Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Archive for the ‘Kayaking’ Category

Kayak therapy

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 12, 2008

The sun is forcing me to close my eyes, and its great because that allows these shades of blue and red and fuzzy circles to form in my vision- which I don’t need at this juncture anyway. Open water so placid that it seems to part for my boat as would a crowd for a king, eyes closed I gently break the flat waters surface to propel my little red kayak along the glassy lake. Eyes still closed, I clutch my oar ever so slightly and glide smoothly across the blackened depths.

I open them squinting at first and then turn to the blue sky, cloudless casting its blue shades upon this glorious lake. The only noise is gentle lapping of water against my hull, nothing else disturbs the tranquil air. Dragon flies occasionally dart about appearing to be schizophrenic and drunk not knowing which way to turn, flying speedily along and suddenly changing direction as if they had no idea where in fact they wanted to go, all over a blank water mind you, with no shrubbery or insects in sight in which to appease their appetites.

The shrill of a motorbike breaks the silence momentarily and then I am thrust back into my own therapy. My oar allowing my mind to wonder with each of its dips. My thoughts are clear yet completely overpowering and my mind wonders all over the stratosphere.

I am beyond the suns glares now and can let my eyes adjust to the slowly fading light. I am in the shadows of the low lying hills surrounding the glassy lake, a fisherman casts his line and it gently breaks the surface, we nod in silent agreement of the peaceful scene still cloudless and orange with the setting sun.

I watch the muddy earth through the shallow water and try to find graceful fishes jetting around stirring up the mud and making small waves on the surface. I am in my happy place, one of millions of them. My legs are up and I am lying down looking straight up at the white moon. Gently floating in complete silence with a slight cool breeze.

Posted in Harriman State Park, Kayaking | 4 Comments »

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 »

Kayaking in Harriman State Park

Posted by Frum Hiker on May 27, 2008

20 minutes from my door lies 50,000 acres of streams, lakes and trails- I am a frequent visitor to Harriman State Park, its highest point being roughly 1300 feet above sea level, and its low points being graced with beautiful lakes for swimming and kayaking.

I have been meaning to kayak a couple times a week- because its a relaxed and therapeutic way to be outside. The dips of the paddle and the smooth gliding under open skies always allow my mind the spaced out time it needs. Kayaking is so easy and it is my only upper body workout.

I went last night to let go of my mind, which has been running at 100 miles an hour lately. My mind has been worked up over many things, and more then anything I needed to chill- so I chose this chain lake system in Harriman off of route 106 and seven lakes drive.

I like paddling these lakes because while the lake with the boat launch is crowded, you can paddle through a couple tunnels to this totally peaceful and serene lake with nothing on its sides and rarely more then one person fishing on the water.

Last night was special because immediately upon leaving getting out of my kayak the sun was casting this brilliant cloud blocked sunset- one of those massive pink and red blobs that beacons me to the high points in a flurry just to catch its last rays.

I quickly got my boat on my roof and drive to my favorite sunset viewing spot. I then ran up the sides of this rock ladden hill to my spot. I was huffing and puffing and my feet were all scratched up from just wearing sandals. But it was a sight to behold for the warn breezes and the sunset made for some great davening and meditation- it was good times and I stayed until the last rays were gone.

Posted in Harriman State Park, Kayaking | 6 Comments »

I have not posted in a long time- whats been going on

Posted by Frum Hiker on May 1, 2008

Ever since moving downstate to Monsey from Albany I have been slacking on my posting- I think the knowledge that 100 times as many people read my other blog than this one keeps me from devoting too much time to it.

Anyway I have been really taking advantage of the great opportunities around Monsey and have been riding like mad. Ringwood State Park in NJ is 20 minutes drive from work and I have been slowly figuring the place out. Its a complex network of fire roads and single track- the first few times there I got lost and gave up on finding anything good to ride. I rode there last night and finally can say I am versed in the park.

I rode Graham Hills in Westchester county recently and really liked it despite its small size. It has loads of jumps and some killer downhills, oh and it is all singletrack- so there’s no roaming around on roads looking for stuff to ride.

I have been also riding Blue Mountain in Peekskill and Stewart State Forest in Maybrook- both places see me quite a bit. I am still trying to find time to hit up Sprain Ridge Park in Westchester- but the $5 toll on the Tappan Zee prevents me from doing it. In fact the tolls keep me in check- I rarely even go to NY because of tolls and gas prices. I am lucky I live so close to goodness.

