New York State Meander

by Perette Barella

This travelogue follows a 2021 trip travelling via train from Rochester to New York, New York, then returning on bicycle. The route follows bike trails from NYC to Poughkeepsie, where it crosses the Hudson and travels through the Catskills, crossing the Susquehanna and Mohawk Valleys, circling around the Adirondack mountains to Pulaski, where the trip abended.

Log messages come from the daily updates I sent out via e-mail to family and friends during the trip.

Contents

1. Preparing for departure

2021-06-24 20:29

This year's walkabout starts tomorrow, Friday, and today I've been scrambling to gather the last of my gear together and finish off some last-minute tasks, one of which is sending this e-mail as a test to make sure the mailing list still works.

And a good thing it is that I ran this test, because I had packed the wrong keyboard, and it didn't work. Whew, problem caught and avoided.

Earlier today I packed the pile of crap on the sofa into the 2 panniers and the backpack, and gave a trial ride into work for my last shift. I've packed to minimize loose stuff, because tomorrow I'm riding to the Rochester Amtrak's Louise Slaughter Station and taking the train to NYC; I have it down to the bike and the 3 bags.

Twelve hours from now, I'll be on a train!

Pile of gear for a bicycle tour
A pile of gear for my bike trip: sleeping bags, clothes, bedroll, waterproof panniers, resupply boxes and spare parts.

2. Hotel 31, New York, NY

2021-06-25 19:17

Finding myself unable to get back to sleep at around 4 this morning, I got up and went for a little walk down the street. The full moon looked down on kitty & me as we walked.

Back at the house I snuggled with Opal for a while before starting the day. Things went straightforward, and about 8:30 I got on Amtrak 284 and locked my bike in the train's bike jail. I talked a bit with another cyclist who was heading to Syracuse from Buffalo along with 2 friends; they will be riding back over the weekend. Then I bought a muffin to enjoy as I settled in for the trip, during which I alternately watched views out the window and read some Arsene Lupin stories.

The trip was quiet and uneventful. Arriving at the newly renovated & expanded Penn Station, I checked out the Daniel Moynihan Train Hall which is definitely cheerier than the underground bunker that preceded it.

Heading outside I found myself stymied by multiple one-way streets, so even though I needed to go south, I headed north in search of an eastbound route. I found myself struggling to watch all the people walking, traffic lights, bike-specific traffic lights, and traffic, but somehow I didn't get hit. Turning east, I took the empty bus lane and stayed in it because there were no buses in my rear-view mirror and other cyclists' behavior suggested this was the norm.

I was frazzled by the time I made it to the hotel. Contrary to what they said on the phone, they said today that they don't have a secure place for bikes, but after talking a bit one of the guys decided it could go in a cleaning supply closet. To add additional security, I disassembled it and I have the seat and rear wheel in my room. Hopefully nobody swipes the frame.

After dumping my stuff in my room, I went for a walk around the area. It's odd how this city can feel both incredibly large and yet so many things seem close by: the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, and Times Square are just a few minutes' walk. I also noted multiple wooden water tanks on rooftops, an anachronism I learned about recently in a Cheddar video. There are 6 of them visible just from my hotel room window.

So, even though it was a not-much-riding day, I'm tired and going to sleep soon.

Full moon over Middlesex Road, Rochester, NY
Full moon over Middlesex Road, Rochester, NY.
Perette Barella and Opal Wright
Perette and Opal, before Perette embarks on her 2021 bike adventure.
Recumbent bicycle in Amtrak bicycle stall
Recumbent bicycle in Amtrak bicycle stall.
Amtrak snack: a blueberry muffin and Coca-Cola
Amtrak snack: a blueberry muffin and Coca-Cola.
Linear Roadster in the Moynihan Train Hall
Linear Roadster in the Moynihan Train Hall.
Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station, New York City
Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station, New York City.
Perette Barella at Greeley Square, New York City
Perette Barella at Greeley Square, New York City.
Hotel 31, on 31st Street in New York City
Hotel 31, on 31st Street in New York City.
Hotel 31 guest room, with guest belongings strewn about
Hotel 31 guest room, with guest belongings strewn about.
View from a Hotel 31 guest room
Six of New York City's distinctive wooden water tanks were visible from my room's window.

3. NYC: Central Park & Brooklyn Bridge

2021-06-26 18:39

I went to bed last night a little worried that I'd bitten off too much taking on NYC. The traffic yesterday was intimidating, the heat tough, my bike's security not entirely clear. I felt overwhelmed.

But I got about 7 hours sleep (plus a 2 or 3 hour period of insomnia in the middle), and got up about 6:30. After a breakfast sandwich at a nearby deli recommended by the front desk, I reassembled my bike and headed to Central Park.

Central Park

Central Park is very diverse. Artistic paths, sculptures, fountains and a castle blend with ponds, granite rocky areas, forested sections and other natural elements. I see why it's so popular: there were all kinds of humans and animals doing their things.
New York City Gay 6K Run
The queer community was holding a Gay 6K to celebrate Pride weekend.
A beautiful woman named Nana was relaxing on a rock, and let me take a picture of her. She had a lovely smile.
A beautiful woman named Nana was relaxing on a rock, and let me take a picture of her. She had a lovely smile..
Turtle Pond, Central Park
Human parents fed processed foods full of empty calories to other species, so their kids could see them up close.
A duck on Turtle Pond in Central Park
I took advantage of this to take pictures of the animals, such as this duck.
Turtles in Turtle Pond in Central Park
Turtles in Turtle Pond in Central Park.
Ducks on Turtle Pond in Central Park
Ducks on Turtle Pond in Central Park.

There were also many beautiful views:

Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
The Pool in Central Park
The Pool in Central Park.
A small waterfall on the outlet stream of The Pool in Central Park
A small waterfall on the outlet stream of The Pool in Central Park.
Central Park Reservoir
The Manhattan Skyline is visible beyond the Central Park Reservoir.
Belvedere Castle in Central Park
Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
Pinebank Arch in Central Park
Pinebank Arch in Central Park.

Hudson River

After a few hours at Central park, I headed west to the Hudson River, cutting through the edges of the Bronx. There's a park along the river, and owing to increased cycling traffic, they've now separated the bikeway from the pedestrian quai since the last time I was there.

At Battery Park I stopped to give the Statue of Liberty the middle finger, because although France had all the best intentions, the graven image overshadows the concept it was supposed to represent. It used to be that Liberty, like Justice with her scales, was represented differently by various artists. Our coinage had varying likenesses in the 1880s; it was a living idea. Now there is only one, always the same hollow icon representing a tourist trap. The idea she represented now plays second fiddle, when it is thought of at all.

Then I found an ice cream truck, and had an overpriced cone. It was still delicious.

Hudson River
Looking north on the Hudson River toward the George Washington bridge.
Hudson River
A view of New Jersey over the Hudson River.
Boat parade on the Hudson River
Boat parade on the Hudson River.
Dog in backpack of bike rider
A couple out for a ride on the Hudson River Greenway, taking their dog along for the ride in a backpack.

Brooklyn Bridge

Next I headed over to the Brooklyn Bridge and rode to Brooklyn. Getting tired from the riding and the humidity, I didn't explore Brooklyn much before heading back.

I got back to the hotel around 3. I took time to fold my bike extra small, which was fortuitous because when I took it inside the person on front desk announced the supply cupboard was now full, and without any arguing he agreed to let me take my bike up to my room.

After a shower I had dinner at Brother Jimmy's BBQ, which was decent. I'm now hanging out at a park writing this. I'm feeling a lot better now about my time here.

The Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn, viewed from Manhattan
The Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn, viewed from Manhattan.
Perette Barella on the Brooklyn Bridge
Perette Barella on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Looking downriver from the Brooklyn Bridge
Looking downriver from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Looking upriver from the Brooklyn Bridge
Looking upriver from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge tower
The west Brooklyn Bridge tower and its cable supports, with Manhattan in the background. The apparent curving of cables is panorama distortion (like a fish-eye lens).
The US Courthouse in Brooklyn
The US Courthouse in Brooklyn.

4. NYC: High Line & Pride

2021-06-27

After about 11 hours of sleep (and no insomnia!), I woke and contemplated my day. The High Line doesn't allow bicycling, so I decided to walk today.

High Line

The High Line is an old elevated freight line that served the meat-packing district. A few years ago, it was converted to an elevated linear park with lots of native trees, grasses, and flowers. It's interesting how different it is from street level: free of the clutter of storefronts, limited advertising, no hassles of crosswalks, separated from the fray and din of the traffic below. It's surprisingly peaceful—well, that's probably biased by it having been Sunday morning too, but it's more than that. Crossing a street at a crosswalk home vs. here is like the difference between an intersection in my car vs. a bus. I have to pay a lot of extra attention, because there's a lot more going on.
Garden on the High Line, NY, NY
A garden along the High Line.
High Line and 520 West 28th Street, NY, NY
Gardens, sculptures and distinctive architecture along the High Line.
A transgender-affirming sign along the High Line
A transgender-affirming sign along the High Line.
10th Avenue, viewed from the High Line
10th Avenue, viewed from the High Line.
The High Line, NY, NY
Mysterious stuff transformed into art, or maybe a planter, on the High Line.

