[at-l] Monastery hike, different

RockDancer rockdancer97 at comcast.net
Fri Nov 25 10:21:16 CST 2011

Here's what I think is a different take on the hike experience, by someone
who has section hiked the AT twice. Obviously there is much enjoyment in
going on the AT even in the "dull" sections. Much of the pleasure depends on
attitude, weather, the company with you. This past summer I arrived at
Graymoor wet to the skin from summer T-storms, having been caught on a ridge
between Bear Mountain Bridge and Graymoor. Lightning was striking. I
descended into thickets to wait out the death-zone above me then crawled up
and reached the AT. About 2 hours later I dragged myself to the soccer field
to welcoming hikers. 

This is from the Poughkeepsie Journal . com site. --RD

Hike name: A Holiday Season hike to the Graymoor Monastery Thrift Shop, and
beyond, via the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Location: Northern Westchester County.

Length: About a mile on the AT, another mile on the monastery grounds.

Rating: Graymoor was a lot more fun than the AT.

Dogs: No way would I allow Fido's now-muddy paws into the thrift shop, or my
pampered little Smart Car.

Maps: Follow the (sometimes-faded) AT blazes, then the Franciscan Way.

Features: A wonderful thrift shop: four floors of new or like-new donated
goods, tastefully displayed in a warm, relaxing environment. The very moving
Graymoor 9/11 Memorial. The spirituality, peace and tranquility of the
European-like Graymoor grounds. 
The extraordinary view from the very top of the hill, the city skyline
visible beyond the river and the palisades.

Watch out for: Careful crossing Route 9 - though the intersection is
controlled, it's very busy, and sight distance is limited to the south. 
Though obviously maintained in places, this short, transitional piece of the
AT was, in places, shabby: several stretches of black muddy bogs and too
many nasty trail-disrupting blowdowns. I also spotted what appeared to be a
lot of leafless poison ivy where the trail paralleled the paved road below
Graymoor. Hopefully someone has devoted some TLC to this trail since my

Background: We brought some clothes down to Saint Christopher's Inn at
Graymoor to donate, and women's clothes go directly to the thrift shop
across the way. I'm not a shopper, by any means, but this rustic, cozy,
building, with soft, soothing lighting - lamps, and strings of tiny white
and colored lights - fieldstone walls, exposed beams, and wide-board floors,
struck a chord with me. 
It felt like a big, comfortable old house. Two floors are chock full of
brand-new-looking tables, chairs, sofas, lamps, china, glassware, antiques
and collectibles. The third floor is women's and men's wear, "sporting
goods", and videos and CD's. Downstairs is a seasonal Christmas Shop. All
donated, and all at mind-bogglingly bargain prices. No shopper I, but I
walked away from our first visit with a "half-price-sale" pair of faded
Lands End jeans, for one dollar. Gotta Love it!

Thursday--Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 845-424-3635,

Hike description: I was not happy with my introduction to this short piece
of AT. 
I encountered a blowdown about 20 feet from Route 9, then a big, long,
black-mud bog a couple of hundred feet further: I said out loud, "You gotta
be kidding!" More mud and blowdowns were up the trail, before it crossed a
paved road and weaved through pleasant open woods, the steep ridge of
Graymoor to the right. Cresting onto the monastery grounds, turn right on
Franciscan Way and head up. The thrift shop is below the T-intersection, so
I turned uphill on the steep road and paid my respects at the 9/11 Memorial,
then hoofed up to the ridgetop, passing the Pieta replica, then soaking up
the magnificent view.

I headed down to the thrift shop, where Dorothy - always upbeat, smiling and
positive - once again made me feel welcome, and then I let this remarkable
place - over the years the goodness and tranquility from the monastery have
obviously seeped through the walls of this venerable building - take over. A
lady - a regular since 2003 - said she furnished her whole home from here,
including a Venetian Murano Glass chandelier in her bathroom - gotta love
it! Head down and see for yourself!

How to get there: Route 9 south to the traffic light at the Route 403
Acute right unto 403, parking for about 10 cars along the right side of the
road just beyond the Appalachian Market gas station/deli. 
Graymoor main entrance about a half mile south on 9, on the left.

Ralph Ferrusi has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a section hiker -
He writes Hike of the Week each week for the Poughkeepsie Journal. For
comments or to contribute an idea, send email to rjferrusi at frontiernet.net

More information about the at-l mailing list