Before setting out on a 185 mile journey down it's spine, it's worth it to consider the history of the river valley we'll be running.
The valley was originally settled by the Mahican indians (later made famous by the author James Fennimore Cooper--and still later by Daniel Day Lewis). The Dutch established trading outposts and Fort Nassau (just south of Albany) in the mid-seventeenth century.
The valley featured prominently in the French and Indian War as the bulwark of British defenses against a French invasion from Lake Champlain. The new American state recognized this fact as well and established West Point on the banks of the river.
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1821 led to a dramatic increase in the traffic seen on the river, but the scenic beauty continued to inspire those who built their homes in the valley and the early American artists who became known as the Hudson River School of art, chief amongst them Thomas Cole (1801-1848).
So think about that when you're running down this beautiful valley at 3:00 in the morning.