Rock scrambling requires keen eyes, cautious steps, and often the use of both hands.
The gently treacherous Labyrinth Trail in the Mohonk Mountains would lead our group to the famous watchtower on Sky Top Cliff.
The most fascinating part of the climb was what locals call the “Lemon Squeeze” – a hike through a narrow crevice that leads to the top of the ridge.
The space became progressively more narrow and shadowed. I fought a few waves of claustrophobia, kept breathing, and focused on each ascent.
The strategically placed ladders helped a lot.
Looking directly up, a sliver of sunlight offered some comfort.
The final ladder was the steepest. I was definitely feeling the squeeze!
Grateful to see the sun again, I emerged to find my friend Geoffrey putting his camera to good use.
Climbing out felt some sort of prehistoric birth.
We all relaxed in the sunshine and took in the spectacular views on Sky Top Cliff. It was beyond peaceful. Beyond quiet. In reverence to the majesty of it all, conversation was limited and mostly whispered.
A short hike later, we reached our destination — the famous Albert K. Smiley Memorial Tower. (Please forgive my horrible photo. I was oxygen deprived!)
According to the ancient marker, it was built in 1921 “in grateful memory of a man whose exalted character and useful life stand as a beautiful example to mankind.”
The landscape viewed through the old stone windows was breathtaking.
I shot some stunning images of the valley from the top of the tower and thanked my lucky stars for being in this moment.
Beyond completing the climb, I felt great appreciation for the journey. Every rock scrambled step!