Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

When I found myself in the middle of nowhere on my second hiking trip, my mind went racing. Maybe hiking wasn’t what I thought it was, maybe I was too afraid. All I knew was that there was something I didn’t like.

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I went hiking on the Hudson River in Upstate New York, and I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t wait for the chance to hike again, and as soon as we realized we had a free Saturday, we jumped at the opportunity.

This time, we headed to Palisades Interstate Park, an area that goes along the border of New York and New Jersey. Here, the trails run along cliffs that drop down to the Hudson River, with views of Manhattan and Weschester, including both the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

After parking, Jeff and I headed to a lookout to take in the scenery and then we watched turkey vultures fly above us before heading out on our hike. Unlike last time, the entrance for this trail was perfectly marked, which left me feeling less apprehensive than our previous hike.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

But, my feelings changed as soon as we entered the woods. During our last hike, we came across many people while walking along the trail, but here, we were completely alone and in the middle of nowhere. I had an almost immediate feeling of fear because this was already different than our last hike. With each rustle of leaves, my heart rate began to quicken and I squeezed tighter on to Jeff’s hand. First, there were deer hopping through the trees, then squirrels, and chipmunks, but the more wild life we began to see, the more I worried that we’d see unwanted animals during our trek.

Slowly, I could feel myself coming out of my comfort zone. Each step brought us deeper into the woods, and there was no turning back. I didn’t know what to expect of the trail ahead; it was completely unpredictable. That was what I liked about hiking two weeks ago, but this time, the more I thought about it, the more anxious I grew.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

The further we went, the more my mind began to wander. I kept hearing noises, noises that almost always turned out to be chipmunks, but all I could think about were bears. What would we do if we saw one? Were we even prepared for that? Jeff had researched what to do if we saw one, but I never really thought it would happen. All of a sudden, here, with no one else around, I began to panic.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Finally, we began to see other people on the trail, and that put my mind at ease. I took a deep breath and reminded myself how much I enjoy going out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to try new things. I also reminded myself that this was a new experience and the feelings of fear would eventually pass. Once I did this, and had Jeff help talk me out of my fears, I immediately felt better and began to enjoy the beauty that surrounded us.

Eventually, we came to an area that was directly on the border of New Jersey and New York. Here the paths turned into stairways made of boulders and rocks and the cliffs dropped down directly to the Hudson River.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Everywhere we turned was beautiful and with our focus on that, my fears truly began to melt away. We didn’t see any more people, but we began to pay more attention to what was around us. And, once we broke through the endless path through the woods, the view of the Hudson River was definitely worth it.

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

Hiking Palisades Interstate Park

While the hike was generally easier than the one we did two weeks ago, the way back to the park proved to be more difficult. But, that’s what I am beginning to love the most about hiking. I love the challenges presented along the way and the fact that each step is different than the next.

Though I’m not entirely sure when my fear of encountering unwanted wild life will pass, I’m learning to deal with my feelings of fear while pushing myself to try something new. I know it’s not always going to be easy, but the results are proving to be well worth it.

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Comments (28)

  1. Fiona

    Well done for facing up to your fears Erin – even though it was just a small step it will make things a lot easier next time!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks! It’s a silly little fear, but it felt really big that day. I know it’ll get easier with each hike. 🙂

  2. Karen

    I have huge fear of bears too! Good for you, not letting it stop you from doing what you enjoy!

    1. The World Wanderer

      I’m trying to get over it, but it’s a little more difficult than I expected! In Thailand, I sat with tigers, so it’s a little silly that I’m so worried about bears. 🙂

  3. D.J. - The World of Deej

    I can totally relate to being spooked…I’m 31 years old and am afraid of the dark lol. Great hike though, and the view definitely paid off..

    1. The World Wanderer

      Haha, I’m afraid of everything, though I try my best not to think about it. 🙂 Thanks! It was worth the fear in the end.

  4. mrsoaroundtheworld

    Bears? Seriously? Thanks but no thanks – you were brave… very brave!

    1. The World Wanderer

      I know, I think I may be crazy, not brave!

