Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

My cousin the outdoorsman

Posted by Frum Hiker on December 31, 2006

While talking to my cousin Avrahom I learned to my surprise that this little yeshivish looking married father of 5 or 6 is an avid outdoorsman. Oh how surprised I was to find a man who snowshoes, hikes, paddles and rides a bike rather frequently. I could not imagine in a million years that this first cousin of whom I rarely speak to and is 35 years older then me could be so my speed. We spoke of snowshoeing and his 22 foot crew boat which he used to paddle up and down the Hudson river between Bear Mountain and the north braving the swift and wide Hudson while rowing his heart out. And who would have imagined this man who resides in Monsey would be willing to don a spandex suite and hop on a $4000 bike and ride on century rides all by himself. His main activity is hiking through the trails of Harriman State Park. He told me that Harriman is way more diverse then the Catskills to which I readily agree. I hike the Catskills and Adirondacks for other reasons. The solitude cannot be traded for the diversity of the lower parts of the State.

One who hikes through the Harriman area is treated with numerous lakes and streams and rocky ridges, but they are left with a feeling of crowds as they hike through the woods and are treated the sounds of distant cars, airplanes overhead and the unpleasant sights of garbage. I do agree that, within its 52,000 acres there exist some quiet spots especially on the weekdays that I find myself meandering silently by myself through the narrow trails the crisscross the park. In normal winters, the frozen lakes invite the casual hiker out onto the virgin blanket of snow that has yet to be walked on.

It was interesting sitting with this frum guy talking of the wilderness. Don’t get me wrong the few outdoors nuts I know happen to be frum, but it was different with an older guy who lives in the midst of so many folks who do not care to explore the wilderness around them and would rather hang out in the Palisades Mall on a beautiful 70 degree day. Or maybe that is my stereotype based on my years of sociological observations of the frum community. At least I did get some free snowshoes from my cousin- his old pair gathering dust was graciously accepted by me. Snowshoeing was the sport I planned on doing this year, last year I took up cross country skiing pretty actively.

This year with my biggest year of solo hiking was going to be my climbing of the high peaks in the Adirondacks during the dead of winter. There is nothing like winter hiking through the silent forest, void of animals and people, whatever noise that may be present muffled by the thick snow cover. The wind gently swaying the trees and puffs of powdery snow fall onto you as you rub against the branches of a tree. The woods are completely empty and you must break the trail, carefully following the blue or red NY state foot trail markers so as not to get lost.

So I left Monsey with a fresh reminder that many outdoors nuts lie in the oddest of places, well actually I grew up in Manhattan, so I shouldn’t be who I am. I also left with a brand new pair of old snowshoes- of which due to global warming will probably not be able to use.    




One Response to “My cousin the outdoorsman”

  1. susan said

    i hike in harriman all the time too with my dogs, and frequently see frum people. not so many women though. there is one frum 55+ father of 8+ and grandfather of multitudes who is a fabulous XC skier and hiker/jogger/bikerider. one of my best hiking buddies is a frum guy who hikes about 3-4x week and brings his hasidish friends from kiryas joel out to the park too. it’s a wonderful world out there!

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