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It’s pj season and that means our Friday night ritual is to play will-we-won’t-we hike tomorrow. It’s an annoying cycle, but lately the Friday night into Saturday morning/afternoon rain makes it hard to decide, especially on cliff walk hikes with lots of exposure. On the flip side, I get grouchy, whiny and all sorts of charming if too much time passes between hikes. It’s really a question of will I be able to stand to myself if we don’t go? When we’re on the fence, I make peanut butter jellies. Once the pjs are made, we have to hike. It’s the rule.

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As promised, the rain stopped when we arrived and this normally very crowded park wasn’t. Nice for our first time back to Minnewaska State Park Preserve in years –  we don’t think the public should have to pay to access hiking trails. Why pay $10 with the Catskills a little further north and the Hudson Highlands and Harriman closer to the south? On this early spring day we paid because the Catskills were still holding on to some winter and we recently hiked our favorite Hudson Highlands trails.

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This was our first time hiking Gertrude’s Nose. Morning showers not only kept some of the early birds away, it also left us with the right amount of fog – enough to cool us down and add an otherworldly feel without swallowing the views. That large glacial rock to the left is called Patterson’s Pellet. The trail soon dips down the ravine and back up to the white cliffs on the other side.

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Beware of the booby-traps. These crevices made parts of the trail feel like an obstacle course. It’s very easy to see why this is such a popular hike. Some Catskills hikes have views, but they don’t take you above the treeline like in the White Mountains or Adirondacks.

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We felt a lot higher than we were. High enough to wave to the mountains over yonder.

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I love how stubby pitch pines push their way through. This was a nice, relaxing section until Raj decided to slip in slow motion. I watched with my hands helpfully waving while he fell for about ten minutes. Once he finally got tired of sliding around on wet rock he looked at me confused. Were you waving goodbye? I like to think I’m the kind of gal who would help a falling person, but now I know the truth: I’m a waver. You fall? Later alligator.

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These birds (turkey vultures?) had beef with us. As we approached, they slowly turned our way then spread their wings like flexing muscles while making full eye contact. They stood still for a few angry breaths before creeping towards us. Closer and closer and why are we still standing here? Off we went. I didn’t look back a few times half expecting to see these giant birds running with their arms out licking their lips.

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The picture doesn’t do them justice. These birds thought they were twenty feet tall. I wish I had their confidence.

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Here’s my fellow as we picked our way down the melting trail. The water was ice cold and running at a clip – perfect for wetting our hats to cool off once the sun came out. At this point we had no idea how far we’d gone or how much distance we had left. We had a map, but both of us got immediately bored and annoyed every time we took it out. After the cliffs, there were a few fun scrambles, a rock hop creek crossing and lots of mud. At some point the trail takes you through Mohonk Preserve before ending back at the lake. We saw a sign for Mohonk and started doubting that we were still on the right trail. I really hate that panicked questioning of every step forward. Fortunately this is a popular trail and it wasn’t long before a couple came along to reassure us.

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Not a bad place to rest. I highly recommend some shut-eye at a picnic table before heading down to Awosting Falls. We drove down to the lower lot because I’d already taken off my man boots and wasn’t about to put them back on. The falls are a pleasant, easy 15-minute walk from the lower parking lot.

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Our final pj spot of the day. I can’t wait to do this hike again on an October weekday. Next time, I want to go in the reverse direction to get through the more challenging wooded and scrambling sections first and savor the views the rest of the way.

If you must unburden yourself of $10, Minnewaska is lovely place for it.

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