Pride

The High Line took me to the edge of Lower Manhattan, where I headed east to Greenwich Village and Pride events. I stopped in a few different parks and watched some of the revelers. Seeing older gay folk felt strange... there are so few in Rochester, and what exist mostly keep to themselves or safe spaces like the old days. Here in NYC, they are survivors of a battle they fought over decades, and their militancy remains.

Still, the younger crowd outsized the older, and on average, they seem less activistic.

On the way home, I heard cheering a few streets over and went to see what's up. It turns out there was a march today, contrary to various websites and inquiries I'd made. It was a lot smaller than the last I attended, 30 years ago, probably a result of COVID and confusion about whether it was happening.

2021 Pride at Washington Square Park, NY, NY
Activist chalking the sidewalk at Pride
2021 Pride at Washington Square Park, NY, NY
2021 Pride at Washington Square Park, NY, NY.
Handkerchief Dress at 2021 Pride
A woman models her handmade dress, sewn together from handkerchiefs, at New York City Pride in 2021. The handkerchiefs are a nod to the hanky code, an interest-signalling method used when "cruising" in times past.

5. Ardsley Acres, Ardsley, NY

2021-06-28 12:23

I went to bed early last night, between 7 and 8 I think. I slept pretty well until around 3. Around 4 I gave up trying to fall asleep again and got my day started, aiming to beat traffic and the continuing heat.

I got another breakfast sandwich from the deli around the corner, then dragged my bike and gear down, reassembled and loaded it up. After saying goodbye to the staff and my room's view of wooden water tanks, I left Hotel 31 and headed west.

Arriving at the Hudson, there were nice views of New Jersey and of dawn over the city I was leaving behind.

I travelled north up the Hudson River bikeway to its end. I stopped at a grocery store while skirting through the Inwood and Kingsbridge neighborhoods, then hopped on the Putnam Trail, which became the South County Trail once I crossed into Westchester County.

I was supposed to go on to Elmsford but when I got to Ardsley, a cute motel with well-manicured hedges and a nice gazebo caught my eye. I cut the day about 3 miles short, preferring known vacancy and appearance to unknowns later. The exterior detailing didn't lie; the room is indeed quiet nice and decently maintained. However, the walls are a little thin and the couple in the next room is doing a lot of humping. It's kind of like having an all-porn radio station, if there were such things.

Perette Barella
Perette, departing Hotel 31.
Dawn over New Jersey and the Hudson River, viewed from Manhattan
Dawn over New Jersey and the Hudson River, viewed from Manhattan.
Dawn over Hudson Yards, New York City
Dawn over Hudson Yards, New York City.
The Hudson River and George Washington Bridge in the morning
The Hudson River and George Washington Bridge in the morning.
The George Washington Bridge
The George Washington Bridge.
Hudson River cairns
Cairns line the Hudson riverbank near the George Washington Bridge, as if keeping an eye on New Jersey.
Van Cortlandt Lake, at the southern end of the Putnam Trailway
Van Cortlandt Lake, at the southern end of the Putnam Trailway.
Empire State Trail
I travelled the Empire State Trail for several days. The ambiguously-positioned field comment could be a label for us New Yorkers, or a description of our neighbors to the south.
Grand Central Station test stones
Test stones for Grand Central Station stand along the Putnam Trailway. Reminiscent of tombstones, the stones are from different quarries, ordered by the railroad and set out along this right-of-way to see which best weathered the winters for the then-planned Grand Central Station.
Vandalism
Oh No... Vandalism! Cue Wimpy the Slop-White bear.
Saw Mill River Parkway and Putnam Trailway/South County Trailway
The rail-trail follows I-87 or, as it does along this section, the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Ardsley Acres Motel
Ardsley Acres Motel.

6. Budget Motor Inn, Mahopac, NY

2021-06-29 13:27

Today was a fairly easy 45km on rail-trail to my next waypoint. In the few points where it joined a road, the right-of-way was separated by a guard rail. There was a little up-and-down, but it being railroad grade and paved, the climbs weren't a problem. The downhills were pleasant—long, gentle descents that I could coast without braking.

One of those descents was into the Croton River valley where I crossed the New Croton Reservoir, part of the New York City water system, on an impressive trestle.

Climbing out of the valley, I encountered another touring recumbent rider—an older gentleman who is heading up to the Cranberry Lake region in the Adirondacks. Depending on his speed, he may join me at Sylvan Lake Beach Park tomorrow or Thursday night.

At the top of the grade was Yorktown, where an old rail turntable had been converted to a flower garden. There was also an original station, excellently preserved. Best of all was a decent diner for a late second breakfast.

From there it was about another hour to the motel.

Overall, it wasn't as scenic as the past few days, but still a pleasant ride. The heat and humidity were high today, but thankfully the shaded, paved rail trail countered it.

Saw Mill River
Saw Mill River.
A bird on Woodlands Lake
A bird on Woodlands Lake.
Putnam Trailway/North County Trailway
Putnam Trailway/North County Trailway.
Trestle over the New Croton Reservoir
An old railway trestle carries the trail over the New Croton Reservoir.
New Croton Reservoir, as viewed from the Putnam Trailway trestle.
New Croton Reservoir, as viewed from the Putnam Trailway trestle..
Patriot Garden, Yorktown, NY
Stopped at the Yorktown Patriot Garden. Like other periodic stops along the trail, there's a bike self-maintenance station here.
Yorktown Station on the Putnam Trailway
Yorktown Station on the Putnam Trailway.

7. Sylvan Lake Beach Campground, Hopewell Junction, NY

2021-06-30 16:19

Today's ride continued North along the Putnam Division of the New York Central (the "Old Put") to its terminus in Brewster, passing several lovely lakes along the way.

In Brewster I stopped at A Country Kitchen for second breakfast, Pigs in a Blanket.

After breakfast, I got on the Maybrook Trailway, another fully-paved rail-trail which will take me into Poughkeepsie. This line belonged to the New Haven railway and was one of the key freight routes to & from New England before a 1974 fire damaged the bridge over the Hudson. Rather than repair the bridge, traffic was rerouted and the route eventually abandoned. The bridge has been repurposed as a pedestrian/bikeway over the Hudson.

It looks like the MTA (NYC's transit authority) owns the Maybrook line, and has left one set of tracks (mostly) in place. The other side is the bikeway.

The route runs past Ice Pond, which gets its name from its past use as an ice farm. Prior to that it was a peat bog and clay quarry, and originally part of the Great Swamp, much of which remains. Following the swamp, there's a 10km ascent to cross over the Appalachians.

At the top, I passed the scenic Whaley Lake and then encountered the Appalachian Trail crossing. The AT had a bridge crossing a small brook in the woods. It wasn't deep enough to swim but it was enough for a lie-down, one side at a time.

From there, it was an easy (gently downhill!) and cool (evaporation!) ride as I descended toward Hopewell Junction. The last 5km were on roads to get to the campground—the first of this year's trip, and the first use of my new tent.

The campground seems quiet and peaceful today.

Putnam Trailway bridge over the West Branch Croton River
Putnam Trailway bridge over the West Branch Croton River.
The West Branch of the Croton River
The West Branch of the Croton River.
Middle Branch Reservoir
Middle Branch Reservoir.
Pigs in a Blanket at the Country Kitchen in Brewster, NY
Pigs in a Blanket at the Country Kitchen in Brewster, NY.
The Maybrook Trailway, part of the Empire State Trail
The Maybrook Trailway, part of the Empire State Trail.
Ice Pond along the Maybrook Trailway outside Brewster, NY
Ice Pond along the Maybrook Trailway outside Brewster, NY.
Flowering shrub
A colorful shrub decorates the Great Swamp along the Maybrook Trailway
Maybrook Trailway trestle
A trestle on the Maybrook Trailway crosses Muddy Brook and a Metro North commuter rail line
Trestle over Metro North rail line
The Metro North line heads off north, skirting the New York/Connecticut border
Wetlands at the top of the highlands on the Maybrook Trailway
Wetlands at the top of the highlands on the Maybrook Trailway.
Whaley Lake along the Maybrook Trailway
Whaley Lake along the Maybrook Trailway.
Appalachian Trail bridge over Whaley Lake Stream
The Appalachian Trail crosses Whaley Lake Stream right next to the Maybrook Trail.
Tenting at Sylvan Lake Beach Campground
Tenting at Sylvan Lake Beach Campground.

Afterwards...

Wednesday evening the rains moved in with a heavy thunderstorm and strong winds. The new tent held up admirably to the onslaught and the inside stayed mostly dry, except where I brought water in on my clothes because I stepped out to fix the sloppy staking I'd done.

