After the climb, we hiked to a famous watchtower on Sky Top cliff. A thrilling section of this rock scramble is called the Lemon Squeeze. Ladders help scramblers navigate a tight crevice between two giant sections of rock.
My pulse rose as the path progressively narrowed and daylight disappeared. It was much too quiet, and I had no clue what lay ahead. Just as I was really feeling the squeeze, I emerged to a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the valley below.
After lunch, it was time to hit the bike trails! Our guides gave us a brief introduction to our wheels and the intended pathways. (Note “intended,” more on that later.)
Admittedly, I am not the greatest mountain biker. When the incline changes and it becomes difficult to move the pedals – or they spin wildly out of control with no resistance – I tend to panic. I then push every gear-changing mechanism until the ride feels better. This results in a “crunchy” and not-so-smooth ride.
Nevertheless, I loved my cruise through the brilliant leaves and golden pine needles! The woods smelled divine. I stopped to watch a doe and her fawn snacking on some foliage and marveled. It was magical.
We reached a point of separation. Some riders would take a single-track route off the trail. Others – including me – would take a more intermediate route. My driving buddy Mark motioned for me to follow him. The two of us zigzagged down the mountain for a very long time before we reached a heavy chain stretched across the trail. Holy spokes! We had taken a wrong turn.
I laughed, but secretly cried inside. The prospect of climbing back up was overwhelming. Could they send down a golf cart or something? Mark, a legit cyclist, was undaunted and talked me through the ascent. Survival mode took over, and I owned that climb! We made our way back up the trail just in time to return our bikes and rejoin the Subaru caravan.
The contrast between my cozy life in the suburbs and the rugged outdoors is enormous. I returned from my adventure with a new appreciation for all the Hudson Valley has to offer. Beyond being in awe of its sheer beauty, my time there inspired a new level of courage in me. Pushing me outside my comfort zone is a good thing.
So what’s next? Seeing my exhilaration after descending the mountain, a tour participant who also is a climbing instructor invited me to try ice climbing. He knew “just the place” in Denver. After the instant wave of nausea subsided, I told him I’d think about it. One of the few things more frightening to me than heights is freezing to death. I’m intrigued … Stay tuned!