Hope on Hopkins Mountain

While the debate whether we had a “real” winter is still up for grabs, I for one, found plenty of winter here in Upstate New York.  As March continues to surprise us with its weather, I am brought back to one of my favorite hikes of the season.  Back in December, mountain love continued as I set off on my 4+ hour drive to the High Peaks.

Hopkins Mountain was the ideal 3156 ft afternoon hike.  Yes, winter had found the mountains that weekend.  If you could visualize the most picturesque winter hike, this was it. The silence of the snow…silence.   The serenity of the woods, where the only sounds you hear are the dancing, bare-armed trees in the breeze or the lone winged-friend following your path.  The way rays of luminosity instantly create a glowing beauty on everything it touches. The rejuvenation of the quintessential, snow-covered mountain summit.

It was my first encounter with winter of the season then, and for this girl, a peaceful, happiness was bursting from every direction.  Besides the relief of stretching my legs after a 4+ hour drive, I just really needed a day in the woods.  All to myself.

There are 2 different approaches to Hopkins Mountain.  I accessed the Ranney Trail from a steel bridge across the street from the Rooster Comb Trailhead.  You just need to walk down the road for a bit to reach the bridge.

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Route 73 from the steel bridge

After crossing the bridge, I walked along a road until I reached the trail sign.  No trail register to sign in.  Just a simple, hand painted green sign.  Yes, I thought. My kind of journey. Simple, unembellished perfection.

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The path was trodden with many footprints, but I would only see one couple on their descent for the day.  The beginning of the hike started out as your typical, level walk in the woods.

As I idled along, the sun’s radiance continually captured my attention.

All that is gold does not glitter,  Not all those who wander are lost… 

Although, this particular birch tree was shimmering with golden luster.

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Upon a closer view, I could only, but exhale.  Hopeful beauty.  The imperfectly perfect ribbons of gleaming birch bark, warmed by the cascading light from above.

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Leave some room for magic in your life, says the big believer!  Amazing how it was just that one tree the sun chose that afternoon, to deliver its message of miracles.

The hike was rich with wonder!  Every angle revealed another piece of nature’s magical gifts.  Light.  Light is what usually catches my eye on the trails, and light was illuminating everything it graced.  As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”  A hopeful beauty accompanied this lone explorer for sure.

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I find myself observing my surroundings from every perspective.  Often times, I have to remind myself to look up…the trail wound through tall, towering pines.  Hopeful beauty encompassed the entire forest.  It was a lovely afternoon to #getoutside.

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Icicle love…this would be my first of many, many icicle photographs this winter!

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After 45 minutes of hiking, the two trails converged into one…a change of color to the red markers.  img_3499

Another sign, a little higher up at the same junction.  Just .9 miles to go on this quaint mountain adventure.

The terrain began to climb, gentle and flowing, but still provided a solid workout for the old ticker.

Light caught my eye once again.  I remained for a few moments, just staring at the perfectly balanced mound of snow that lived on fragile pine branch. Surely it would be gone by the time I returned, but I stood there, staring at it.  The delicate, yet strong arm of the pine, not breaking…just bending under the weight of its friend.  Life is like that, isn’t it?  We lean on our friends when we are in a time of need, and in turn, they carry our weight for a while, until we can stand on our own again.  Or vice versa. Yes, definitely like life.

Hey, sometimes it is random song lyrics, and other times, it is deep, thoughtful pondering. That is the beauty of being in nature, drinking the wild air.   You just never know where your mind and soul will take you.

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The higher I climbed, the more the snow piled up around the trail.  Winter had arrived in the high peaks in such a short amount of time. I was up here a month before, and everything was coated in ice.  No snow.

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The trail descends just a bit, along a stream I think.  It was covered with snow, but I did rock-hop across a few flowing spots with water underneath.

I thought the ice looked reminiscent of a heart…

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The pines were stacked with sparkling snow as I hiked through the valley.  It was gorgeous!  I even had to duck down under some of the branches!  Which is saying a lot since I am short person.  🙂

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Smiled.  From ear to ear.  Everything about this portion of the hike filled me up with hope and gratitude.  A hopeful beauty.   “Embrace the present moment, as if you chose it…” says Tolle.  Yes…yes, sir…this day was just for me.

A half hour after departing the previous junction, the final push to the summit remained. All three colors for this hike too! Blue…red…and now, yellow.  #traillove

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The trail continued on, if you chose. I, instead, decided to stay on the beautiful, snow-covered summit, which was just for me on this day.  Cold, true.  It was 16 degrees when I began the hike.  Nonetheless though, still for me.

The path narrowed quite a bit, as it typically does the closer you are to the summit.  Only 5 easy minutes later, the summit appeared.

It was silent. I love the sound of snow.  Magnificent, yet simple.

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Looking back on where I just ascended from…blue skies off the east.

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Yes…simplicity at its best.

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The temperature reading on my phone was 7 degrees at the summit.

The sky was divided. Blue skies versus heavy, opaque snow clouds.  It was one of the most beautiful views to witness.  I could actually see the snow falling on the high peaks…

Heaven.  Something magical was at play here.  Just like a miracle…all I could do was exhale.

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Pure magic.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it…goes to show just HOW big of a believer I am.  Magic seems to find me, no matter where I go.  Miracles and magic have a funny way of instantly restoring hope and faith in your heart.

A prayer of thankfulness… and gratitude for the present moment.  My heart was full once again.

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The descent from Hopkins flew by…it was a fast down, down, down.  Only an hour trek back to the car.

As daylight slipped through my fingers, I couldn’t help but notice how the setting sun was casting its pearlescence through the woods now.  Not a golden glimmer as it was earlier, but a soft, warm, peaceful glow.  As if to settle your soul for the early nightfall, whispering “Rest easy now, dear girl. Exhale and rest easy.

As I hiked back across the bridge, I paused once more, to take notice of Mother Nature’s winter gifts that surrounded me.  It was truly, a restorative journey for the soul.

I left the parking lot at 12:15 p.m. and was back to my car by 3 p.m.

A hopeful beauty was found in the mountains on my climb to Hopkins. The total mileage was 6 miles.  Six miles of peace.  Six miles of wonder.  Six miles all to myself on this ideal winter hike.

All that is gold did glitter, as the lone hiker’s soul witnessed endless beauty, during the present moment which she chose, because, of coursethat’s where the magic happens.

Hopeful once again,

J

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