Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bluff in Carnival Style

Looking towards the lights of Poley Mountain ski hill while standing on the Bluff.
Recently the Village of Sussex Corner hosted their annual winter carnival.  The event was a huge success and drew people from across Kings County.  Families crammed into Sullivan Park, the Village's green space that borders Trout Creek, to enjoy all the activities on a seasonal Saturday.  My favorite activity though took place the night before with a much smaller crowd.

As players competed for the 3rd Annual Corner Cup, a group of 14 people of various ages prepared to snowshoe to the Bluff.  The sky was clear and the air was crisp as we stepped into our snowshoes.  I was anxious to get going as I hadn't been to the Bluff in sometime and it has always been one of my favorite hikes.  With the clear conditions I anticipated that the view from the Bluff would be inspiring and I was looking forward to finding a nice spot to sit and enjoy a hot cup of tea while staring into the winter night sky.

John McNair from Outdoor Elements was to lead the group along this trek.  Once he got everyone to the trail head it was fairly easy to find the way as a well beaten track was already present.  I was glad to see that people were getting out and enjoying this great area.  The pace was modest and people talked happily as they trudged along the narrow trail.  Headlamps lit the woods ahead of us and the shadows in front constantly changed as the group moved past the various landmarks.  The trail to the Bluff has a number of landmarks that help you gauge how much farther you have to go before you reach the end.  The "elbow" tree is always a favorite to climb and have a portrait taken in.  The root jump indicates the end of the last small climb before making the climb to the face of the Bluff.

We make the last approach to the Bluff with only the darkness separating the group from the face.  I was close to the back of the group at this point but walked by a number of them before making the face and was shocked to learn that many were not going to step out onto the exposed summit to enjoy the view.  Some were timid of the height while others were worried about the cold wind.  I couldn't wait to get to the summit myself.

 I enjoyed a cup of tea while taking note of some of the constellations overhead.  The lights lower on the horizon seemed to have a brighter presence than normal.  The lights from Sullivan Park were cheerful and warmed my soul even from that great distance.  My participation in planning the Winter Carnival elevated my anticipation and with the event now upon me I was excited.  I pried my body from my warm seat and with Mike Coggan started the trek back to the cars.

As the group treks back to the trail head the lights of Sussex Corner and Sussex show the way.
On the return trip I took time to take a lot of photos in hopes that one or two would turn out.  The lack of natural light made it difficult to adequately capture the spirit of the night.  In the end, the group quietly enjoyed the trip, one that created a memory that will last at least until next year's Winter Carnival.


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