Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Short Feature On A Place for Renewal

There are people who consider Disney to be a magical place of renewal and other people profess to have found peace and happiness on top of Mt. Snow; however, this afternoon, I had the privilege of going to a place where of renewal and peace without a magic carpet ride or a chair lift.  There was a bit of snow, a bit of sunshine and clear evidence of springtime at Minnewaska State Park in the Shwagunk Mountains.   I hadn't been there in nearly 20 years, but as my BFF and I entered the park for some much needed seeking of peace, I was brought to my knees in an instant by the simple beauty of God's creation in those hills.

Minnewaska, in Ulster County, NY, sits on a ridge of the Shwagunk Mountains.  There are sections that are 2,000 feet above sea level! In early April, the waterfalls are capped by ice and the lakes still covered by wafer thin layers of ice.  Year round, there are incredible cliffs and easy to walk carriageways interspersed with rugged, rocky terrain for the more ambitious hikers.  Later in the spring and summer you'll find more mountain bikers and horses attacking those incredible trails as well people swimming in the clear, fish free, lakes!

Originally, this park was part of the Smiley family's Mohonk Mountain House property, and a magnificant Cliff House was built in 1879 overlooking Lake Minnewaska as a hotel for about 200 people.  A second, even larger hotel, the Wildmere, was built a few years later to keep up with the demands of people who wanted to spend a few weeks or the whole summer in the magnificant mountains.  In 1955, Kenneth Phillips, Sr., the Minnewaska general manager bought the property from the Smiley family.  The Cliff House was abandoned in 1972 due to maintenance costs and it burned soon afterwards. 

For many yeras, commercial developers considered ment proposals and lawsuits to block development, New York State took ownership in 1987 and it was on the before school began that year that I first went to Minnewaska with my kids.  It was nothing like it is now, however, and the 5,400 acres (2,200 ha) has incredibly groomed trails and is certainly a crown jewel in New York Stat'es Parks. 

Over the years, my family has biked and hiked there to celebrate birthdays and create lifelong memories.  In fact, my favorite family photo is of my exhaused family on top of Castle Point one Sunday afternoon many years ago.  I suspect my adult children might still consider it one of their favorite places on earth as it challenges even the ocean in its panoramic views and closeness with nature; however, this afternoon, as I wandered through the park watching the hawks soar and ice melt, I was reminded that some of the best places on earth cost only $8 per carload.  If you need to have fun or if you need to feel closer to God, I suggest you check it out!

Here's is the link to the New York State Park Information

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