Taking a day of rest on Thursday, there were on-and-off rains, mostly fairly light. I spent the day watching the lake—the campground was quiet and serene until evening, when weekenders started showing up. Other times I read in my tent, which felt much less claustrophobic than my older one.

8. "Gunks" Campground, New Paltz, NY

2021-07-02 18:45

Today I was on the move again. Rather than backtrack to the Maybrook Trailway, I went directly to Hopewell Junction where they've been restoring the old depo. From there I took Dutchess Rail Trail all the way to the Walkway over the Hudson. There was a lovely view of Poughkeepsie and the nearby Mid-Hudson bridge. I could see the Poughkeepsie train station below, and a CSX freight train came up the old West Shore line.

I stopped at a diner in Highland, the hamlet on the western end of the bridge, for a late second breakfast, then continued on to New Paltz where the trail ends. I restocked on food while in town, then continued on to the campground where I'll be staying until Monday.

Hopewell Junction, NY trail station
Hopewell Junction, NY trail station.
Dutchess County (New York) Rail Trail
Dutchess County (New York) Rail Trail.
Poughkeepsie Station, below the Walkway over the Hudson
Poughkeepsie Station, below the Walkway over the Hudson.
Looking north from the Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY
Looking north from the Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Looking south from the Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY
Looking south from the Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Poughkeepsie Station
Trains in Poughkeepsie Station
The Mid-Hudson Bridge
The Mid-Hudson Bridge, just south of the Walkway over the Hudson, carries traffic across the river. Below, on the west side of the river, 2 CSX engines lead a freight train northbound toward the Selkirk yard.
Campsite at the "Gunks" Campground
Campsite at the "Gunks" Campground.

Saturday: Carriage Trails & Hiking

It had rained overnight and the ground was wet Saturday, so I went for a hike. I climbed up the mountain to "The Trapps", the cliffs where a lot of rock climbing happens. I hiked down one of the carriage trails a ways, then took some hiking trails and walked the ridge along the top of the cliff. There were some nice views.

Afterward returning to camp, I hiked over to the Mountain Breuhaus, a nearby German Alps-themed restaurant, and had dinner.

West Trapps in the Shawangunk Mountains
West Trapps in the Shawangunk Mountains.
Shawangunks Scenic Overlook
Overlooking the "Gunks" Scenic Overlook.
West Trapps in the Shawangunk Mountains
A view along the Trapps cliffs of the "Gunks".
Vista from the West Trapps in the Shawangunk Mountains
Looking north from the northernmost knoll of the West Trapps.
Climbers on the East Trapps of the Shawangunk Mountains
Climbers on the East Trapps in the Mohonk Preserve.
Unicycle
A random unicycle in the Gunks Campground pavilion.

Sunday: Minnewaska State Park

Saturday's rains hadn't amounted to much, so Sunday I decided to ride some of the carriage trails. I knew there were a bunch in the Mohonk Preserve, but I had no idea about the proliferation in Minnewaska.

After fixing a derailleur issue (thankfully, a new cable fixed it) I rode up the mountain and took the carriage trail to Minnewaska State Park, passing one of the park's waterfalls along the way.

The main area was pretty busy, so I walked around Minnewaska Lake, noting where side trails went. I'd heard good things about Lake Awosting, saw Castle Point Trail went there and the pictures on the sign interested me, and found a shorter route there too. Getting back on the bike, I made a loop route of it, taking the short route to Lake Awosting, the long way around the lake (the trail got really rough though), then returning via the Castle Point Trail.

That junket alone added up to about 11 miles, and that wasn't including the distance to or from the park. But Lake Awosting was indeed pretty, and Castle Point's vistas were spectacular. I could see west to Rondout Reservior, which I would pass on Monday, and bits of the Catskills; south to High Point, New Jersey; southeast to Bear Mountain, New York; to the east, beyond some lower hills, were the Taconics.

I hadn't realized how much I had climbed. I started coming down the second half of the Castle Point trail, then there was the entryway into the park and taking US-44 back down the mountain. I whizzed, a lot; top speed, 59km/h (36MPH). I stopped for a bratwurst at the Breuhaus, where two fellow bike-campers, Jonah and Jackie, met up with me and shared a table and stories. They were on a long-weekend trip up from NYC, riding up from the Metro North station at Poughkeepsie, and had also daytripped to Minnewaska, coming down minutes after me.

Back at the campground later, I made a more extensive second dinner and shared some cheese & crackers with my fellow cyclists. Later, I hung out by the communal fire pit and shared stories with the various other campers and adventurers. And by then it was bedtime.

Deer on the Trapps Trail in the Mohonk Preserve
A deer on the Trapps Trails looks at me.
Awosting Falls in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Awosting Falls in Minnewaska State Park, New York.
Minnewaska Lake in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Cliffs line the east side of Minnewaska Lake
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Minnewaska Lake in Minnewaska State Park, New York
More cliffs line the north end of the lake, while the forest comes to the shores on the west.
Minnewaska Lake in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking north from the south end of Lake Minnewaska.
Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking east from Minnewaska: a slope down to the Trapps ridge, with the Wallkill valley beyond.'
Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking southeast from Minnewaska: Millbrook Mountain, the Wallkill Valley, and in the distance, the Appalachians and the Hudson River gap.
Lake Awosting in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Lake Awosting in Minnewaska State Park, New York.
Lake Awosting in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Cliffs along a portion of Lake Awosting.
Lake Awosting in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Lake Awosting in Minnewaska State Park, New York.
Perette Barella on the Castle Point Trail in Minnewaska State Park, New York
Stopped for a snack among the scrubby pine trees as I climb the Castle Point trail.
South view from Castle Point Trail, Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking south from the Castle Point Trail
View from Castle Point Trail, Minnewaska State Park, New York
View from Castle Point Trail, Minnewaska State Park, New York.
View from Castle Point Trail, Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking south: a bit of Lake Awosting is visible. Slightly left of this is High Point, New Jersey.
View from Castle Point Trail, Minnewaska State Park, New York
Looking east: the cliffs on the west side of Gertude's Nose are on the left. The Hudson River gap is on the horizon, center; left of this the Taconics are on the horizon, on the right Bear Mountain and the Appalachians; High Point, New Jersey; and Lake Awosting.

9. Neversink River Campground, Woodbourne, NY

2021-07-05 17:10

This morning I woke with the light, packed up my site and moved to the pavilion, where my food was in a bear-proof box.

After breakfast, I reloaded the bike (now with the food too) and headed up the mountain for the third time in 3 days, this time with all my gear. I left at 7:35ish, the sun shining on The Trapps as I ascended; when I got there, I was above the clouds that were hovering over the lower parts of the valley.

By 8:50, was still under 9km (5 miles) along, but I made up for some of that as I descended the other side of the mountain, then started slowly making my way up the Rondout valley to the reservoir.

I hoped for a sandwich in Grahamsville, but the deli was closed, so I ate a few snacks and proceeded to the campground.

As I entered the campground, the building to the left has a big "Trump 2020: No More Bullshit" flag still hanging. The paradox of it is all the bullshit about election fraud he's pushed.

But because of its presence, I I did something very uncharacteristic: before registering, I unclipped the rainbow mask that has been on my belt purse, and put it in my backpack because I actually am scared of these SOBs, and I'm not presently armed.

House in Shawangunk Mountains
Activism in the Shawankgunk Mountains: a "Sex Work Is Work" sign in the window advocates for decriminalization. I agree.
Perette Barella
Stopped for a rest at the scenic overlook, clouds covering the valley behind me.
Black and orange moth
A moth also resting at the overlook.
Catskill Mountains
The Catskill Mountains, viewed from the west side of the Gunks.
Entering Catskill Park
Entering Catskill Park.
Rondout Reservoir
Nearing the Rondout Reservoir.
Rondout Reservoir
Rondout Reservoir.
Concerned Citizens of Hasbrouck Meeting Hall, Woodbourne, NY
Concerned Citizens of Hasbrouck Meeting Hall, Woodbourne, NY.

10. Roscoe Campsite, Roscoe, NY

2021-07-06 15:44

After a pretty good sleep, I got up around 6:30 and was on the road about 8:25. It was a short 3km upstream along the Neversink River to the Neversink Reservior, probably named for the river but a named shared with one of the hamlets that is now sunk under said reservoir. So much for that name.

The first 12km were a lot of uphill and my legs were still sore from the climbs yesterday, but I got some payoff after that. Nearing Roscoe, the rode ran along Willowemoc Creek where I spied a few fly fisherman, for which the area is known.

Mom came out to join me for a few days. I met up with her just before Roscoe and we stopped for lunch at the "Famous" Roscoe Diner, then headed over to our campsite on the Beaver Kill (translation: Beaver River; lots of rivers around here are named {whatever}kill, a Dutch influence).

