The OPFIHDW is on Fire Island, a skinny little number that lies south of the mighty Long Island. The whole island is about 31 miles long and 1/4 mile wide at the widest point. Long and skinny. Real skinny. The Otis Pike area is 7 miles of National Park Service wilderness located on the eastern side of the island. It’s the only NPS wilderness in the whole state of New York.
And Holy heck. This place is the place. Miles of undeveloped beach, waves bigger than me and you, forty foot high dunes, and a camp-anywhere-but-on-the-beach policy. Behind the beach are the aforementioned dunes (where you have to camp) that sure as heck don’t look like you’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from New York City.
It’s covered in wildflowers, deer trails, SAND, bones, and endless amounts of perfect places to pitch your tent. Although you can’t see it from home base, you can hear the ocean roaring and a two second walk up a sand ridge will give you a perfect view of all the action. Leave your flint at home cause you can’t be making fires here. Only stoves for cooking huevos rancheros.
Best part: You don’t need a car. Hop on the LIRR to Patchogue and take a ride on the Watch Hill ferry. (The ferry terminal is 2 minutes from the train, right behind the bowling alley). Get off at Watch Hill, get a permit, and be on your way. Walk 3.5 miles down the beach, walk behind the dunes, pitch your tent, and go back to the beach until the sun goes down. Do whatever it is you like to do at night, then wake up, hike to the other end of the dunes, another 3.5 miles. No backtracking on this trip. Have the ranger at the Wilderness Visitor Center at Smith Point call you a cab, take it to the Mastic Shirley LIRR stop ($10 ride), and come on back home. Watch out for old men sunbathing in the nude.
From Mary Hopkin’s Earth Song, Ocean Song: