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The Devil’s Path 5.13-5.15 2016

Last weekend I traversed the entire Devil’s Path supposedly one of the most difficult trails on the east coast.  We were to be 5 brave souls that weekend but a few folks bagged out due to the weather forecast and so just two of us ended up doing the 2night/3day backpacking trip led by Jeff Vincent of CatskillMountainWild.com.  I highly, highly recommend Jeff!  He’s so amazing …I’ll write a separate blog about him and his company!
The trail begins at Prediger road in Elka Park and ends about 24 treacherous miles later at Spruceton road in Westkill, NY.  It poured rain the first day (part of the day), sun shone the second, and we were told weather was headed our way the second night so we took shelter and waited for a severe thunderstorm that never materialized.   A cold front did move in that evening along with wind that forced us to wear hats and gloves as we finished in some snowfall on Sunday afternoon.
If you tried to tell me 25 years ago that I’d be traipsing around the woods in the Catskills hauling 30 lbs on my back for “fun”  um…actually I wouldn’t of even known a person who could have said that.  My circle knew nothing of backpacking, the Catskill mountains, or any type of athleticism.  We were wine drinking snobs who smoked Gauloise, spoke about art, put on art collaboratives in Paris–and thought we were the cats meow.   Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. it’s just that my priorities have shifted…dramatically… and I really like where they’ve landed.   I know they’ll shift again.   It’s one of beauties of life.   I’m learning to just roll with it all and treasure each and every moment.   But….I digress……back to these mountains!
IMG_8190IMG_8245If you look up the hike … which I did obsessively …it’s listed as extremely difficult, strenuous, for athletes only, etc.  I kept reading over and over… and fretting day after day that perhaps I’d gotten  in over my head.  But wait a minute I reasoned,  I’ve run marathons, trail marathons.  I’ve hiked all those mountains ( just not all together).  I’ll be fine I reasoned.  But in came thoughts of doubt…”Yeah but you are a slow marathon runner,  you came last in that ultra you did… You aren’t an athlete!  You have a heart condition, you shouldn’t go.  If you ask your cardiologist he will advise against going.” On and on and on.  Well, I didn’t listen to that negative chatter and I stuck with my plan to go and take it one step at a time.  Lo and behold I lived to write this blog! And ….I had the most glorious weekend ever… traversing 5 peaks and spending 55 glorious hours in the forest … heaven!

I have a dream to thru hike the Appalachian Trail …. I concocted it a few years back.  Last year during my annual visit to my cardio surgeon he advised me against taking on such an endeavor warning that if I dissected during my trip I’d never make it to the hospital in time.  I later realized that if I dissected at home in Woodstock I also might not make the 40 min drive to Vassar Brothers.  I decided then and there to not let this condition run my life.   I decided to not sit home in fear of dying which I will admit I did for about a month.  Good god I wouldn’t even walk across the parking lot at the Inn without clutching my heart!

If any one really knows me they know I’m happiest in the mountains on a hike with Willy & Zelda.  Willy is now mostly retired and spends his days cat sitting and swimming (weather permitting).  Zelda tore her ACL last IMG_8241IMG_8196year and only recently has been back on the trails.  Just the IMG_8240other day she came on a hike and I cannot describe the joy I felt…talk about priorities  shifting!   My ex husband considers me an unsophisticated hick who lives a barbaric life in the boondocks.  I know I’m just a mountain loving woman who no longer smokes Gauloise and no longer talks about art but makes  it.
peace,
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Karen

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Having fun as a visitor

ohnigian 1000Woodstock has always offered ‘authentic experiences’ long before authentic experiences were promoted by Madison Avenue. But it seems in 2016 there are more options than ever. We’re thrilled our friends and neighbors are determined to help you have the best experience possible. Some of our favorites include:

5f0175_9d436e8a32bf4cea9abdfa73a0ba789aHiking – Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild is the go-to person for everything from a summer saunter to extreme challenges. Karen is still reeling in glee from her three-day backcountry experience on the appropriately names Devil’s Path. Jeff’s love of the Catskills is evident and contagious.

Biking – On road, off road, whatever you want to experience on two wheels, Overlook Mountain Bicycles right in town has the perfect offering. From toddling kids to the oldest kid at heart, they’ll get you all set up and offer great advice on the best places to ride. Heck, they even rent car carriers if you really want your riding experience to take you deep into the Catskills. This is down-home service with excellent equipment.

Kayaking – Whether you’re new to kayaking or want to explore the mighty Hudson River up close, the nearby Kenco Outfitters has a program for you. And in sumkayaking_landingmer the City of Kingston offers Saturday paddles at Kingston Point.

