Daily Archives: March 19, 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.