I enjoyed a brief dip in the very brisk river to cool off when we arrived.

Later, some thunderstorms rolled through, so I tucked in my tent and wrote my daily travelogue; mom folded down the back seats in her Subaru and hid from the rain in there doing crosswords and Sudokus. Later, I moved to the car and we played cards while waiting out the rain.

On the positive side, the temperature dropped to something much more comfortable than it was before the rains. There's more heavy rains predicted tomorrow afternoon/night.

Today was my last reservation. The trip is now schedule-free.

Neversink River, Woodbourne, NY
Neversink River, Woodbourne, NY.
Neversink Reservoir
Neversink Reservoir.
Fly fisherman on Willowemoc Creek, Livingston Manor, NY
Fly fisherman on Willowemoc Creek, Livingston Manor, NY.
Perette and Pat Barella playing cards
Playing cards with mom in the car, while it pours outside.
Roscoe Campsites
Free-range chickens invade our site while eating our pasta & meatballs dinner that mom brought.
Chickens on a stroll
Chickens on a stroll.
Goats
Goats at Roscoe Campsites
Goat standing on rock
Goat standing on rock.
Goat resting on rock
Goat resting on rock.
Alpaca
Alpaca at Roscoe Campsites
Alpacas
Alpacas at Roscoe Campsites

11. Peaceful Valley Campsite, Shinhopple, NY

2021-07-07 15:59

Today we moved on to Peaceful Valley Campsite, a campground that lives up to its name. Along the way, we passed through a tunnel-like section of road that ran under I-86 for a few hundred meters, which seemed out-of-place in the rural Beaver Kill valley. That lead us to the confluence of the Beaver Kill and the East Branch of the Delaware River, which we're now following upstream.

With looming weather reports of heavy rains tonight and tomorrow, we've taken a cabin for 2 nights—however, so far the only evidence of rain is some thunder in the distance. It's still sunny and beautiful here; after settling in and taking a little while to dry gear, we went swimming in the very 1960s pool, complete with indestructible space-age styled metal chairs in assorted colors.

We're now relaxing outside our cabin, enjoying a lovely warm breeze.

NY-17 viaduct
Old 17 ducks under a NY-17/I-86 viaduct through a narrow section of valley near Gregorytown, NY.
Beaver Kill, Gregorytown, NY
The Beaver Kill, along the NY-17 viaduct near Gregorytown, NY.
Beaver Kill, East Branch, NY
The Beaver Kill in East Branch, NY
Confluence of the Beaver Kill and East Branch Delaware River
Confluence of the Beaver Kill and East Branch Delaware River.
Gazebo
A gazebo at the confluence
Cabin at Peaceful Valley, Shinhopple, NY
Cabin at Peaceful Valley, Shinhopple, NY.
Tubers on East Branch Delaware River
Tubers float down the East Branch Delaware River behind our cabin.
The gigantic pool at Peaceful Valley, Shinhopple, NY
The gigantic pool at Peaceful Valley, Shinhopple, NY.

Day of Rest

A night of severe thunderstorms that shook our house of sticks and might have shredded my house of nylon gave way to weather wasn't as bad as predicted, so we got in some walks around the campground. It rained a bunch more Thursday night, and the day of rest was nice, so I'm not complaining.

I used the day off to do some reading, play some cribbage with mom, restock my gear from the box I had shipped to mom, and go into Downsville on some errands and to grab dinner at The Old Schoolhouse with mom. They grow their own beef on the hill behind the restaurant—Yum.

Perette Barella
Sorting through my food and resupplying
Airplane
An airplane at Peaceful Valley. They have a lawn that works as an airfield.
The Old Schoolhouse Inn & Restaurant, Downsville, NY
We had dinner at The Old Schoolhouse.

12. Colonial Motel, Grand Gorge, NY

2021-07-09 19:50

Back on the road today, there was some fog in the valley until I got up by the Pepactin Reservior, the largest of the NYC reserviors—and the last of the big 7 for me to bike past. While I cycled the 20ish miles of reservior, mom skipped ahead and checked out the tentative campground—which was over a massive hill, and waterlogged from the recent rains—so she made a no-go call, diverting us to Margaretville where we expected to get a motel.

But before worrying about lodging, we grabbed a chicken and apple pie at the grocery store and devoured it at a nearby park. Bellies full, we tried to solve the lodging confusion mom had already run into before I'd caught up, with no better success: the reasonably-priced options in Margaretville don't staff their lodges, preferring guests call to inquire, which they don't answer and don't return.

But tomorrow's motel at Grand Gorge had space today, and it was only 17 miles more, so I reserved a room and pressed on toward the East Branch Delaware River's headwaters.

The motel is quite nice. We dipped in the pool then got some pizza and ice cream.

Tomorrow, I'll be turning westward, to Crazy Acres if it's not flooded too bad; mom will be heading east, back to Connecticut. It's been nice having her along. I wish she could have stayed for longer, but I'm glad for the time we got.

Bridge over East Branch Delaware River, Corbett, NY
Bridge over East Branch Delaware River, Corbett, NY.
Covered Bridge, Downsville, NY
Covered Bridge, Downsville, NY.
East Branch Delaware River, Downsville, NY
Morning mists rise off the East Branch near Downsville, NY.
Small waterfall
A stream runs heavy with runoff from recent rains near the Pepactin Reservoir.
Downsville, NY as viewed from the Pepactin Reservoir dam
Downsville, NY as viewed from the Pepactin Reservoir dam.
The Pepactin Reservoir
The Pepactin Reservoir.
Pepactin Reservoir gatehouse
The Pepactin Reservoir gatehouse regulates water flow into a tunnel that carries it to Rondout Reservoir. The Delaware Aqueduct/System is an amazing piece of engineering, despite it currently leaking the volume of water Rochester uses in a day.
Pepactin Reservoir
The Pepactin Reservoir, looking east from the NY-30 bridge.
Pepactin Reservoir
The Pepactin Reservoir, looking west from the NY-30 bridge.
Apple pie and chicken
Lunch: chicken and apple pie
Delaware & Ulster Railway
The Delaware & Ulster Railroad near Middletown, NY. The line runs from Kingston to Roxbury, after which it's been repurposed as the Catskill Scenic Trail. Trackwork on the line made me happy.
A dilapidated church in Roxbury, NY
A run-down Catholic church in Roxbury with some amazing stained-glass detailing.
Jay Gould Memorial Reformed Church, Roxbury, NY
This impressive stone church in Roxbury, NY is reminiscent of an armory.
East Branch Delaware River
The river flows slowly through wetlands a few miles from the headwaters. Mountainside Farms, a large dairy operation, is quartered nearby.
East Branch Delaware River
A stagnant trench leads through a narrow valley to the East Branch headwaters.
East Branch Delaware River Headwaters sign
A sign declares the headwaters location.
Colonial Motel, Grand Gorge, NY
Colonial Motel, Grand Gorge, NY.

13. Crazy Acres, Davenport, NY

2021-07-10 15:47

After breakfast and loading up, I said good-bye to mom and turned west on NY-23, after she turned east. I took off my rain jacket about a mile into the gradual 6-mile hill to Stamford; it was too hot, and the rain wasn't more than a drizzle anyway. Even that stopped as I climbed.

I thought about getting breakfast in Stamford, but I wasn't that hungry so I kept going, attacking the shorter but steeper hill on the way out of town before getting to some fun downhill after crossing into the Susquehanna watershed.

I'm staying at Crazy Acres today, a very family-friendly campground with fun activities going on. My first fun was untangling my bear line, which wrapped itself a few times around a lower branch after I missed the branch I was aiming for.

The sun came out now and it's a pleasant afternoon here.

The evening featured a 1970's themed Disco Fever party. So about the time I usually wind down, I instead went dancing. My knees will hate hate, dancing after the hills and extra weight of resupplying. The owners seem to be very fun-oriented, and were dancing too. I enjoyed myself, boogie-ing until about 9:30.

Pat Barella
Saying goodbye to mom.
Pat Barella
Mom heads east, into the distance.
Perette Barella
Kitted up for a rainy ride.
Tenting at Crazy Acres, Davenport, NY
Tenting at Crazy Acres, Davenport, NY.

14. Copes Corners Park, Gilbertsville, NY

2021-07-11 15:46

I got up about 6 this morning and checked the doom—err, weather report, which showed the predicted rain was now 35mm (1.5 inches) and arriving mid-day, with a flash flood watch for overnight tonight.

I got on the road around 7:30 and had a pleasant ride with lots of downhill into Oneonta about 9:00, where I stopped at Nick's Diner and Pizzeria for an omelet, and confirmed rains were still expected between 12 and 1.

The rest of the day was hillier, but not horrendous; I got a few extra miles because Google Maps tried to route me down a ditch that it alleges is a road. When I got near Gilbertsville, I encountered a posted detour which, if I'd followed it, would have taken me about 4 miles out of the way. Consulting Google Maps, I found an alternate route that was barely out of the way at all, which balanced out the earlier ditch bonus.