Outdoor education – The Woodstock Land Conservancy offers wonderful events for people of all ages the first Saturday of the month. From paddling to hiking these guided tours are both informative and fun.

Wine and beer tours – The Hudson Valley is the heart of the local farm to table movement, especially when it comes to craft beverages. The Little Wine Bus offers custom guided tours – and does the driving! – for people wanting to venture into the area’s great wineries and breweries. From grape stomps to behind the scene tours with brewmasters, they know where the fun is.

Art tours – There’s a reason the Hudson River School is synonymous with great and important painting. You can discover the roots and inspiration for artists in so many places right in Woodstock, as well as the region.
Art Along the Hudson coordinates many open studio events, offering behind-the scene opportunity to see some of the country’s most talented artists live and work.

mobile-slide2And of course, our very favorite place to explore, relax, swim or nap is the wonderful Millstream, right here, ready for our guests. Hope you’ll visit – and explore – soon.

 

 

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Earth Day beauty

If you haven’t seen them yet, check out NASA’s latest images of Earth.  They include not just pictures of the big blue marble, but also images of land formations that replicate lettersugab_ast_2000360_lrg earth_and_limb_m1199291564l_color_2stretch_mask_0– here’s the letter “Y”  which stands for yardangs – elongated land forms sculpted by erosion. Wow. Talk about humbling. Maybe we should make every day Earth Day.

And then I walk outside and witness the stream rushing past, the water supporting so many life forms, and the miracle of its role in our own little patch of land right here in Woodstock. The trees it nurtures, the souls it refreshes when guests jump in for a summer dip. And, every day the music it provides as it gushes, gurgles and sometimes even just trickles past. It’s constantly changing and constantly comforting.

The Inn is such an amazing retreat. It’s always a joy watching people relax. Often people get in touch with themselves as they get in touch with nature – it’s important to not just unwind but also remember that the world is truly beautiful place.

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Springing into beauty

Ahh, longer days are the magic elixir of spring. While a lost hour’s sleepCrocus_vernus_albiflorusM3 is missed for a day or two (or three the older I get!) the joy of late afternoon daylight can’t be beat. It’s so wonderful to have that time after work, when the days are still warm and it’s such a pleasure to be outdoors, listening to the stream rushing past.
This is also a real turning point at the Inn as we know the busy season is just around the corner – people are already booking out for July and August, choosing dates so they can attend some of Woodstock’s many offerings – concerts, gallery shows, festivals and Playhouse performances just add to the village’s ambiance and appeal. Not only do we have some of the prettiest mountains and waterfalls in New York right in our back yard, we also have the quality entertainment that New Yorkers expect.
But for now it’s time to slow down and embrace the seasonal changes – watch the crocuses peek out from the brown, moist earth and the daffodil blooms erupt along the garden edges. Soon The Inn will be running at full capacity, with guests from throughout the world coming to Woodstock to enjoy the treasures the locals too often take for granted. For now, I’ll take a moment or two (or three!) and also enjoy the beauty and magic of Woodstock.

 

 

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What’s next?

I received my patch in the mail yesterday….I am now an official member of the Catskill Mountain 3500 Club #2512!  Hiking all 35 peaks is one of the most amazing ways to see this wonderful slice of paradise…I cannot recommend it enough!  I had some of the most memorable experiences….meeting fellow hikers…getting lost with my best friend…solo hiking in 6 ft. of snow…hiking with my faithful companions…Zelda, Luke and Bear.  I finally learned to read & use a compass and map…you know navigating the old fashioned way thanks to Jeff Vincent of  www.CatskillMountainWild.com.  I also learned (at the end of my hikes)  that I should leave my phone at home and just enjoy the beauty with no distractions (like snapping a pic every 5 min–I will share those I did take).  I learned that I am strong AND weak, fearless AND fearful, …but always adventurous.  What’s next?  Perhaps climbing all the peaks in winter only…it truly is my favorite time of year.  My big dream?  To hike the Appalachian Trail!

Bear and Zelda

Bear and Zelda

Zelda and Luke

Zelda and Luke

My friend Liz

My friend Liz

John Holt

John Holt

Sean, Luke & Zelda

Sean, Luke & Zelda

Liz, Charlie & Tom

Liz, Charlie & Tom

Zelda enjoying the view

Zelda enjoying the view

Balsam Lake

Balsam Lake

My niece Olivia

My niece Olivia

IMG_7076

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Warming up to a new normal?

unnamed-3So, last winter was one for the books – snow, snow, snow and cold, cold, cold. Who’d have ever thought we’d miss THAT? Well, we don’t necessarily miss the incessant freeze, must admit it’s a bit strange this year, with only one decent snow fall, that has since melted. And, with no shadow being sighted by Punxsutawney Phil, it may mean time to gear up for Spring. But wait!

