“You’re a fast hiker,” my daughter says to me on our way up the trail from the famed Ausable Club toward Noonmark (3,556’). I can say with complete assurance that no one has ever said that to me before. I have always been the last in the pack. I enjoy hiking and backpacking and my family knows that I will eventually show up on top. My camera will be filled with pictures of tracks, plants and trees to identify once I get home. Now that my daughter is able to amble up the trails I am no longer left wandering alone.
We are starting up Noonmark via the Stimson Trail, named for Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War under Roosevelt and Secretary of State under Hoover. We split the group letting the faster hikers park the car at the hikers’ parking lot on the Ausable Club property off of NY 73, while the slower ones (my daughter and myself) are dropped off at the trailhead opposite the golf course.
This is all private land so we are respectful and stay on task. When the trail begins we follow the yellow trail markers for about ½-mile up a gradual incline until we reach a Y in the trail where it splits toward Dix and Round Mountains. Our trail turns to the right marked with red symbols to our destination of Noonmark.
The trail is wet from recent rain so we gingerly walk over swollen streams and slippery stones. My son and husband are steadily gaining on us. They pass us before we reach the first clearing with a beautiful view of the Ausable Club. My son throws his hands up in frustration when I stop to pick blueberries. My husband reminds me that a Noonmark newbie needs to take in consideration that there are many false peaks along the way so he gentle warns me not to get too waylaid.
The walk is steady and not too difficult. My daughter needs assistance on a few points only because she is too short to maneuver the rock scrambles. There are about five more beautiful views along the way showing The Great Range, Giant Mountain, Dix Range and St. Huberts in all their glory. Finally at the summit we sit and relax.
We switch companions for the descent. My son and I run and hop down. He turns to wait for me not realizing that I am right at his heels. “You are a fast hiker,” he says with surprise. I just shrug. I never said I couldn’t. I just choose not to.