Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

Labrador and Newfoundland: maybe this year?

Posted by Frum Hiker on August 12, 2008

I am fascinated with the two, they are rural and rugged and nobody lives there, plus Labrador got its first road- which remains unpaved in 1985. I haven’t been to either yet, but I have been wanting to go for several years. Every year I want to go I just decide that for the same money I can go somewhere west, and it always seems like the west is better to go solo. Last year I drove to the northwest and a week in Montana as well. The year before it was the mother road trip to Alaska and the Yukon. Labrador and Newfoundland are the two last road accessible places I have not been to in Canada, all the others have been driven to, which is what I do of course.

This year may be the year, my latest job is telecommute mostly which means I may be able to get a 10 day road trip in, maybe I’ll just do Newfoundland. Labrador is a little scarier, being the road is unpaved and completely cut off from society. 40,000 people live in Labrador and its enormous. Did you know that the tip of Newfoundland is only 1600 miles from the coast of Ireland, its where the first transatlantic cable was laid. The book about it “A thread across the ocean” was fascinating and I do recommend it.

Newfoundland is a 6 hours ferry ride from the tip of Nova Scotia, I have gotten sea sick before, while crossing the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but I am so tempted by pictures of Gros Morne alone that I will do whatever it takes to drive there. My car has 299,000 miles and that doesn’t help much either.

I do have a bunch of little stuff I wouldn’t mind doing this fall, short trips. I want to do Alongonquin Mountain in the Adirondacks, its a long grueling hike. I also would love to visit the Whites in NH during foliage season and I also want to hike Katahdin in Baxter State Park Maine, lofty goals for a working man with not much vacation set aside.

Posted in Canada, Road Trips | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

My encounter with a bear in Harriman State Park

Posted by Frum Hiker on August 7, 2008

At about 6pm last evening I had the sudden urge to be hiking along a quiet trail in the woods, so I headed to Harriman State Park which is essentially my backyard- merely 15-20 minutes away depending on how many people are blocking traffic at the intersection of route 306 and maple ave.

I decided for the first time ever to hike the trails accessible from the first parking lot, I haven’t hiked up these trails since I was a kid, mostly because being the first trail head its always crowded- and the last thing I want to see in the woods are people, or mountain lions.

I headed in and hiked for a little over an hour until I reached a flattened area with some wild blueberries- Harriman has the most wild blueberries I have ever seen and I know of some great raspberry patches as well. I davened mincha and headed back down the way I came, rather then making it into a loop. I had forgot my headlamp and didn’t feel like navigating a down mountain trail in the dark.

The sun was giving off its brilliance as I ran and walked down the trail, I trail run uphill and walk downhill, to raise my heart rate. After dropping below the mountain line where I could see the sun it began to get pretty dark, it was already 8pm.

I have this fascination with the bracha asher yatzar, its one of my favorite things to say in the woods- I just like it. So I decided to take a piss even though I didn’t “really” need to. I finished draining the lizard and said the bracha. As I looked up at the trail I saw a medium sized black bear turn around about 50 feet up the trail from me and run away.

Oh man did that freak me out, I did let out a big “THANK THE LORD” but I stood there stunned for a several seconds and then looked where the bear ran, I thought I could see it standing behind a tree looking at me. The last thing in the world I wanted in the woods was a bear stalking me.

So I debated, I figured that I shouldn’t go down the trail I was headed, but it was getting dark and I needed to be away from that bear. I decided to bushwhack downhill to this creek I could hear and follow it out of the woods- I knew where it would take me.

I quickened my step and screamed out Mr. Bear every 10 seconds or so. How could this happen in Harriman of all places, this was the first time I ever met a bear on the trail. I have hiked all over in some of the most rural places on the continent and had never come in contact with a bear this close.

I saw bears on the trail in Alaska, but they were over a hundred yards away busy gathering berries for the coming winter, plus, I had a shotgun loaded with six 3inch slugs- way more then enough to take down a bear. I have seen Grizzlies in Montana, but also from several hundred yards away and that was from the road. The only other close call I have had with dangerous animals was when I was riding some ridge trail near Jackson , Wyoming when my buddy Jason and I came across several huge moose, moose are dumb and will charge and you don’t want a moose charging you.

So obviously I made it out, but I was scared- mainly because bears in such a crowded park are probably not as scared of people as they are in places like Alaska and Montana. In fact, its so unlikely to see a bear in these places because they smell you from miles away- depending on wind direction of course.

Anyway if I wouldn’t have decided to pee at that time or immediately said ahser yatzar which I sometimes forget to do, I would have walked right into the bear- which was obviously watching me- but I didn’t notice nor could I see that far in the fading light.