  5. Jetting Around (@jettingaround)

    Way to go, Erin! Your experience is another one that proves that going outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself can be fun. Nice pictures, I like the one of you looking in the distance. I guess Jeff took it – good job! 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks so much, Pola! I hate that I was so fearful on this trek and not on the last one. Guess each time is different. 🙂
      Yup, Jeff took the ones of me, he’s an awfully patient photographer. Glad you liked the shot!

  6. Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h)

    I’ve yet to explore this part of the country. It looks beautiful and I think hiking must be the best way to enjoy it. Good for you! Ps. I’d be a little scared, too. 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      It is beautiful, but I don’t appreciate it as much as I should. I guess that’s what happens at home. I also have yet to explore much of the US, but it’s all on my list now. 🙂

  7. the lazy travelers

    the first time we stayed at a friend of a friend’s cabin in shohola, pa (right on the border of NY), they gave us a whole rundown on what to do if we saw a bear. i was HORRIFIED. can totally relate, but it looks like it was definitely worth it!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh, that sounds awful! Just the idea of possibly seeing one is scary enough. Where my friend lives they see them almost every morning and each time I visit, I am still scared!

  8. Francesca

    Good on ya for trying something new even if it makes you fearful. I completely understand why you would panic thinking about possibly running into bears on the trail. It happened to me – thankfully, only once – in Yellowstone, but it’s still in the back of my mind when hiking. Glad to see you’re enjoying hiking, too!

    1. The World Wanderer

      It happened to you? What did you do? I don’t know if I’d be able to hike again…at least for a while!
      Thanks to your post, I found a lot more places that I’ll have to go hiking in the future. 🙂

      1. Francesca

        Yay, I’m glad my post helped you to find more hiking spots! When I moved to Yellowstone, we had to go through some training about what to do if we encountered a bear on the trails… so I did what I was trained to do: stood my ground and made myself seem “bigger” (extending my arms up and to my sides). Unlike my friend who decided to turn and run in the other direction. Wrong thing to do. It was a black bear and luckily it wanted nothing to do with us. It looked our way, and just continued across the trail to a shady spot under a tree. We waited several minutes before continuing on the trail past it. We all survived 🙂

        1. The World Wanderer

          Okay, good that’s what we found when we researched. I didn’t really believe it though because I thought it would be better to not bring attention to myself, but, what you did obviously worked. 🙂 Hopefully, under pressure, I won’t do what your friend did because, honestly, that would be my first thought. Glad you survived!

          Thanks again for the hiking spots, love learning about what else there is to do, especially in the States!

  9. lola

    i, too, enjoy a good challenge in the comfort zone arena every now and then. it is scary at times but i am always proud of myself afterward.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, the feelings afterward are totally worth it! Though at the moment I actually have to talk myself through it!

  10. john

    It’s very cool that you can find such a naturalistic place so close to the city. I’m sure it’s a welcome respite.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, it’s really great. Just a little way away from NYC and you are in an entirely different world!

  11. stayadventurous

    strangely, I just heard about this trail from a local in Denver… he didn’t mention anything about Bears though…glad you didn’t see any. He also told me, it was one of his favorites to do in the fall season with the leaves changing colors.
    stay adventurous, Craig

    1. The World Wanderer

      Oh, yes, I cannot wait to hike in the fall! I just started, so I know each season will be entirely different – I like that! Do you remember the name of the trail in Denver? I’d love to head out there one day soon!

  12. Traveling Ted

    I was recently hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee by myself when I came across a large pile of bear poo. It was a huge pile that obviously came from a big bear. That was a little unnerving. The rest of the hike I made sure I made noise. Bears will always take off if you give them the option. The danger occurs when you accidentally sneak up on them.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks for the tip! I’m sure coming across bear poo wasn’t what you were expecting, at least you didn’t run into the bear that left it there. 🙂 I definitely love hiking, but hope I don’t ever sneak up on a bear.

  13. GQ

    Ah man, I’d freak out too if I heard weird noises in the middle of nowhere. Bears?! I can’t even imagine what I’d do if I ran into one of those. Chipmunks are more manageable. LOL. Way to conquer it!

    1. The World Wanderer

      I know, it was terrifying! Chipmunks are much more manageable! You can imagine how happy I was when I discovered THEY were the ones making all the noise! 🙂

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