Archive | Camping RSS feed for this section

Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness

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:

MP3: Mary Hopkin – The Wind

May 18, 2008 | Camping | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

Slide Mountain Wilderness, NY

The Slide Mountain Wilderness is nestled in the Southwest part of the Catskills, right around Woodstock and Phoenicia, NY. It boasts the tallest mountain in the Skills, Slide Mountain, which is around 4200 feet high. That’s only 25,000 feet smaller than Everest. We’re getting there. Drive on out to the Slide Mountain trailhead in Big Indian, NY and walk a few miles up a somewhat steep trail to the top of Ms. Slide herself. Not much to be seen from the actual summit but along the way there’s some great views of Catskill Park. No houses, no streets, just rolling hills for miles. It’s the kind of scenery that makes you want to ditch electricity all together.

Keep going past the summit for about a mile and a half into the notch between Slide Mountain and Cornell Mountain. There are some surprisingly difficult scrambles here that may require you to take your pack off. Make sure you fill up on water at the creek before the descent. There’s not much else flowing anytime soon. A few great designated backcountry campsites are hanging out in the notch. I recommend going to the second one on your way to Cornell if you can. It’s large and open and lies on the edge of a nice open rock face. If it’s taken or you want to put your pack down at the first one, that ain’t no thang. It’s still a great place to be. The trip is about 5.5 miles in to the campsites.

Make a big ol’ fire (as long as you’re below 3500 feet, which you should be) and sing Shania Twain songs at the top of your lungs. Enjoy the backcountry of one of the Northeast’s best parks. It’s a merry ol’ time.

May 16, 2008 | Camping | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

Wild Palms and Gold Mines: Everglades National Park, FL

Give yourself a new Seminole name, get a plane ticket to Miami, rent a car, then drive down to Everglades National Park in Flamingo. Techno music coming from the mono stereo works best for the midnight drive. When you get there, get an hour or two of sleep and then rent a canoe at the marina. There’s a skinny gentleman with a mustache that will get you on your way. Go outside, ask for Louis (like the king, not the Anderson) and get in the water. Get paddling and don’t get stuck at low tide. It’ll give you a real-life panic attack.

You’re in the Gulf of Mexico now, so watch for prehistoric looking birds floating by your head, sharks swimming beside your boat, and miles of pristine beach covered by mangroves. Keep going for 10 miles in the hot sun to the continental USA’s southern most point, East Cape Sable. This isn’t the gloomy Everglades swamps that keep you up at night. This is going to be your favorite place on earth. Full of no-see-ums, shells the size of your face, and lonesome fires on the beach. Unfortunately you might have missed the window. Right about now the bugs are rallying the troops to get ready for a couple of months of deathly humidity. You don’t want to be there, trust us. Wait until December and we’ll go with you. We promise.

May 15, 2008 | Camping | Continue Reading | Comments { 4 }