I have also been kayaking a bit in Harriman State Park- have been trying to work on my upper body and get that into shape. Road biking has taken a back seat to mountain biking just because of my location. I always complained in Albany about having no trails close by- but always had great long road rides- its the trade off.

I went to Colorado for Pesach- thats for next post

Posted in Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking | 1 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 »

Mini vacation in the Thousand Islands

Posted by Frum Hiker on August 6, 2007

Well not really I was there for work, but if you know me by now- wherever I go for work always includes lots of play, no matter how hard I work. I drove up to the area on back roads rather then straight up the 81. I got off of the thruway at Herkimer and drove north on the 28 until it hooked up with the 12, drove through Booneville and then onto Loweville which has this huge windfarm more likely to be found in the west then in NY state. I scanned all the roads I drove on to look for future biking routes, ever since I bought my road bike I have to check all the shoulders of roads I drive on to see if I can utilize them for good rides. Route 12 is a perfect riding road, it is flat, smooth and offers amazing views for most of the time. Route 177 which juts out of 12 and goes all the way to Lake Ontario was also a great riding road, a bit hilly but mostly smooth.

Last Thursday was in the upper 90s, even the lake did not cool it off at all. I parked at Southwick Beach State Park which is on Lake Ontario about 25 miles southwest of Watertown- which was where I had to be that night. I drew myself a little reference map of the county roads in the area and set off in the sweltering heat. The county routes between I-81 and Lake Ontario in Jefferson County are amazing to ride. The area is mostly farmland and very rural, little or no traffic and smooth fast riding greets your tires as you pedal through the amazing north country.

I cannot recall my route, though I did utilize CR75 quite a bit, except when I had to go around a big section of unpaved road. That is the risk of riding county routes, I have maps of every area of NY State in my Atlas Gazeteer- but the maps fail to tell me if the roads are paved or not. Needless to say I had ridden 18 miles when I first glanced at my odometer and realized I was averaging over 17 miles per hour- not bad for extreme heat eh. I ended up riding 33 miles before I needed a big break, my water in my pack was hot and tasted horrible so I stopped at a roadside ice cream stand.

I bought an ice cold gallon of water and sat my tired lycra clad self onto a chair with armrests, I poured a bunch of water over my head and let it dribble down my back, then I drank and drank for what seemed like forever. Then I chilled, I have not chilled like that in ages, even though I would have to ride 7 more miles. I sang along with “duke of Earl” and “He’s so fine” as I tapped my foot to oldies and watched the trucks with boat trailers passing by on route 3.

That night after getting into Watertown and eating some bread and cheese I wandered around the old downtown area with my street bike. I love the old forgotten industrial cities, the ones that always had their booming periods and then kept declining afterwards. Watertown for the most part is an abandoned city, lights shine, but the rather large city center is mostly abandoned and full of sketchy looking folks. A short drive or walk down route 11 south reveals that the city had a lot of money at one point purely by looking at the stately Ante Bellum mansions with their ornate Victorian details on the roofs. Downtown has several turn of the century large buildings with over 5 stories. Mill towns always had money until water power became outdated.

On the way to my job in La Fargeville I drove up along the Black River and noticed an old mill foundation along a particularly fast stretch. I found a way down to the half dry river bed, the river beds in this area are all made of solid smooth rock- which always looks cool. The abandoned mill is all stone and has some beautiful arches that are still in tact, the mill itself is gone and all that remains is the structure that was in the actual water. It is a beautiful work of art, the large white stone facade is awesome.

Then after work on friday I went looking for a place to launch my kayak in the St Lawrence River- not an easy feat when you want to do it for free. One would think that the Thousand Islands area would have numerous boat launch sites, but to my chagrin I could not find any public ones. I also found out that all the islands around had been built up and were private, so much for my island hopping adventure.

I finally found a free place to launch a kayak, its not an official boat launch, but my kayak is light so I walked down this rocky embankment which was a public beach and launched into the River. It was hot so being on the river was a treat. The wind and waves were another story. I have never been in such treacherous conditions. The waves were huge and my whole kayak would go off one and crash through the next spraying water into the boat and all over me, it was a heck of a lot of fun. I was laughing as boats passed me doing 50 sure to magnify the waves a bit more then they were already. I then went swimming in the river and back floated for 30 minutes or so.

Went into Canada for Shabbos and came back through the same area today.

