There’s been a whole lotta campin’ going on since the last post. Without any real plan in mind, we poured over our maps, and pointed the Firetruck toward the Catskill Mountains. Less than 150 miles, and abundant hiking. We’re off!
Needing firewood, we stop along the way at a place where there’s a guy with a chainsaw and a sign that says, Lumber, Mulch, Firewood. He promises to cut us $25 worth, so we set about re-arranging the back of the truck to accommodate the load. That’s a HUGE pile of firewood – we wind up stacking some in the back seat with Jezzy, who is less than pleased to share her space.
Planning usually pays off. Our sights are set on a particular campground that’s close to Hunter Mountain, where we want to hike. Oops – Closed For the Season! Picnic tables stacked up, gates over the drive. Fortunately, there’s another one fairly close. The camping gods must have smiled on the Campshaws that day, as we rolled into North South Lake Campground, one of the finest spots we have ever camped. There are only a few sites available for three days, but the Rangers found a gem of a spot for us – on the lake, with our own private rock patio. The big stone firepit is another bonus.We love to cook Dutch Oven style (modified to Campshaw-style), and we we whip up a huge batch of stew. Only drawback? It’s very shady, which makes it tough to deploy our solar panel. There’s no electric or water at the sites here, and we need a solar boost to keep refrigeration running. John reels out all the cable we carry, so that we can just reach the afternoon sun by the lake. Eh, we’ll manage.
In three days, we hiked miles thru the High Peaks area of the Catskills. There were waterfalls, vistas, and shady glens. We admire Sunset Rock (both of them!), and Artist’s Rock, and had some spectacular views of the Hudson River. Lunch at North Point. Only a bit more fall color could have enhanced the first two days.
After three nights, we had to move to another campsite, as the one we were currently occupying was reserved for the rest of the week. Again, we lucked out and got a nearby (full sun!) site for two more days.Of course, it rained, so half of the time, it looked like this…..We stuck up a conversation with our neighbor Suzanne, and she and I, along with her tiny dog Zoe, decided to hike the next day, while John rested his aching feet. Peak color was rapidly approaching, and we had a terrific hike, even though we took a wrong turn (maybe two or three), and ended up hiking nearly 9 miles. This huge erratic (the name for a boulder seemingly dropped out of nowhere, but actually left behind by the glacier) was my favorite spot. It was perched right on the edge of the cliff.Yep, that’s me – a rare photo!Our hike took us along the edge of the mountain, so we had great views of the valley. But, boy, were we happy to wander back into camp.You can just see the Fireball on the right edge of the photo.
All sites were reserved for the weekend, so we moved on to Mongaup Pond Campground, located in the southwest end of the Catskills. On the road, we use Google Navigation for guidance. Let me just say this – if you are ever in the Catskills, and The Google tells you to turn on Blue Hill Road – DON’T DO IT!! We were rolling along, enjoying a rolling scenic drive when we made the fateful turn. It seemed odd, but we went along with it – we had no signal to bring up our Google map to check, and these small roads were not on our paper maps. So, we made the turn. Yikes! This narrow, leaf-strewn road went from paved to gravel. So steep that we started to lose traction on the leafy surface. There were a few white-knuckle moments before we finally got to the top of that impossible hill. We got the hell out of there are quickly as possible, and wandered into a little town. We knew we were fairly close to the campground, but could NOT figure out how to get there. Still no phone signal. Grrrr. But, along comes a geezer with a paper county map. Saved!
Mongaup Pond was nice, but LOUD! Smaller campsites, crammed with campers. Still no electric, and really no chance of any solar boost. No phone signal, and just one scratchy AM radio station. We explored a bit – found a waterfall, but not the beaver dams we had heard about. Bummer.But, now it’s the end of camping season in New York. On Columbus Day, crews move through the park, tipping up picnic tables and tidying up the park for the last time. Guess that means it’s time for us to move along….