Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mohonk Preserve

Last year Wendy and I went camping and hiking up in the Catskills, near New Paltz, and had a nice time so we decided to do it again this year. This time around though, my dad drove down from Buffalo, swung through Binghamton to pick up my sister, and met us at the campsite.

The first night my father went a bit nuts with the grocery shopping and we had a veritable feast, with quinoa (the only thing Wendy and I had actually planned), corn cooked in the fire (it actually ended up half raw but was so fresh that it tasted great anyway), mini-steaks, and turkey sausage. Best of all, we had these fantastic blueberries that my sister had picked just the day before. It was a beautiful night as well, if buggy. They spray for mosquitoes and such in the suburb of Buffalo where I grew up, but I lived very close to New Paltz when I was little and constantly getting attacked by bugs is definitely something I remember clearly.

A rainstorm was in the forecast for around noon the next day, so the next morning we picked a hike that would take us up past the Mohonk Mountain House to the tower that overlooks it, figuring that we could beat the storm there and take refuge at the Mountain House until it passed. And if we didn't, well, that's what rain jackets are for. Shockingly, the forecast wasn't so accurate and the heavens opened up shortly after we began the hike and well before the predicted hour. Given that we had thunder and hail last time we hiked in the Catskills Wendy and I are thinking that our luck is not so good. So we hiked along in the rain and arrived, dripping and bedraggled, at the mountain house around 11:30 in the morning.
Looking across the lake in pouring rain.

We hid from the rain on the porch and had lunch while slowly drying. The house itself is a weird mix of styles which is fun, and for some reason they've chosen to landscape with all sorts of tropical plants, which is less fun. It's just a weird place, although I'm sure it's fun to stay there. When we were mostly dry we went inside to play a rousing game of Scrabble in which my father beat the rest of us by 100 points or more (which he always does). Scrabble geniuses we are not. By the time our game was wrapped up, the rain had stopped and we continued on with our hike.
That odd stillness just after a heavy rainfall.

We climbed up to the tower by going through the Labyrinth which is basically a long rock scramble along the base of a cliff until it connected with a trail up to the tower. Nowhere in the Catskills is all that high, but with the clouds hanging as low as they were, we were still above wispy bit of cloud at the top of the tower.

From there we went on to the crevice, the Lemon Squeeze, and went up that. And then, with the alternate trail to that point apparently closed, we went back down (which is scarier).
A terrible picture of my father in the crevice.

From the top. If you click to enlarge you can see Wendy at the bottom of the crevice.

After that it was just an easy end to the hike. We just beat the next round of rain to the car and, since everything was so wet ate out in New Paltz instead of cooking for ourselves. And then we went to see Mamma Mia which my father really wanted to see. It was about as good as the musical, which I didn't love, but with the fortunate addition of Christine Baranski--who is from Buffalo, by the way--and the unfortunate addition of Pierce Brosnan's terrible singing.

Then on Sunday we took a short hike up to a ridge from which there was a wonderful view of the valley. The hike itself was unremarkable but pleasant and the view in several directions was more than worth it.

So then it was back to the city, but it was very nice to get out and see stars and mountains and all that for a weekend.

No comments: