Hiking The Palisades

2 Apr

Inspired by Shawnee the Shepherd we decided to drive over to New Jersey this morning and hike The Palisades.

[OK. I’m trying my best to not explode at WordPress, but why won’t it let me move photos around?]

It’s about a 30 minute drive away for us, which is nice. But we have to pay tolls there and back, which is not nice.

Emma’s new crash-tested seat belt came in, but it’s a tad big for her so she’s got more room than I’d like. I’m going to order another one in the next smaller size. Charlie’s is on it’s way, so he’s still wingin’ it.

Emma just can't wait to hike, can't you tell?

I haven’t “hiked” this trail for real in a really long time, so I didn’t know what to expect, aside from what I’d read in guides and what Shawnee was nice enough to share. It happens to be one of my mom’s favorite hikes ever, so she gave me her favorite directions and trail info. Essentially there are two trails, one that runs along the top of enormous cliffs (something like 500 feet up from the water) and the other that runs along the bottom, right next to the Hudson River and across from NY. My mom gave me directions to the top trail, so that’s where we went. I wanted to get a trail map from the Police Station there, but there were like a zillion bikers (bicycles, not motorcycles), and I didn’t want to try weaving through that melee, so we just headed out at the trailhead.

My two hiking companions.

Charlie and Emma were of course fitted out with their hiking gear. Charlie was wearing his Ruffwear Approach Pack, and Emma her Ruffwear Palisades Pack. They each shared loads of some food, toys, a small blanket, poop bags, a water bowl, and leashes. I carried the water (about 96 ounces!) and some more food and other essentials.

Bridges are for prissy Pit Bulls!

He's a poser!

Charlie’s much more adventurous than Emma. He walks ahead of us, always finding the trail, regardless of how rocky or unmarked it is. He runs up and down, side to side, sniffing and loving every moment of it. Emma, however, is never more than two feet away from me and always right behind me.

I stopped more frequently than I would have if I were alone because the pups needed frequent water breaks. It was a balmy 53 degrees and they were carrying packs, so I had to be fair and not overtax them. Though anytime we stopped for any reason Charlie would start his high pitched whining. He just wants to go go go!

Now I have to be perfectly honest. I adore hiking, I really feel like me. But these cliffs scared the bejeezus out of me. I mean not two feet away from me was a sheer 500 foot drop. It was thrilling. But I also kept both dogs on leashes and right next to me the entire time we were resting on the cliff edges. Did I tell you I’m a drama queen? I could just see them tumbling over the edge and my heart rate would go up!

Taking a breather on a cliff edge.

One of the best parts of hiking are the people you meet. We met several who were so kind to the dogs. They wanted to stop and chat and gush over them. It really warms my heart when someone asks if Emma’s a Pit Bull and then if they can say hi to her after I answer in the affirmative. One woman even asked if her little son could pet the dogs. I wanted to kiss her. I guess it’s different in NYC where most people are scared of them, especially Emma, and cross the street/pull their kids close to them when we pass. It’s so refreshing to meet awesome people. I’m sure the packs helped ;-). One pair of guys even had us stopped for a bit telling me all about this dog his friend has who looks just like Emma and how he was looking into adopting a Pit Bull of his own. And Charlie did a few tricks for him. You know, to make sure he knows how cool Poodles are.

So after walking across the top trail for 2 miles or so, we came to this:

Down down down the crazy steep stairs.

Remember those 500 feet I was telling you about? Well this was one of two points where the two trails meet and go up/down the side of the cliff. It was zig zagging steep as can be stone steps. So of course we went down them!

I thought I was in pretty good shape. I’m a dog walker and I walk easily 6 hours a day with a pack that’s probably 6 pounds, if not more. The descent nearly did me in. It was so much worse than the ascent. My legs were on fire. Muscles I didn’t know I had were burning, and midway I had to stop because my legs were trembling uncontrollably. It didn’t help that Emma would sometimes bump into me from behind if I stopped too quickly, which would surely have tossed me to a bloody, cliffy death. So I held onto her pack to keep her steady, and help me down. It worked for us.