Along my detour, there was a horse competition going on. If the weather wasn't looming, I'd love to have stopped; but it was already noonish and I'd been hitting on-and-off light rains since 11.

I arrived at Cope's Corners Park about 12:30, riding in in a light drizzle, which continued intermittently while I set up. I got a little site on the lawn next to a pavilion which isn't in use, so it can be my kitchen, dining room, office, and garage, which is nice now that the rains are picking up.

The park is a small place with only about 30 campsites, divided in half by a small stream with a nifty bridge crossing it. On the one side there is a nice new bathhouse which, unfortunately for me, is days away from completion; so I took a sponge bath in the old one, which lacks showers. The lady staffing the office is really friendly.

Horses, Otego, NY
Horses, Otego, NY.
Bridge at Copes Corners Campground
A bridge spans the stream that divides Copes Corners.
Tenting at Copes Corners
Tenting at Copes Corners.
Bear bag
Most of the trees at Copes Corners were too low for bear-bagging, but I only needed one. If the bear gets my food tonight, he deserves it.

15. Scenic View Campground, West Winfield, NY

2021-07-12 17:18

Today was a misty, drizzly 60km (40 mile) ride following the Unadilla River upstream. County Road 18 runs up the east side, and is in decent condition, quiet, with gently rolling hillls. Streams bringing runoff to the river were gushing owing to the recent rains, but I had my phone packed safely away to escape the damp. The biggest snag of the day was a pair of unchained dogs 10km up County 18, which came out at me. Jumping off and yelling, I drove them off without getting bitten, but it was close. I'm filing a report with Animal Control.

When I got near the campground, I diverted into the village to get some lunch. Afterwards I rode to the campground in a light rain, although it was one of the heaviest I've ridden in this year. I've been lucky.

Tonight's campground lives up to its name—it's located at the top of a steep driveway (it reminded me of Minnewaska), and there's a beautiful view to the north near the office. The camping area is more average.

A stone house, Lathams Corners, New York
A stone house, Lathams Corners, New York.
Horse, Pittsfield, NY
A timid horse watches me from behind a tree.
Vista at Scenic View Campground
Vista at Scenic View Campground.
Tenting at Scenic View Campground
Tenting at Scenic View Campground.

Afterthought:

The night at Scenic View went okay, other than a little insomnia in the middle because the incident of the dogs came back to me when I got up to pee. After sunrise I kept getting woken up by trucks leaving; apparently, many locals stay at the campground all summer, but still have jobs to go to. And since they all have giant campers, they have giant trucks with big engines to tow those campers.

16. Ace of Diamonds Mine & Campground

2021-07-13 16:21

I ended up with a late start, hitting the road just before 10. About 10km brought me to NY-51 where it descends gently but steadily for another 10km into the Mohawk Valley along Steele Creek. It was cool in the dell, the grade enough to keep me rolling, neither braking or pedalling. It was a pretty ride, and pleasant, but not really photogenic.

In Ilion, I restocked on food, then cycled to Dick's Wheel Shop, a bicycle shop in Herkimer. He was friendly, admiring my rig and asking where I was going and offering water if I needed it. And he sold me a new pair of foam grips for my handlebars, because mine have been falling apart recently.

I got a "free" lunch using gift cards from the kids on my bus, then started following West Canada Creek upriver toward the Adirondacks on NY-28.

Tonight's campground is very weird. Since it's near Herkimer, I assumed it was a typical campground, just with a mining theme. Other campgrounds sometimes have a sluiceway and the camp store has bags of gravel with a few pretty but inexpensive gemstones thrown in, and kids can wash it in the sluise and pick out the gems. That's what I expected to find.

What this place actually is is a quarry, where you can pay $14 a day to go bang rocks, or use a sluiceway to clean tailings you've dug out yourself. There's a fair number of people going at it, mostly adults, although a few kids/families. In most countries, banging rocks is punishment; here, it's entertainment. And as an afterthought, in case patrons want to mine for multiple days, they have a few campsites.

I considered a nearby KOA instead, but they were not helpful when I called and their website was frustrating, so I accepted one of the mine's Adirondack-style lean-to shelters. Hopefully I won't have any animal troubles, because there's nowhere to bear bag.

Before showering, I installed the new grips on the bike, and cleaned some grime off my chainrings and idler sprockets. The whole bike is grimy from all the roadspray, and could use a good hosing down.

I encountered some generosity at the quarry: a pair of brothers, Cody & Rob, who shared some of their spaghetti with meatballs & chicken. Rob mines professionally, selling his finds at gem shows to new agers & neopagans. As he travels between gem shows, he visits different quarries to replenish various stock. It's interesting seeing how people can create businesses.

Steele Creek, Ilion, NY
Steele Creek, Ilion, NY.
A church, Herkimer, NY
A church, Herkimer, NY.
Dick's Wheel Shop, Herkimer, NY
Dick's Wheel Shop, 411 Mohawk Street, Herkimer, NY was helpful and had the parts I needed.
Ace of Diamonds, Middleville, NY
Camping in a quarry at Ace of Diamonds, Middleville, NY.

17. West Canada Creek Campsite, Poland, NY

2021-07-14 13:17

Today was a short ride from the quarry to Poland. (I skipped the right-hand turn that lead to Norway.)

Along the way, I stopped in Newport to do laundry so I have something to wear that doesn't smell funky when Opal visits this weekend. There's some interesting old architecture in Newport—lots of old stone buildings dating to the mid-1800s, including an octagonal one; and an old Masonic lodge from the early 1900s. There's a stone arched bridge crossing West Canada Creek, also built in the 1850s. The creek is really gushing at the moment.

Sadly, it's also a village that's seen better days: there's what must have been a lovely village school (replaced by a central school, I'm sure) that's long been abandoned; many houses are run-down, and there's random vacant lots that used to be something. The laundromat was in good condition though.

Although not far from Newport, Poland seems to be in much better condition.

I spent a nice day of rest at West Canada Creek Campsite. I had ice cream at the Li'l Red Caboose, swam in the pool, read a lot, got some trail magic—leftover pizza for breakfast, and chicken & rice stir fry yesterday evening with a nice family from Walton, which I biked through in 2013 and 2017.

A fountain, Newport, NY
A fountain, Newport, NY.
Newport Stone Arch Bridge, Newport, NY
The Newport Stone Arch Bridge was built of limestone by Thomas Fox in 1853.
Abandoned school, Newport, NY
Abandoned school, Newport, NY.
Masonic Temple, Newport, NY
Masonic Temple, Newport, NY.
'What Cheer Hall', Newport, NY
'What Cheer Hall', Newport, NY.
A church, Newport, NY
A church, Newport, NY.
Yale-Cady Octagonal House, Newport, NY
Yale-Cady Octagonal House in Newport, NY
The Li'l Red Caboose, and ice-cream shop in Poland, NY
The Li'l Red Caboose, and ice-cream shop in Poland, NY.

18. Piseco Lake Lodge, Piseco, NY

2021-07-16 17:51

This morning I left Poland and swang through Russia on my way to Hinckley. I misrouted slightly, missing Trenton Falls but shaving off 4km (in exchange for some hills and a dirt road). The next span was along Hinckley Lake, where I entered the Adirondack Park and Ohio, without even having to leave New York State. The road was smooth, the grades gentle, and the lake pretty in the places it was visible.

Past the lake the road follows West Canada Creek upriver for a while, then got into some hillier terrain.

I made our motel at 12:30, but check-in isn't until 3 so I visited the state park. I made some beef stew for lunch, dipped my feet off the dock for a bit. Some folks there recognized me from cycling around Rochester, and others remembered me passing through Newport a few days ago.

Hinckley Dam, Hinckley, NY
Hinckley Dam, Hinckley, NY.
Hinckley reservoir and dam, Hinckley, NY
Hinckley reservoir and dam, Hinckley, NY.
Hinckley reservoir
Hinckley reservoir.
Entering Adirondack Park
I enter the Adirondack Park as I enter Russia (town of).
NY-8 and West Canada Creek, Ohio, NY
NY-8 runs along West Canada Creek in Ohio, NY
West Canada Creek, Hoffmeister, NY
In Hoffmeister, West Canada Creek forks and heads off to more remote areas of the wilderness.
NY-8 meandering through Hoffmeister, NY
NY-8 meandering through Hoffmeister, NY.
Hoffmeister, NY town complex
This small building in Hoffmeister, NY houses the post office, town hall and town clerk, and court.
Point Comfort Beach, Piseco, NY
Stopped for lunch at Point Comfort Beach on Piseco Lake.
Point Comfort Beach, Piseco, NY
The view from the dock at Point Comfort Beach.
Ducks on Piseco Lake.
Ducks on Piseco Lake..
Sunset Room at Piseco Lake Lodge
Sunset Room at Piseco Lake Lodge. The weird line is a camera glitch.

