Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Archive for the ‘Catskills’ Category

My indecisiveness in action

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 5, 2008

So I gave my buddy Ariel a call this week to see if he was going to be upstate at his camp in Tannersville New York and sure enough he is and he would love to have me which is awesome- because I haven’t seen him in years and I love the area- and will have some great stuff to do on Friday.

Then it hit me- what can I do to utilize my time the best on Friday since I have to be down in New York sunday morning to pick a friend up from the airport. Suddenly my logic started working and I came up so many options its driving me nuts.

Kayaking in North/South Lakes- great swimming and beautiful.

Ride one of my favorite loops in all of the Catskills, routes 214-28-42 back up route 23. I was already thinking of this- it is tiring and hilly but amazing.

Do small hike like Giant Ledge only a couple miles, longer hike like Slide Mountain or maybe Hunter Mountain.

Go mountain biking at Jockey Hill and Bluestone wild forest outside Kingston.

Roll down the windows, remove my shirt, throw on some bluegrass and wander around the rural byways of Greene and Delaware Counties.

Then I realized I have to work tomorrow- which means less time- I have taken off the last 3 Fridays in a row. I figured on working till 12 and then driving up- only an hour and a half drive. Its supposed to be 87 degrees. I’m figuring on mountain biking, hiking and a little driving/wandering.

Ah the life as outdoors nut isn’t always so simple.

Posted in Catskills, Hiking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Road Trips, Rural America | 1 Comment »

Wandering old mill towns

Posted by Frum Hiker on February 19, 2008

Harmony Mills

There is something about mills, especially ones powered by water that make me slam the brakes and get out of the car for a closer look. In recent years I have developed an uncanny ability to scan the sides of fast flowing rivers and waterfalls for any signs of mill activity. Old sluices, bridge abutments and foundations near fast flowing water get me excited to say the least. I have been able to find a great many old mill sites and factories in my travels around Upstate NY mostly the Hudson Valley portion.

The Hudson valley was much more industrial then the rest of NY State because the valley created a watershed that collected all of the rivers flowing down from the Hudson Highlands, Catskills and Taconics. I find that all through the Hudson Valley there are loads of waterfalls with abandoned and restored mills. The towns of Catskill, Saugerties, Coeymans, Troy, and Cohoes are great reminders of what mill towns could become, with their old downtowns, grand stately mansions and of course large- usually abandoned or destroyed industrial areas.

Yesterday was 55 degrees and rain, so I decided against riding my bike and getting it all rusty and instead went to Cohoes to walk around. Cohoes is just north of Albany on the Mohawk River- otherwise known as part of the famous Erie Canal. The river drops 75 feet at Cohoes falls and they are 2000 feet across making them the second largest in the state. You can find higher in many places, but wider is unheard of.

Naturally it is the place of a large mill complex known as Harmony Mills. They were great textile mills in the 1870s, but of course with the invention of modern machines- like most great industrial enterprises they are not used. In fact they were recently bought by some Israeli real estate developers to make into lofts, and other uses, including self storage and offices.

The Harmony Mills complex is a breathtaking site. They are enormous and beautifully built. I am a huge fan of the brickwork on these buildings with classic red industrial brick and arched windows. The windows mostly appear to be original, I assume because it is a national historic site. There are many other buildings to compliment the mill site- which is at least 1/4 mile long. I had a field day imagining what it was like inside. 3100 people worked there and made Cohoes a company town. I especially like the fact there are sections remaining of the old diversion canal, which every mill must have to divert water away from the falls to power the mill wheels- or what we may call turbines.

I wandered around took tons of pictures and then walked around where the company housing used to be. The buildings are small and not fancy at all. The owner of the mills’ house is beautiful- but as far as I could tell privately owned. I walked around searching for an old shul- which I am sure existed at one time or another. I usually search for old shuls in forgotten towns, its one of my things.

