Sunday, November 8, 2009

Photo Essay: Race Against Time Along the Bronx River



When I was in the California desert this summer, I always felt I was in a race against time in terms of when it would get too hot to do any physical activity. Any time after 9 or 9:30 a.m., the day was done and I would have to wait until 5 or 6 p.m. to really exert myself.

Now that I'm back on the East Coast, and the autumn season is upon us with winter quickly approaching, I am in a race against time not chasing the cold, but chasing the light. I must get out there to do something before the sun goes down.

We set our clocks back a week ago, and I am really feeling the effects. By 6 p.m., it feels like I should go to bed. After a 5 a.m. bedtime last night and an after-noon rise, today I realized that I only had about three hours before the sun was going to go down and it would be too dark to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather outside. Edith and I rushed through brunch and hurried to Grand Central to take Metro-North back to White Plains so I could finally complete two of the three sections of the Bronx River Trailway that I had partially conquered this summer.



When we arrived to White Plains, it was already the Magic Hour, the sun at its late afternoon, low angle, casting severe shadows on everything in its path, and blinding us with its last-ditch-effort rays. But under bridges and overpasses, it was already dark.

The Bronx River Trailway was remarkably more autumnal than during my last visit, dry leaves swishing beneath our feet, trees glowing orange and red and yellow and light green through beams of golden light.





We paused to take lots of pictures, but we could see the sun slowly setting in the distance, shadows growing longer, and air getting brisker as we meandered our way down to the Hartsdale station.




gunpowder mill ruins

Like my treks up to the Bronx River before, our walk today was an interesting combination of nature and industry - where the woods meet stone retaining walls, old mill foundations, and a striking viaduct.

viaduct

But we had plenty of alone time in nature, amongst the birds and squirrels and ducks and the occasional jogger.







Signs of destruction were all around us - both at the hands of nature, and of man.





By the time we got to Hartsdale, we'd missed our train back to New York by mere minutes, and with another train not arriving until an hour later, the darkness was fast approaching. After a quick examination of the train timetables, and an estimation of our distance from the next train station, we decided to keep walking, even though the "official" trailway ended at Hartsdale. We followed the train tracks - and, eventually, the river's banks - southwards another two miles to Scarsdale, balancing along narrow curbs while facing oncoming traffic, and squinting to see in the dark rather than from the sunlight that had blinded us just an hour before.

We walked 40 minutes to travel a distance that the train would have taken us three minutes to traverse, but we were glad we did it. It felt like unchartered territory, a native trail following the riverside where we could not get lost.

The minute we sat down on the platform bench at the Scarsdale Metro-North train station, night befell us. We were done walking for the day.

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