December, 2009. Contributed by Suchitra Sugar. Our first winter trip was truly extraordinary! It was definitely a self-transcendence trip for at least a few of us. In the morning it was already raining and the forecast predicted rain and snow throughout the day.
Unthwarted, my mother and I went down to our designated meeting area to see if anyone was ready to brave the cold and rain with us today. There was already someone waiting when we got there and after a few phone calls, a bagel stop at Panorama (our friend's cafe), and a little driving around to pick people up we had three enthusiastic and willing participants in the car, ready to go. One of them had never even hiked before!
The ride was really beautiful. Our new hiker (who had only left the city once or twice before) was wowed by the foggy view off the Whitestone and Tappan Zee Bridge. We were all very happy and sang some of Sri Chinmoy's songs together in the car. Our Bengali participant melted our hearts with her beautiful voice and her translations of the songs we were singing. Our short meditation together in the car before we started off was also more poignantly sweet than usual.
By the time we got to the place where we were going to hike (Harriman State Park) it had actually stopped raining and we started off, some of us jumping from rock to rock, balancing on logs and climbing trees on the way. By the time we reached the ridge it had started to snow and we enjoyed looking for the flakes that had crystallized into beautiful stars and at the white little spots dotting the large patches of moss.
Once we were after the half way point it started to really really snow and our hike turned into a true adventure. The trees donned magnificent snowy outlines and the ground was covered in a pure blanket of white which, in addition to being beautiful, was slippery, cold and wet. The difficulty of the hike went up a few notches and soon we were all cold and wet but we were in good spirits and felt quite safe. Nonetheless, everyone was overjoyed when we finally reached the car and could warm up inside. All that was missing was the hot chocolate and the roaring fire.
In NYC it has been cold and rainy (not snowing) all day and everyone was aghast that we had braved the elements. Well... perhaps waiting till Sunday would have been a good idea but in the end it was a beautiful and successful adventure nonetheless.