We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I agree with most of Bird Dog's review of The Labyrinth. In the comments you'll see I'd take task on the over-40 commentary. A good gym regimen is enough to keep you going and the fact one of our group did the scramble with a new hip says much about will as it does skill or fitness (admittedly, she runs marathons with that new hip, so she's not lacking in fitness). You DO need to be in shape. A good number of us emerged without our jackets, soaked in sweat. Those two fellows waiting at the top of Lemon Squeeze (both in late 20's, early 30's) were laughing in part from our dialogue, but also at the surprise of seeing a group of nine people aged 55+ emerging from that space. If you remember The Phantom Tollbooth, it pays to be Canby, as well. I can be young, I can be strong, I can be tall, I can be small. Be what you can be. It pays off in the scramble.
Hiking and some mountain climbing (my 2 experiences with rappelling were in New Mexico when I was 14), from my Boy Scout days, provided an edge. Mrs. Bulldog has only taken on hiking recently, though she does quite a bit of walking around town. Her 4 experiences of this sort of activity are limited to a climb up Quail Mountain at Joshua Tree with me in 2012, the Labyrinth, and our two previous hikes with Bird Dog and Mrs. Bird Dog.
More below the fold, with photos -
Mrs. Bulldog and I are in good shape. We both go to the gym. We are avid bikers, up to 20 miles a week or more, if we can. We've ridden bikes in Bermuda, London, Key West, up and down several canals along the Delaware River, and various other locations. I deal with constant pain from bulging/blown discs and stenosis in my lower back, and because of that I keep my weight down and gym visits up. I don't do a ton of strength training, enough for core strength and upper body mainenance. Fitness wasn't a compelling issue for either of us. I still admit to stopping and catching my breath more than once on The Labyrinth. Squeezing into some of the tighter spots was difficult because of my back. It wasn't as bad as I expected, once I loosen up I can be pretty flexible.
Do not, as Bird Dog suggests, think you can start and turn back at any time. There are two points where you can leave The Labyrinth and get on a more conventional trail, but once you pass the second one, you're in till the bitter end. Trail rating systems have rated The Labyrinth a 9 of 10 and Breakneck Ridge a 10 of 10, I'm going to take issue and say they are equally difficult, for different reasons. Breakneck is longer and steeper. The Labyrinth requires more skill and has 3 very tight, and 5 tight, spots which require flexibility and ability to find hand/footholds. There was one moment when I was blithely jumping from rock to rock, only to realize I was a little out of control and if I hadn't grabbed another boulder for balance, I could easily have found myself going ass-over-teacups down 15-20 feet onto some unforgiving detritus left by the glaciers.
We did a much more leisurely walk after completing The Labyrinth, with a brief scramble and finally walking around the lake. Then we went to the dining room for a great brunch. I'll admit to eating at least 1600 calories of bacon, omelette, crab cake, Belgian Waffle, clam chowder and some ice cream. As I write, 6 hours later, I'm still realizing I ate too much. Even a final walk to the stables to revel in some history, and second stroll around the lake, was not enough to burn it off. I did not eat dinner.
I'm definitely up for more. Arching Rocks looks fun. So do Brace and Alander Mountain(s) (30 minutes further than Mohonk, for me). Wittenberg could be fun, too.
A view upon emerging from Lemon Squeeze.
Mrs. Bulldog enters The Crevice.
Mrs. Bulldog climbs up toward Lemon Squeeze from The Crevice.
What's funny about the Lemon Squeeze is that when you finish and hit the "clearing with the view you thing it is over. But to reach the Tower there is still another small space you have to climb through.
And I always bring a back pack filled with Cabernet in a plastic club soda bottle and cacciatorini (dried Italian sausage.)
There has to be a reward at the end of a struggle. lol