Today I went for a 30 mile bike ride around the Adams area, Adams is known for its extreme snowfall. every year they make it to the news with some 60 inch snowstorm. The area is known as the Tug Hill Plateau, and is home to farmland and snowmobiling, and some great shoulders to ride on. My ride was beautiful and the weather was awesome as well.

I then drove back through the Loweville area, marveled at the windmills and took West Rd instead of Route 12. West Rd is definitely on my list of roads to ride when I come back. Amazing is all I can say, I ended up in Little Falls which is another little quant town that I love walking around.

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

Kayaking in Harriman State Park

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 30, 2007

I have to say that although located downstate from me, Harriman State Park offers some of the nicest flat water lake paddling around. The capital district does not deliver when looking for scenic places to paddle within 30 minutes or so of downtown. I happen to travel to NYC quite often and when I do I bring my kayak so I can paddle one of the many lakes that make up Harriman.

I had the opportunity to paddle around Lake Tiorati which I later found out I needed a permit for, none the less, the lake contains many islands and rocky shoreline to explore. It is big enough that you do not have to paddle past crowded beaches and campsites. The longest paddling option by far is down route 106 when entering the first traffic circle going north on 7 Lakes Drive. This lake is connected with another one and paddling under the old stone bridge leads you to a lake which is not built around at all. Many of the lakes within the park have beaches, camp sites and other man made objects, while some have none at all. The swiming in these lakes is also real nice.

Posted in Kayaking | 3 Comments »

I get to be in the Adirondacks all week for work!!!

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 18, 2007

So this week my job has taken me to Saranac Lake where I am staying at the old and cozy Hotel Saranac. The old toilets, bathtubs and beautiful furnishings in the ballroom are amazing. It is also located in downtown Saranac Lake where I have found great places to ride my bike and just plain old walk around.

On the way up on Sunday I stopped at the high peaks trail head in Tahauwus- which is by far my favorite trailhead due to its lack of cars and back door approach to Mt. Marcy- rather then the traditional ADK LOJ to Marcy Dam- this approach is just 10 miles and takes you through the Flowed Lands/Lake Colden area.

I hiked into the flowed lands and out again and it was awesome. The weather, save for a few bugs was pristine- clear and bright with a temperature of 75 degrees. I was jealous of all the folks going in on multi day trips- and I had to be at work in the morning. I hiked 5 miles to the flowed lands- it is this flat plain of water, flowing green grass and cliffs jutting out. In the distance large mountains can be seen. I think Mt. Colden looms with its bare top. The sight was magnificent and I took many pictures. I chilled there for a half hour just taking it in and enjoying the solitude and lack of any man made noise.

Then yesterday- I took a nice 18 mile bike ride up route 374 near Chazy Lake- beautiful country of swamps, lakes – pine and birch. My legs wanted more- but I had to be in Plattsburg. After work in Plattsburg I rode around the SUNY campus- which features some great ledges- stair gaps and many planters of multiple sizes. Proof of its popularity could be seen from all the skate wax rubbed everywhere.

Today after working up near Ogdensburg- I drove all the way back to Tupper Lake and visited the historic Beth Joseph synagogue that is right on route 3 in the main part of town- overlooking the lake. I will post in the future about my visit- but lets just say that the shull is very nice and I spoke to a 98 year old women named Muriel Ginsburg for about an hour. I was real happy to see the shull where it was and promised I would go into depth about my visit when I had a chance.

Then I drove towards my hotel in Saranac and decided that I had better sample some of the paddling around here. I launched in the Raquette River which is probably the most famous place to paddle in New York State. It is flat and an ease to paddle. It features multiple campsites on the banks and I saw one lean to. The noise of the surrounding area faded within a few strokes and I was left to the dip of the oar and my thoughts- interrupted every few minutes by a bird or a jumping fish. I was surrounded on all sides by forest and the river flowed peacefully along with me in its grasp. I paddled for a few hours and turned around. I explored swamps and marshland and took a nap on a beach. All I have to say is that it is amazing and now I want to do a full fledged multi day paddling trip up here.

I still have 3 days left…

Posted in Adirondacks, Hiking, Jews, Kayaking, Road Trips | 5 Comments »

What have I been doing the last few weeks

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 18, 2007

I have neglected this blog and I am sorry, I cannot help but ride, hike, kayak and wander whenever I get the chance. They call me the wanderer or The Ramblin man should be my songs. I have been able to ride and kayak a few new spots due to work and shidduch dates.

