?

(Heart Lake on a cool clear evening)

High peaks are difficult hikes, both going up and coming down, but the rewards are great.  Dial is not one of the most difficult but it's still challenging and a hefty workout.  Whenever I hike a peak by myself, I feel slow and plodding, yet I am always within my expected time frame.  When Meredith and I hiked them together, we commiserated about the tough parts and she sometimes sang songs along the way like the Allman Brothers', "Everybody's Got a Mountain to Climb."  

These days, I hike a couple of high peaks a year because the views are unparalleled in New York State, I love being up high, and because I like knowing that I can still do them.  If I can hike high peaks, I am pretty sure I can hike just about any mountain that I am likely to come upon during the year.  I like heading out and feeling competent.

(I was still hoping to see lady's slippers, but this princess pine was very pretty)

From the rocky top of Dial, I could see many familiar mountains with their slides, humps and hollows. After I had soaked in the view long enough to carry it in my mind's-eye, I turned and headed back the way I had come.  

The hike from the AMR parking lot to Dial's summit and back is 10 miles, with 3000 feet of elevation gain.  I saw only three people on the trail all day.

(A very nice view of Giant Mtn. from Round Mtn.)

Evening light was stunning on Heart Lake when I walked from my campsite to the dock to soak my feet in the lake's cold water. I had picked up a take-out meal from the Ausable Inn in Keene Valley for my post-hike dinner and spread it out next to me on the dock while minnows nibbled my toes.

A loon swam alone in the distance and then in a great splashing ran across the top of the water flapping its wings hard as if it could not take off...until it rose above the lake.  It flew four times around the small lake.  As it passed overhead, I could hear the loon's wings propelling its flight until it took off over the trees and out of sight.  


(Relaxing with Giant behind me)


The next morning, I packed up my campsite, since I would drive home after this day's hike, and ate my breakfast quickly in order to get to the AMR parking lot by 8:30.  I would hike the loop trail to Round Mountain. This hike is 5 miles round-trip with 1800 feet of elevation gain -- a great half-day option. Round Mountain was new to me and I was excited to start out on this spectacular cool clear day.

(A portion of the grand view from Round Mtn.)

I had read that Round featured an excellent view of Giant Mountain. After a steady uphill climb, I was ready for a sit-down when I reached the outlook framed by deep green spruce trees. I sat on a rock surrounded by soft moss and ate my snack. 

I continued on a hemlock needle path for a short distance when the trees opened to a large outcropping and an immense view from the Champlain Valley in the east to Whiteface Mountain in the northwest.  Nothing I had read prepared me for such a magnificent scene!


(Looking towards the Champlain Valley and Vermont)

I didn't stay too long at this summit, but checked out the panorama from every ledge, and then began my descent.  I was almost to the end of the hike when I decided to take a break.  After poking around in the open woodland a minute, I found a fallen birch log to sit on.

I fished in my backpack and pulled out the mango that I had been carrying all day.  It would have been a good idea to cut up the mango before I began the hike and put it in a container, but I hadn't wanted to bother to take the time to do that.  With my father's Opinel knife, I peeled it, cut off sections, and ate the sweet juicy fruit with my fingers -- an exotic treat here in the northwoods.  After I collected the peels and pit and stowed them in a sandwich bag back in my pack, I rinsed my hands in a tiny stream that trickled between the rocks.

(A perfect spot to take a rest and enjoy the forest...and a mango)


I had met only four people all day.  

As I reached the end of the trail, I saw the young parking lot attendant coming down the road.  We walked the last quarter-mile together.  He told me that the response to the AMR parking reservation system had been positive.  "I only get about one person a week who is angry about it,"  he said.  Given that the lot holds 70 cars, which would be 490 cars in a week, each car generally carrying a few people, I guess one grouchy hiker isn't too bad.  I gave him a very positive report.  You just have to think ahead, be a little flexible, and book a couple of days in case of bad weather.