I have some other recommendations if wandering around mill towns actually interests you. North Adams in Massachusetts is amazing and complete with at least 50 mills along the Hoosick River. Lowell also in MA was the site of the largest textile mills in the world at one point- I have never been- but plan to go one of these days. High Falls NY– right near Route 32 junction in Rosendale- is also a very cool town. There are the old aqueducts over the falls for a canal as well as a bunch of very old locks and such. Oh Amsterdam NY is one of my favorite towns and is located about 30 miles west of Albany.

Posted in Abandoned Sites, Catskills, Rural America | 3 Comments »

Yesterdays wanderings…

Posted by Frum Hiker on January 23, 2008

So yesterday I had some free time and decided to check out some abandoned stuff that I knew existed already. Every time I drive on Route 32 north of New Paltz about halfway to Kingston, I drive down this hill which takes you past all this limestone outcroppings, and into the town of Rosendale. I have always sen this really interesting formation and until yesterday had never stopped to take a closer look.

Right away I could tell that the formation was not natural, and looked as if it were a mine of some sort. It was essentially a huge cave filled partially with water which was frozen and very col looking considering the the way the sun was reflecting on it. After several pictures and wandering around inside the caves someone kicked me out saying that it was for my safety, he confirmed that the formations were limestone mines which were used to make Rosendale Cement which was used to make the Brooklyn Bridge. He told me that a little up the road on route 213 there was a mine that was much larger and was 3 levels. I found it later on but the no trespassing signs and rather chilly wind was enough of a deterrence.

Then a bit later I was driving north on Route 9w of Saugerties and noticed an abandoned brick house up the sides of one of the hills far enough away from any road to make it worth my while, meaning it had to abandoned for a while. Sure enough, after a short hike across some railroad tracks and through a bunch of thorny bushes I came across the house with a few abandoned cars scattered about one from the 80s and one from 70s.

The house was gutted and filled with old newspapers, but I walked along the old road bed that led to the house and discovered an old dump and sifted through the contents to try and find old bottles and anything of interest, I found half of an old Ford buried up one of the hills and tried to figure out where the old road came from and went and when it may have been abandoned.

I have some pictures I wil post of these two interesting things I went to yesterday.

Posted in Abandoned Sites, Catskills, Rural America | 1 Comment »

Chair lift conversations

Posted by Frum Hiker on December 19, 2007

I almost always ski alone, and most of the time its on weekdays so I don’t have to share the lift with anyone else. I tend to get lost in my own thoughts trying to fend off the blowing snow, while wiggling my toes to prevent first stage frostbite. Normally I sit back and stare at the view below me and chuckle to myself when someone falls face first and slides down the hill amidst a powdery blast. Sometimes someone else will join me, but rarely, and usually they say two words and that’s it. Rarely does conversation take place, you would think it should, but unless you are located more then 5 hours from New York City, the folks on he lifts have that New Yorker mentality and just want to be left alone, looking at you with wary eyes when you happen to say the precursor to any conversation “hey how’s it going” or “great day huh.”

Today was different, I skid at Hunter Mountain, and I was alone like always, but for some reason it was pretty crowded, not obscenely crowded like the weekends, when the parking lot is filled with upper middle class city folks driving around their leather seated luxury SUV’s and talking with their friends on two way radios while riding the lifts. No, it was mildly more crowded then a regular Tuesday. I ski Hunter on Tuesdays because its half price for all of us folks that live in surrounding counties.

So instead of being a part of conversations I was usually the 4th guy on the lift with 3 folks who knew each other, I could see the look on their faces as I boarded their chair, forcing one of the folks to rub their ski pant clad thighs with a stranger. Close quarters for such short time, yet it feels like eternity, especially when the conversation goes to places you would rather not hear about.

