Sleeping outside in 2019.

It’s hard to be sure, but I think I probably spent more nights outside last year than any other (though my total is still modest and I hope to spend more time camping this year). I’ve written some of these trips up here, but I haven’t been as consistent about it as I’d like to have been. So below I will at least briefly touch on each outing.

March 9-10

Pushing our bikes through the snow
There was no snow on this road the day before

Was it really not until the third month of the year that I made it outside? It seems that way. Several of us from NYC-ADV rode up to “the clubhouse” in Harriman. There was snow on the ground but temperatures were moderate and skies were clear–until midnight or so, when we were hit with a full-fledged winter storm. There was snow, sleet, freezing rain, and most of all wind. Most riders were in hammocks and ended up moving into a nearby picnic shelter at some point during the night. I was in a tent and warm enough, although the wind made it hard to sleep and my tent was half-buried in snow in the morning. We struck camp quickly and road the seven miles downhill to a biker bar in Sloatsburg where we ate a massive breakfast before catching the train home.

April 6-7

River crossing

Our friends Daniel and Diana (seasoned backpackers) invited M– and I on an overnight to Pine Meadow Lake at Harriman–our first real backpacking trip. I borrowed Daniel’s old, heavy pack and M– used a cordura daypack we have. We had a blast.

April 13-14

My second annual NYC-ADV Fahnestock trip. This year we rode from Brewster, which made for a nicer and more interesting ride than the rail trail up.

May 4-5

Nuclear Lake

After our Harriman trip M– and I were hooked and we both went out and bought real packs. This was our first chance to use them in anger. We took the train to the Appalachian Trail stop with Daniel, Sean, and Esme and hiked west to Nuclear Lake for a swim (perhaps ill-advised, given the name and history). Then we camped a little further along the trail on an old woods road. Daniel hiked back the next day but the rest of us caught a ride into Pawling at the road crossing and then the train back to the city.

May 26-27

M-- on a rock

M– and I were eager to try a trip by ourselves, so we took the train to Suffern and hiked the first six miles or so of the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. We camped at the Stone Memorial Shelter. The first day was rough–it was unseasonably hot (in the mid-80s), water sources were scarcer than we expected, and M– was recovering from a cold. But we had a nice night in camp and went for a swim in Pine Meadow Lake in the morning on our way out.

June 15-16

A car-camping trip with the Wobblies to a sea-side campground in Connecticut. The campground was dreadful–a sea of RVs–and we were dealing with the stress of apartment-hunting at the same time. It was an awful weekend.

July 21-25

My Catskills-Delaware River bike tour.

August 16-18

You can tell this is near the beginning since I haven't been completely dropped.

Four of us from NYC-ADV drove up to D2R2 this year–my first time at a ride I’ve wanted to do for years, since I lived in Chicago. There is camping at the start of the ride the day before and after, which was fun, although we got there very late the night before and got put in an overflow area away from most of the campers. We rode the 160k route and it just about killed me. I think I may have been the lantern rouge of the entire event. For the last ten miles or so I kept seeing a ride volunteer parked at key turns with a bike rack on the back of her car, waiting for me to give up. But I finished (in the dark and in the pouring rain).

September 22-23

M– and I had planned a bike overnight to Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck but she sliced off the tip of her thumb cooking and couldn’t ride. So we rented a car instead. I brought the wrong tent (one-person) by mistake so we just stayed in a lean-to. Had a great fire and incredible views of the Milky Way.

September 28-29

View of Colgate Lake

I rented a car and drove up to the Catskills to hike an overnight loop from the Big Hollow Road trailhead. We (Daniel, Diana, Martin, and I) made it to Black Dome and Black Head mountains, camping in the col between them. (M– was in Kansas.) We had near-perfect weather and some lovely early fall color, and ran into a ranger dealing with a small fire on the eastern side of Black Dome.

October 12-13

Descending the horse trail

Fellow NYC-ADVer Brophy and I rode from Poughkeepsie to the incredible West Kill Brewing in the Catskills. The brewery is on Spruceton Road with a spectacular view of West Kill Mountain (all reds and oranges in October) to the south.

A mile or so from the brewery the road ends at the West Hunter Mountain trailhead. I planned this route and I’d chosen the John Robb lean-to up the mountain as our campsite for the night. On the map, the trail up was labeled as an equestrian trail, which I hoped would mean it was wider and flatter and maybe even rideable. And it was, at the beginning–but it quickly became very steep, and even pushing our bikes up, with 70 loaded miles in our legs, as night fell, was a challenge. We made it eventually, but I don’t think Brophy was impressed with my route-planning skills. With lows in the 20s, we’d hoped there wouldn’t be many other campers, but it turned out to be pretty crowded. We found a spot for our tents near the lean-to but several other groups came through our site looking for a spot as we made our dinner. One large group set up on a ledge below us. They stayed up talking and drinking after we’d gone to bed. At some point I was awoken by another nearby camper shouting, at the top of his lungs, “Shut the fuck up!” They were a little quieter after that.