19. Irondequoit Inn, Piseco, NY

2021-07-18 17:47

Today was a short ride from the Piseco Lake Lodge where Opal and I were staying at the south end of Piseco Lake, to the Irondequoit Inn at the north end of the lake. I would have liked to partake of the Inn's breakfast with Opal, but they didn't have space, so we instead went to a diner in Speculator.

Afterwards, Opal headed back to Rochester. It was nice to see her, cuddle her, talk with her, spend time reading next to her while she crocheted.

I look forward to being with her and Dave when I get back to Rochester.

It's a dreary day here, raining on and off. I'm glad Opal reserved a room here; even though it's raining, I can hang out on the porch and read in the fresh, cool air. Hopefully the rain finishes before I hit the road in the morning.

Perette Barella and Opal Wright
Hugging Opal before she departs.
Piseco Lake on a foggy day, Piseco, NY
A foggy day on Piseco Lake.
Room 7's shower at the Irondequoit Inn
Room 7 at the Irondequoit Inn has one of the most unusual and unique showers ever: the floor is tiled with round beach stones; the walls are flat stone tiles, although there's a belt of the beach stones about waist height. It's huge, too, dipping back under an eve; you could easily fit 2 people in there, maybe 3 if you got cozy.
Piseco Lake, Piseco, NY
Piseco Lake in the next day's morning sun.
Irondequoit Inn, Piseco, NY
Irondequoit Inn in the morning sun.

20. Moffett Beach Campground, Speculator, NY

2021-07-19 15:23

Outside, the sun was finally out. The lake and the Inn were prettier in the sunlight.

There was a nice family staying there that had come in for a reunion. They were friendly, and set up a puzzle in one of the common areas and let me help work on it while getting to know them last night. This morning as I was getting ready to head out, they came out to see me off. The friendly social spirit reminded me of camping at the Gunks Campground, the way people socialize when sharing a shelter on a trail. Like there's more to this than just a room to sleep in. It's nice.

The ride was another short one, only about 17km, so after setting up my tent I cycled into the village to sightsee and get lunch. Among other things, there was a 1930s CCC (Civlian Conservation Corps) camp. Later it became a 4H camp.

After I got back, I dipped in the lake.

Due to bear activity here they want me to stash my food in a "shed" up near registration, rather than bear bagging.

I'm feeling a bit intimidated about tomorrow's ride, a long, hilly route over to Pottersville, at the south end of Schroon Lake. I know I can do it though.

Hamilton County complex in Lake Pleasant, NY
Hamilton County complex in Lake Pleasant, NY.
Kayakers on Lake Pleasant in Lake Pleasant, NY
Kayakers on Lake Pleasant in Lake Pleasant, NY.
Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-90, Speculator, NY
Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-90, located in Speculator, NY. The camp opened in 1934 and closed in 1942, then became a 4-H camp between 1947-2004.
Town beach in Speculator, NY
Town beach in Speculator, NY.
Moffett Beach on Sacandaga Lake
Moffett Beach on Sacandaga Lake.
Moffett Beach at sunset
Moffett Beach at sunset.

21. Eagle Point, Pottersville, NY

2021-07-20 15:23

Today was a good ride.

I got up at 5:30 because it was light out. I made a little extra breakfast since it was a long day, and inadvertently invented Maple Sugar & Chocolate Flavor Instant Oatmeal when I poured hot chocolate mix into my bowl of hot water instead of my cup. It wasn't horrible, but I won't aim to make it again.

I got on the road about 7:15. It was a cool morning, a strange haze in the air; as I got to lower elevations, I hit fog. By 8:30 I'd made it to the bottom of the Speculator hill, 20km, with an average speed of over 22km/hour.

After crossing the Sacandaga river, I started climbing the other side of the valley. The road followed the river, providing an easy, gentle grade that let me keep my speed up, and didn't tire me out too fast. By 10 I'd made 16 or 19 km up the hill, where there was a neat plains area with some DEC campsites off the road. I went down one of them and had a snack, enjoying a lovely view (though not the plentiful bugs I also found there).

After a total of 25km of climbing, I crested the hill and began following Mill Creek downstream to Riparius, where there was a nifty old train station (and in great condition!) and a bridge over the Hudson.

My next stop was an ice cream shop in Pottersville, then I continued on to Eagle Point DEC Campground, which is on Schroon Lake. I like the state campgrounds.

There's a friendly church group here from Gransville, Vermont. A neighbor let me stash my food in his car rather than bear bagging, and the group fed me a delicious spaghetti dinner. I had already mowed down a big helping of sweet & sour pork, but I had more appetite after today's 80km. After dinner, the rains came so I hid in my tent until I drifted off to sleep.

DEC Campsite #2 on NY-8, Johnsburg, NY
The view from DEC Campsite #2 along NY-8 near Johnsburg, NY.
NY-8 Hudson River crossing in Riparius, NY
NY-8 Hudson River crossing in Riparius, NY.
Riverside station, Riparius, NY
Riverside station, Riparius, NY.
Warner Pond on NY-9, Pottersville, NY
Warner Pond on NY-9, Pottersville, NY.
Tenting at Eagle Point Campground on Schroon Lake
Tenting at Eagle Point Campground on Schroon Lake.

22. Sharp Bridge Campsite, North Hudson, NY

2021-07-21 18:23

The rains had stopped by morning, but started up again when I got on the road. It's probably the wettest ride I've had this year, having been very lucky about rainstorm timing so far.

I stopped at a grocery store in Schroon Lake for a few supplies, then at a Frontier Town information kiosk in North Hudson.

Tonight's campground is in a lovely open pine forest. There are only 40 sites, all spacious and mostly unoccupied. And there's another bikepacker here, Abbi.

Abbi is a professional dancer from Buffalo, who wanted to spend some time in nature and to climb a mountain. I think he may be called by memories of the Himalayas of his native land, India. We spent a lot of time talking this afternoon, walking down to the river and sitting on the banks. He seems like a nice guy, and knowing the route he's been on (the hills he has crossed), he must be pretty tough, especially since he's carrying everything in a backpack as he rides. I hope he's able to find what he's looking for out here.

Fountain near Rogers Brook, Schroon, NY
Fountain near Rogers Brook, Schroon, NY.
Schroon Lake on an overcast day. Schroon, NY
Schroon Lake on an overcast day. Schroon, NY.
A horse
A horse that I think I've seen before.
Courtney Pond, North Hudson, NY
Courtney Pond, North Hudson, NY.
Snake in the grass
Snake in the grass.
Abhishek Sharma
Abhishek Sharma, another bikepacker camping at Sharp Bridge.
Perette Barella and Abhishek Sharma
Perette and Abhi, being modern and taking selfies.
Tenting at Sharp Bridge Campground
Tenting at Sharp Bridge Campground.
Sharp Bridge Campground, North Hudson, NY
Morning sun filters through the pine forest at Sharp Bridge Campground.
Perette Barella
Breakfast at Sharp Bridge Campground, and a reminder to get your eyes checked.

Frontier Town

Frontier Town was a frontier themed attraction, akin to a renaissance fair but wild west themed, that existed from 1951-1998. It was a big deal back in its day, and its demise has been hard on the town. The state recently created a new equestrian-oriented park and campground, using the name, iconography, and probably land from the earlier venue.

The locals aren't sure the state is living up to earlier pronouncements, but private investors purchased the iconic A-frame and are refurbishing it, with visions of a restaurant and outfitter.

Nearby, some of the old Frontier Town buildings are already in service as a weird little store, that feels like a cross between Honest Ed's & a thrift store. The porch had tons of random used stuff (a fair number of them tools); inside it was like a mix of Harbor Freight, Ollie's, a craft store, and big-box sporting goods department. It was very strange. I decided against a small $14 pistol-grip crossbow that I thought might be good for dogs, partly because I figured it's a flimsy kid's toy, partly because it's 2 more pounds I don't want to carry, and partly because it'll only get me into trouble.

Frontier Town facade, repurposed as a storefront
Frontier Town facade, repurposed as a storefront.

23. Draper's Acres, North Elba, NY

2021-07-22 16:38

I woke today about 6:30 and farted around before heading out, hoping an issue would resolve itself: Abbi, the bikepacker I met yesterday, took off about 4:30 yesterday, intending to grab some supplies from North Hudson. He never returned. It turns out he'd gone all the way back to Schroon, it got late, so he took a room in town.

I started riding around 9:00, heading north into the High Peaks region and the Keene Valley. New top speed: 71.5km/h = 44.3MPH, nominally beating out drafting a tractor trailer down a hill in Pennsylvania last year.

I stopped at a diner in St Huberts/Keene Valley around 11 and had a patty melt, as I haven't had a meaty meal since Monday lunch. Well—there were meatballs Tuesday night with the church group. Still, meat for today.

