Category: Day Outing & Backcountry

Harriman State Park (NY) Backpacking review [South]

Solitude/privacy: 4.5 (weekend trip in the summer… you figure it out)
Environment & Nature: 4
Available Activities: 5
Staff & Park Officials: NA
Accessibility: 5

I’m back again in this park

and this time Karen came along with me and Dusty.  During my last trip I went up North of off RT 106. This time we decided to head south.  Since we got to the park pretty late in the day and without a definitive trail/loop planned out, we went on the whim and just started hiking.  Ones we reached the first peak on red trail, we sat down to rest and figure out where we’re going.

As I’ve mentioned in the previous review, this park has some amazing elements: lakes, streams, and animals.  The views however, aren’t that exciting.  Ones you spend 30 to 40 minutes climbing up, drenched with sweat, heart beating like a snare drum in your ear, and mouth dry…. don’t expect a breathtaking view.  Itll be quiet disappointing and bland but do feel accomplished!

As forest slowly turned dark,

we found a pretty good spot to set up our camp.  I quickly set up my Coleman Hooligan 2 Backpacking Tent (check out my written & video review on it) while Karen collected firewood.  After a few shots of some old raspberry vodka from a flask and a can of soup, we hit the hay.

Oh how fun the night was for us.  Between the uncomfortable mat, sky going ablaze from lightning far away, something creeping around our tent the whole night long, and some creature imitating a very loud child’s scream for help somewhere in the distance (extremely terrifying), me and Karen regretted bringing only one flask for two of us.

The morning came too soon.

After such exciting night, I only fell asleep about an hour before dusk.  We slowly crawled out of our tent, packed it up and off we went.  The rest of the hike was a bit strenuous due to lack of comfortable rest and heavy gear.  A few hours later we were at the car heading towards Tuxedo, NY for some coffee and grill cheese sandwich with tomato by the Metro North Station.



Karen, Dusty, and I are very happy that we made this journey.  Make sure to check out the video review for additional exciting material about this hike!

Harriman State Park (NY) Backpacking review [North]

Solitude/privacy: 4.5 (weekend trip in the summer… you figure it out)
Environment & Nature: 4
Available Activities: 5
Staff & Park Officials: NA
Accessibility: 5

Finally, backpacking!

Just this one trip made me realize how unprepared and unfit i am to haul a heavy bag through thick bush, rocks, and dirt.  The plan was to tackle an 18 mile trail over the period of two days in Harriman State Park.  The reality was 4-6 miles (some in a circle trying to find the path) over the period of 10 hours.  But, this is good!  This trip taught me many things.

Light gear is

an essential tool for when backpacking.  The only 2 things I can honestly say that slowed me down; 1. my backpack 2. my hiking boots.  The bag is too big, too bulky, and plainly not built for my posture. My boots kept digging into my toes downhill.  Other than that, everything else seemed to be the right tools. I had my: Suisee Sport Lightweight Mummy sleeping bag, Hennesy Hammock (with a rain tarp), long sleeve & pants, 3 liters of water (to split between me and the dog), a can of soup for me, and dry food for the dog.

The boots (those damn bastards) made my toes commit suicide.  I would have been better off wearing my flip-flops instead.

The trails were fantastic!

They are well maintained by the park, but the path colors on the other hand are faded and hard to see.  I’ve gone off trail a few times mainly because it was hard for me to spot and follow them.  I don’t expect them to be on every single tree glowing in neon lights… just refreshed with paint so it’s easy to spot them in wide openings where it seems the trail can go 5 different directions.

Nature, oh the nature…

This park has everything you’d expect from Northeast: hills, flats, lakes, streams, and rivers.  Not much of mountains, well, you do some climbing but the view doesn’t pay off.  The mountain streams, on the other hand, were a refreshing break for my butchered toes.  After a few miles, i found a beautiful quiet spot where a small stream curves, allowing me to just sit on a rock, dip my feet in and relax.  And to make this moment even more perfect, bushes upon bushes of wild blueberries around me, just begging me to eat them.  Yum!

I think I killed the dog…

I feel like a proper introduction at this point is needed.

This is Dusty

(I did not pick the name!)

Dusty is Karens’ (my lovely girlfriend of over 3 years) mother’s dog.  He is just a bit over 1 year old adopted mutt.  He seems to have some Lab in him, maybe some Pointer, and Greyhound.  The Greyhound would explain the lack of energy this mutt has.  He is like a cheetah: runs very fast but for a short period of time, after which he persists to just lay down and chill for the next 5-6 hours. NOT a perfect hiking dog.  He is very sweet and loving but kind of dumb, than again, he’s still a puppy, maybe he’ll get smarter.