Me on the far right, older guy with high end skis and Whistler hat in the middle and a woman in her 30’s. The woman strikes it up with the old dude about the weather and all that jazz, then delves into a history of her knee injury from Utah. Then she goes on and on about how ugly and stupid her knee brace looks. Then she stats on about how it matches her ski outfits, but for tennis she cant find anything to match. Is this what people think about when they have their knee reconstructed, “will the brace that lets me exercise match my clothing?” I wanted to throw her off the lift.

I was alone on the lift with a man who had this nasty white film on the sides of his mouth. He felt the need to talk for the whole ride, all I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn’t understand most of his English, he was German from New York and had taken a $59 bus to Hunter for the day. He preached about helmets and his son wanting everyone to wear one. I remember when no one wore helmets, and they were only for racers, I thought to myself.

So one of the rarest things to see at a ski mountain are black people, the sport is very cost prohibitive and quite frankly, black folks tend to live in urban areas devoid of skiing areas. In recent years, there has been a small increase in the participation of African Americans in skiing. If you go to places like Hunter, you will have the amazing opportunity to see minorities skiing, this is not the case in Vermont of New Hampshire, in fact I think that skiing is a racist sport, and people only ski to get away from certain ethnic and racial groups.

Anyway I got on a chair and this black dude sitting next to me was wearing this checkered jump suit. The other two dudes were white and all of them were using snowboards. So basically the whole ride up was two white guys trying to sound black and saying this sentence more then ten times “yo what the f— man?” or “check out that f—-ing sh—.” Punctuated by racial epithets and sayings like “aight”, “word” and “wud ya say homes.” It was very educational, I enjoyed seeing wiggers skiing, and I always get a kick out of wiggers.

A number of times today I was on the chair with foreigners, mostly Russians and then some English folk. The English folks were a little boy and girl, though when they started singing show tunes, I am assuming they forgot I was sitting there, they revealed that they were post pubescent.

Overall an interesting day, filled with icy moguls and big air, oh and lots of sunshine and powder on the sides of the steep trails.

Posted in Catskills, Skiing | 1 Comment »

What have I been up to the last few weeks

Posted by Frum Hiker on October 29, 2007

I have been out and about taking advantage of the pre-ski season warmth that is gracing the land. Tonight is going to be a frost and with that most of the leaves will continue to fall and hopefully some low pressure systems will grace the area and bring some damned snow already. I wanted to be able to ski some over the Thanksgiving holiday, and most New York State mountain biking trails are closed for hunting season. I remember last year that towards the end of shotgun season they open up, but for now I am limited to some trails in the Adirondacks and stuff down near Poughkeepsie.

Since the last time I wrote, I have done a sunset, night hike up overlook mountain and it was beautiful with an almost full moon illuminating the colorful forests. Gold is dominating in the Catskills. I have been riding my road bike pretty steadily in the past week due to my non-diverse mountain biking options. I did get to ride the Skidmore trails in Saratoga a few times and I ride the Vassar Farms trail in Poughkeepsie as well.

Last week I rode over 100 miles on my road bike. I am addicted to this time of year, 55 degrees, shorts and a long sleeve tee- light breezes and fresh smells of composting leaves and bright sunshine reflecting of the orange and red hues being forced out of the trees. Oh how I love those sugar maples. I road around Scohairie County this week, and wandered up to Thompsons Lake State Park and discovered that the lake offers a great fishing and kayaking spot less then 20 minutes from my house- I was overjoyed at the discovery.

I kayaked today down in Harriman State Park and it was lovely, my hands got cold- because I didn’t think I would need my gloves, but the pre-peak foliage was well worth the minor pain. I had some chilling times sitting on my boat in the middle of Silvermine lake, I had to get around the bend away from the city folk who always like to make noise when faced with the silence of the woods. I also bushwhacked to the top of this craggy knob off of Route 106 to view one of the most gorgeous sunsets ever. This burst of orange pink and red coupled with lumpy cumulous clouds really made my day.

