Last Saturday I drove to Middleburgh for a short hike up Vroman’s Nose… at night. I had seen a few photos online but wasn’t quite prepared for the spectacular view on the Schoharie valley. We sneaked in right before sunset and half an hour later we were seating on top of the infamous ledge, facing east, waiting for the supermoon to rise. It peaked from behind the hills in a stunning fashion, a huge orange disc distorted by the horizon, quickly gaining altitude. We stayed on site for a bit, listening to music until we depleted our stock of candies, then started our descent through the dark woods, back to the car. I enjoyed that part a lot, it was deliciously creepy.
More photos below. Click on any of the thumbnails to open a larger view, or check the full-screen Flickr slideshow if you have Flash installed.
Vroman’s Nose is a prominent geological feature near Middleburgh, close to the the Schoharie Creek. The area was once inhabited by Iroquois Indians before the coming of the
damn British. Here it is below, in the mist (picture by Flickr user keidong, original here).
When the British and Palatines arrived in the Schoharie Valley in the early eighteenth century, the land was ceded to the Vroman family by the British government (I, too, want a mountain for my birthday next month). Vroman’s nose served as a focal point in the struggle of Schoharie Valley Patriots against the British Crown. The Lower Fort of the Valley was located under the shadow of the mount (source: Wikipedia).
The apex is a large, flat surface called the “Dance Floor” (above). Vroman’s Nose is, from what I hear, catnip for geologists, being a sort of anomaly. One striking feature of the summit is that its flat surface rock of Hamilton Sandstone is covered with glacial graffiti—scratches (called striae) and chatter marks produced by stones protruding from the bottom of the moving glacier, 50,000 years ago. The photograph above was taken in the dark using a 10 seconds exposure and the beams from our Maglites to bring light back in the scene.
This is a very easy hike, but let there be no doubt that it is not friendly to anyone with a fear of heights, like myself. I freaked out a few times. When I get remotely close to an escarpment, or if anyone else in my party does, I quickly lose sensations in my hands and feet. It’s hilarious, except it’s not, but enough with the whining.
This photograph was also taken in almost complete darkness, more than an hour after the sun went down. The shutter was left open for about 15 seconds, to capture as much moonlight as possible, without any external light source. You never know quite what to expect when the picture suddenly materializes, the moonrise casts almost the same light as a sunset here, except for the stars.
The majestic Nose itself, in all its flatness. We were seating over there, a safe distance from Death by Plunging though. The summit cliffs are dangerous, be careful if you bring little ones. The very steep south face of Vroman’s Nose rises 600 feet above the Schoharie floodplain, to an elevation of 1220 feet above mean sea level. To the west of Vroman’s Nose, the land dips steeply to 960 feet in a saddle ridge, then rises over a distance of three miles to a higher summit of Table Mountain at elevation 2060 feet (source: ancientforest.us).
Pictured above, our way back down the mountain. The Blair Witch is in there. This didn’t look remotely as bright in reality of course, we were not carrying a portable lighthouse, but a long, 10 seconds exposure gives the amateur photographer enough time to “light paint” the trees at random. The horizontal line in the middle is the narrow beam of my flashlight staying too long at the same location. I’m only so random.
Looking down at the town below, with a big zoom. Or, as Mikey would say, “A foreign national taking pictures of American infrastructure. Not at all suspicious… ”. I do like pickups of mass destruction. Forget about earthlings below, the Nose offers bird lovers a chance to see a rare pair of peregrine falcons, hunting in the valley. Bennett saw them last year and we caught them a few days ago as well. I don’t blame these guys, you can’t beat the view and rent is cheap. In 1983, several local residents formed the Vroman’s Nose Preservation Corporation to preserve this natural area as a unique place in the Northeast and safe-guard it against all commercial development and any other actions which would alter its condition. This is a beautiful place, let’s keep it that way.
The Nose is about an hour west of Albany. Find some directions at middleburgh.com or localhikes.com, it is hard to miss. The green trail is a short hike but I recommend a good jacket or a blanket even in spring, it’s chilly up there. Needless to say, bring a good flashlight if you plan on staying after sunset. Can you see a double-rainbow from Vroman’s Nose? I bet you can. All the way.
I had done a bit of homework earlier that day but I still managed to screw up each and every one of my moon shots. Nice job. I’ll update this post later on with some technical information, once I recollect what went wrong (hint: “the moon is too damn bright”). In the meantime, here is the only thing I salvaged, which could have been taken with a phone in 1997. I did better two years ago from Washington Park but for real supermoon goodness look no further than the Flickr blog.
A few more photos from Flickr users keidong, shobeir, bvcphoto, rs_joe, mike87055, Man From ACME, jpt11.