Sometimes a scene makes a song pop instantly into your head. This was one of those scenes. We were looking for a hiking trail called Sunset Rock. After a winding dirt road drive up the mountain, we were looking forward to a bit of exercise, fresh air, and a promised vista at the end of the hike. As the Jeep reached the top and we saw the trail head, that's when it happened. Someone put a dime in the cranial jukebox...
“And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply.” As I was wondering why this song popped into my head, my brain iPod hit the chorus... “Signs, signs everywhere a sign... Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?”. Although not a favorite, I couldn't stop this particular song. Maybe we were to close to Woodstock. Or maybe it was the above-average number of signs marking the trail. To top that, it was cordoned off with police caution tape. What in the world happened here?
Before I answer that, I should apologize for another 1970's song reference. I do listen to newer music, but the old stuff is burned in there real good. Besides, what current pop song was going to work for this picture? As hard as I tried, I couldn't dig up a replacement. To be fair though, the young kids know a lot of the old tunes thanks to the Internet, so maybe they're not totally lost at this point in the story. For example, last week I passed a 14 year old on the street wearing a Led Zeppelin concert t-shirt. I figured he swiped it from his dad's closet. As he walked by, I couldn't help but stop him and ask if he actually listened to the band that was on his shirt. Why would a modern kid, with all the available hip-hop, pop, and indie music be digging deep in the dinosaur drawer for his tunes? But without hesitation he shouted, “Yeah! They're awesome!”. “Go figure...”, I thought, “14 year old boys are discovering Led Zeppelin. Where have I seen that before?” But that's enough of the musical side track. What about this trail and its copious tree-borne documentation?
Seeing the area taped-off, we were scared to get out of the Jeep in case the crime scene was still fresh. My brain music quickly switched over to the mom-voice channel where I heard something like, “Don't ever go in the woods, dear. The woods are full of ax murderers and bad men that steal children.” “Aw come on mom! I just want to go hiking!”, I answered back. Now while I was having this conversation in my head, my wife sitting next to me in the Jeep just saw a blank stare. But then I heard her say, “Are you gonna get out and see if the trail is open?” That jolted me out of my daze as I shouted, “No way! There's probably ax murderers in there!” Now I must admit to having a pretty cool wife. Not only did she see my statement as merely an expression of ingrained mom-fear, but she was able to reason that if there was an ax murderer in there, the police would have done more about it than just put up some caution tape. “True. True. Ok, I'll check it out.”
So I got out and looked around. And it was a good thing I did. There was nothing there that should have ruined a happy day on the trail. Some hornets had built a nest in the tree by the trail head, and someone did the neighborly thing by putting up the tape and leaving a few hand-written signs on the ground saying we should be careful and go around the nest. I wondered why the caution signs were on the ground, but then I remembered that tree space was at a premium and there was nowhere to post any additional signs.
We heeded the hornet warning, went around the caution-taped area, and headed down the trail. After a mile or so of twists and turns, we finally found Sunset Rock. It was a small outcropping in what was otherwise a dense wooded area. After all the drama, we were rewarded with a beautiful view to the west towards the Hudson River. I guess that's why they call it “Sunset Rock”. It must be absolutely beautiful as the sun goes down. If you do stay for sunset, however, you won't be able to stay long to savor to moment. You'll have to hurry your way back down the mountain. The sign at the trail head says “PARK CLOSES AT DUSK”.