ice in the icecaves
Saturday, December 27 2003
Today was an unusually warm one for this time of year, so Gretchen and I took the dogs to the Sam's Point Dwarf Pines Preserve (up on the Shawangunk ridgeline east of Ellenville). We'd been there before together earlier in the season with Ray and Nancy. It was unusual to even be able to make it there at this time of year, and we expected to encounter few others. But nearly as much as it had been the time before, the parking lot was full of cars.
This time we took the first available rightward fork in the path and went to the highest overlook of Sam's Point, a cliff featuring a mortared stone wall to keep awkward little tykes from plummeting nascent-brain-first to their deaths. From there we wandered on a path roughly parallel to the cliffs, but back a safe distance. Here we found other overlooks, large exposed outcrops, and patches of remnant snow and ice, all of it slowly melting away. I wanted to us to cut through the dwarf pine thicket to a road I knew about, but Gretchen quickly abandoned me when the going got tough, telling me she'd meet me back at the overlook. Interestingly, when we split up this way, Eleanor elected to follow me and Sally stayed with Gretchen. My "shortcut" proved a little longer than expected, and at times the dwarf pines (mostly Pitch Pine with occasional White Pines) crowded in so closely that I had to alter my path to get around them. When I finally did manage to find the road, I was cut off from it by a large pool of water, one which my left foot slipped into.
We walked down to the icecaves to perhaps take the self-guided tour, but they were so treacherous with ice that we decided not to.
Gretchen had prepared picnic for us, but there were few places near the Sam's Point parking lot that weren't disgusting with mud. But we did manage to find a picnic table still in a patch of sunlight. So we set up our picnic there. The food consisted of things like mushrooms, olives, hummus, two different species of cracker, cottage cheese, goat cheese, and sundried tomatoes. The beverage was a bottle of Boone's Hard Lemonade. I know all about Zima, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Mad Dog, and even Night Train. But I'm not too familiar with "Boone's Farm." Evidently, though, they are purveyors of a wide selection of sweet-flavored alcoholic beverages, the kind by which teenage girls swear (and also abandon their virginities). Gretchen counts herself among their fans.
While we ate, Sally and Eleanor were begging from us without shame. In the past, Sally has never been much of a beggar, though Eleanor (having spent a small part of her life scrounging for scraps in a supermarket parking lot) is a different story. Today, though, the hike seemed to have lowered the blood sugar of both of the dogs, and they weren't just hungry - they were cranky as well. They actually got in a fight over some little crumb of food, an altercation the likes of which I'd never seen before. So Gretchen prepared them little open-faced sandwiches of bread and cottage cheese.
Being right there in the parkinglot meant that we saw everybody as they came and went. This wasn't much of a problem, except that Eleanor felt the need to greet everyone, particularly the people who brought dogs. Unlike us, everyone else kept their dogs on leashes. Their behavior was a direct and predictable result of the rules posted on signs at Sam's Point. Up until I started hanging out with Gretchen, I had no idea how many of society's rules could be broken consequence-free. And that's coming from somebody who imagined himself wild and crazy and kind of punk rock.
Stone walls built near the edge of the highest overlook at Sam's Point.
The names of those who immortalized themselves by scratching their names
in the rock at the Sam's Point overlook.
Looking south from the Sam's Point overlook.
The view to the north, with the Shawangunk cliffs prominent on the east slope of the ridgeline.
Didn't forget about these guys, did you?
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