Winter is problematic for many fishermen, especially when the weather is all over the place. As of recent, most of my higher elevation Tenkara streams have been snowed in or iced over, with most of the beautiful days yielding freezing water temps and dripping icicles along the trail.
Sometimes, I enjoy walking the streams during these times and simply not fishing. In fact, I often wish for winter to come so I can enjoy these snowy days.
There are beautiful sights all around, and the silence is captivating. The last few seasons have been mild, and we need more snow.
The only sound beyond the silence is the water, flowing over and under ice-formations and under the cover of snow. It doesn't hurt to bring a rod along, but usually the fish are semi-dormant in these circumstances, and its more fun to observe than to cast a line or fight the conditions on the chance of one lucky (or determined) strike.
Other times, I prefer to hike outright, with no focus on rivers whatsoever. Winter hiking is glorious for this... the trail, padded with snow makes for faster and easier movement over the rocks and roots which would threaten ankles and reduce your speed during the other seasons. There is less stress on your joints, and if you choose nice days, the weather isn't a deterrent at all.
Feeling like it might be my last shot at some local winter hiking, I headed out to Mohonk preserve to put some miles behind me, and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Now before you get too excited of these wonderful photos of small streams here, and go looking for Mohonk on google maps for your next fishing trip... keep in mind this ridge is ultra-poisoned by acid rain. Not a fish can survive up here, and believe my, I've tested it out just to be sure.
It doesn't stop me from hoping for a better future, but it will be many years still until the acid balance in the water is back to where it needs to be for healthy fish populations. The soil cover here is considerably thinner than the ADK, and we all know that story already...
Mohonk preserve is a unique place, and looks more like the southwest than the northeast in many ways. It tends to attract a crowd but there are trails less travelled if you are looking for some solo time.
There are frequent lookout points for great views, many of which are dominated by layers of rock forming picture-perfect cliffs. This area is the premier climbing destination for the East coast of the USA, and for good reason.
This set of foothills and the ridge is called the "Shawangunks," which is a name derived from the Dutch pronunciation of the Native American language name. The history of the naming is actually quite complicated, and too long to reproduce here.
The ridge is essentially the eastern-most ridge of the Appalachian mountains in the area, and is part of the same rock formation running from the Kittatiny ridge in NJ up to the Catskills, which you can see in the photo, below.
However, the landscape here is nothing like the Catskills; with exposed cliffs more prevalent, a less dense forest, and many small evergreen trees that make the area look like a northeast version of Joshua Tree, CA.
There were many people out on the trail on this holiday weekend, but it wasn't too crowded. It was an interesting mix of people - it always is up there. I really like that.
I ran into a dreadlocked-dog named Marley...
And then, after seeing a women's hiking group at this trail junction...
... I turned around and noticed a tourist group more suited for 5th avenue than a mile into a snowy trail.
But it was good to see everyone out having a great time.
The snow was not very deep, and by the end of the warm & sunny day it was all granular and beginning to melt out.
I moved quickly on this terrain, but mostly because of the micro-spikes I was wearing on my boots. They are necessary for safe and effective winter hiking, and many people were slipping and falling without them. Make sure you use them if you hit the snowy trails.
As I neared the end of the loop, I noticed someone had made this funny-looking snow creature, and I stopped to photograph it in the long shadows of the winter afternoon.
I called it a day just a little early, enjoying my drive south with less traffic, and was happy to have some nice beer waiting for me at home.
I've been trying to expand my horizons a bit since I'm no longer working in wine, and I'm learning quickly about craft beers at the moment.
Hazy beer seems to finally be more popular, not so far off from what's happening in the natural wine scene these days either.
Barrier reminds me a little bit of the Other Half brewery, which is local to Brooklyn, NY. Next time I take a trip down there I'll post some photos for all to see. I hope you take some time to enjoy the snow this winter and get out on the trails!