POV: Hiking with your neighbors

The author enjoys hiking, biking, paddling, photography and fly fishing. He is the author of many hiking oriented articles and his hiking guide, “The Catskill 67 - A Hiker’s Guide to the Catskill 100 Highest Peaks under 3500’” was published by the Adirondack Mt Club in February and is about to go into its second printing. You can find his book at I Love Books, The Book House, or other independent booksellers or online.

Four years ago I walked into the office of Mark Thurman, Bethlehem YMCA’s wellness director, and asked if he had a few minutes. I was hoping I could interest him in a Y hiking group. Little did poor Mark realize that what he thought was going to be another two minute conversation in the fitness center would turn into a lengthy discussion about a new program at the Bethlehem Y.

I’ve been the outings chair for the Albany chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club for 14 years and led four-season hikes for the Club, the Catskill 3500 and Taconic Hiking Clubs for 30 years. After some conversation I managed to persuade Mark to take a chance on the idea.

One of the things I enjoy most about the outdoors is seeing the mountains through the eyes of others. Whether they are new to hiking, returning to the sport or taking people to places they haven’t been to before, it’s all good stuff. There isn’t any more outdoor activity that I find more satisfying than to watch the expressions on people’s faces when they see a porcupine up close, a newborn fawn or the fresh tracks of a bear or fisher crossing a trail. On trips to the Catskills there have been bald eagles gliding overhead, a sighting of a shy timber rattlesnake and acres of wildflowers and fern glades. Our hikes to the Adirondacks have included sweeping vistas of Lake George from the summit of Buck Mountain and the windswept ledges of Pilot Knob. And we’ve seen the spectacular panorama of Adirondack High Peaks from the rocky, open top of Hurricane Mountain.

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