haikai

A Novel Hike: the Popolopen Torne Loop Adventure

Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River, as seen from Popolopen Torne, Bear Mountain State Park, New York

All the years that we’ve hiked in and around Bear Mountain State Park, we never explored the western portion of the park. We had no idea what the Popolopen Torne loop had in store. Of course, new hikes were par for the course for the Tassone family.

This time, however, we had a guest with us, of of Frank’s friends, N.

The trailhead began across the busy Route 9W in Fort Montgomery. We managed to dodge the oncoming traffic to begin our adventure along the 1777/1779 trail. After following that historical route to Brook pond, we began our ascent up the first foothill of our journey. After a circuitous course upward, the trail overlapped a local road twice before progressing deeper into woods.

Frank and N. stayed in the lead at the beginning. But once we reached the second hill, N. began to drop back. When we reached the base of Popolopen Torne, I remained sweeper just behind him. The poor young man apologized multiple times for holding us up, after all of which we told him were not necessary.

After an extended lunch before the summit, we continued to the top. The spectacular views of the Bear Mountain Bridge spanning the Hudson River, and the surrounding Highlands along the eastern shore, made all that effort worthwhile.

But once we began our steep descent down the other side of the mountain, it would be our turn to apologize to Frank’s friend!

A long rock-scramble. A longer, winding descent after. All to reach the 1777/1779 trail that we originally took in. Despite this, his fear of falling, and general lack of readiness, N. thanked us multiple times for taking him with us.

Very gracious of him, considering our hike nearly killed him!

enclosing maples

right before the end

a tumble

I’m hosting dVerse Poets’ Haibun Monday this week, where we reflect on the word “hike”. The pub is open! Come join us!

Categories: haikai, haiku community

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22 replies »

  1. All hikes, all the time; 100% so far. I took another route, but I’m certainly enjoying all these guided tours of prose. In the 6o’s before lighter packs and processed foods, my brother and I hiked for week in the Cascades. We went with my grandfather, who was 70. At one point he was exhausted, and I carried his pack, and mine, front and back. At 20, I was fearless.

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  2. Wow! That sounds intense. I’m glad it was an experience to be enjoyed by all. Just reading this gives me anxiety about such a trail, hahaha! Beautifully penned with exquisite details. Your haiku is lovely.

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  3. kaykuala

    N. thanked us multiple times
    for taking him with us.

    One could well imagine the gratitude of one who was exposed to the pleasures of experiencing the outdoors. Thanks for the prompt Frank!

    Hank

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  4. A great write Frank. I’m always amazed that the wilderness (or ‘the bush’ as we call it) is just a few steps off the road, our civilisation stops and we’re there relying on each other and what’s in our packs. Looks like a great area to hike, thanks for a great prompt (made me restless to get out the boots again).

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  5. You have such amazing place names in the USA, Frank! I would love to visit Bear Mountain. I’m interested to know where the name Popolopen Torne comes from and what it means. I thought the beginning of the hike sounded dangerous, dodging oncoming traffic, but I felt sorry for your friend being unable to keep up the pace and afraid of falling – I’d be the same. But it must have ben worth it for the view.

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  6. I can tell you’re a veteran hiker, Frank, by your use of the term “sweeper”. My husband has always been the “sweeper” when we are with other people. We’ve hiked twice with the Wayfarers, a group based in Europe that does wonderful walks. Only about 12 people max. Here again, my husband has been the “sweeper.” I really enjoyed reading this. And oh yes….sometimes the way down can be much more difficult than the way up. For the “new hiker” — once to the top and relaxed and enjoying the view…the expectation is that the way down will be easy and they’ve already done the main accomplishment by getting to the top. Hah! What a surprise they have coming…and you’ve described it well.

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  7. Thank you for the East Coast tour. Your travelogues are always vivid and adding the travails of N provides some tension to the tail. I would so love to hike the Hudson valley someday.

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