I’ve never turned around before. Even on those snowy peaks in the Adirondacks, long bare with the wind nudging you with nearly 5,000 feet to fall, I was never afraid. But at the top of Storm King mountain on a calm and sunny afternoon, I turned around. The official trail ended a mile ago, now I was just using ropes to walk myself up the side of the mountain, rocks and dirt tumbling with every step. I couldn’t even write from the top. I had to descend a few hundred feet and still, it took a while to maneuver into a position where I could stop myself from sliding. The view of Lake Crescent, a nine mile long lake was well worth it. A bird approached and chirped, then landed on a branch in front of me. The bird seemed cute enough but what if he was to attack? Any sudden movement and I’d be cartwheeling down a cliff. His friend flew over as well. They just looked at me and chirped. I wonder what they were talking about.
Tips for climbing Storm King mountain after the trail ends:
1. Ignore the warning sign.
2. Don’t look down.
3. While evolution may prompt you otherwise, I recommend crawling.
4. Trust the mountain. Any mountain.
5. Grasp both ropes.
6. Don’t look down.
7. When it looks like the only way down is to slide – it is.
I escaped the mid-afternoon sloth inducing sunshine by finding my way to a log on the pebbled shore of Lake Crescent. I look to my left and I see mountains in front of mountains, layered on either side of the blue lake, formed by water running from the glaciers of Mount Olympus. To my right the mountains line the lake’s curves and in front of me, you guessed it – there’s another mountain. This is bliss. The sun is strong but the air from the forest is cool and fresh. I stretch out on the hot pebbles. I can see where the idea for hot stone massage came from. The water is clear, I can see to the bottom and the waves gently rock the pebbles making the most soothing sound on earth.