Stewart State Forest
December 2013
I have known Stewart State Forest in Newburgh, NY for some time, a mere 10 minute-drive away from Middletown, but have been ignoring it. My thinking was, itís not for me. A novice hiker and photographer, I lusted for mountain hikes with views of the valleys below, ruins, and places of worship or some historical significance. In short, I was angling for the splashy stuff. Stewart State Forest may have everything -- woods, fields, and wetlands -- but, eh, it is mostly flatlands and a savannah of wild and untamed nature that canít exactly be a thing of beauty.

Or so I thought.

Having had a surge of interest for the hinterlands lately, I remembered Stewart State Forest and decided to pay it a visit one early morning. To my surprise, I found it calm, peaceful, and gentle. The meadows roll as far as my eyes can see. Initially following a trail, I realized I didnít have to and simply walked across the vast, open fields. In my three mile walk, it was just my mind, the late autumn breeze, and Mother Nature. I covered only less than an eighth of the Forestís 6,700 acres, but I am hoping that through my photos you will agree that Stewart State Forest Ė especially for one seeking solace on a long, leisurely stroll Ė can be a thing of beauty.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
Tree in the cornfield.

This tree was left standing alone in the middle of a cornfield. I'm not sure if it serves a purpose other than being, um, a stunning sight for sightseers like me.

These first four photos are on the south side of Stewart State Forest.
Stewart State Forest has ponds...
...marshes...
...and hills that come alive with the sound of music. Eh? You catch my drift.
These next three photos are what you'll see when driving along I-84 which was behind me. But whereas you'll only be catching a blur moving at 65mph on the interstate, in the next three frames I will be your man on the scene pausing the spectacle for you to enjoy Stewart State Park in all its glory.
This view always reminds me of Tunguska (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30jun_tunguska
) where a flying saucer supposedly crashed and burned the trees whenever we pass it on I-84.

But there's a scientific explanation for the dead standing trunks. I remember reading whenever dry land turns into a swamp, trees die leaving their carcasses-of-a-trunk standing behind.

So, much as I would have preferred the conspiracist's explanation, I don't think there are downed flying saucers here.
There was a large bird standing on the island in the distant pond center. It stretched its wings at times. Its beak looked like a pelican's but it could just have been twigs in the distance marring my view.
There are many different trails at Stewart State Forest but this one I think was not set by hikers but by hunters. I followed it for some time twisting this way and that and literally hacking my way at times past brittle twigs with my tripod...
But after the second fork in the path I realized if I continued doing this I would not find my way back and get lost. So after a moment's panic I doubled-back. Eh, there's probably no great scenery at the end anyways as I don't think that's what hunters are after.
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