Monthly Archives: March 2009

Spring Break, Day 2 (3/1/09 – 3/2/09)

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I woke up on the bright Sunday morning (around six), far too early for the time we finally crashed and the amount of mead we had finished the previous night, ready to grab some breakfast and check out the Gunks. After T and I had packed the car and settled our bill, we dropped the keys off and headed out to the cliff face, planning on grabbing some breakfast after the mornings climb. We finally found the parking lot that we had missed the night before and slipped our way up the iced over trail to the cliff face, checking out the signs and maps along the way. When we finally got our first solid view of the cliffs, my jaw dropped.

These cliffs were perfect: most of the areas were between one and three hundred feet tall I would guess, with solid crack systems running along each of the climbs. And the best part: they didn’t end. The cliff face just kept going and going: T and I walked a good three quarters of an hour down the main cliff path trying to find the end, with no end to the perfect climbs in sight. However perfect the climbs looked though, the weather was definitely not going to let us climb that morning: There was fresh snow on the ground, with ice on the cliffs and even some waterfalls in places where the sun had started warming up the rocks. That didn’t stop us from trying to get some minor bouldering in while we walked, although there weren’t any spectacular problems that we were able to find or finish. Anything really good was either freezing cold or had snow up to our knees at the base. So we walked as far as we wanted to, turned around, and headed back. On the way back to the car we ran into the first of the morning joggers running along the cliff base; only a few people were out this early on a Sunday morning, but it was definitely nice to run into a few enterprising souls willing to brave the cold and ice to admire these beautiful rocks.

Once we got back to the car we swapped driving again, and headed back towards town to get some breakfast, gas, and to get ourselves back onto the road to Tennessee. We found a small little Jewish diner off the site of the main road going through town that had some really solid eggs Benedict (definitely a favorite of mine). We didn’t notice the Jewish part until maybe 20 minutes after we got there, when I finally noticed the potato pancakes, fully Kosher menu, and general “wow, everyone here looks really Jewish” nature of the place. Really good breakfast though, and we shot the shit about good campsites and the best climbs in the area with some of the folks eating breakfast next to us. Then, fortified with a solid breakfast and a new plan on how to get down to the Distillery, we headed out of New Paltz back towards the highway.

After leaving New York, we pushed hard trying to get to Tennessee, driving on I-81 at a fairly solid clip, only stopping for some quick lunch and random pit stops for gas and Red Bull. We pushed all the way into Virginia before it started to get dark, and we had to start seriously thinking about finding a place to crash, and maybe even reconsider our final destination since we had to be back into Boston by Tuesday afternoon. We decided to try for George Washington National Park, and so pulled off the main highway onto 64, and tried to find the park. Of course we couldn’t find it. I mean, its only a NATIONAL PARK, who could find one of those on their own? But what we did find was a nice KOA Campground for $22 a night, run by some very nice Virginians who were willing to point us in the direction of a good Italian dinner. So we reserved a spot, and headed out to the restaurant for food and reconsidering of our trip plans.

Once we got to the restaurant, we ordered up some food, chicken parm and some wine for myself, and pulled out the trusty maps to get an idea of how much longer we had, and whether we could actually make it. After some hard thinking and decisions, along with food wine and breadsticks, we decided that we had to call it. Sunday night and we still had 500 miles ahead, around 550 behind, and only two days to make the trip: it just wasn’t possible to do with only two people. Three maybe, then we could have taken 2-awake 1-napping shifts, but making one person drive while the other sleeps, thats just cruel. So we finished dinner, and headed back to the campground.

At this point it had been lightly snowing all day, but no worries to us: we’re mountain men, forged in the heat of a furnace and the ice of the mountains. I mean, we’re from Boston, what could Virginia throw at us that we couldn’t take? Well, we could take it, but it threw us a nice pitch. As we set up the tent the snow started coming down harder and harder; we could barely get the tent up with all the wind, and even then some snow got in before we could get the rain fly up. But get it set up we did, and we crashed around 10:30 to the sound of howling winds and small drops of snow getting in under the rain fly to spatter our faces.