So this a**hole,

oh…. this a**hole, not only almost gave a me a heart attack and forced me to run down a steep hill that could of ended in me cracking my head, he also gave me a chance to lose my bag (which contained pretty much everything: water, food, clothing, phone, etc) and the trail it was on.  As soon as we started hiking, instead of taking his leash off, i kind of wrapped it around his neck and left the handle loop hanging for a quick grab.  When we entered the forest, he spotted a deer and I grabbed him…. luckily.  This should have been a large neon sign spelling out TROUBLE for the rest of trip.  As we hike along, I tend to spot large wildlife right away and grab him before he jumps after them or even acknowledge their existence.  Unfortunately, i slipped and didn’t grab him in time when a deer appeared out of nowhere about 10 feet away from us.  Him, being a playful idiot, darted after the deer and me, being a caring idiot, dropped my bag & ran after him, fearing the worst.  I did not catch up.  Dustys’ whiny playful bark slowly faded away as I’m stuck on top of a steep hill not knowing what to do next.

My first instinct was

not a proper response to this situation.  I found myself alone in the forest with nothing else except a multi tool on my belt, a granola bar in the pocket, and with no trail i was following to be found.  About 5-10 minutes after I stopped chasing Dusty, he strolled back to me (which made me very happy, yet wonder why?).  This dog doesn’t really know any commands (don’t blame me, I’m not the owner), so “stay” or “come here” to him are the same as Marshian to us.

So why did he come back?  Dogs nature in general is to stick to his/her owner/guardian/friend, so when they run pretty far away, they usually come back. Yet that’s not why he came back.  He slowly strolled back to me and the only thing I could think of was how bad of a kick did he receive from that damn deer, and how ta fuck am I going to get him back to Brooklyn…. alive.  Fortunately this wasn’t the case!  He just simply ran out of energy and the deer got away… I assume.  Not only did he ran out of energy but he also pulled a few muscles and ended up limping for the rest of the trip.  After the exciting hour of chasing the dog that was chasing the deer, and searching for the bag and the trail, I stumbled upon a couple that were passing by and they helped us get back on the track.

As dawn slowly approached, and Dusty barely walked, I decided to stop for the night at one of the designated areas near the Lake Skannatati where I was allowed to make fire.  I knew we were about 5 minutes away from a parking lot but not the one we parked in.  I set up camp, fed him and myself, and watched how the sky turns black.

The night was… well…

When I was young, I used to be afraid of the dark.  I got over that fear probably when I turned 10 or 11, and never again have I gotten the fear of the dark.  Nor did I get scared during this night BUT something just creeped the hell out of me.  I have no idea what it was.  Everything seemed perfect; lake, hills, beautiful forest, and me, stuck in the middle of it, alone with the dog.  Yet, I felt empty and got an urge to go home.  So I left.

As soon as the sun set down and darkness fell, I folded the hammock into my bag, took the dog and bounced.  A flashlight on my head facing the ground in front of me and a flashlight in my hand searching for the faded trail signs.  The last thing i wanted was to make this 5 minute hike back to civilization into an all night crusade.  As we approached the parking lot, a happy adventure with my crippled toes and what looked like a dying dog began.  Luckily, on tarmac and unluckily no-one that passed by had even flinched to stop and offer me a lift… even with my “international” give me a lift sign.  Oh well.

About 40 minutes later, Lola had emerged from the darkness as we strolled on.  Lola is my 2001 Mitsubishi Galant.  With 157k when I got her, she already took me so many places!  Longest so far, New Orleans (2 day drive one way)…. but that’s for a different post.

Lake Superior State Park (NY) review

Solitude/privacy: 5
Environment & Nature: 5
Available Activities: 3
Staff & Park Officials: 5
Accessibility: 4.5 (if you can get through hippies and not run any of them over!)

This park is amazingly beautiful!

The lake, the forests, and the rest… I couldn’t ask for more. Keep in mind this is just a regular state park with no campgrounds (at least none that I know of).  The park offers no official trails but people still tend to take a hike through the woods and so should you!  The main entrance leads either onto the beach or the dock.  On any given day I’m sure the beach is packed and loud.  The park offers a few (about 4-5) picnic tables and about 3 charcoal grills next to the beach/lake area, so if that’s what you intend to do get there early, otherwise you’ll be stuck on top of the slope away from the beach and next to the road. Sadly the park offers only two choices when it comes renting a mode of water floating transportation: a paddleboat for two and row boat for five – not kayaks or canoes . Pets aren’t allowed in them either, which I found lame… but whatever.

The dock is a perfect place to fish from on a quiet day.

On the weekend however, the traffic of people loading and unloading fish boats and kayaks is intense and the noise from the beach reflects less of a serene get away, and more of a kindergarten atmosphere.  So, this brings me to why you should go through the woods away from the noise and into more serene area… that’s what I did!  Aside from escaping into a more calm area, I found the water to be warmer near the woods rather than on the beach.  I would however suggest, if you are an experienced swimmer and plan to drift into deep waters, get away from the beach view as far as possible — otherwise the annoying teenage lifeguards will wake the dead with the megaphones and yell at you.  Do keep that in mind for the rest of us!  Thanks

So what about the hippies?

This park is located in Bethel Woods, NY – the original Woodstock Festival sight.  During this trip to the Lake Superior I encountered many of the 60′s creatures camping out on Dr. Duggan Rd  (off of 17B) in the old-fashioned tent & station wagon shantytown.  Apparently Phish was in town for a 2-3 day outing, so I doubt it’s like that for the rest of the year.  It was a very pleasant surprise and one of those life experiences that are a must.

Overall, great trip!

And a fine catch for two: