I hiked to the top of Bear Mountain in New York with my parents and little brother. We ascended on the Appalachian Trail, then descended on the Major Welch Trail. The Major Welch Trail is significantly steeper, with more challenging terrain, so in hindsight it would have been safer to ascend on the Major Welch Trail and descend on the Appalachian Trail. But the challenge made it fun.
In the Seattle area, most of the trees are evergreen, but on the East Coast, most of the trees are deciduous. The ground was coated in golden leaves. Also, unlike the dirt trails common in Seattle area hikes, the Bear Mountain trails were mostly rock. In the first segment of the Appalachian Trail, stone steps were set into the mountain, making hiking easy. Towards the end, we hiked over large slabs of rock. Not small rocks of a talus slope, but the rocky face of the mountain itself.
We reached the tower at the summit. There was a view of mountains and the Hudson River. It is also possible to drive to the summit, so the summit was rather crowded. There were fellow hikers, a large group of motorcyclists, even a bride and groom taking wedding photos. On the one hand, having a developed park at the summit of the mountain made the summit crowded, but on the other hand, we could buy food and drink at the top. There were many a hike where I would not have minded a vending machine at the summit, as unnatural as they are.
We ended up taking the Major Welch Trail down the mountain on a whim. At times, the trail was a single slab of rock with an incline sharper than 45°. My parents took plenty of breaks going up the mountain, but going down the mountain, they were even faster than me and my brother. They held hands down the entire way, helping each other over crevasses and particularly steep sections. I tripped and fell on a slippery rock. My family teased me, saying I’m supposed to be a “hiking expert.” My mother told me to “pay more attention.” And so I trudged down cautiously with a bleeding arm and hand. I told them that the cuts did not hurt, but my ego stung.
Afterwards, we met up with my older brother and got some Shake Shack. Twas a good day.