Five miles to the cliff…

I don’t know if I read the original AllOverAlbany.com news post when it was first published, the article about the Hang Glider Cliff and its mysterious marker – a tribute to a hang glider enthusiast with the words “DAD – Fly Forever” enscribed in metal – but last Sunday, I had an itch to go find this marker and take a picture of it.

Yeah, this is the same Chuck Miller who got worn out last year after walking a mile on the Albany County Rail Trail.  Yeah, someone might want to keep the paramedics on standby.

Okay, preparations.  I went on line and looked up various routes – apparently all I needed to do was go to Ryan Road, take the “yellow trail” to the “aqua trail” and then to the “red trail” and I’d be at the cliff in nothing flat.

More preparations.  I packed two of my Nikons with film and proper lenses.  If I’m going to get this image, then damn it I need to shoot it with Nikon gear.

Even more preparation.  I studied the trail route – and by “studied” I looked up previous trail hikers’ reports online.  Even if those trail hikers’ reports were years old. But damn it I was going to get that photo.  Of course I was.  Competition Season 2015 is fast approaching!

Take the Stick
Take the Stick. Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Off I go.  Yellow trail.  About half a mile into the trail, I approached an intersection with aqua-painted tree markings.  This is a trail called the “Long Path,” and if I took a wrong turn on this trail I could essentially walk all the way to New Jersey.

I kept following the aqua-marked trees.  Hmm… here’s a blue trail that says it’s only half a mile to Hang Glider Cliff Road.  Shortcut.

Follow the Blue Trail.  Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Follow the Blue Trail. Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Hey, Miller, what you thought was a shortcut was not a shortcut.  A couple of miles of very windy and muddy and confusing longcut.  And “Hang Glider Cliff Road” does not immediately mean you’ve reached the cliff.  More walking.

Finally, I reached the red trail.  Now I have to walk the next mile or two until I reach –

The road to the clearing.  Nikon F100 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, Fuji Superia 400 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
The road to the clearing. Nikon F100 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, Fuji Superia 400 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

A clearing.

And there it is.  Hang Glider Cliff.  Looks like someone had a party earlier, there were burned wooden pallets in the clearing.  Ugh.  Freakin’ clowns.  I’m not glorifying their vandalism.  I walk past the charred embers.

Because I’ve found the target.  The cliff that contains the marker.

This marker.

The Marker.  Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
The Marker. Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

This is the marker that was embedded into the concrete runway.  The story of the marker and the identity of its honoree was featured in the AllOverAlbany.com post linked at the top of today’s blog post.  Memo to self.  Next time Mary Darcy and I get together for lunch, it’s my turn to pick up the check. 🙂

I took a few more shots at different angles.  I thought about an upside-down angle like this…

Dad Fly Forever (upside down link).  Nikon F100 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, Fuji Superia 400 film.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Dad Fly Forever (upside down link). Nikon F100 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, Fuji Superia 400 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And I thought about a standard version, like this one, similar to that New Yorker cover where you can see the map of New York City from a side angle until it reaches the horizon…

Dad, Fly Forever...
Dad, Fly Forever… NIkon F100 camera, Vivitar 19mm f/3.8 lens, Fuji Superia 400 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yes.  This one and the opening to the trail are going in the short pile for sure.

A family of hikers approached the cliff summit.  They took some selfie photos with their camera; I took one of them with their camera.

“Do you want one of yourself?” one of the hikers asked me.

Okay… I handed them the Nikon EM camera.  And of course I had to answer the following questions as they took my picture.  Yes, you can still get film.  Yes, you can get it at Walmart and Walgreens and CVS and Rite Aid.  Yes, McGreevy Pro Lab in Albany can develop it for you.  Yes, I am smiling.  And no, I’m not planning on dropping a bottle of Coca-Cola off the side of the cliff.  God, you must be crazy…

Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film.  Photo taken of me by unidentified hiker.
Nikon EM camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak BW400CN film. Photo taken of me by unidentified hiker.

Okay.  Photos done.  Time to hike back to the Blackbird.

“I took this series of trails, is there a shorter way to get back?”

“Yes,” one of the hikers said.  “Go half a mile to this intersection, take this route and go until you reach…”

“Is that the intersection with the blue trail or the green trail or the – ”

“I don’t know the colors.  I only know the trails.”

Okay…

So I simply used the teachings of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Even if it meant walking the additional length of trail, I resigned myself to using that trail in that I knew it would get me back to Ryan Road.

And eventually, even with the help of a birch walking stick I found along the way, I navigated through the trails and twists back to the Blackbird.

Oh yeah… I figured I put in five miles of hiking today.  This, plus my hiking last week through the Albany Pine Bush, and some hiking in the Adirondacks, and some hiking along the Albany County Rail Trail, can only mean one thing.

My legs are screaming at me to never do this again.

Not that I didn’t enjoy hiking through the trails and all that.  But I’m not prepared for such long travels.  And my calves and hamstrings were threatening a wildcat strike if I ever did something like this in the future.

But hey, if I got pictures like these – including the one at the trailhead and the ones at Hang Glider Cliff…

Then surely a little hard work will obviate sore muscles and aching feet.

True?

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3 thoughts on “Five miles to the cliff…”

  1. True! Looking at your photos made me dizzy, I could never have stood at the edge of that cliff. Love the pics though! (and your story)

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    1. And THIS is why people should read every word in my blog. You never know what pop culture reference I might throw in. I might add something that’s so ultra-obscure, you would think that my cousin was named Dennis.

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