August 9th, 2009. (Contributed by Suchitra Sugar, founder of a Jamaica based women's hiking club). On Sunday our women’s hiking club took a trip to Jones Beach on Long Island, New York, close to the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Queens. Our little group left early that morning at 7:00am, braving reports of rain and thunderstorms. The drive was quick because there was little traffic on the road and we had the beach almost all to ourselves. It was windy but there were only a few drops of rain and the sand and water were truly inviting. Some of us went for a run or walk long the beach or meditated on the ocean or just sat and chatted. In the end almost everyone went into the ocean to play among the waves despite the cold water. We had a lot of fun and stayed in the water as long as we could before we had to start heading back. It was a wonderful and refreshing start to the day, and we made it back to Jamaica in time for the New York area choir practice, scheduled to perform this upcoming August.
July 12th, 2009, New York. Since its inception in January of 2008, our women's’ hiking club has travelled from the ocean to the mountaintops, explored formal gardens, rowed, canoed, snowshoed and picked apples. Our most popular trips have been the August trip to the beach and our travels to some beautiful formal gardens including Westbury Gardens in Long Island where Sri Chinmoy also visited several times. One of my personal favourites is the July blueberry picking hike in upstate New York – after feeding our hearts with majestic views and feeding our bodies with fresh wild blueberries we head to the nearby pristine mountain lake for a swim, a picnic lunch and a peaceful meditation. Mmmmmm…. all in a day’s work for our hiking club.
Another trip story took place at Stokes Forest State Park where my dear childhood friend, Elyssa, who was an environmental educator there at the time, was waiting for us. She met us at the park and set us up with free canoes on the little lake.
Then she took us into the forest where she led us on a tightrope across a little river and let us explore and hike along its shores. There was even a swing we found and, of course, used! When we got back to the cars and cabins Elyssa surprised us with a delicious vegetarian meal that she had cooked for us ahead of time.
Our club is all about expanding our friendships and expanding our oneness with nature at the same time – getting to know each other a little better while soaking in the joy and peace that nature radiates – the blending of our inner and outer natures, literally. May our adventures be of inspiration to others!
February 21st (Saturday) – Minnewaska State Park
Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (hiking if there is not enough snow). Groomed ski trails. Beautiful mountain lake, peaceful forest paths, magnificent views.
March 15th (Sunday) – Mohonk Preserve
Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (hiking if there is not enough snow). Groomed ski trails. Explore miles of beautiful forest trails and views of cliffs and mountains.
April 25th (Saturday) – Sterling Forest State Park
Stroll around Sterling Lake or take a more strenuous hike up and along the ridge.
May 9th (Saturday) – Pilgrimage to Westbury Gardens
Stroll amidst the 160 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes at leisure, where Sri Chinmoy once visited.
June 28th (Sunday) –Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park
Rowboat rentals in a big blue lake surrounded by green forest. Great trails for running. Frisbee golf course.
July 12th (Sunday) – Peterskill blueberry picking
Hike along rocky cliffs and by magnificent views to our secret spot where you can look at the beautiful view and pick blueberries at the same time. Take a swim in a clean, clear and most refreshing mountain lake.
August 8th (Saturday) – Jones Beach
Ocean. Sand. Beach…. Meditate, swim, stroll along the beach, play Frisbee, or just enjoy the sun.
Suchitra also co-organized the 2009 September Swim-Run in New York's Harriman State Park.
October 7th (Sunday) – Mohonk Preserve
Upstate New York's peaceful forest lands
November 1st (Sunday) Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay - Fall Glory
Fall foliage, Japanese maples, blooming dahlia's
December (Saturday) Harriman State Park – Snow Transcendence
A winter wonderland for brave city dwellers
December 24th (Thursday) San Pedro Volcano, Quatemala – Volcanic Beauty
A vast deep lake (the site of a giant crater) surrounded by three volcanoes for the intrepid
February, New York Environs – Intrepid Souls
Cross country skiing close to New York City
Nature does not know
How to divide.
Nature only knows
How to unite
Excerpt from The Beginning And The Arriving by Sri Chinmoy.