I had the opportunity to date a girl in New Hampshire last week. She was leading a group of girls in some sort of conservationist-tree hugger camp through Bear Brook State park. Coincidentally or not I have been hearing about the riding in this park for years and was excited to ride it inadvertently by having to date someone who happned to be located within the park.

Bear Brook State Park is located near Concord, NH and it is simply amazing. The trails are very complex and twisty and rooty. The bugs will eat you alive, but the scenery is amazing and the amount of riding is pretty good. There are many swamps and I even got stuck up to my knee in quick sand. The problem is that the trails are not marked very well, so finding the single track amongst the double track horse paths can be daunting.

I had the have been riding many of my regular spots with some longer rides mixed in, this past week I rode Ninham Mountain which is located in Putnam County just outside of Carmel. It is a gorgeous place, with a good mix of riding. My favorite thing about it is the thick pine forests that you ride through. There are also plenty of small jumps off of slanted up flat rocks and some great windy downhills.

I have also been kayaking quite a bit in Harriman State Park when I venture downstate- the lakes are amazing and quite diverse there with tons of islands, rocks to jump off and channels from lake to lake. The lack of motor boats and jet skis makes it very inviting- during the week especially.

I have also been road riding a lot. I went on my first ride with someone else. I was in Baltimore a couple weeks ago and I rode with this guy Jacob who used to race road. We rode 35 miles with him way ahead the whole time- riding his $5000 scott carbon bike. It was great to spin with a partner and the scenery was all this beautiful rolling farmland on the Pennsylvania- Maryland border.

Posted in general Outdoors, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking | Leave a Comment »

Kayaking in the stormy Sacandaga Lake

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 1, 2007

I feel as if I am on a Cunard Steamer sailing through a furious north Atlantic storm in the mid 1800’s, each time the bow crests a wave the crew prepares for the inundation of water that happens when the front of the ship crests the wave and crashes into the next one momentarily disappearing beneath the murky depths, only to reappear carrying tons of water with it for its destination somewhere within the ships holds.

I am paddling ferociously against the wind and waves of the Great Sacandaga Lake just inside the border of Adirondack Park. With each hard drawn paddle stroke I each along, and with each large wave I let out a hearty whoop as I crash into the next one and watch the front of my boat go under the water for a few seconds. Then all of the sudden my boat is released from the lakes fury and I am doused with water, the water is lovely and I look forward to each of these larger waves. I don’t have to wait long because the lake is filled with them; some even have white caps crashing all around me as I paddle alone in the middle of this large body of water.

This is the exact opposite of my paddling adventure earlier this week. Instead of the peaceful tranquility of slow paddling and placid waters I am faced with the insane task of actually propelling myself forward amidst this madness. This is not for the faint of heart, my sweat is mixing with the water that keeps splashing all about- some of which ends up sloshing around in my canoe and threatening my camera and wallet that are supposedly safe within the confines of my yellow dry bag.

A quick look around reveals that I am in the center of the lake and there is no one around. No noisy obnoxious jet skis and wave runners and no pontoon boats full of lazy beer drinkers, nothing, just me the water and the sky- and in the distance on all sides lush green hills that are hard to see because of the hot haze that has settled over much of the area today.

I can see the personless boats in the distance bobbing up in down in the waves, situated next to the numerous private docks that dot the shoreline. I can thank God that its Friday, I know that if it were Sunday it would be an entirely different story. I can just see the trails of wasted fuel in the water, spewing forth from the trolling motors and large engines that are choking the lake. I can see folks sitting on their bass boats, rods held up without hands and folks drinking beer, guts hanging out in the sun and music blaring. I can see smoke signals in the distance rising out of backyard and deck side barbeques, children running around in swimsuits and everyone just having a great time. A lazy time, no activity would actually be going on save for a few canoes or kayaks, laughed at by all those folks in their fast boats flying by rocking those small nerdy boats with their giant wakes.

Saturdays and Sundays any lake any where. The noise of the jet skis and the country or southern rock type music blaring. Motor homes choking up the parking lots and boat launches jam packed with huge pickup trucks and tattooed up men unloading their fishing boats. I would surely not be enjoying the natural silence of the waves crashing into my boat and the gurgling of my paddles that are making twisters in the deep dark water. No noise besides my singing, hollering and paddling can be heard.

Posted in Adirondacks, Kayaking | 3 Comments »