When we got to the bottom I could only think of one thing: REST!

So we clambered over some more rocks and hung out on the Hudson River. I should have taken photos, but I was too occupied with my tiredness. Charlie fetched a Frisbee from the water, Emma chased some treats, and both enjoyed a few minutes of respite without their packs on.

I realized we were probably too tired to explore much of the lower level trail, so when I felt we had our act together, we tackled the ascent back up the cliff face. The descent may have jellied my legs, but the ascent was so steep it forced me to take several breathers. I tend to walk fast and hike fast, so I started fast, and very soon was quite out of breath.

Eventually we got to the top. All quite exhausted.

So we decided to explore a castle. Shawnee had also been here. I think the pups smelled her!

Emma thought my stopping to take a photo was her cue to abort the stair climb.

We then meandered back along the top trail. At one point I saw that the dogs were really quite tired and were in need of a break. We found this amazing patch of moss near the cliff edges with an incredible view and we all took a nap in the sun. I again forgot to take pictures, but take my word for it, it was divine.

We eventually made it back to the car, and then back home. Needless to say, the dogs are exhausted and all’s quiet in the house. Well, until the cat needs to be fed.

Until next time!

12 Responses to “Hiking The Palisades”

  1. kariryerson April 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    So I saw Palisades and wondered why you were in LA! WordPress does not let you drag and drop pics. It is annoying.


  2. Oskar April 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Wow thanks for taking us along on your grand adventure!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  3. Cupcake April 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Wow, what fun! I’m sure the dogs loved it. They both have such incredible expressions. I love those faces!

  4. jan April 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    What a sweet little ambassador Emma is. It’s great for people to see a Pit Bull as a friendly fellow hiker carrying a pack through the wilderness so that is the image they will have when people start talking smack about PB’s.

  5. Anna April 2, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Looks like fun. Luna can go for hours hiking/walking parks etc. I really should get her a pack if only to slow her down and wear her out more. Do the ruffian ones snap off easily? If I get her one I want a good one as she is on the smaller end and I want to make sure it fits her well.

    Can’t wait to check out some parks here, if the weather would ever settle down. I wish I had 1/32nd of Luna’s fitness, hiking would be more enjoyable for sure. I walk quit ea bit but flat surface really doesn’t gear you up for hills etc.

    Yes, wordpress does not let you move pics except for up and down.. so you learn to post around them lol. You’ll figure it out, hopefully you will stay.

    • ettel April 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

      I researched for a long time before I decided on the Ruffwear packs. They’re the best quality I’ve seen anywhere and they’re built to carry most of the weight over the shoulders instead of the flat of the back, which can cause damage over time. Check out their website: Ruffwear.com.

      They’re more or less easy to put on and take off, but they do require lifting up the right leg and putting it through the harness. If you need to take the pack off often for whatever reason, you might want to get the Palisades, as it’s actually two pieces, a harness and a pack that clips to it, so it’s easier to deal with. I like it for rest stops.

      And the pack will definitely slow her down!

  6. Brooke Lowry April 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Looks like a fun hike! Thanks for taking us along. Beautiful!

  7. Miah Rae April 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    That looks like so much fun! I think my Pit Bull mix would love it. Not sure about his Greyhound sister though. She is kinda prissy!! 🙂

    • ettel April 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

      If my prissy girl can do it so can yours!!

  8. houndstooth4 April 2, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    We love hiking, and Morgan and Bunny are total pros at it! We really liked that hike when Shawnee talked about it. It always kills me how surprised people are that a Greyhound can hike, but she has no problems with it at all, and often does better than the Shepherd!

  9. Crystal April 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    That looks like a great hike. I probably wouldn’t have even gotten as close to the cliffs as you did though.


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