The best part of winter is just happening now! This is traditionally when we’re slowing down in Woodstock, taking a breather. Finally there’s time to talk with friends and neighbors, our favorite shopkeepers and chefs. And it’s pretty exciting so many new things are happening in our area: Concerts (have you seen the Jazzstock events?); Upstate Films continues to show amazing, non-mainstream movies that engage; There are three Rambles at Levon’s place in February; Byrdcliff is hosting an artist spotlight Feb. 6 in the village and then on Feb. 18 the Woodstock Artists Association has an open potluck gathering where artists, critics and regular folks can all just get together and visit.

These are the kind of winter events we love up here! (And if you haven’t visited Woodstock in winter it’s the perfect time to get the best local experience around.)

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not just twiddling our thumbs here at the Inn. There are busy weekends and lots of surprises in store that’ll ease things when the real season starts. But in the meantime we’ll just stroll into town – yes, it is way warm enough to walk and no snow on the roads!  – enjoy a cup of coffee and simply embrace the peace – and warmth.

Hope to see you soon.

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Winter in Woodstock, NY :: Things to Do Near our NY B&B

 

So, last winter was one foWinter in Woodstockr the books – snow, snow, snow and cold, cold, cold. Who’d have ever thought we’d miss THAT? Well, we don’t necessarily miss the incessant freeze, must admit it’s a bit strange this year, with only one decent snow fall, that has since melted. And, with no shadow being sighted by Punxsutawney Phil, it may mean time to gear up for Spring. But wait!

The best part of winter is just happening now! This is traditionally when we’re slowing down in Woodstock, taking a breather. Finally there’s time to talk with friends and neighbors, our favorite shopkeepers and chefs. And it’s pretty exciting that there are so many thing to do in New York: Concerts (have you seen the Jazzstock events?); Upstate Films continues to show amazing, non-mainstream movies that engage; There are three Rambles at Levon’s place in February; Byrdcliff is hosting an artist spotlight Feb. 6 in the village and then on Feb. 18 the Woodstock Artists Association has an open potluck gathering where artists, critics and regular folks can all just get together and visit.

These are the kind of winter events we love up here! (And if you haven’t visited Woodstock, NY in winter it’s the perfect time to get the best local experience around.)

room-8a-3

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not just twiddling our thumbs here at the Inn. There are busy weekends and lots of surprises in store that’ll ease things when the real season starts. But in the meantime we’ll just stroll into town – yes, it is way warm enough to walk and no snow on the roads!  – enjoy a cup of coffee and simply embrace the peace – and warmth.

Hope to see you soon.

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Bushwhacking the Catskills!

In my never ending (but soon to be completed) quest to hike all the 3500 peaks in the glorious Catskill Forest Preserve…my excellent friend Ms. Liz Levine and I decided to hire the amazing Jeff Vincent, a recent AT thru hiker who just started Catskill Mountain Wild (check out his website by simply clicking on our pic with him CatskillMountainWild.com)   Jeff is available to guide folks on any adventure of their choice…hike, fish, camp, paddle.  He is a local and knows these mountains like the back of his hand!  Liz and I had done a couple of the bushwhack hikes on our own but realized we had just been super lucky to find the top and the canister which you must sign.  Let me back up…of the 35 peaks about 10 of them are bushwhack hikes…meaning NO marked trail…and at the top you need to find the canister and sign the book.  After our successful sign in on top of Friday mountain…we got lost coming back down…but eventually found our way back to the car.  Yes, we had compasses, maps, etc….we realized we just didn’t know how to use them properly.  Enter…Jeff Vincent!!  Jeff took us out on the North Dome/Sherrill bushwhack and guided us to the top of both while also patiently teaching us how to REALLY use a compass and map!  What an amazing journey!

 

I was so inspired and impressed with Jeff’s expertise we have started discussions about offering packages to our guests.  Snowshoe excursions, bushwhacks and fishing trips.   One I am particularly excited about…includes backpacking from a tbd start to Echo Lake where we would do an overnight then hike the next morning down Overlook and end the second night at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream with a fabulous dinner in Woodstock.   Check out Jeff’s website by simply clicking on our picture with him!

Stay tuned…..

