Birthdays, Blueberries, and Other Delights

Later in August we went back to Minnewaska for two days of hiking to celebrate Steve’s 50th birthday. And hike we did! The first day (Steve’s birthday) we hiked 11.5 miles. That night Steve told me he planned a shorter, easier hike for the second day. We went 10.8 miles that day. It didn’t feel much shorter or easier.

There were even more wild blueberries along the paths this time! I browsed as we walked, often stripping a handful of juicy berries from a branch with one hand without even slowing down. It wasn’t long before my hands and mouth were an eye-catching bluish purple color. The children and I always used to go wild blueberry picking on my birthday, so to have two trips filled with abundant blueberry picking with Steve was a special birthday treat for me.

Stopping at Castle Point, we took in the view and saw our destination– Lake Awosting. Steve was excited to see antennas in the distance beyond the lake. He always loves to see antennas, and using them as landmarks, he figured out that we were looking across to Sam’s Point, a Pine Barrons where we had hiked exactly two years before. It was cool to be so far up above the land and trees below the cliffs that we looked down on the backs of soaring hawks and vultures.

I love to be read to, so Steve read Psalms about the beauty in creation while I painted.

We hiked a section of The Long Trail that went through a narrow crevasse between very large boulders and then climbed up the cliff-like face of some other boulders (fortunately not very high).

I’m not so sure we’ll be hiking along that section of trail again.

With the fragrance of the Clethra growing all along the banks and its sparkling blue water, Lake Awosting seems almost magical and is well worth the long hike.

Much of Minnewaska is puddingstone rock outcroppings covered in some places with a thin layer of soil, so there are trees growing out of amazingly small cracks and spots of soil.

Blueberries grow abundantly, forming islands of berry bushes joined by the grayish, glacier-smoothed rock and puncutated by dwarf pitch pines. It’s like a special world with few signs of civilization and a playful, free feeling. Pretending to be a mountain goat, I jumped from rock to rock and ran farther and farther back among the bushes, looking for the best and fullest bushes of blueberries.
I love snakes, so was thrilled when Steve noticed this beautiful Smooth Green Snake in the path.

Kempton Ledge, a welcome resting place with a gorgeous view of the cliffs and descending valleys.

Happy Birthday, Stephen! I was delighted to share this time with you and hope we can do the same when I turn fifty.