I have been checking out some quick hikes in my area, since the days are getting real short and although I am bound to do some solo pre-winter High Peaks backpacks- I need some good day hikes. I have been looking at the Lake George area and although I have ridden the Tongue Mountain Range near Bolton on my mountain bike, hiking can take me deeper and it is easy. Hadley Mountain looks like a great jaunt and I would like to get up Slide Mountain within the next few weeks.

Posted in Adirondacks, Catskills, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Skiing | Leave a Comment »

Fall Foliage Hikes of the week

Posted by Frum Hiker on October 15, 2007

Every fall I say that Autumn is my favorite season, the crunchy leaves, crisp air and Indian summer all come to mind, the threat of snow at the end of fall and the diverse weather patterns also make it such a great season for the outdoorsman. I tend to hike most during the fall, ordinary hikes that would have been boring in the winter or summer seasons, come alive with the colors on the trees and opened up views. The bugs are gone and the air is crisp which always works to get the sweat off your brow.

In the past week I was able to get away with 2 short hikes; both of them could have been longer if not for prior arrangements which took me to those spots. The first hike was in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks, where I had to appear in traffic court last Wednesday and the second hike was located in the Catskills, hen I was on the way to New York.

The fall is hit or miss in the Adirondacks, the weather changes fast and rain is common, while it may be sunny downstate. I was able to hike up part of the Giant Mountain Trail last week to gain some gorgeous views of the high peaks and amazing fall foliage sights and smells. I crunched my up this rather short and rewarding hike, it is steep, but well worth the painful rise in altitude above Route 73.

Instead of going all the way up Giant Mountain which is also relatively short at only 3.0 miles each way, but with an ascent of 3000 feet or so I headed up the same trail to the Nubble as they call it. On the way, you pass some amazing views and if need be you can literally hike less then a mile to the washbowl and call it a day, or shall I say hour. The washbowl is a beautiful little lake with towering cliffs and mountains in the back of it. If you choose to continue to the Nubble a total of 1.4 miles each way, you are rewarded with superb views of the washbowl as well as the high peaks to the south and east.

I also hiked to Giant Ledge in the Catskills, are we noticing a theme? Giant Ledge is on the way up to Slide Mountain, the Catskills tallest peak. Giant Ledge is by far the shortest most rewarding hike in the Catskills, ¾ of a mile takes you to a soaring cliff overlooking the highest mountains in the Catskills and during foliage season which is peaking any day now, I definitely recommend getting out there.

Posted in Adirondacks, Catskills, Hiking | Leave a Comment »

Paddling the Basher Kill

Posted by Frum Hiker on August 16, 2007

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to paddle one of the most beautiful spots in the lower part of NY state. Basher Kill is really more of a swamp then a river. It also choked with weeds which made travel quite tough but well worth it. The swamp is this huge plain of all sorts of plants with a small sliver or pretty deep water meandering its way through. On both sides are mountains and the plain is vast affording a great view everywhere you look.

I launched my boat at the Basha Kill wildlife managment area parking lot which is off route 209- about halfway between Ellenville and Port Jervis. All was silent at the launching site and the second I got into my boat I realized what a gem this place really was. I could see one house high up on the hill and that was it. Surrounded by plants, interesting birds and placid waters I paddled my way south. It was slow going due to the weeds, but the silence and amazing beauty beckoned me to continue at every corner.

I paddled for a couple hours, I also brought my binoculars in my dry bag and had the chance to catch some really nice birds that occupy the wetlands. It was quite relaxing sitting in the fading light watching birds, and frogs and other wildlife lazying the summer afternoon away as the shadows grew long and the sun changed from yellow to bright pink.

There is a bridge in the middle that is too low, but you can walk over the road and launch on the other side. Several friendly folks were silently casting into the water in search of fish.

Posted in Catskills, Kayaking | 3 Comments »

Mondays Ride was one of nicest I have ever taken

Posted by Frum Hiker on August 1, 2007

I decided to ride in the south eastern portion of Delaware County. I had looked at my topo maps and decided that the route I wanted to take would be amazingly beautiful and mostly flat. I got more then I bargained for, I got both and more. I started out in Hancock NY- which is a beautiful old town to walk around if you ever get the chance.

