About an hour outside of New York City lies Bear Mountain State Park, an ideal place to spend any beautiful day. From boat rides to a zoo, a carousel, and plenty of fields and trails to spend time on, there’s more than enough to keep a family or group of friends busy for a day.
Last week, I decided to hit up the trails for the first time in a few months. I’ll admit, this was quite the task for me. After barely any physical activity all winter, my body felt the effects, and I was hardly able to climb the never-ending stairs at the beginning of the trail.
My allergies were acting up and it was hard for me to breathe; I could hardly fathom making it to the top. I started getting flashbacks of my Table Mountain climb of endless stairs and my lack energy made me want to give up. It’s not that the trail was difficult, but it was the most difficult activity I had taken on in months. Still, I kept pushing myself, and eventually, my body knew I wasn’t going to give up the fight.
After reaching the first look out, everything seemed to become easier, and I even made friends with a couple from Amsterdam. Keeping the conversation about our worldly travels, a favorite topic of mine, instead of paying attention to the trail, helped me push forward. Suddenly the trail wasn’t affecting me, and I was just able to enjoy the experience.
Following the white trail up, I continued until I reached the top, which boasts beautiful views. I also discovered that you don’t have to be a hiker to enjoy them. Instead of hiking, you can drive up the mountain, which I assume is equally satisfying for the eyes, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment you get by summiting the top on your own two feet.
The top was crowded, but I found a place to sit and soak up the views. I also made time for some water and snacks, before heading up inside the tower for some more views. This was a feature I enjoyed because along with some history, there were also 360 degree views of the entire mountain range. There’s nothing quite like appreciating beauty from above, especially when you worked hard to get to the top.
Getting down was the easiest part. My allergies were better and my confidence was way up, especially after realizing how many people chose to drive to the top over climbing. I even ran down certain parts of the trail to keep up my heart rate, something I haven’t previously done, but I suddenly enjoyed.
At the bottom, I realized how important it was to push through my challenges and not to let myself get out of shape. It also reminded me of my love for the outdoors and what I have been missing over the past few months.
Bear Mountain was the perfect place for this, and I wish I had budgeted to spend more time there. From climbing to just relaxing and having a picnic, it feels so far from home, but is easily within reach, with an easy drive straight up the Palisades Parkway. Hopefully, I’ll get to spend some more time here before my big summer adventure.