Spring Break, Day 1 (2/28/09 – 3/1/09)

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So, Spring break ’09, right? Most of my NUHOC friends were heading out to somewhere far flung, all off on big trips either to Florida, Oregon, or someplace in between. Of my non-NUHOCer friends, most were either busy, bumming around the city, or had already been scheduled for work. All except Big T, who only had plans set up for the end of the week and the second weekend of the break. So on the Thursday night before break started, we sat down to think of what we could do. Plane trips and road trips were the topics of discussion, but planes were expensive, and neither of us had any easy access to a reliable car (I had taken mine off the road a month ago, and T’s parents were using his), so we were starting to get bummed about our adventure prospects. Until I remembered my promise from my last big road trip down to Florida, “Always rent a car, ’cause yours will break or die and it wont be pretty”. So, we looked up car rental places in Boston, and by Friday night had put in a reservation for a nice full-size to be picked up Saturday morning at ten. Friday night we packed up, thought about places we could go, and tried to get a good nights sleep.

On Saturday we met up at my place, dropped our stuff off and headed over to pick up the car from the Enterprise rental in the Prudential center. We held off on Breakfast until we could get the car, and that turned out to be a slight mistake, since it turned out we wouldn’t get a chance to eat until about three. Picking up the car turned out to be fairly uneventful, and Keys in hand we headed over to my place to grab our bags, stopped at T’s place to grab some extra stuff, and then ran into our first hurdle. T had been saving beer bottles and cans for about five months, and wanted to return them for some gas money for the trip. So off we headed, searching for a place that would take the bottles. First place had a broken glass machine, so we headed to EMS to grab a map and climbing shoes for me. No shoes to be had, but map in hand, we headed to Blanchards, returned hundreds of bottles for a return of $7.50, and got on our way to my folks place in Medway. There we stopped in for maps, my stepdad insisted we also take a full printed AAA trip guide thing, grabbed some Chinese Food, and headed out on the road to new Paltz.

We drove pretty much straight through to New York on I-90, busted through the state line, and headed south: towards New Paltz and The Gunks. I had picked up a guide book at EMS earlier, so we had a vague idea where we were going, but only some small dots on the map as to where we would be sleeping. No worries right? We had the map and our minds, something would work out. We finally got into town around 9:00, maybe a bit later, and decided to search for our camp site first; reserve it before we got ourselves dinner. Well, the main site we were planning on staying at was closed for the season, and the secondary site we had planned on was already closed by the time we got there. We found a small Lodge that we could stay at, but at $155 a night for the cheapest room, we didn’t really plan on staying there. So heads hung in defeat and worry, we decided to do what any climber would do in that situation: get a beer. So to the pub we went, found a pretty cool looking place (McGilicutties [sp?] if I recall…) and went in. An amazing burger, beer, fries, and second beer later we headed out, fresh and ready to find ourselves a place to sleep. Or, if nothing presented itself, a place to park the car and crash for a few hours.

….

Luckily for us, after about an hour and a half of driving around, through, over, and past the main cliff of the Gunks trying to find the main parking lot, we ran into this small motel called the Chelsea Motel. Walking up to the main office, I knocked on the window after reading the “yes, we’re open” sign out front. A minute latter a slightly bleary eyed woman appeared, saw me, and immediately perked up asking if she could help me. I asked about the price of a room, she responded with $65, and I replied with a “hmm, let me ask my friend about it”. To that she asked in a meek voice, “Well, what would you like to pay?” She seemed really intent on us staying and really excited, so we settled on the off-season weekday price (it was Saturday still), and T and I moved our stuff in, watched an episode of Smallville, and crashed. We planned on an early morning of exploring the gunks, and hopefully a bit of bouldering around the base of the cliffs.

The Basic Info that you should know about me, where my stories come from

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Ok, so in my stories there will probably be alot of stuff some people don’t understand, because they dont hang out with the groups of people that I do.  So… Here you go, a quick glossary of terms and names that may come up.

NUHOC – Where I found my wings; its the outdoorsing group at Northeastern.  I joined my freshman year, I honestly don’t remember what first lead me to the group, and I’ve been in there ever since.  I’ve had my share of drama, but I’m currently (as of ’09) serving contently as the Quartermaster of the club, in charge of running the gear locker.   This is where I’ve met alot of great friends, learned to rock climb and backpack; pretty much everything I love to do has some tie into this group.

Loj – This is the Loj (not spelt Lodge) that NUHOC keeps up in the woods of Northern New Hampshire.  Its run by a group of people known as LC’s (Loj Commitee_members, we skip the members in the acronym), and to become an LC you need to be a trainee (or LCT) first.  I’m currently (again, as of ’09) an LCT, working my way through the list of “what you need to know” things before I can get my keys.  This is where dreams are started and stories made, a home away from home to many, and a true home for a few, many times myself included.