Sunday, May 22, 2011

camminando | Places: Framing Nature and Inner States at Hawk Rock

I learned of Hawk Rock from an article in the NY Times. The rock grouping stands in an hemlock forest in the town of Kent, Putnam County, New York State, about 75 miles north of New York City. Hawk Rock was presented in the article as one of those magical places of the planet, where some people can have mystical experiences; it reminded me of the magical charisma of Monte Soratte, near Rome, a destination of several weekend trips during my youth. Hawk Rock requires only a short detour from my usual route to Sun Farm, and yesterday I finally decided to take some time off from the usual weekend “work in the land”, right on May 21, the day of the so much talked “rapture”, a quite proper time to have the mystical experiences, as claimed by the folk stories on Hawk Rock.
The map tells me that the rock is located 1.6 miles from the parking area. It was warm and humid as the bugs reminded me when I entered the forest; the rain accumulation of the past week made the otherwise comfortable trail filled with mud and engorged the streams running through the forest.
Forests are always dense of meaning, symbols and metaphors. I started finding my own symbols in the forest trails leading to the rock, trying to achieve what in the article was defined as “a portal to another dimension”. The path were interrupted by countless tree trunks; some of the fallen trees were actually framing not well identified views; I associated these otherwise unnoticed trail interruptions to “symbolic gates”. My perceptions were particularly alert and started noticing many nature scenes: spiral coiling of worms, a vivid color salamander, concerts of chirping birds, complex fractal shapes of the widespread ferns, the loud sound of streams. We stopped briefly at Balanced Rock, which is, similarly to Hawk Rock, what geologists define as “erratic” a rock transported from a different location by a glacier during the last Ice Age. A few hundreds feet later, we finally reached Hawk Rock, a thirty-foot high monolith, whose majestic presence is accentuated by its location in the center of an evergreen grove, emerging from a soft carpet of evergreen needles.
Do not expect spectacular views or hawks flying around you; Hawk Rock is only at an elevation of 600 feet. I did not have a mystical experience. But the hike brought me calm and a serene meditative state of mind, in a perception of nature framing an inner spiritual landscape…and this can perhaps be considered entering another dimension, beyond the tumultuous overload of perceptions of urban life.

"Gates" on the way to Hawk Rock

Encounter with a salamander

Balanced Rock

Views of Hawk Rock

A stone chamber

Excerpts from the conceptual multimedia project
“Axes Mundi: Perceptions and Understanding of Places as Intersections of Space, Time and Culture"