A Winter's Epiphany on Breakneck Ridge

Most New Yorkers would agree that December is cold. Really cold. It’s that time of year when you throw on an absurd number of layers, crank up the heat, and drink something hot as you look out on the graying, pre-snow-covered landscape. 

While I enjoy the comfort and coziness of hibernation just as much as the next gal, I can sincerely say that I love winter and the cold that comes with it. There’s something captivating about the stillness in the air; the numbness on your face; the barrenness of the ground and trees. It’s the feeling of being vulnerable and exposed, yet entirely alone. And I can’t get enough of it.

Maybe my love for winter is just an introvert thing, or maybe I’m just a sociopath. It’s hard to tell. Regardless, I decided to share the winter love when my brother-in-law came to visit my husband and I for a long weekend. We decided to go on a day-hike in Cold Spring, NY. After a short one-and-a-half-hour drive from New York City, we found ourselves at the base of Breakneck Ridge: a steep scramble that rewards you with breathtaking views of the Hudson River.

At this time of year, we were all alone for the majority of the hike. (Again, an introvert’s paradise.) There are a seemingly infinite number of ways to climb, leaving you the option to gauge your laziness or ambition – whatever your outlook is. I wouldn’t recommend this hike to anyone who isn’t prepared for a decent workout, but trust me: if you can do it, it’s so worth it.

As we crested the first major peak, stoically marked with the American flag, we all stopped. Our hearts were pounding, our cheeks flushed, our eyes watering; but with a view like that, we hardly noticed.

I remember asking to have a moment to sit alone. I found a rock on the cliff’s edge and just looked. Listened. Breathed. It’s so easy to let the chaos of everyday life ensnare you. My train is late. This mock I designed is pure crap. My coffee’s not sweet enough. Now it’s too sweet. I could hear all of my daily stresses ringing in my head. 

And then, suddenly, quiet. But it wasn’t an empty quiet. It was comforting.

It’s moments like that – moments that make you feel small and powerless – that remind you of what really matters in life. And while kicking ass at your job and making the perfect cup of coffee are admirable aspirations, they’re not the pinnacle of existence. Or at least they shouldn’t be. Those are simply means to an end. 

Our purpose is much bigger than commutes and caffeine. It’s more than perfecting the little things to make yourself a better person. It’s making yourself a better person to make a better world. And that’s what God subtly reminded me of on the edge of Breakneck Ridge. Amidst the bitter cold, the settling dusk, the icy rocks, everything was in perspective once again.

ExploringHannah Pike