I balance my life with active sports – swimming, scuba diving, skiing, biking, practicing yoga, or in this case – hiking and rock scrambling. This past Sunday was a perfect day to escape the city, see the foliage and test my stamina and courage on the Mohonk Mountain rock scramble, known as The Labyrinth. The sign below describes the scramble, weeding out the less athletic and adventuresome, and in case it doesn’t, the first few tricky spots, climbing through caverns within the rock at the beginning of the trail, will.
This trail challenges the body as well as the mind. I’ve done this rock scramble several times in the past, but each time I still feel that initial tinge of fear, awed by the physical challenge and my fear of heights. But once I get going and get into the rhythm of figuring out where my next step needs to be to get me to the next plateau, I forget my fear and focus on the rocks and the awesome beauty surrounding me. My yoga practice came in handy when I needed to position my whole body in
At the end of the rock scramble is the famous Lemon Squeeeze, a fissure in the middle of the rock cliff that one must climb through to reach the summit. There was a lineup of people waiting to ascend, since getting up out of it at the top after climbing the series of narrow ladders is a bit tricky. The space is so narrow that any backpack you might be wearing up until that point needs to come off, hopefully to be handed up to a friend who has already made it out. I managed, with some effort to get my backpack (with camera inside) as well as my friend’s pack below me safely handed up to my friend waiting above. Then, finding hand and foot holds to maneuver into, I hoisted myself up and out of the crevice onto a plateau overlooking a breath taking view of the Shawangunk mountain range, known to climbers and hikers as the Gunks.
Once through the Lemon Squeeze, we had to hike up another short scramble to get to the SkyTop Tower where we were met with a 360 degree view of the entire Shawangunk mountains and Mohonk Mountain House down below – all ablaze in the peak fall colors. After taking in the view (and a few dozen photos later), we hiked down the walking path back to the lake and the Mountain House below. Along the way, we stopped to admire the views from the various wooden pagodas strategically situated along the way.
Finally down at the end of the trail, my body was tired (just a slight indication of the aches I’d be feeling for the next few days) but my spirit was energized. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that come with the completion of challenging physical activity! After a cup of tea and some cookies on the porch of the Mountain House, it was time to head back to the city for a good night’s sleep and ready to tackle the upcoming work week.