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Fenimore Museum and more!

(The Fenimore Art Museum with pots of daffodils)


What a treat to go on a cultural outing to the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown! The last museum Bill and I visited was in 2019, also to the Fenimore and with friends no less.  This time we went on our own, reveled in the rural scenery along route 20, and anticipated a pleasant day trip.

When I saw in the newspaper that the Fenimore was featuring an exhibit of Jan Brett paintings from her beautifully illustrated children's books, I was determined to go.  I had discovered Jan Brett in the public library when my own children were small. 

(Our family's collection of Jan Brett's books)

During my 13 years working in the children's department of Barnes & Noble, I became enamored of Jan Brett's written and illustrated books.  I bought a few for my children and for gifts.  Occasionally, I had them signed when Jan came to Barnes & Noble for booksignings.

We all appreciated the authenticity of the paintings.  At that time, most of Jan's books took place in the deep snow of Ukraine and Scandinavia.  That she traveled to these countries so that her depictions of the scenery, characters, and customs were accurate seemed exotic to us. 

(Lots of holiday baked goods in The Gingerbread Friends)

The exhibit at the Fenimore showcased her newer books from the 2010s.  Jan's illustrations still have her trademark fine watercolor detail, and the charming border drawings that tell an additional story. 

How Jan Brett has branched out over the years while I have not been watching!  There are now books on Noah's Ark, China, Africa, space, and even the bottom of the sea. Short of going to outerspace, Jan has visited each country she illustrates, claiming that being a writer/illustrator has made for a fascinating life.

(The Turnip)


I took my time finding all the details in the pictures, but I gravitated to a simple story published in 2015, The Turnip.  The turnip grows to be so huge that no one can get it out of the ground, until...!  The story and illustrations are fun, and perfect for very young children.  I thought of my little grandchildren.

(A rainforest scene in The Umbrella)


I was particularly taken with her rainforest book, The Umbrella, so different from the stories with which my children had been familiar.  Educators had requested that she write a tropical version of The Mitten, her classic story based on the Ukrainian folk tale.  To learn about the landscape and animals of the rainforest, Jan traveled to Costa Rica.  She said, "I bought every color of green paint I could, and then I mixed even more greens."

(A young boy peers into the distance as birds and animals create a story in the border paintings)

Although Jan Brett's paintings had drawn Bill and me to the Fenimore, we were also intrigued by another temporary exhibit, Ansel Adams's photographs of the Manzanar War Relocation Center.  Adams created a visual documentary of life in the Japanese internment camps in California during World War II.  While he portrayed the faces and character of the people who lived in the camps, the majority of his pictures show the evacuees, as they were called, doing everyday things -- going to school, reading the newspaper, farming.

(This exhibit features some original magazine covers and artifacts as well as Adams's photos)

More than twenty years later, in 1965, after Adams published the photographs, he said, "The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment." 

(Adams titled his book of photographs Born Free and Equal)

My custom when I go to a museum is to read all of the descriptions and study the pictures.  Once I've seen the entire exhibit, I walk back through to find the pictures that I either like the best or that I find most thought provoking.   

I found the above picture fascinating. Adams's Manzanar photographs had their first showing in 1944 to people of Japanese descent.  I wonder how the viewers perceived these photos of their contemporaries and how different their thoughts were from our impressions of the same pictures today.


These two attractive young people were anticipating their return to life outside the camp.  The young woman is quoted as saying in 1944, "I have come to realize the false sense of security I enjoyed prior to the war."  Ansel Adams's response to this comment was, "Perhaps this sense of security will be re-established as she discovers her place in American life."  One can only wonder how her sense of self as a Japanese-American may have resolved itself.


The Fenimore always has an area showcasing the work of a contemporary or local painter.  This picture, entitled 2020 was painted in 2020 by Mary Nolan, who is inspired by water both at Otsego Lake and at tidal locations.  I found the picture intriguing with its stark trees, low water exposing the island's rock, all beneath a stormy but bright sky that lights the water.  I wonder what the artist thought the viewer might take from 2020.

