August 28, 2011

Biking to Newcomb Lake

Since I am up waiting for Hurricane Irene to hit...I decided to share my bike trip to Camp Santanoni and Newcomb Lake with who ever still hits up the ol' blog that hasn't been touched for over a year......

I took Friday off in order to enjoy some sunshine before the weekend washout. Hike or Bike was the question and Reagan quickly chose biking as the activity. Not being able to bear another warren county bike trail ride...I decided it was time to ride the woods road trail to Newcomb Lake and check out the refurbishing going on at the Great Camp Santanoni.
We took I-87 to exit 29 and the Blue Ridge Road over to Newcomb. About an hour trip...driving Dan's truck full of bikes. Oh yeah...Reagan and I had company. My nephew Kyle who has been on other trips with us and my niece Vivian who was psyched to be included. The kids amused themselves by making faces at other drivers and yelling foolishness out the windows. The parking area is not hard to locate as you drive through Newcomb on route 28n. You pass Lake Harris Campground, cross the Hudson and on your right there are very visible signs for the Santanoni Preserve. Follow the little gravel road that goes into the woods and immediately you are at the stone gate and parking areas. It is a very pretty park like setting until you see the sign in register and the start of the truck/horse trail. Many people were walking the road and several other bikers were getting ready as we pulled up. I expected gradual uphill but I didn't expect it to give me as much of a hard time as it did. That is what is nice about biking with a 6 year old in your group. My adorable niece asked during one of our breaks..."aunt corin are you going slow so that i can keep up with you?" reply: "no viv, I cant go any faster...we are equal bike riders". She seemed very pleased that she wasn't "holding me back". It wouldn't have mattered if I could have climbed those hills with ease....I was very happy to have her along. She is the middle child and very laid back and quiet. I guess you would categorize her as the "easiest" of my sister's three children. The youngest one is quite the entertainer and has a strong personality and Kyle who was biking with us is curious and extraordinarily interested animals; always has a strange fact to share with you and fancies himself quite the comedian. So....biking alongside vivian for a couple hours gave me the chance to converse with just her and see some traits of her personality that don't often come through when she is with her siblings. She is funny and sweet and not at all as shy as she sometimes appears to be. I really enjoyed the time with her.

At one point in the trip we passed state prison inmates doing trail work. I alerted the kids only because I didn't want them to say something goofy to them, not to scare them. They passed without issue and I thought it was logical that the state was using the inmates for such work. I slipped in a thank you to the last inmate I passed (because he was looking) even though they were supposed to turn and face the woods while we were near.

The kids stopped for a while at the first stone bridge we went over to play in the brook. Kyle found a frog and Reagan got stung by a honey bee. Vivian laughed as she splashed cold water on her face and hair. They remarked how clean the water looked. I tried to explain the high levels of iron that made the dirt in the brook so reddish-orange.

We continued and just when we thought we couldn't go anymore the gradual 4 mile uphill became a gradual one last mile downhill. It seemed like we were flying. Kyle and Reagan far ahead, Vivian and I tested our brakes and tried to remain in control. We were a little nervous about the loose rocks we were speeding over. Vivian laughed and wondered aloud "when did I get worried like aunt gwenny?" I smiled remembering my sister's description of vivian's other aunt cautiously hiking Giant Mountain and being nervous about Kyle climbing the bare rock.

The lake quickly came into view after we went over a couple more stone bridges and a wooden bridge. we passed a large group of campers coming back to their site from the tiny sandy beach area. There were also three men coming to shore in canoes who had been across the lake camping. A pair of work horses and a carriage met them to take them and their canoes back to their vehicles. This was an added treat for the kids who paused from wading into the water to pet the horses.

After about an hour of snacking on the shore of the beautiful lake with mountain views and few clouds in the violet blue sky...we decided to hop on the bikes and go the short distance to Camp Santanoni. A Great Camp that is now owned by the state and a national landmark. It is known for having been a summer getaway for the wealthiest of people escaping the city heat. It is still be refurbished but visitors are welcome to take a look throughout the buildings and sit for a while on its massive porches. One can only imagine what it would be like to stay there either now which would be amazing or in its hay day when it was considered "roughing it in style".

After spending about two and a half hours exploring the camp, enjoying the lake and checking out the designated tent sites we decided to start the trip back. The kids saw fish, frogs, big spiders and pointed out all kinds of mushrooms. On the way out of course we only had to do a mile of gradual and sometimes steep uphill before we enjoyed coasting the last 4 miles to the truck. Vivian actually had to stop a few times to let her tingling hands rest from using her hand brakes so much. People before us had built several cairns along the road. One in particular was on a huge boulder and was balancing in a neat way. Very grown up like, as we passed it, vivian suggested that we should have stopped to take a photo of it. She has a good eye for photography!
After 11 miles and 5 hours of playing in the adirondacks, we got the bikes loaded up and made our way to the convenience store in Pottersville where after several hikes and backpack trips, my father and I have chowed down pizza. We all ate a slice and continued home....where the kids jumped promptly in the pool to slog off and cool down. Then Vivian and Kerrigan (age 4) came home with us to spend the night. They ate popcorn and did photo shoots and Vivian stayed up way later than I thought a little girl who biked 11 miles would have ever been able....

On the Adirondack hiking forum some one's profile states..."It's not a map it's a to do list". I am glad biking this neck of the woods was on my to do list. It was a refreshing day up north.