Tag Archives: The Gunks

Exploring Cairo, Climbing in New Paltz… and getting rained on


Wednesday, 27-May-2015


On the way between visiting my Grandma and partying it up with Big T in Connecticut, I did a bit of adventuring in Upstate New York.  See… I’d been reading American Gods again, and the thought of visiting the town of Cairo (I’d learn later that this wasn’t the same town from the book, unfortunately) was too good to pass up.

So I drove down the highway, took the exit, and started looking for a diner to find some breakfast.

Well, it was a wasted effort.  The town of Cairo, New York is not really what you could call a “lively” town… instead, it was mostly closed storefronts and empty houses.  Abandoned roads and… not really much, aside from a single excellent welcome sign.  Maybe it becomes more lively during the evenings, or on holidays?

But I ended up just driving through.



Instead, I spent some time at my favorite climbing spot – The Gunks, in New Paltz.

Since I was rolling solo, and the weather was kind of threatening I decided to take it safe and go to the swimming hole instead of straight into the climbing area.  Figured that I could save a few bucks on a climbing pass too.

Well, finding the swimming hole wasn’t as easy as I thought… I remembered the main turnoff, but got a bit turned around while I was driving down the back roads.  Thankfully, another car pulled up and asked me if I knew where to go – since they were coming from one side, and I knew it had to be one of the two… I got to sound all smart.  And so I led a convoy down to the waters…

But turns out that the girls were really against paying anything (seriously, what?) so the other car turned around, and I went swimming solo.

Or not so solo – I ended up hanging out with some Physics students from the nearby university – chatting, swimming, and doing some water-solo bouldering.  It was awesome, until they mentioned how close we were to some other bouldering… which I decided I had to go see.  So I grabbed the crash pad and headed down the trail.

Turns out, the trail was just another way of getting to the main climbing area that I know and love… but that wasn’t a bad thing.  Basically, just meant that I had an excuse to climb it again!

So… I did.


But see, that’s where the fun comes in.  I was bouldering all nice and pretty as your please, for maybe an hour or two. I tried a few interesting routes; mostly just traversing the bottom of some of my favorite tall routes. But I did a few pretty solid overhangs as well… at least until it started getting disconcertingly dark.

And then it started raining. Normally; not a problem. But today, I had brought my new Laptop with me, so that I could do some writing between routes. And my new laptop was not, in fact, waterproof. And I had parked a long way away…

So, I tried walking back to the car, using my crash pad as an umbrella.

That didn’t really work, since the rain was impressively heavy, and the wind was strong.

So, I found a small cave. Deep enough that the rain wasn’t getting anywhere near the back. I put the bag with the laptop on a rock, and layered the crash pad on top. Then, I ran.

I’m happy to say that the runs I did back in Cambridge paid off – I made it back to the car in record time, sloshing through the puddles and ponds and runoffs that covered the trail.

I got changed, and pulled the car up to a parking lot that was nice and close to the cave that I’d stashed the gear in. I’d thought ahead to bring a tarp, just in case I wanted to make a covered campsite, so I dragged that out of the car too. Now, clad in my full rain gear, I was ready to casually walk back out and save the laptop.

Which, I did. I wrapped everything in the tarp, and then casually walked back in the rain again. Slipped the laptop into the front seat, and stuffed everything else into the back in the car, and drove out to the supermarket to get some food, and relax for a bit before driving out to link up with Big T.


First obstacle on the roadtrip: dealt with.

A roadtrip to the Gunks: Hiking and exploring


Saturday, 05-Apr-14


Since Saturday was slated to be a rainy cool day, Daniel found us a hike to check out in the area.  It’s strange, but we realized that while we’ve all been to the Gunks dozens of times, we’ve never done any normal hiking… well, this is a perfect time to fix that, right?

Hike #1 – The carriage road below the Trapps

More than anything, this was a quick recon mission, to see how the rock looked and to get a feel for where we wanted to climb the next day.  We’ve all been in this area a dozen times before, though we did push farther to the right than we normally do…


Hike #2 – Bonticou Crag hike

Sadly, this crag is not open for climbing.  Sad, because damn this would be good for climbing.  Huge split cracks heading up the sides, with lots of interesting roofs and ledges and trees all over it.

The approach we took was short – maybe 3 miles hiking.  Since we didn’t have heavy packs it went quite quickly, with Daniel, Erin and I taking our time and enjoying the scenery.  The scramble up to the summit was a bit more interesting though, with more than a few amazing views as we clawed our way up roughly 300ft of rock slide.  My takeaway?  Damn I want to climb this… or at least do some bouldering… hell, even camping in some of the small caves would be fun!

After hitting the summit and having a bit of lunch, we headed down the long way home – it was still early, and we really didn’t have any other plans for the evening.  We checked out Spring Farms on the way down, talked about the San Francisco housing market, and generally enjoyed the outdoors and the amazing views of the mountains.

A roadtrip to the gunks: Driving and hostels, pizza and beer towers.


Friday, 04-Apr-14 through Sunday, 06-Apr-14


So, it’s been months since I did a legit roadtrip… this doesn’t really count, since it was only four hours or so of driving.  But it’s all the way out to New Paltz, NY, and it was awesome, so yeah.  WOO adventure!  First adventure of the spring!

The drive itself was pretty boring; Daniel and I listened to tunes, then some standup, then some more tunes, and then we were there.  “There”, this time, was the New Paltz hostel.  It was raining on Friday and Saturday, and was more than a little cold, so we decided to play it boring and safe, instead of camping out…


  • The hostel itself – we got our own room, complete with a queen bed, a bunk bed, our own bathroom, and even a fridge in a small entry room.  Dang.  I am not used to being treated this well in a hostel.  Major recommendation – thought it is kinda expensive.
  • Paintings at hostel – Holy hell.  The hostel had an amazing painting hanging in our room – I tried to take a picture of it, but nothing gave it credit for how perfect it actually was.  It was a painting showing a small farmhouse on the plains, but it was perfectly minimalist… with tons of detail where it mattered.  Extremely evocative and perfect.
  • Bacchus found us having dinner & drinks Friday


  • Bagel breakfast, and then grocery shopping for lunches and Sunday’s breakfast on Saturday morning
  • After hiking around all day, Daniel and I hit up a small Coffee shop to relax and read Saturday afternoon / early evening.
  • Erin met us at the coffee shop, then we all went out for Pizza dinner… & Daniel / Erin had a few drinks.  More than a few.  It was entertaining, to say the least.


  • For breakfast, we cooked up some eggs and heated up leftovers.  Quick and simple
  • Random stuff for lunch while climbing
  • Dinner found us at the Gilded Otter, and I had a burger.  It was delicious, as they usually are when eaten at the Gilded Otter.
  • As we’re leaving, Daniel is staring at another table, because they have a huge beer tower.  They are drunk.  They don’t take kindly to Daniel’s staring, and they get a bit angry.  Thankfully, I am the king of dirty jokes, and thus make a few choice comments about beer towers, their size, and how impressed we are.  Thus, bad jokes end up saving us.  Success!
  • Drive home?  Ehh.  Boring.