Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 2 of Catskills Trip

After Saturday morning’s torturous climb, we were rewarded with a spectacular descent, after which I learned that one has to be careful not to ride the brakes too much or else you risk heating up your rim to the point where the heat can pop the tube inside. I’ve never ridden anything long or steep enough to worry about this. I like the new challenge.

We cruised into Claryville and were rewarded with the most adorable and hospitable deli. Coffee and egg bagel sandwiches never tasted so good!

Saturday afternoon was one of the prettiest parts of the trip. We road along a quiet little country road through the Willowemoc area to Livingston Manor. The temperature was perfect, the birds were singing. It was truly idyllic.

After a quick refueling at Livingston Manor, we rode on to Alder Lake after a brief detour due to a wrong turn. It resulted in making some friends who gave us proper directions, which is all part of the experience so no harm done. After a swim and nap at the lake, we debated whether to camp there or continue on to Margaretville. We decided to forge ahead b/c we were out of water and running low on food. The only road over the mountain was literally a dirt path called Cross Mountain Rd. It was STEEP. There were a few spots that forced us to dismount again and walk our bikes.

It’s much harder to control a fully loaded bike on an uneven surface, which made the descent equally interesting. I loved it, though.

It was a gorgeous night, one of those dusky summer nights where the air is humming quietly with insects in the grass. Makes me think of James Agee's Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

We passed a few little farms with friendly folks mowing their grass and a couple stunning horses who watched our progress keenly. We dropped about 1,000 ft in an extremely quick amount of time. We were all very glad we had gone *down* that mountain instead of up.

So, we had been given directions by one of the friends we made at Alder Lake and somehow all of us remembered them wrong when we got to the bottom of the hill. Either we succumbed to mob mentality or he was wrong (or we just misunderstood him), but in any case, we ended up pedaling 45 minutes in the wrong direction and didn’t realize it until we saw a sign saying we were entering Ulster County. We stopped short and said to each other “aren’t we supposed to be *leaving* Ulster County?”. Pulled out the map, and sure enough, it was almost dark, we were out of water and there was no way we were going to reach Margaretville that night. So, we decided to head back to the trailhead that we had passed a few minutes before and try to camp. Someone had iodine tablets, so we filled up our water bottles and treated the water, although given that we were surrounded by the reservoirs that supply NYC’s drinking water, it was probably quite pristine to begin with. That said, giardia is not something to be trifled with, so in went the tablets.

When we got to the trailhead, we literally walked 30 seconds through the woods and came across one of the most perfect campsites ever. There were log stumps around a huge, proper fire circle, plenty of pine needle covered ground upon which to pitch our tents and even a little stream nearby. Serendipity. We even managed to make a truly delicious soup out of the leftovers from the night before, which included Israeli couscous, leeks, parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes and salt, all cooked in a big pot of boiling stream water. We impressed ourselves, even. Dessert was equally delicious and impressive. Fruit soup made out of some overripe, squashed from sitting in panniers for two days, peaches, cherries, fresh raspberries from along Rondout Reservoir, and various dried fruit, all cooked over the open fire. Amazing. We’re good.

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