In the morning we by a different route–this time descending the famous Platte Clove Road.

October 16-18

Stream crossing with bikes

Leaf-peeping was the original goal of this trip, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We–Bean (the organizer), Dale, Kimberly, Jeff, and I–set out on our bikes on a Wednesday morning in full knowledge that a nor’easter was on the way. We had a short day from Wassaic to the Hemlocks Shelter on Mount Everett in Massachusetts, arriving early at the shelter to beat the storm. We were lucky that the shelter was large, with bunks, a sleeping loft, and an overhanging roof that kept us dry and out of the wind.

The forecast had called for the rain to stop by Thursday morning, but it ended up raining all day as we rode from the shelter across the Hudson River to North-South Lake Campground on the other side of the river. It was still raining that night when we rolled into camp in the dark, exhausted from the climb up Kaaterskill Clove. North-South Lake is the rare New York State pay campground that stays open into late October and we were looking forward to being able to buy dry firewood. But there were no staff to be found. Eventually Bean and I were able to buy a bundle of firewood from car campers at a neighboring site.

Friday we at last had clear and sunny weather. Bean and Dale went on to camp that night at Mills-Norrie State Park back across the River. On Saturday morning, they would meet the rest of NYC-ADV for an overnight trip to Peekamoose near the Rondout Reservoir. But Jeff, Kimberly, and I had commitments in the city that weekend so we split off at Kingston and headed south to catch the train at Poughkeepsie. We arrived at the river after dark to find the Walkway over the Hudson closed (the gates are locked at sunset). Fortunately, the west gate to the Mid-Hudson Bridge pedestrian and bike path was open, so we were able to get across. Unfortunately, a gate on the eastern side of the river was locked (we ran into a westbound cyclist there who was similarly stuck). It took some doing to find a way around the locked gate to the train a few blocks away, but we eventually made it. It had been a long, exhausting day, but a great trip.

October 25-27

The third annual (and my first) Nutmeg Nor’easter. I’d been planning to do this ride all year, on my Velo Orange Randonneur with 32mm tires–definitely not the ideal setup, but it’s what I had. A few weeks before, a used Crust Romanceur came up for sale in my size, I’d been wanting a more offroad-capable bike, and I couldn’t turn down the chance to ride an Ultraromance-inspired bike at Ultraromance’s flagship event, so I found myself scrambling at the last minute to get it ready (tweaking the fit, installing brakes–seller wanted to keep the Paul Klampers that were on there–etc).

I left for the train to New Haven the day before the ride. At this point I’d only ridden the Romanceur around the block to check the adjustment of the brakes and shifting. A few of us–Conan, Cooper, Mike, Brophy, Josh, Alan, and I–rode from New Haven to the farm where the Nor’easter would take place. Conan had found us a route that took us through plenty of old woods roads–a nice preview of what was to come.

The next day was crisp and clear. I rode the medium route, about 45 miles. It was a ton of fun, with so many incredible bikes. At the end there was a bonfire, delicious pizza, and peacocks roaming the farm. (Check out Conan’s photos at the Radavist!

I woke up very early to catch the first train at Old Saybrook, about 20 miles away. (I forgot to record this ride–no big deal, except I ended October with 496 miles recorded, my best month ever, and it would have been nice to hit 500.) A storm system had moved in overnight and the ride to the train was done in the pouring rain, brakes squealing all the way. Mike and Josh met me at the station and we took the train back to the city together.

November 9-10

Ridge campsite

M– and I took the train to Harriman Station, hiked down through Sterling Forest State Park to the Appalachian Trail, cut across to Harriman, and camped at Tom Jones. It was our first cold-weather trip together and it did not disappoint. It was cold, but clear and with little wind. We thought we’d have the site to ourselves but we were surprised to find at least twenty other tents around the Tom Jones shelter–part of some large group. Nonetheless we found a nice site on the ridge.

In the middle of the night, I woke to the sound of a helicopter right above our tent. I doubted my senses, but sure enough–the next day online M– found a Facebook discussion of the search for a lost hiker using a helicopter with FLIR. (The hiker was later found safely at home in Queens.)

December 7-8

Tent in the snow

I hadn’t done a solo trip of any kind since July so I headed to Harriman for an overnight hike by myself. There was snow on the ground and it was quite cold. Starting at the Harriman station, I again hiked down through Sterling Forest, crossed the highway into Harriman on the Appalachian Trail, then cut north on the Long Path. I spent the night near the Stockbridge shelter. This shelter has two nice fireplaces with chimneys, and I built a small fire in one of them to keep me warm while I cooked my dinner and read for a bit before retiring to my tent. I took a small temperature logger with me and measured an overnight low of 10°F–the coldest weather I’ve camped in. It was 16°F in the morning when I broke camp.

The second day I hiked east to Bear Mountain and then across the river, catching the train at Manitou station.

January 18, 2020