I started out by going north on route 268, the road is mostly flat and once out of town it is almost empty, the shoulder is mostly smooth besides for some portions that are being worked on. The road is amazing, you pas a few old barns and tons of flowing fields and several creeks. The general atmosphere is tranquil and it also smells great.

Towards the end of route 268, you come to a huge downhill, it is smooth without many bumps so I let my brakes go and went screaming down at 50 miles per hour, so fast that bugs smattered on my arms and my eyes began to tear. After that is one short and steep uphill followed by another quick downhill. At the end f the road you break out into a huge valley with Cannonsville reservoir stretching for miles in both directions. It is truly an amazing site after riding through the woods for 10 miles.

The reservoir is a bit low and fields are popping up on its shores below the treeline. The views are amazing and just keep coming, the lake is surrounded by low lying hills and marshes. I took a left at the end of 268 onto route 10 south. There was a sign that said Deposit 14 miles or if you go the other way towards Walton it is 10 miles. Both ways can be ridden into a loop. If riding to Walton you can take 30 south and continue back to Hancock on old route 17.

The shoulder of route 10 is phenomenal and amazingly fast, I just cruised at 15-18 mph enjoying the scenery at low speeds. On one side was the huge lake glistening in the setting sun and on the other were multiple fields and marshes that were mostly drained because of the low water level.

I rode for about 6 miles until I cam to my cutoff, which is located right after a huge curve in the road which takes you over a bridge. After the bridge is what looks to be an old road going right into the water. Upon further inspection I decided that the road was flooded when the Cannonsville dam was built. I sat on the tip of the road right by the water which was gently lapping at my feet. I downed a protein bar and davened mincha in honor of the beauty I was surrounded by.

I then continued a bit on route 10 to County Route 67 which would take me right into Hancock and back to my car. CR67 starts out as this huge steep uphill, I gave up a quarter of the way up and walked it the rest of the way. The whole way up which was very long I complained about the length and wondered if there were many more hills. I was pleasantly surprised when I mounted my bike to go downhill, I waited for the end of the down hill which was very fast- but it never came. CR67 is pretty much an 8 m ile long downhill that allows you to pedal in top ring the whole time. Add to this relatively smooth pavement and some amazing scenery and it makes the prefect end to an already awesome loop.

CR67 passes by multiple hilly fields and farms, I passed by several camps and a lake as well, before dropping into the village of Hancock where the devastation from past floods still shows with several newly built dyke’s along the fast moving creek on the side of the road.

This was one of my best loops ever in terms of smoothness beauty and multiple options. In all it was 30 miles, but if one were to go further on route either way they could make it much longer. I as thinking about going to Deposit and then going north on Route 8 which appears to be very flat as well. Then you have other options to go back east and then south again.

If you know of any other mostly flat and beautiful loops in the Catskills let me know.

Posted in Catskills, Road Biking | 1 Comment »

36 Mile Loop: Woodborune-Neversink-Claryville-Grahamsville

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 30, 2007

So I finally decided to brave the roads of the lower Catskills which I have noticed are rather bumpy and lack good shoulders. I parked in the municipal lot in Woodbourne, NY and road north on Route 42 for about 3 miles, a nice flat start and took a left at a place where it forks with Hasboruck road. Hasboruck road meanders its way north to to the Neversink Reservoir, it is a bit choppy so you will want to make sure your tires are hard, the road is mostly flat except for a lengthy climb at the end. I passed by fields and bungalows with a few trailer parks, some very nice people waved to me and the road has light traffic, no shoulders and potholes are issues, but by utilizing this road you can make some nice loops back to Woodbourne.