 

peace,

Karen

 

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yours truly mimicking the strong tree arm that protruded from the side of the mountain we bushwhacked

Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild

Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild, Liz Levine, et moi

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You’re crazy if you don’t hike in the Catskills in the Fall!

images-2There are so many amazing, beautiful trails right here in Woodstock, and venturing into the larger backyard of the Catskills is simply wondrous. It’s always awe-inspiring to see the power of nature in action; watching flowers and streams and right now especially, the trees, change and adapt.

Fall is always a balancing act. It brings those melancholy moments thinking of passing time and impending cold, but it also brings these rapturous, beautiful sun-filled, crisp days. They beckon us outdoors as adamantly as our childhood friends would; it truly is time to come out and play.

To that end, technology has caught up with many adventures and we just have to share this web site that lists all kinds of outdoor adventures in Ulster County. Hiking, bicycling, birding, U-picks. You name it, this site lists it. Just go to the legend button at the stop of the site and explore away! This is a great cross-reference resource and we’re thrilled to share it with guests.

One of the most popular trails in Woodstock is Overlook Mountain. images-1Our friends at Catskill Mountaineer have compiled everything you want to know about this 5-mile hike to the fire tower. (And this is their picture of the ruins!) The truly hardy can go the full hike to Echo Lake, but leave plenty of time! Overlook is right in town, makes for a lovely excursion and the view will leave you breathless – both for it’s beauty and for that last quarter mile. But all well worth it.

The nearby Ashokan Reservoir has a well-maintained paved trail that offers runners, walkers – even those with strollers – and bicyclists, some great views and it’s always amazing to think that all that water will wind up in a New York City apartment – without filtration! In addition to the reservoir info, Trailkeeper list many other Catskill sites representing a variety of distances and difficulties.

And Karen, an avid hiker, is always an amazing source of knowledge about various trails and summits throughout the Catskills. It’s where she spends most of her days off, and once you see the sights, you’ll understand why. Scenery on the fall hikes is ever-changing. Literally, the leaf colors on an out and back path can change during one hike! But although ever-changing, the beauty is constant.

And remember, relaxing at the Inn is always the perfect antidote for a rigorous hike. The most important thing is to enjoy the time outdoors this Fall – it will be a whole year until you can have this experience again.

 

 

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Hiking in Woodstock NY :: Catskills in the Fall

Hiking in Woodstock, NY :: Catskills

There are so many amazing, beautiful trails right here in Woodstock, and venturing into the larger backyard of the Catskills is simply wondrous. It’s always awe-inspiring to see the power of nature in action; watching flowers and streams and right now especially, the trees, change and adapt. The things to do in NY are endless, especially outdoor adventure in beautiful places like Woodstock NY.

Fall is always a balancing act. It brings those melancholy moments thinking of passing time and impending cold, but it also brings these rapturous, beautiful sun-filled, crisp days. They beckon us outdoors as adamantly as our childhood friends would; it truly is time to come out and play.

Hiking in Catskills

To that end, technology has caught up with many adventures and we just have to share this web site that lists all kinds of outdoor adventures in Ulster County. Hiking, bicycling, birding, U-picks. You name it, this site lists it. Just go to the legend button at the stop of the site and explore away! This is a great cross-reference resource and we’re thrilled to share it with guests.

One of the most popular trails in Woodstock is Overlook Mountain. Hiking in Woodstock, NY :: CatskillsOur friends at Catskill Mountaineer have compiled everything you want to know about this 5-mile hike to the fire tower. (And this is their picture of the ruins!) The truly hardy can go the full hike to Echo Lake, but leave plenty of time! Overlook is right in town, makes for a lovely excursion and the view will leave you breathless – both for it’s beauty and for that last quarter mile. But all well worth it.

The nearby Ashokan Reservoir has a well-maintained paved trail that offers runners, walkers – even those with strollers – and bicyclists, some great views and it’s always amazing to think that all that water will wind up in a New York City apartment – without filtration! In addition to the reservoir info, Trailkeeper list many other Catskill sites representing a variety of distances and difficulties.

And Karen, an avid hiker, is always an amazing source of knowledge about various trails and summits throughout the Catskills. It’s where she spends most of her days off, and once you see the sights, you’ll understand why. Scenery on the fall hikes is ever-changing. Literally, the leaf colors on an out and back path can change during one hike! But although ever-changing, the beauty is constant.

Woodstock, NY bed and breakfast. room 18

And remember, relaxing at our New York B&B is always the perfect antidote for a rigorous hike. The most important thing is to enjoy the time outdoors this Fall – it will be a whole year until you can have this experience again.

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