2020 was a rough year, but we tried to carve out some good with our annual camping trip to the Catskills. Three families in our little “bubble,” all being safe apart, felt it was safe enough to come together in the woods for some much needed, socially distant diversity from the monotony of the homebound, coronavirus life. So, from Saturday through the following week to Sunday, 9 days and 8 nights, we camped.
We brought my wife’s niece with us this year and she had a blast! She had never camped before, but being a nature loving girl, she immediately took to camping life. Of course, there was also a ton of fishing done by every campsite and everyone caught fish. From the youngest to the oldest, we caught bass, catfish, perch and sunfish.
There were trout to be caught as well in the local rivers and, as usual, I was up at 4:30 nearly everyday ready to head out and spend a couple hours in search of that big fish. I didn’t do nearly as well as I had hoped, only landing a few little ones over the week, but time on the river is time well spent in my book. I did hook into a monster in a new spot, but I knew I was losing it as soon as I hooked it. Wasn’t sure it was on at first, but my rod jerked downward swiftly as it bolted upstream into the rapids and it broke off. Here is a shot of the lantern under my canopy a little before 5:00am while I’m getting ready, and a nice spot on the river.
We went on a few hikes, our favorite probably being the waterfall on Mongaup Creek. There had been a significant amount of rain so the creek was running strong, unlike other years where it was a mere trickle. We also tried to spend a day at Peekamoose Blue Hole, but there were so many maskless people there it just didn’t seem safe. At 45 minutes each way, it was a little frustrating to get there and see that on a Monday, but we felt vindicated once we got to the waterfall. It’s certainly not big, nothing like Katterskill Falls on the other side of the Catskills, but it was nice nonetheless, and right by the campground.
There were other finds as well. Taking the trail around the pond, we discovered bridges, and wildlife, including some bear scat. It looked a little fresh so I took the kids and headed back to the campsite. Just for ID purposes, this is what bear scat can look like.
Of course, there were many nights by the fire. We popped popcorn, roasted marshmallows for s’mores, told stories and just stared into the fire, watching the flames dance around the logs. Even the dog was able to relax. They were not selling wood at the front gate as they usually do, so we ended up buying a truckload from a guy nearby, saving us some money in the end, and splitting it up between the three campsites. Believe it or not, that wood only lasted about 3 days!
Speaking of Sinatra, we got smart this year and remembered to bring boots for him. He might be the most accident prone dog ever to live, and sure enough, within the first two days he had hurt himself. He tore a couple pads on his feet, so he spent much of the camping trip bandaged with boots on. He was given lots of love though. The kids lavished attention on him and he loved every minute of it.
There was, of course, a torrential downpour as well. It wouldn’t be a camping trip without a day or two of rain, but this was no regular rainstorm. This was a tropical storm that had blown through downstate New York and hit the Catskills with suprising force. There were 50 mile per hour winds that broke ropes holding tarps that were supposed to be keeping us dry, torrential rains that nearly flooded out our tent, and I won’t even talk about the devastation that was waiting for us when we got home (several downed trees on our property and spoiled food in our refrigerator). But, much as we always do, we survived.
Right after the storm though, we had a few gifts. A visitor from the woods and a beautiful rainbow over the pond.
I, personally, enjoy the quietness of the nights when camping. While I’m a huge fan of the fire, there is nothing like being in the woods, far away from the noise, and the hustle and bustle of city/suburban life. The night mode in my new iPhone captured a particularly nice shot of the full moon coming up over the pond. It almost looked like daybreak.
This trip is my favorite tradition of the year. Spending quality time with the ones I love and getting to spend it surrounded by nature is a true blessing. I’m hoping the Covid life will start to get better by this summer’s camping trip (which has been booked for months now). I know this post is about 6 months late, but coronavirus life has me busier than I’ve ever been. I relish the opportunity to get out into nature and recharge, whether it be fishing, camping or hiking. A trip like this one, for this long, helps me forget about the burdens of the life we are living right now, and just enjoy what we have been given, or what we choose to hold dear, because in the end, that’s what you remember. The memories of the good times with family, friends and loved ones, not the paperwork you filled out for your job. Get outside, live life, make memories.