After that I continued down the valley following the Ausable River to Keene, where I started up one big hill toward Lake Placid. It was only about 10km, but parts were steep, and even the long, steady grades weren't gentle. It took about 2 hours, walking some of the steeper parts, and even some of the more moderate ones toward the end because I was tired.

At the top, though, the road ran along a long, narrow pond in the gap between two mountains. It was unique, pretty, flatter, and the campground was only about 2--3km beyond the end of the lake.

I'm very tired, although I feel a little better after a shower.

Tomorrow I'll pass through Lake Placid, where I need to hit a grocery store, laundromat, and bike shop or department store—my lock, used too often as the weight on the end of my bear line, broke this morning.

Dix Mountain in the High Peaks region
Dix Mountain in the High Peaks region.
Chapel Pond with Dix Mountain
Chapel Pond with Dix Mountain.
Keene Community Garden along NY-73 in Keene Valley, NY
Keene Community Garden along NY-73 in Keene Valley, NY.
Spruce Hill Brook wetlands along NY-73 in Keene Valley, NY
Spruce Hill Brook wetlands along NY-73 in Keene Valley, NY.
NY-73 and Owls Head Mountain, Keene, NY
Some steep climbs lead to this long, steady assent toward Owls Head.
NY-73 and Lower Cascade Lake, Keene, NY
NY-73 shares a tight gap with Cascade Lake.
Tenting at Draper's Acres, North Elba, NY
Tenting at Draper's Acres, North Elba, NY.
Sharp Cheddar is not low calorie
Sharp Cheddar is not low calorie? Good. I need those calories.

24. Meadowbrook Campground, Ray Brook, NY

2021-07-23 18:07

Yesterday, the entire day passed without rain. We're now at about 38 hours without rain. Are we in a drought? /* Maybe I shouldn't joke given the desperate drought of the west end of the country. */ We got a little drizzle this afternoon though.

I went to bed early last night, then slept late—about 8AM—and got on the road about 10, but I was at the campsite by 1:30.

I got a new lock—actually 2, the first bike shop had super-heavy ones and a super-light one that operates like a zip-tie, which I settled on. But then a second shop had a more reasonable combination lock, also not great, but closer to what I want/need, so I got that too.

After that I went to a laundromat, which was right next to a grocery store. After starting my laundry, I went shopping, and couldn't resist an eat-in chicken that I took back to the laundromat and devoured. I have some soup mix I've been carrying, too, so small collection of leftover white meat will make a nice meaty chicken soup this evening. I should be set on food until Malone, NY on Tuesday.

I took advantage of the nice weather to air out my sleeping bag in the sun.

The high peaks, viewed from NY-73 in North Elba, NY
The high peaks, viewed from NY-73 in North Elba, NY.
Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY
Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY.
Tenting at Meadowbrook Campground in Ray Brook, NY
Tenting at Meadowbrook Campground in Ray Brook, NY.

Lake Placid Triathlon/Ironman

I stayed across from a group of Iron Men: Savim, Harry, Mike... there were 6 of them. Nice guys, even if I'm bad with names. They invited me over to share their fire and we talked bike riding, touring vs. competing.

A few of them are competing this year, others are here to spectate. I sense that they met through past Ironman events, and though the Lake Placid competition provides timing, gathering with friends and camaraderie with those of shared interests, has an unspoken importance.

Among those competing, there is little or no concern about their ranking, only finishing. It isn't about bragging rights to the world, either; it is about accomplishing something hard that they've chosen, and taking it through to fruition. Perhaps I'm projecting, but it reminds me of my walkabouts: I don't choose the easiest routes, partly because I'm looking for places that interest me (which often means going new places), but also because I want a challenge. One that requires effort and persistence. One that's more than winning another round of Sudoku, Candy Crush, Minesweeper or the newspaper jumble.

There's nothing wrong with those things, and I do them too sometime... but...

I used to play a lot of video games, growing up. And yeah, great, I can get better and get a higher score. But, after doing it enough, it just kinda wore out. Like a lot of mainstream TV programming, and little puzzle games. I see that for others, a new video game with a different story is new, exciting. It just isn't for me anymore. (Unless you count programming as a video game—where it's not contrived by somebody else, it's an idea and a goal set by me, in any way I want to. That I find interesting and challenging.)

When I do these trips, I'm doing something few will every try, even fewer accomplish. The Ironman folks are doing that too; it's more of a personal goal to do it, than a competition they want to win. Anyone who finishes is amazing, so completing the goal is enough.

It seems like some of us humans just like challenges. They give us something to work toward. Is the Ironman important? Was adding a JSON protocol to my open-source project important? Is doing the Times crossword important? No, none of these have intrinsic importance. Their only importance is that which we give them, because they offer a pleasing challenge that we enjoy surmounting.

What strikes me strange, though, is how different and disconnected that is from the sports- and competition-obsession of society at large. A few top performers will be worshipped, with sports-celebrity status; the rest are disregarded, by masses of people, most of whom don't compete in anything—they just sit home and watch it on TV, drinking beer. That just seems bizarre to me.

Camping in Meadowbrook Campground
Triathlonists socialize around a fire.

25. Baker's Acres, Saranac, NY

2021-07-24 16:16

I'm in Baker's Acres in Saranac, which is about 30 miles north of the better-known Saranac Lake. I did pass through Saranac Lake, though, where I noticed the Adirondack Railway's rails had been torn out and stacked up in preparation for conversion to a rail-trail. The Adirondack Scenic Railway's goal of restoring passenger service all the way to Lake Placid is dead.

Leaving town, there was flatlands and gentle downhill with some farmlands and wetlands that provided nice views of the mountains.

After Bloomingdale there was uphill to Vermontville and over Kate Mountain, but not terrible. The upper parts of Kate Mountain had the pale-green scrub and low fir trees that are peculiar to the rocky ground and bad soil of high elevation. The smell of pine pitch was lovely.

Coming down from that, I crossed the Saranac River and followed it to the campground.

The campground itself is a mixed bag: nice grounds and a lovely pool, but the showers barely get to luke warm, and even then intermittently. And though many of the seasonal sites have mature trees that provide some shade, I'm in an open field. Ugh.

Although I was planning to take a rest day here... well, the pool area is shaded, so I can avoid the heavy sun here. But I feel like I rested with the short day yesterday. We'll see how I feel in the morning, see if tonight's rains linger into the day.

Saranac Lake Recreational Path
A rail trail in progress: the rails have been stripped from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad's right-of-way to Lake Placid.
Wetlands in Trudeau, NY
Wetlands in Trudeau, NY.
The Saranac River in Redford, NY
The Saranac River in Redford, NY.

26. Ponderosa Campground, Chateaugay, NY

2021-07-25 16:45

Although I'd planned a day of rest, and despite having paid for a site for 2 days, I decided to move on. Last night I already felt slightly overly toasted from the sunny site yesterday, and spending a whole day in the sun, I think I'd look and feel like the main attraction in a clambake.

The first half of today's ride was mostly uphill, climbing up to Chazy Lake and then over Lyon Mountain. It was humid and hot until I nearing the top, where the winds picked up and cooled me down a little. The second half was mostly downhill, rolling through the hamlet of Lyon Mountain and past Upper Chateaugay Lake and then Chateaugay Lake.

My calendar said I was supposed to go to High Falls Campground, but the cue sheet took me to Ponderosa Campground. I think I'd settled on High Falls, but I must have generated the cue sheet without correcting the waypoint.

Pondorosa is a large, spacious campground, in weird condition. It feels like there's a clever redneck jury-rigging stuff: for example, the DIY water-slide made from 36" corrigated drainage pipe. It's got a pump putting water through it like a proper water slide. But, the pipe is corrigated inside too—or is that ribbed for my pleasure? I figure it would either destroy my bathing suit, or become my new favorite sex toy; despite curiosity, caution won out, primarily because the water wasn't the cleanest looking in the pool—which is what they call the pond they've constructed. To be fair, it may have a liner to keep the water from disappearing into the ground, because there's no stream replenishing the water.

The other super-special thing was in the bathhouse. Shower worked great, nice hot water, nice flow, everything. But they wanted something soft or anti-slip for the feet, but rather than get something grated, they put a piece of 2x2 kids play mat down: a non-porous rubber thing, which completely covers the drain. But that's totally okay, because as the basin fills with water, the play mat tries to float. Since you shuffle your feet moving around in the shower beam, the water always gets chances to escape, so it never overflows. It amuses me greatly.

Despite the campground screwiness, there's a whole bunch of modern wind turbines all around the area. And one of the seasonals has built himself a large wooden geodesic dome—the guy who checked me in, in fact, and couldn't get me registered in the computer so he hand-wrote me a receipt (although he later came by with a printed one).

I'm now at my northernmost point in the trip. Tomorrow I head west, toward home.