I find it good to document situations where Gods hand is present so we shouldn’t forget who is boss.

Posted in Harriman State Park, hashgacha prutus, Hiking | 23 Comments »

Bay Ridge Skatepark

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 31, 2008

I finally had a chance to ride the only concrete skatepark in New York City and I was amazed. Owls Head Skatepark is located in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn and is a must see for any skaters or bikers.

A nice sized street area with jumps, quarter pipes, and a bunch of great hips is super sooth and big enough for multiple riders. The bowl section is sweet with a deep bowl as well as a section connected with a spine, I was impressed.

Open from 9-7pm every day of the summer and its 100% free and they let bikes in.

Posted in Road Trips | Leave a Comment »

Jewish kids don’t care

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 24, 2008

This is very random, no idea what was going on in my head:

Jewish kids just don’t get nostalgic about Americana, they don’t care about old route 66, the mother road as they called it in the Grapes of Wrath. They don’t pull over to the side of the road fumbling around for their black and white camera body and their tripods as they wonder whether the rain storm in the distance will provide good light for the perfectly preserved service station on the side of the road, with weeds breaking the cracked concrete surface and rusted pumps hanging to the side like a last will and testament that gas pumps were once built with aesthetics in mind.

Jewish kids don’t care about rusted hulks of the classic cars of yesteryear buried under decades of rubble, rust and garbage, strewn about the side of the road like some dumpster dropped them here and totally forgot about them. They don’t care about the old license plates with their stickers denoting the year of registration, or the smooth lines from the grill to the headlamps.

Jewish kids don’t care about ghost towns, unless there is a theme park park surrounding them with little stands explaining what this house used to be or why there is a big slab of concrete here or there. They don’t care to wander around broken homes that once belonged to families that could have left for a million different reasons. They couldn’t care less about the old milk bottles, cans and signs that lay under fallen down roof panels.

Jewish kids don’t care about the abandoned railroad tracks, that crisscross this country like a spider web in the attic. They don’t care about those flat expanses with nothing but old fences and tumble weeds. They don’t care about, old diners with their flashing neon lights and their waitresses named Gene and Joe.

Jewish kids don’t care about old motels advertising air cooled rooms and color zenith color TV. They don’t care about the motor court with the dried up pool in the center and the pale blue peeling paint and brown carpets.

Jewish kids don’t care about abandoned roads, old roads, old bridges and the old byways, US highways and other nondescript roads that were heavily traveled before the easy on easy off interstates were built.

Jewish kids and most kids and most people and most everyone just don’t care anymore, about anything beyond super sized, super easy, super electronic, super fast and super flashy. No body seems to care…..

Posted in Rural America | 13 Comments »

Between Bear Mountain and Cold Spring

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 15, 2008

I took out my road bike on Friday and did a 25 mile loop around the Bear Mountain Bridge area- a truly wonderful riding area if you go during a non crowded time. I road all the way out to Cold Spring and it was my firts time exploring the village and it was beautiful. The main street is lined with old buildings and boutiques and its riverfront town which means they have a park on the water over looking Storm King Mountain- the river i really nice at this spot with cliffs rising up on the west side of it.

I then road back on 9D and went across the Bear Mountain Bridge, I have driven it a hundred times but have never ridden a bike across and it was amazing. The view is phenomenal and I then road around the lake at Bear Mountain and back to my car parked across the bridge.

Posted in Road Biking | 2 Comments »

Afternoon naps

Posted by Frum Hiker on July 15, 2008

I have been getting real tired lately at around 4:30-5 in the afternoon so I have been taking naps, I am all about naps, it really breaks up the day. The problem is I never want to wake up and always feel a little groggy upon waking up. Yesterday I took an hour nap and then went riding. Napping also allows me to be outside during my favorite time of the day- Dusk.

Posted in general Outdoors | 1 Comment »

Aletrnate route to Baltimore saves on tolls and traffic

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 30, 2008

Instead of traveling to Baltimore down the ever crowded and ugly NJ Turnpike I have decided to go around through Pennsylvania from now on. This means that from Monsey I drive south on 287 until 78 west and then take that through to Harrisburg and then down to Baltimore. It sounds like a pain in the tuchus, but really its only about 30 miles longer- never has any traffic and there is total round trip tolls are $3 as compared to at least 40 dollars in tolls and loads of traffic the other way.

This route also allows for some great wandering around old towns and villages and driving through beautiful farming country. South East Pa has some great old towns full of old factories, abandoned railroad tracks and once thriving main streets. The route also allows for some significant back road travel if you like and I do like.

