Events conspired to bring us here to the Hudson Valley, and in the beginning I didn’t realize how much I felt the absence of the Rockies. It didn’t take long, though. It was like a bad case of snow blindness was wearing off.
This began to dawn on me during one of our regular visits to the Gunks in the Mohonk Preserve. It happened on the GT ledge looking out, eye to eye with the clouds and the vultures. An exuberant solemnity welled up within me. I was with my partner, and the route was challenging but not too difficult for us not to enjoy ourselves.
We sat there in awe of the landscape before us: a perfect combination of forest, water, rock, and the wildlife living above that lush green canopy below us. Sublime.
I welcomed the juxtaposition to the Western landscape I’d come to love, depicted in all forms of art so much that it almost seemed to overwhelm. The chance to take in the same subtle view that caught the eyes of the 19th-century Hudson River School of landscape painters only added to the climbing experience.
We lingered for another look and some water, but not for too long. We rearranged our gear, Words seemed superfluous, and few were exchanged.
Another party of climbers showed up behind us. We exchanged pleasantries. They were shocked that we had come from Colorado. “You don’t hear of many people moving to New York from Colorado,” one said, “It’s usually the opposite.”
We finished the climb, glanced back to catch the view, and headed down.
Walking back on the Undercliff road and now under that blanket of green we were once above, the thick canopy made for the most incredible acoustics I’ve ever heard in nature — the bubbly sound of a winter wren bouncing off the old tree stumps and rocks on the forest floor. At that moment, my partner went on an Agatha Christie-like pursuit to catch a sighting, which he eventually got. But that’s for another story. As we continued on the Undercliff, the case of snow blindness was nearly gone. That comment from the other climber, although not novel, stuck with me enough to make me wonder if there wasn’t a kernel of truth in there. Should we go back to Colorado?
It’s true that I had sort of bought into the common opinion that New Yorkers are rude and unfriendly. And, after about a decade living out West and before heading East, I’d been told that it wouldn’t take long for me to turn around and head back because “the people just aren’t the same as out West.”
I know what you’re thinking, Another love letter to the Hudson Valley. We all know the drill, and we have Facebook groups to prove it. But stay with me here, I’m starting to see more clearly now.
As it turns out, the people here really aren’t the same as out West (but you knew that already). In fact, it’s been the people that have made the place for us. Sure, there is endless fun to be had outside. The surrounding towns are cute, the food is great. You’ve heard that before, too. But from the car-shop repair people and the waitresses around town, to the folks we’ve met outside and the clerks at the Hannaford’s, it’s the human interactions that have me hooked.
I think I might stay awhile.