Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pochuck Mountain State Forest, NY

Pochuck Mountain State Forest - New York Department of Environmental Conservation

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:  As we discovered in a most horrifying manner, discharge of firearms IS permitted according to New York DEC.  There are no signs.  There is no warning.  Gunfire suddenly erupted behind trees along the trail we were on.  We could not see who was shooting and froze expecting to be hit by bullets at any minute.  Turns out there were 7-8 men behind the tree shooting at the same time in the direction were we had been about an hour earlier, .15 miles away, and bullets can travel well over a mile.  As soon as we were a safer distance away, I called 911 only to eventually find out that shooting along the trail is allowed.  The police did call me back to be sure we were all OK but there was nothing they could do about it since shooting is, as absurd and horrifyingly dangerous as it is, permitted.  So be forewarned.  (I did write the DEC Commissioner about this.)

GPS Coordinates 41.28263, -74.51005
Parking near the kiosk.  The dirt road on the right is the entrance coming in off of Liberty Corners Road.  There is parking a little farther in but you need a high clearance vehicle to get there.

There is no trail map online but there is one in the kiosk.
This is not a complete map.  The white sections in the middle are meadows on Pochuck mountain where the views are into NY.  The trail continues through the meadows to the state line and lakes per a description someone we ran into who knows the area gave us but we did not get that far:  "At the end of the fields continue up the ridge take the trail going down towards the lake.  Go around the lake.  The overlook into NJ is there but you may have to bushwack.  Track back to the ridge trail and continue away from the fields.  This will bring you back to the first field.  Overlook is about 0.75 miles from the end of the fields."

HIKE DISTANCE:  5.5 miles

The dirt road to the left of the kiosk (to additional parking if you car is high enough) ...
... the barrier on the right.
At .75 miles the dirt road forks.  Right goes to the meadows (it was a short distance ahead on that trail where the gunfire took place) but we went left (which would have put us in the line of fire had we been there later) to explore.
Coming up on a creek crossing ...
... where we saw a turtle to the left of the boulder.
And a frog that did not even move when the dogs went by, brave little thing.
This is a pretty section that following along the top of the creek gorge.
But nearing the top, the trail becomes harder to follow and littered with blow downs.
Where to go now?
We were hoping to meet up with the meadows going this was but that wasn't going to happen so break time!
Then retracing back.
Shortly after this picture was taken at the top of the gorge, we descended to the creek crossing when Sebastian suddenly began digging.  Thinking he was after a small critter, he was pulled back only to find bees or wasps swarming out of the hole.  We ran, dragging the dogs along and got away but not before house wrecker Sebastian was stung a few times.  Even though they were all over Shawnee's face, they must have realized she was the innocent party because she was not stung.
Not only did he have several welts come up on his behind (better than in the mouth!)...
... this one popped up once he was home.  Lesson learned - keep your nose out of holes in the ground!
Back at that fork from the beginning of the hike (our 3-mile point) we turned left (the right side of the fork from the parking lot) towards the meadows.
The first meadow - a mowed path cuts through.
I was really worried about the full exposure and Shawnee getting overheated.
A hawk overhead.
Views of the Wallkill Valley in New York.
So when we arrived at the second meadow which was another section of full exposure, we sent the others on ahead with the camera and GPS and Shawnee and I rested in the shade between the meadows,
The part we did not see, into the woods at the state line after the last meadow.  There were no views through the other meadows.
A heart-shaped rock.
Returning to our break spot.
Heading back across the meadows.
See how Shawnee's back right leg is twisting in?  It was just the other side of this meadow when her leg gave out completely and she could no longer walk.
This is how we got her out.
And it was during this time we had the most horrifying gunfire experience.
Back at the parking area.
This would be the point where I should say Shawnee is retiring from hiking.  But I have had something in the works for this inevitable day and we are in the process of fine tuning the fitting.  I am hopeful this will keep her on the trails a bit longer.  She seems to like it.  (This was taken just a couple of hours after she could not finish this hike on her own.)


  1. What a wonderful mom you are to Shawnee and how lucky she is to be leading the life you are giving her. I love the new contraption. I also loved seeing the box turtle. I've never seen one in the wild in all my life. I have, however, seen my first two wood turtles just this year. Both were crossing roads so I stopped and helped them to the other side.

    1. Thanks, Bill. I am the lucky one to have her. I usually see a few turtles but this is the first one I have seen this year other than those on logs in ponds and really haven't seen as many of those as I usually do. So nice of you to help turtles cross. I do that, too.

  2. Looks like a beautiful hike and happy for Shawnee that she got to do most of it-and you had help to assist her when she needed it. So sad- but she has had an awesome number of years doing amazing hikes with you! Hope she gets to go some good places with her cart! (I have used a little wagon on and off for Elsie in the past couple years-when she had a torn cruciate-we just go places that are wagon friendly- like rail trails (High Bridge) and D and R canal)- I am sure you will find all the best places to go!

    1. I suspected there might be a problem so I wasn't going to take her if my son and daughter-in-law hadn't come along. Her hind legs just don't do what she wants them to do sometimes. I think I have her wheels adjusted to fit her but will run it by the vet who does her chiropractic adjustment during her appointment tonight to be sure then with this rare cold front, I think I might just have to take off work tomorrow :) And yes, exactly, rail trails to start then once she gets used to it we can go back on easier footpaths. As it stands now, when I put her in it, you had better get out of the way because she will plow you over.

  3. Replies
    1. One would hope he had learned his lesson but what do you want to bet he did not?

  4. No idea they allowed shooting that close to a trail in NY. I hope the cart works out for Shawnee and love that license plate, nice extra touch!

    1. We just took a spin around the neighborhood in her new wheels and she took to it like a duck to water. So pleased! And yes, that little license plate is just too cute. Seriously, you can get ANYTHING on eBay!

  5. Please let me offer the following information just in case it may not have been considered by your vet. I only am mentioning it since many times it is overlooked by not only vets but by regular doctor's as many people have found out after much damage has been done to their health before they finally out they had Lyme disease all along. Per Pet MD site: " When Lyme infection leads to disease in dogs the dominant clinical feature is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints (There may also be loss of appetite and depression like symptoms). Sometimes the lameness last only 3 or 4 days to weeks but recurs days or weeks later either in the same leg or other legs. This is known as shifting-leg lameness." Since arthritis can be initiated by Lyme disease, it may be helpful for a Lyme knowledgeable vet to do the appropriate tests for Shawnee. I hope you don't mind offering this information for your consideration.
    PS Great and interesting photos and captions.
    Bill from Clifton.

    1. Thanks Bill, appreciate the info but she was diagnosed with Lyme several years ago and has never had any symptons so we stopped treating it. She definitely has severe arthritis in her knee due to an old partial cruciate ligament tear that I never knew about when it happened and now her muscles are wasting in her rear legs - just one of those things that happens to senior dogs, usually sooner than it has happened to her.

  6. My heart broke for Shawnee when I saw the recent posts of her in the wheels :( But, I absolutely love that you two are still hiking and adventuring! She is living the most amazing life by your side! Thank you as always for sharing your hikes and adventures so people like us can explore as well!

    1. Unfortunately we can't turn the clock back but it's the next best thing. I think Shawnee sees this as a huge positive because as much as she wants to hike, it has really been taking a toll on her where with the wheelchair she comes home, takes a nap, and it's like she never hiked that morning. Dragging her weakening hind legs around was becoming very exhausting for her.