(Otsego Lake)

After a cup of tea at the Fenimore Cafe and a perusal of the gift shop, Bill and I walked behind the museum to the shoreline of Otsego Lake.  The calm gray day was reflected in the water with the hills, a couple of waterfront houses, and a farm field beyond.  An allee of old maple trees interspersed with younger replacements created its own natural artistry on this beautiful property.  


(The allee leads to Otsego Lake and other paths)

We had had a great day at the Fenimore but now we were hungry.  Where to go?  Not surprisingly, we ended up at Brooks' Bar-B-Q, a local classic for sure.  Brooks is still going strong, open for take-out or curbside during Covid.  We carried our barbecued chicken dinners to Brooks's attractive picnic area.

(We even parked right under the sign)

A side note:  While perfecting their recipe, the Brookses trained in Prattsville on Bill's family farm,  known for its huge flock of fine chickens.  The Brookses began catering in 1951 using the original recipe created at Cornell University.  And the rest of this story about the Brooks family, that continues to cook 3000 to 4000 chickens a week for churches and fundraisers (pre-Covid) and more at their restaurant, is history!


(Bill often barbecues chicken using the recipe from this early Cornell pamphlet.)


Sunday, February 14, 2021

My Windham High Peak Covid Challenge

Virginia, February 2021

The idea of hiking Windham High Peak in the northern Catskills every month of the year was not my initial intention. In early March 2020, I had scheduled an Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) hike to the Tongue Mountain Range overlooking Lake George in the Adirondacks.  I was excited to have a full group of 12 participants but, as the date approached, news of the Coronavirus reaching the United States, then the east coast, and eventually New York City suddenly raised concern.

Carpooling no longer seemed safe. Participants began emailing me that they planned to drive alone to the trailhead.  When I remembered that the parking area for the Tongue Mountain hike would only hold about five vehicles, I realized that I needed to come up with a different location.


The Three Jims socially distanced, March 2020

The large parking lot at Windham High Peak fit the bill.  In addition, this mountain is not far from the Albany area and seemed an environmentally conscious option if each car would only include the driver. I knew that many of my participants would decide not to join in such a dramatic change of plans and was not surprised that, of my original group of twelve, just three chose to attend the revised hike.

Spring Beauties, May 2020

Jim C., Jim G., and Jim O., all men with whom I had hiked many times, were enthusiastic about the new plan. The four of us enjoyed the trail, the camaraderie and the views.  We agreed that Windham High Peak had been an excellent alternate hike on a beautiful late-winter day.

Looking east towards Albany, June 2020


Lush forest green, June 2020

By April, the Governor encouraged people to stay close to home, which, for me, did not include the Adirondacks.  I returned to Windham High Peak because I wanted to hike, knew it had a pretty trail and nice views, and because I wanted to stay in shape for an eventual return to the Adirondacks.  

This time I hiked by myself, the safest choice given the spread of the virus. I saw no one on my way up the mountain, but, on my descent, I passed a few small groups making their ascent.  I put on my mask and stepped off the trail to let others go by.  Most of the other hikers did the same.


Mountain Ash, July 2020

Stinging Nettles, July 2020

Warm, sultry, and no view, July 2020


By June, now my 4th consecutive month on Windham High Peak, I came up with the idea of repeating this hike every month of the year from March 2020 through to February 2021.  I dubbed this My Windham High Peak Covid Challenge.  I looked forward to watching the seasons change in this particular location. Not only that, the drive from my home was very pleasant as it meandered through beautiful familiar countryside. 

Sue, August 2020

July came and I fought with the weather.  Summer, with its heat and humidity, is not my time of year.  And there were other annoyances. Where spring beauties had lined the path in May, stinging nettles became a plague in July.  I had focused on the presence of ticks but hadn't given nettles a thought when I wore shorts and carefully covered my bare legs with tick spray.  My skin was virgin flesh for the nettles.

