Tag Archives: Phish

A Weekend With Friends and Phish

Today is Tuesday. Saturday morning I walked out onto the road and drove down with two section hikers to Bennington. Damien picked me up and we drove down to the Adirondacks. This marked the start of my Phish camping weekend. Our site was right next to a stable, which was great, since I enjoy the company of horses more than most things. After some coconut and peanut butter/chocolate pie, I was happy to fall asleep in the night’s cool breeze. On Sunday, swimming was in order! Later that day, Erin drove up from Long Island and Chaz from Massachusetts. We somehow ended up driving right next to Erin before even meeting up with her and thoroughly thrilled, I jumped out the car and hopped into her front seat. (Erin – I love you.) We parked and spent a bit of time in the lot and headed in. Then it started to pour! The first time I was properly soaked on the trail was when I wasn’t even on it! We made our way in, separated, found each other again and finally ended up together at some point. My highlight: Golgi Apparatus.

Monday, Damien and I drove back to Little Rock Pond and hiked in from a side trail. We packed plenty of Long Trail Ale and ran into a thru-hiker who was happy to take one, as well as an apple I bought from a farm stand the day before. Again, it feels great to help someone out.

Now I am basking like a lizard in the early morning sun on the rocky cliff across the pond. I am absorbing as much heat as possible until the point where I can’t help but jump in. The afternoon crept up on our young bodies drenched in the joys of summer and we got ready to hike out.

I began my trek up Killington at 3:16PM. About six miles later I decide to set up my tent under the roof of Government Clemens shelter with a south-bound AT thru-hiker. I was glad to share my fudge and chocolate and was happy to fall asleep. Falling asleep has been generally making me very happy on the trail!

Still no camera battery charger!

The Name That Stuck and Other Kaatskil Tidbits

As the summer draws to an end and let’s admit it is, time spent outdoors becomes ever more precious. At least that’s how I feel. Suddenly I find myself pondering, will it be too cold in Vermont in October? Too buggy in Maine in August? Maybe I should go back to the Catskills. So I pull out the maps, #40 – #44, quadrants of razor thin, waterproof paper of green and beige, red and black lines intersecting, curving, separating, guiding. I lay them out on the floor to form the complete map of the Catskill Mountains. Like a hawk’s (yes, excessive flattery, I agree) my eyes scan for a continuous red line which I’ve yet to follow. My pupils dilate as I zoom in and out of the quadrants, evaluating level of remoteness, transportation options, water sources and most importantly, a new frontier. Then it hits me. I’ve hiked over 85% of these trails. The Escarpment Trail is my final destination. Did I subconsciously save the best for last? Quite possibly.

Wittenberg MountainNow what of this? What of the mountains and towers I’ve climbed and streams I’ve crossed and lakes and rivers I’ve cooled off in? The Catskill Mountains and their people have been good to me. But how much do you or I really know about this magical place?

Originally “Kaatskil” to the 17th century Dutch settlers, the locals preferred to call them the Blue Mountains, in tune with the Green Moutains of Vermont and New Hampshire’s Whites. There are many theories as to how “Catskills” stuck. My favorite is that a Mohican tribe which inhabited the area was led by chief named Cat. This also explains Cat Stevens and possibly the name of my next dog. Located south of Albany but (thank god) far away from New York City, the Catskills are not so much a mountain range as they are a dissected plateau, that is an area that has been uplifted and then severely eroded, leaving behind a “relief,” what we perceive as mountain tops. Real mountains are commonly referred to as orogenic and are formed by magmatic, metamorphic and folding activity. Don’t worry, there is no quiz later. Nevertheless, this 600,000 acre park is stunning.

Any hike rat will appreciate the towns hidden away among the peaks, especially a music rat. The Catskills are always ready to jam. Bearsville Studios just west of Woodstock was opened in 1969 by Albert Grossman manager of Bob Dylan, The Band, Janic Joplin and Todd Rundgren. Among many others, Phish and The Rolling Stones recorded at the studio and the town has retained its hippie vibe and hosts rock, reggae, acoustic and jazz festivals and sessions almost every weekend. You can even join the community drum circle in Woodstock on Sundays 4PM-6PM. No need for skill or instruments, an enormous chest is filled with drums and bells to suit any liking and old timers keep the rhythm even if you can barely stand to listen to yourself play. Click here for a full schedule.

So why not camp out in the Catskills before the summer’s over? Campgrounds are operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a weekend of hiking, paddling, fishing or just some waterfront reading. Most have free naturalist led programs for children and rent canoes, kayaks and/or rowboats for just $15 for the entire day.

Go to http://reserveamerica.com/ to check for availability and if you have any questions, give the campground a call, those folks put friendly on the map. You don’t even need a car. Catch a Trailways bus to Woodstock and a cab from there to North South Lake campground. Enjoy the fleeting days of summer and let the sun’s warm rays embrace your spirit, this and every year to come.