Last week Erin and I took a walk across the Hudson River on the longest elevated footbridge in the world. The Hudson was spectacular from that height, nothing like the smaller Colorado River I’m more familiar with. The Hudson is more like a gushing inlet from the sea; bordered this time of year on both sides with hills of orange, red, yellow, pierced here and there by buildings.
The walkway was once a railroad bridge that’s been retrofitted for foot traffic. The walkway is now a long metal bridge paved with concrete and fitted with chain link fence over the end portions to prevent people from throwing trash onto land. I don’t know what prevents people from throwing trash directly into the Hudson (perhaps a sense of decency). The walkway gives a great view of the Hudson and surrounding landscape and is usually full of people and their dogs. Along the walkway there are a few placards talking about wildlife including Ring-billed Gulls, Blue Crabs and Glass Eels. Glass Eels and Blue Crabs are both fished commercially but the most interesting thing about them is how they highlight that the Hudson River is a tidal estuary for most of its length; where salt and fresh water mix to make brackish water. The rising tide often pushes its way upstream into the Hudson. Even the name Hudson points to it’s close connection with the sea. Henry Hudson was an ocean going explorer who searched in vain for the famed Northwest Passage as a trade route with Asia. Hudson ironically seems to have died abandoned in his namesake Hudson Bay as a victim of mutineers.
After crossing the Hudson, we made our way into the Town of Floyd and Illinois Mountain Park. The park is a beautiful, if not secluded little park of hilly forest, decked out in November with fall colors. A small pond with a floating dock for swimmers signaled the beginning of the park and seemed a sad farewell to summer weather. Past the pond the trees closed in around the trail and the rustle of leaves became the normal sound of walking.
Erin and I were able to complete 3 of 4 small trails but ran short of time, leaving the 4th for a future date. We got lucky enough to startle two coyotes and watch them run away up a hill and into the trees. Without the leaves on the ground, we probably would never have seen the shy canids. I first heard the rustle of an animal moving through the leaves and then looking up thought I saw a deer before realizing with surprise that I was seeing two coyotes. It was amazing to see how much larger Eastern Coyotes are than the Western Coyotes, although there is some debate as to why, it’s possible there is some hybridization with wolves involved. Unfortunately, although I aimed my camera in their direction and snapped some photos, I couldn’t find any sign of a coyote in the pictures later. With all of our walking over the Hudson, through the park, and back home, we estimated walking about 14 miles. Not a bad day at all.