i woke up before my alarm went off at 5am. i had a surprisingly good night of sleep despite not sleeping in my own bed. i got up to use the bathroom and put on my clothes. i took out the smoked duck from the refrigerator. i then waited for john to show up downstairs. i was worried that his alarm didn't go off but he came down around 6am. he decided not to take his heavier nikon dslr but instead the lighter panasonic lumix point-and-shoot. we left shortly afterwards.

sunrise wasn't until 7am, so we had an hour of darkness. after traversing the western edge of manhattan, we crossed into new jersey where we got gas ("cheap gas," according to john) at fort lee. i volunteered to pay. we then continued north up route 87 to new paltz. the total trip time starting from brooklyn was about 2 hours.

at new paltz we grabbed breakfast at the main street bistro, which was where we ate last time, and seems to be a popular staging area for weekend morning hikers. john and i ordered the same thing, the bistro slam - two eggs with bacon served with two slices of walnut citron french toast ($6.50). after john used the bathroom, we paid and left.

we inadvertently drove through the new paltz historical district, dotted with stone houses built by european huguenot settlers (the place was first settled back in 1678). after snapping a few photos from the car, we continued on our way to the mohonk preserve.

we arrived at spring farm trailhead a few minutes before they were set to open at 9am but they let us in anyway. admission is $12/person, john contemplated getting an annual pass but postponed it for next time. an attendant waved us into a spot in the gravel parking lot; there were a few cars already, but it was mostly empty. walking down to use a compost toilet, i saw group of college kids huddles together in a pre-hike prayer. the air was still a little brisk that early in the morning, but we were certain it'd warm up as the day progressed. the bigger issue was the winds, which made it felt that much colder in the shadows. the morning light hitting a grove of maples gave us a taste of the colors we'd see out on the trails.