All I want from life is to wake up in a cabin, make pancakes, and plan adventures.
This is not my life, but sometimes it is my weekend, and this weekend we were headed to the Catskills to hike and relax before our daughter was born, but I didn’t see it as some sort of last getaway, because it’s the kind of weekend I imagined we would be taking as a family. We stopped staying at hotels because they’re too expensive, they don’t have fire pits or grills, and you can’t usually bring your dog, so we like renting a house or a cabin. That weekend we rented a house near Margaretville and loaded Huck, snacks, beer (for me), backpacks, and boots into our Forrester. I wanted to take back roads the entire way but was reminded by my wife that she was 7 months along and didn’t love the idea of sitting in a car for any longer than necessary, so we highway’d up as far as we could. I had forgotten how far off the beaten path Margaretville was, so we still ended up with plenty of dark side- and back-roads once we left I-87. We decided to pick up a pizza along the way at Brio’s, and by the time we got there rain was falling hard and the wind was blowing harder, and it was getting cold. To my horror, I realized the beer I brought along was not cold, so I bravely ran across the street through the rain and found some Flower Power. It’s not my favorite but it’ll do in a pinch. The rest of the drive took almost an hour, and it was dark when we pulled in to the front of the house. After unloading and checking the place out I took Huck for a spin around the property. It had stopped raining and there were stars bright enough to soften the darkness so Huck and I stood out in a field surrounded by mountains for a while and watched the Earth turn. To be honest, he was probably watching for some nocturnal critters to chase, but I like to think we shared a moment. Then we went in for some pizza.
Mountains at night are so quiet you can hear everything, and I fell asleep listening to the clouds move through the cold air.
Friday was grey but we wanted to hike.
“Did you bring the maps?”
“Yeah, they’re in my bag.”
“Nope, they’re not in my bag.”
I had not brought them, apparently. We have those NYNJTC maps but I accidentally left them at home, so we planned a hike using some combination of nynjtc.org and Google. We decided to hit up Balsam Lake Mountain, which is the highest but easiest of all the Catskills name “Balsam” (Balsam Cap Mountain is the hard one). We started from Millbrook and hit some snow on the way up. In typical Catskill fashion, there’s no view, but I always love the change in trees at 3500 feet. It’s pretty and feels like you’re further away than you really are, and the lack of view doesn’t really bother me because sometimes following a trail is all the view I need . Footing was slippery in a few spots, especially on the descent, so Steph used the poles. Huck chased everything he could find, and he was so loud crashing through the woods that there was almost no chance of a bear encounter. Afterwards the weather stayed grey so we decided to check out Roxbury. There was a wine shop there so I figured I might as well support the Rox-conomy, and Huck was allowed in with us. If you let me bring Huck into you store then I will definitely buy something from you. I had some wine when we got back to our house-maybe a little more then “some”– and then promptly sawed off a chunk of my thumb while cutting an onion with a bread knife (it has since mostly grown back).
Saturday we hiked to Giant Ledge. It’s a tourist spot, but it’s pretty and I hadn’t been there since “running” Cats Tail in October, although that course starts at Fox Hollow and not at the Giant Ledge parking area, which is where we were starting from. There were many tourists with clean, new hiking boots and packs so lightly used the straps still had creases from when they were shipped. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hey, you’re a tourist too. You rented a weekend house and you seem to be touring things.” But I grew up in the Catskills, so I was really just visiting home, secretly and without telling any of my family. Anyway the tourists were fine and many of them surprised me by hiking slower than my pregnant wife, who actually still could hike pretty quickly, so we made our way around them with little effort. Every now and then we’d cross paths with other non-tourists and we would nod at each other. There are a bunch of beautiful ledges at the top and we sat at one of them and had a quick snack. Huck too. The day was beautiful and we thought about continuing onward but realized that we didn’t bring enough water, so we headed back down. We drove into Phoenicia and grabbed lunch at the diner to eat in the car, which provided a nice vantage point for watching people go in and out. I wondering what they were doing and if they lived around there or if they were visiting like us.
Overlook mountain provided a good reason to delay the trip home the next day, and it’s fun to see Huck run through the woods. We hiked up and down pretty quickly though, partially because we had hiked it a million times and partially because we were hungry. Afterwards we had sandwiches from Bread Alone in town and made our way back ahead of the Sunday ski traffic.