At the end of Hasboruck road, you hit route 55. I road west on route 55 and sat down over looking the Neversink Valley on top of the huge grassy hill that is an earth filled dam holding the Neversink Reservoir in place. I then proceeded back on route 55 east towards Grahamsville, after riding down and up a short steep hill I came to a very long downhill. I would estimate it at about 3 miles, it is steep with a decent shoulder but the bumps kept my speed below 40 mph.

If you want a nice short loop you can just take 55 east back to route 42 and go south 8 miles back to Woodbourne, this make the loop about 17 miles or so. Instead I took a left at route 19 or Claryville Road. This road starts off with a huge climb, I mean grinding it up in low rings for about 20 minutes at least. I ended up walking half way up. This road is beautiful, it is a shortcut to route 28 in the central Catskills and a great road to ride, it is smooth and has no traffic really.

After the huge climb it becomes a fast road that can be cruised at 20+ mph, you parallel a creek fro a bit and there are no houses until Claryville, which is a way off the beaten path town in the middle of nowhere. Stay straight on the road when seeing any junctions and ride past the old tannery and a number of houses. After passing over a temporary bridge because the mnain one is in repair keep going on the paved road. I rode for about 2 miles until Red Hill road. A women tending to her garden warned me that it was very steep and windy, both up and down. She was right, I could not ride any of it due to its steepness. I walked up the hill for about an hour until I crested it, I started going down and then took a right on Sugarloaf road, I was going 45 mph and my brakes were smoking the whole time, it was pretty steep and rough, my hands were seriously hurting.

At the end of Sugarloaf road, you take a right, the road I think is called Peekamoose Valley Road. At the end of that road you will go right into route 55A going west, on your right is the Roundout reservoir. Wildlife especially deer is abundant in this area so be careful, I have seen hundreds of deer in this area. Take route 55A into Route 55 and take a right, go 1 mile and then take a left on route 42 south. Unfortunately I undereestimated my timing and had to ride Route 42 at dusk, when cars cannot see cyclists so well.

I would rate this route as expert simply due to the 2 amazingly long and steep climbs I had to endure.

Posted in Catskills, Road Biking | Leave a Comment »

Seeking information about old square factory chimney Parksville- NY

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 24, 2007

I was wandering some back roads in Sullivan County today and came across a very tall square industrial chimney which was sticking out of the brush off of Cooley Road near Parksville. I am trying to find out any sort of history surrounding this location. As some of you may know, I am a big fan of anything industrial especially factory ruins. I enjoy photographing it and figuring out what was there at one point. Cities like Buffalo and Detroit are my playgrounds, though wandering ruins can be dangerous as well as freaky. In NY state the hudson valley features lots of ruins and old buildings scattering the shores.

To come across something like this far away from any industrial center is rare. I know of one abandoned mill on the shores of the Delaware- north of Narrowsburg on Route 97. Its actually a beautiful building and mostly in tact save for the roof. Red brick with Romanesque arches all around, and visible ducts where the mills power used to run through underneath its massive structure.

This factory remnant in Parksville is removed from any source of hydro power, no roads lead to it save for a trail developed by the DEC for fishing. Upon close inspection the chimney looks resembles that of a small blast furnace. It is made of short red bricks, the small tiny kind in a normal pattern. The bricks are not named, but scattered about the site are loose bricks with the name “Hedges” stamped on one side.

I noticed there were several iron bars sticking up here and there, and there were two large round barrel sort of things stuck into the ground. Like massive round wooden flowerpots. It was interesting, they were filled with water and about 4 feet deep. The trees and overgrowth around the site appeared to be about 50 years old, no old growth trees, but relatively thick birch and oak dotted the area.

The chimney itself was the type with an inner core, leading me to believe that it was the part of a kiln for making bricks. Some bricks have fallen down revealing an inner core and an outer core. On the bottom of the chimney are several arches which open up to the inside.

If anyone has any sort of information on this ruin I would love to hear it. History, old pictures, anything.

Please email me

Posted in Abandoned Sites, Catskills | 1 Comment »