Overlooking Saranac, NY from Chazy Lake Road
Overlooking Saranac, NY from Chazy Lake Road.
Chazy Lake, Dannemora, NY
Chazy Lake, Dannemora, NY.
Looking back toward Chazy Lake and Dannemora from Lyon Mountain
Looking back toward Chazy Lake and Dannemora from Lyon Mountain.
A stone church in Lyon Mountain, NY
A stone church in Lyon Mountain, NY.
A vista in Lyon Mountain, NY
A vista in Lyon Mountain, NY.
Lower Chateaugay Lake, Chateaugay, NY
Lower Chateaugay Lake, Chateaugay, NY.
Ponderosa Campsite: Wind turbines and DIY waterslides
Ponderosa Campsite: Wind turbines and DIY waterslides.
A geodesic dome at Ponderosa Campsite
A geodesic dome at Ponderosa Campsite.
Tenting behind the playground at Ponderosa Campsite
Tenting behind the playground at Ponderosa Campsite.

27. Stowe Bay Park, Colton, NY

2021-07-26 17:41

I fell asleep yesterday to the gentle wooshing wind turbine blades. The ones at Ponderosa must be bigger than other ones I've seen because they were lounder. Still, compared to a lawn mower, leaf blower, chainsaw, or neighbor's barking dogs it's not as loud, far less annoying and it eventually blends into the background.

I woke just before 6 and got moving quickly, heading out before 7:30. The sky was weird: the sun an orange ball, like at sunset; the air carrying a strange haze. I'm guessing it's wildfire smoke reaching New York. I wonder if that was the haze in Speculator last Monday and Tuesday, too.

There was gentle downhill through farmlands heading toward Malone, so I knocked out 11 miles in 45 minutes before stopping at a family restaurant for second breakfast.

After breakfast I moved onto NY-11B, where gentle climbs and rolling hills took me through more farmland interspersed with old towns. Bangor had several old stone buildings, some still in service, a few abandoned. I have a suspicion this may have been a quarry town, back in the day.

It was only 11 when I reached the turn for St. Regis Falls, and the day seemed less hot than predicted, or at least the sun less intense than usual (perhaps the wildfire haze at work again?). Feeling like I had more in me, I decided to press on. But first, I lunched at Nanette's Rise-N-Shine Cafe, a decidedly rooster-themed restaurant where I ironically had a burger.

After lunch was more farms, distinctive buildings, and a lovely town green in Hopkinton. Parishville was an old mill town, with a lake formed by damming up the St. Regis West Branch that's now a hydropower station. They also had an ice-cream shop.

I got in right around 3. The campground tonight is lovely, the owners very personable. The site would be sunny, but thunderstorms coming through are fixing that. The tent continues to perform well, keeping me dry during the torrents falling as I write this. Hopefully the sand being kicked up by the rains doesn't bugger up the zippers too much (I'm on a sandy patch).

First Congregational Church, Malone, NY
First Congregational Church, Malone, NY.
A stone house in Bangor, NY
A stone house in Bangor, NY.
An abandoned stone church in Bangor, NY
An abandoned stone church in Bangor, NY.
Nannette's Rise N Shine Cafe
Nannette's Rise N Shine Cafe.
Nannette's Rise N Shine Cafe
Chickens everywhere!
Post office in Nicholville, NY
Post office in Nicholville, NY.
The St. Regis River in Nicholville, NY
The St. Regis River in Nicholville, NY.
An ornately trimmed house along NY-11B in Hopkinton, NY
An ornately trimmed house along NY-11B in Hopkinton, NY.
The town green in Hopkinton, NY
The town green in Hopkinton, NY.
The impounded West Branch St. Regis River in Parishville, NY
The impounded West Branch St. Regis River in Parishville, NY.
Stowe Bay Park
Stowe Bay Park.
Dusk over the Raquette River at Stowe Bay Park
Dusk over the Raquette River at Stowe Bay Park.

28. Cranberry Lake Campground, Cranberry Lake, NY

2021-07-27 18:17

After dinner yesterday, I had a long talk with Kevin, the owner of last night's campground. He and his wife Vicky are some of the friendliest, most sociable folks I've met on this trip. I think they're retired from other work, which is good because they've got plenty to do between running campground, their kids and grandkids, and their personal interests.

Today I got up around 7 to a sunny day, had a bigger than usual breakfast so I could power myself up the hill. Kevin came out with a brush ("foxtail", as it's said in my family) when he spied me trying to clean sand off the tent while packing up. I think I got going a little after 9.

As I climbed it got cloudy, then it got darker and cooler. Thinking it was a short squall, I pushed myself a little, hoping to make a store I knew was waiting at NY-3, where I could grab a bite and wait out the storm.

I beat the rain there and chanced turning on my phone, finding surprisingly song signal. Checking the weather report, I found out it wasn't a brief squall; the forecast had changed overnight and there were hours of rains heading my way. I quickly chowed down a slice of pizza and a pulled-pork sandwich, then pushed myself again to try to make Cranberry Lake before the rain. I hit a few prequels while finding my site and getting my tent up, but I mostly beat it. Then I climbed inside my sleeping bag to stabilize my temperature, and nap a bit.

Sunday Rock, South Colton, NY
Sunday Rock in South Colton, NY has purportedly been a navigation reference point for centuries. When the highway was built in the 1920s, the Sunday Rock Association preserved the rock.

Rains

I find my will finally being strained by the rains. In retrospect, there's a little motel in Cranberry Lake, and I think it would have been nice to have a break from what's starting to feel like perpetual rains. On the other hand, if I did that, I'd have felt like I wussed out, and missed a chance to try this campground.

Rationally, I know I've done well: I've only hit moderate rains on the road once; most of the rain has been when I'm already set up, and my tent has performed wonderfully. And I'm aware that 5 severe thunderstorms, a night of torrential downpour, and a dozen other smaller rainstorms aren't that bad compared to what I've seen on the radar elsewhere around New York and New England.

For some reason, though, it's just grating on me today.

Tomorrow I think I'll hit the Stone Manor (the motel/diner in Cranberry Lake) for breakfast, then I'm continuing east to Natural Bridge KOA. Unless the weather changes again, and storms appear out of nowhere, in which case I'm going to see if I can find a motel somewhere.

Perette Barella
Hiding from the rains, again.

29. Natural Bridge/Watertown KOA, Natural Bridge, NY

2021-07-28 16:53

Today I cycled past a bunch of lovely lakes. The weather was actually quite nice.

Instead of staying on NY-3 the whole way, I was on an alternate route along the Chaumont Pond, a flow on the Oswagatchie River, and through Newton Falls, where a defunct paper plant is stationed at the dam. Empty parking lots and a rail connection suggest the one-time size of the operation; today, it seems totally dead.

In Oswagatchie I stopped at a bigfoot-theme cafe for a chicken sandwich, then continued on to Harrisville where I bought groceries and had lunch at the inn.

Tonight I'm at the Natural Bridge KOA, which is quite nice. If more KOAs were like this place, I'd stay at more of them.

Thompson's Bay on Cranberry Lake
Thompson's Bay on Cranberry Lake.
Chaumont Pond in Newton Falls, New York
Chaumont Pond in Newton Falls, New York.
Farms along NY-3 in Pitcairn, New York
Farms along NY-3 in Pitcairn, New York.

30. LD's on the River, Pulaski, NY

2021-07-29 16:45

I got on the road about 9 today. It was brisk but dry. On the way to Watertown, I hit a few cold sprinkles, so I put my pack-cover on for the duration and put my rain jacket on and off as needed.

Nearing Watertown, took the Black River Trail for about 8km, which was a pleasant change from roads. In town, I stopped at a pizza shop for lunch as the rain was picking up.

Rather than continue on NY-3, I headed south on US-11. There was a climb at first, but after that it flattened out; I think I may have been up on the western edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. And it was raining. It rained all the way to Pulaski, lightening up a few minutes here and there but mostly just a soaking rain, until Pulaski where it rained harder just to spite me, I think.

End of Trip

Although I had planned the trip to dip into the Finger Lakes, this was where it ended. I'd been longing for home and friends, running into timing and motel problems trying to arrange a meet-up with my girlfriend on the coming weekend, and had been through a series of weird campgrounds. Frustrated from past rains, and having seen today's rain in the forecast, I had tried making a reservation at a motel in Bradford's Bay. When instead of a motel I got somebody's personal voicemail, I decided I had had enough; I called my girlfriend, and arranged for pick-up in Pulaski.

The trip was just shy of 1,500km, or a little over 900 miles.

Perette Barella
Mixed feelings as I prepare to embark on the last day of this year's ride.
Ornately trimmed house in Natural Bridge, NY
Ornately trimmed house in Natural Bridge, NY.
A dam on the Black River, currently used for hydroelectric power.
A dam on the Black River, currently used for hydroelectric power..

31. Cue Sheets & Resources

32. Maps

These maps represented the planned route. Actual route may vary due to detours, misroutes, changes of plans, or my whims.