Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pine Meadow Lake Night Hike

Harriman State Park
Rockland County,
New York

Sherwood Path: Unblazed
Pine Meadow Trail: Red Blaze

Total Time:
3:00 hr
Estimated Distance: 5 Miles

This was quite an interesting hike, not by choice. It was about 9:30 at night when I received a call from Chaverim, a help organization, that they needed my help for a search and rescue mission. A family with seven members had gotten lost on a hike and it had already gotten dark, and they needed my help locating them.

The lost individuals had provided some details as to his whereabouts, and based on his description, I had determined the location to be at the intersection of the Pine Meadow Trail and The Conklin's Crossing Trail. There was no way to ascertain that for certain, since communication with the people were lost when the one cell phone they had its battery die.

I had already taken a solid hike in the morning, so this was my second hike of the day. The Chaverim members picked me up, and I suggested we park at the end of Wilder Road by Route 202. This was an out of the way parking space, as We wanted to stay as inconspicuous as possible so that we would not be detected and stopped by the Police, who would have blown this into a huge deal.

Our group headed south down Route 202 for a little bit, then bushwacked into the Wood and crossed the Mahwah River to get to the Sherwood Path. It was pitch black, with no moon at all. We all had flashlights and headlamps, and this guided us throughout the way. At one point we took a wrong spur off the Sherwood Path, but then found it again.

While climbing the Sherwood Path up Horse Stable Mountain, we head a bunch of ATV's at the bottom and saw the lights in the distance. Apparently someone had called about us and they were searching for us. We shut off our flashlights and kept quiet until they passed. We continued along the Sherwood Path, which is a pretty good uphill climb, and two Chaverim members couldn't make it any further so they bailed out by the shelter at the Suffern-Bear Mnt Trail intersection.

We continued until the Pine Meadow Trail, and then went south on the Pine Meadow Trail towards the lake. I was hoping and praying that we'd find them there. As we came closer to the lake we started yelling and blowing whistles, and low and behold, we heard a response! We found the missing people! They were grateful to see us, and heartily devoured the food and drink we provided them.

Here is how they got lost: They had started at the Pine Meadow Trailhead at the Horse Stables at 6:00 PM, and planned on heading towards the lake. They didn't realize how long it would take to get to the lake, and when it took them 2 hours and they were at the lake and it got dark, they realized they had a big problem. They didn't have any flashlights and were not very familiar with the route, and they just stayed put until we came to rescue them.

After the exciting moment of meeting up with them, we turned around, designating someone in the front and someone in the back (to make sure everybody was accounted for at all times), and headed back. We picked up our two members at the shelter and continued down along the steep trail, and then went back to the cars. This was a real muggy night and I came home soaking wet through and through. I took a good shower, and went straight to bed.

As it was a night hike and pitch black, there are no pictures. Although I regret not taking pictures with the family with flash right after we met up with them :)

Map of the Route

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