Vignettes of the Hudson Valley: Lake Minnewaska State Park, Labor Day, 2017, 2:00 PM

Atop the crowded overlook of Lake Minnewaska, there’s a surprising sense of calm. With burning legs and sweaty brows, hikers crouch and take in the sheer natural beauty of the park, wary to stay far from the cliff’s sharp edge. Some 40 feet below sprawls a cyan lake that bounces the sunlight back up the white cliffs surrounding it. In contrast, green pine trees dot the dirt path that winds around the bluff and poke at gutsy photographers who venture off the trail.

The state park’s allure has to compete with the busyness of the holiday weekend in the crowded overlook. Nearby, a young dad asks a passerby to snap a picture of his family. A greying man sits down to fan himself with a battered baseball hat. A couple tries to decipher the convoluted park map.

Young screams of elation and cicada hums float up from the beach, a warm breeze sends a shiver through the treetops, but a sense of serenity still lingers in many park guests. Minnewaska State Park’s surprising calm wafts through the massive crowding and the line of photographers at the mountain overlook.

“I love coming here,” says Grace Dunn, a veteran hiker, as she keeps a protective eye on her wandering labrador. “It gives me time to forget about things so I can enjoy nature and clear my head.”

The shocks of vivid color in changing leaves and the intoxicatingly fresh scent of earth that was flooded days before distracts from the congestion. Each park guest takes their turn pushing through the swarms of people to sit, slumped and breathing heavily to look out over the lake in admiration and have their moment of peace before wading through the crowds again.

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