The sting of stinging nettles lasts 20 or 30 minutes at the most, in my experience, just long enough to be annoying on a warm day during the hike's ascent and back on the descent.  In addition, the view was completely socked in and I was getting bored.  I decided that I would ask a friend to join me in August, reasoning that two of us driving in two cars and staying socially distant would be safe from the virus and not too environmentally negligent.

My favorite hiking companion, daughter Meredith, September 2020


South-facing view of Blackhead Range, September 2020

I delayed my August hike long enough to find a cool day.  Barely squeaking the trip in, one of my ADK friends, Sue, joined me on the 31st.  Sharing the adventure felt great. To top off the day, as we descended, we saw two other ADK friends heading up. We put our masks on and stopped for a short visit.  


Deb, October 2020

Looking north, mixed autumn color, October 2020


Windham High Peak boasts three summit overlooks.  The south-facing view faces the Blackhead Range of the Northern Catskills.  Another rocky outcropping offers a north-facing scene across hills and a valley of farms and small towns to the Adirondacks in the distance.  Finally, continuing on the summit trail and after a slight descent, the Hudson Valley and Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany are visible on a clear day to the east.  Any of these is a perfect location for a lunch stop.


Trisha, November 2020


My daughter, Meredith, came up from New Jersey for my September hike.  At the mountain summit, her Garman Watch told us that we had hiked the equivalent of 81 flights of stairs!

In October, my friend, Deb, displayed the resilience of the lifelong athlete that she is by hiking with me not long after her meniscus surgery.  Trisha, one of the women with whom I camp in the Adirondacks, joined me in November.  Karen ended 2020 with me in December and brought Dove chocolates to share...just to keep us going, of course! Having someone with me was fun and just the change I needed.


Karen, December 2020

Other friends asked if they could accompany me as I began to close in on my year-long challenge, but the virus raged into a double-digit infection rate. I chose to hike alone in January. I basked in the quiet and solitude of winter, saw only three other hikers, and felt far away from the stress and anxiety of life in the valley.

I was thrilled to see a distant cloud inversion or "undercast."  Although many people I knew had witnessed far more dramatic undercasts this season while hiking in the Adirondacks and in New Hampshire's White Mountains, I felt fortunate to see one just before the clouds rose and covered the distant mountains. 


Beautiful snow, southern view, January 2021

The "bones" of the terrain, January 2021

Cloud inversion or undercast, January 2021

I was excited to complete my "challenge" in February!  Even better, Windham had had 25 inches of new snow just the previous week and intermittent lesser storms in the ensuing days.  Linda, my friend of more than 40 years, joined me for this very snowy snowshoe outing.

With so much snow, Linda and I were glad to find that other hikers had broken the trail and made a nice track in recent days. Additional powder snow fell gently during our entire ascent, adding a fluffy coating to already perfect conditions. While Linda and I both agreed that snowshoeing is harder for us than hiking on a dirt path, we were grateful for the reprieve from dodging roots and rocks that the depth of the snow provided.


A deep and nicely broken snowshoe trail, February 2021


Linda, February 2021


We were taken with the pristine beauty and silence of deep winter.  Boulders appeared nearly submerged by feet of snow, trail markers seemed low on their posts, white mounds blanketed stone walls, and mountain views shown through the leafless forest.  What a fabulous ending to my year spent hiking this Catskill peak.

Light snow to the south in this iconic view, February 2021

What have I learned during My Windham High Peak Covid Challenge?  I loved knowing that I had a pre-determined place to hike, whenever I could get there at some point each month.  I learned that, even if I began the hike with a sluggish pace, I always became energized in the process. While I like to hike alone, I discovered that my own company gets tiresome.  I became familiar with specific trees, rocks, roots underfoot and the ever-changing trail from its beginning crossing the Batavia Kill to the summit plateau. Windham High Peak now holds a special place in my hiking history.