By Timothy Hull
The crisp autumnal air makes one want to put on their hiking boots and head out into the golden ochre of the splendid mountains of southern Warwick. A few weeks ago, we trekked up Fuller Mountain, a marvelous preserve maintained by the Orange County Land Trust. Even though there is essentially no parking to access this trail, that’s fine because it keeps away the multitudes and the trails can be enjoyed with a sufficient amount of “social distancing.”
Fuller Mountain is something special; a winding walk through various mini-ecosystems, you get a sense of how rocks, soil, trees and shrubs can shift quickly from one space to the next. There’s a feeling of the slow, crushing glacier pushing its way through, creating deep ravines and leaving enormous rocks strewn everywhere. Perhaps Sisyphus simply gave up right there on the hillside and let it all come crashing down; ancient stone collecting across the landscape.
It’s so quiet up on Fuller Mountain that even the rustling of a chipmunk sounds like a lumbering, mysterious creature. Fewer birds sing their songs this late in the season, but the foragers have begun to get restless and you may spot a Junco parsing the forest floor.
Every step upon crinkling, crushing desiccated leaves also imparts a marked sound effect. There’s much to see, hear and smell when traipsing through the woods. As the yellow leaves fall in a slow swirling dance, it seems like you’re in a cathedral with golden flakes lilting down from the decadent ceiling.
Once the summit is reached, the hemlocks open their boughs to a breathtaking vista of the valley, where one can spy the Old School Baptist Meeting House spire amongst the billowing patchwork of farms and undulating forests. From atop Fuller Mountain, soaring eagles seem to enjoy the strong west winds and overarching views; more interested in a field mouse than a fine church.
You can really fall in love with the Warwick Valley during the autumn, especially if you can find a bird’s eye view.
Old School Baptist Meeting House can be seen from Fuller Mountain.