This past time I got off the highway and Easton Pa just over the NJ border and wandered around the town on my bike. Its a beautiful old factory town with some amazing classic architecture on main street including a fountain on the middle of the town square turned traffic circle.

On the way back I got off in York-PA and took US 30 to US 222 which took me to US 22 and then north up route 57 to I-80 and back home. It was a beautiful route with rolling farmland, popping corn and nice old stone houses from the late 1700’s.

Harrisburg and Lancaster which could be on the way depending how you go are also great cities to wonder around. Harrisburg being the capital has some nice stately buildings as well as some great railroad yards. Lancaster has a very well preserved historic district and is thriving in most parts, even the ghetto has beautiful old homes.

The distance this way from Monsey to the Jewish community in Baltimore is 240 miles as opposed to 210 the other way- but here you can hit the cruise control and relax. I would even do it that way if I came from NYC.

Posted in Abandoned Sites, Road Trips | 2 Comments »

My brother needs to borrow a large internal frame backpack

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 25, 2008

My brother is going on a trip with the Jewish Outdoors Club to climb Mount Ranier- and he needs a 5500 cubic inch internal frame backpack. He just wants to borrow one- since he normally only does 5 day trips and never needs one so large. If anyone has one to lend or knows of anyone who may have one- please email me ASAP.

My brother is 5″4 so if anyone is between the heights of 5″1 and 5″6 it will do- ladies and gents either or.

Posted in general Outdoors, Hiking, Jews, Rock Climbing | 1 Comment »

20 mile road bike loop around Manhattan

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 20, 2008

There is a time in everyones life when they must acknowledge the beauty of New York City, I did this as I marveled at the crystal clear day reflecting off the skyline of the city which seemed to stretch to infinity as I tried to navigate the stop and go traffic on the George Washington Bridge. The sky was clear, the breeze was cool and dry and my bike on the roof of my car was begging to be ridden.

I had to be in Brooklyn for a free Madeski Martin and Wood show in Prospect park so I drove to the tip of Manhattan and tried to find a spot, not an easy feat- since everything is for official vehicles. I found one near China Town and donned my cycling gear and took off following the east river up to 23rd street where I switched to 1st ave. Then up to Central park for a loop around the park and then down the west side bike path. Beautiful and exhilarating riding as fast as traffic on singing tires pumped to 120 – psi, there is something great to be said about riding the rides of NYC- I have been doing it for 20 years and I love it.

18.78 miles total at an average of 16.5 mph.

Posted in NY metro area, Road Biking | 6 Comments »

Beautiful Harriman hike yesterday

Posted by Frum Hiker on June 18, 2008

I was on my way north up the Palisades parkway after work yesterday when suddenly the traffic stopped and I saw emergency vehicles in the rear view mirror meaning an accident had just happened. I scrapped my plans for a hike of Breakneck Ridge or Anthony’s Nose across the Bear Mountain Bridge and pulled a sketchy u-turn on the grass divider and got off the Lake Welch Parkway exit that took me into Harriman.

It was funny because I had originally planned on hiking in Harriman and was kind of playing it by ear. I went to the Silvermine Lake area and parked. I looked at my map and decided to hike up the yellow trail on the right side of the lake and take the AT to Black Mountain which said had a view.

The weather was amazing, 70 degrees, a slight breeze, dry and very clear- no clouds. The woods were pristine, extremely green, I haven’t hikes in some time. I go through stages, I have been in this kayak/bike stage and now have gone into a hike and wander stage.

I hiked up this rocky trail until the AT and turned right following the white blazes and red dot blazes. Up and up and until a slight view, then down. I crossed Silvermine Road- which was amazing, this is coming from nerdy old me who is fascinated with old roads. This road crossed the trail and was completely green covered. It was graded and fully in tact. In fact from the side it looked like a causeway through the woods- I will have some pictures sooner or later. I walked on it for a while pondering when it may have been built and why. There weren’t many mines in the area according to my map and the road just ended up aways according to the map.

I continued on the trail up a steep hill to a marvelous view of Silvermine Lake and the surrounding hills. Then onward to the next view which was amazing, I could see the cement factories in Haverstraw and the Hudson river snaking along the Palisades. On the other side is was just green and hilly.

I met a guy thru-hiking from Georgia and chatted for a bit, then I went back down to Silvermine road and hiked it back to the lake and crossed the damned crees coming out of the lake and went back to my car for a total of 2.5 hours of hiking.

Posted in Harriman State Park | 1 Comment »