I was driving home today from my solo hike up Windham high peak and this line from Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” bounded out of my speakers. Today it was loaded with meaning for me. I set out today to bag another peak in my quest to join the Catskill 3500 club.
But today was very different from any other
solo winter trek I have done as I had decided
to dedicate it to Kate Matrosova. Since
her untimely death climbing the Presidential Peaks on 2.15.15 I have obsessively read about her trek that day.
Almost every account reiterates how crazy,
stupid, inexperienced she must have been to set out that day. The weather can change in a
second up on that ridge and kill you quickly. We all know this to be true. I’m sure Kate Matrosova knew this to be true…but rather than focus on how “crazy”
she was I wanted to honor her spirit and unflinching sense of bravery and adventure by climbing today and writing this blog.
I set out at 10 am but with a lot more caution and preparedness than
usual. Granted I was not climbing 6000 feet today in 100 mph winds but as I’ve learned shit can happen and climbing up to 3600 in teens can just as easily kill you if you are not prepared. I’ll admit it. I was nervous. Many thoughts ran through
my mind that normally never do…like hey, Karen…you have a
heart condition, or you are 52…or what if you pass out..and on and on…so many thoughts
that I could just as easily have talked myself out of the hike. I could have “stuck to some straighter line” as Joni puts it.
But I didn’t….and I won’t….and I hope to climb Mount Washington one day as well because that is who I am. That’s what makes me tick. I look at Kate’s life as
yes …tragically short but so incredibly full.
We all take chances everyday of our lives…some just take greater ones than others because their spirit beckons them to do so.
As I approached the summit I saw a figure ahead of me. I caught up to John
Dice a 79 year old Catskill Mtn 3500er who was out hiking for fun in the gorgeous weather. It put the hugest smile on my face and I kept it all the way down.
Today instead of running down to see how fast I could do the hike I decided to walk down and take in the beauty of this cold winter day. The sounds, the sights all of it. I was thinking a lot about Kate when I looked down and saw the heart in the snow (I had missed it on the way up) More smiles and tears. I get what drove Kate Matrosova to solo hike that day and all the other days she went out there.
For some …to simply not take the risk is a death.
We have to challenge ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically and yes, sometimes
it can go too far. But we know that and we take the chance anyway …we don’t expect to be
rescued. Someone who is experienced enough knows that ultimately it’s up to them and they make their choices accordingly, everything from what gear & clothing to take to whether they should even venture out.
Enough of the finger wagging at Ms. Matrosova …her short 32 years here on planet earth were in my opinion lived incredibly. Myself, I only started living at 32 when I first tried to
quit smoking and started running and hiking in the forest in order to attain that goal.
I am most alive when I am in the forest and so on my days off
that’s where you’ll find me and yes…usually alone. I know I take a chance each and every time I do it but I know the internal rewards I reap.
And so I hope like John, who I met on Windham today, that at 79 I’ll still be
taking chances and climbing mountains. Rest in peace Kate Matrosova.
Many years ago I met two “kids” who started coming to Woodstock and (lucky for me) chose the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream as their place to stay. Regina & Mike quickly became regulars and visited on average 3-5 times a year…and so…they joined what I call my Woodstock Inn “family.” The family is not based on times/year visits…but rather how we connect on the visit(s). There are some guests I only see once a year…or once every other year…but when I do …it is like any old friend walking through the door..no time has passed. Mike and Regina are like old friends…when they walk in the door…it’s a hug…it’s a catch up on life, love, work and all that. These two chose to create their own piece of history here when they got engaged on the famous green bench outside the office…not the one there now…but an older one that has since been replaced…I am still looking for a piece of it to give to them 😉
When they broke the news that they were pregnant…I was beyond elated for them! As Regina’s due date grew close… I would call now and then just to see how she was doing. When it came time for their winter weekend visit (one they have been doing for years) I never expected that they would keep it as it was just weeks after their first child was born. Imagine my excitement when they called to say …of course we are coming!! Angelina was just three weeks old when they pulled into the driveway and I got to meet the newest member of this wonderful family. The first morning at breakfast..all guests were gaga over this gorgeous child…and I got to hold her while Mom and Dad ate breakfast. What a gift…holding this newborn child …. a morning I will never forget.
Universe willing…I look forward to many more years here and watching Angelina grow. I recently had a visit from an “old” young guest who I met as a newborn…she is now 17, driving and just recently got accepted to her college of choice! Time sure does fly when you are having the time of your life. So grateful….
It seems winter weather has a way of changing people’s plans. Lately, we had many calls from people wanting to book a same-day stay, but our computer wouldn’t give them that option. Well, we’ve changed that. During our winter season we’re offering same day booking on our website. We’ll see how it goes now, in our slower season, and decide if we’ll keep the option available once things get busier.
Of course, while we always want to do what’s easiest for our guests, it’s also important that we do what’s best for our guests and having your room ready and warm is our top priority. Many travelers are affected by weather and opt to stay overnight rather than drive on dangerous roads. Others are discovering that the Catskills in winter have so many fun options, such as skiing, snowshoeing and snow tubing that they want another day to take it all in. Offering the same day booking option seems one way to help those who have last minute plans. But of course you can always call us directly, at 845-679-8211 and we’ll help you with your reservations.
Winter is an amazing time here in Woodstock. The mountain air is so fresh, the skiing is enjoyable – whether you opt for downhill or cross country. Hiking trails are not crowded, and snowshoeing is a perfect option if Mother Nature works her white magic on us. But the real joy of this season is found amid the peaceful nature throughout town. It’s just a nice, quiet pace. People have time to talk and visit, the stores have amazing sales going on, concert venues are warm and inviting – it’s truly a favorite season for so many locals.
So it’s kind of bittersweet to see the Hudson Valley making its mark in the tourism world. National Geographic started it in 2013, making us a must-see destination, Vogue has written about Woodstock’s charm in 2014 and now Travel and Leisure magazine has chosen the Catskills as #2 of 50 Top places to visit in 2015, citing our region’s commitment to local, authentic experiences. Here, at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream, that has always been our defining ethos. It’s such a treat to chat with guests and offer our local insights as you experience Woodstock. Whether you’re seeking an action-packed outdoor experience, a relaxing time in the heart of nature or want to rock ‘n roll the night away, there’s always something happening. And certainly sharing our secret trails, favorite restaurants and just going the extra step to make your visit enjoyable is what makes our jobs rewarding. (This winter we’re also offering midweek savings – 50% off a second night – sorry holidays and week of Feb. 16-20 not included.)
Probably more people will be visiting this year, thanks to all the positive coverage, and that’s great. But it also makes us treasure this secret calm of winter even more. Hope you’ll join us and experience this magical season… It may be the start of a new year, but before you know it, the crocuses will be sprouting, so come see us soon and bask in winter’s beauty and calm.
This holiday season we are sharing one of the most sought after items at the Inn: Karen’s recipe for her delicious Banana-Blueberry bread. It’s always a special treat when she makes it as part of our breakfast offerings, but guests have been wanting to recreate this taste of Woodstock when they return home. The response to the shared recipe has been tremendous so we thought we’d share it here. Also, one guest has even substituted gluten-free oat flour and says it’s great, that people can’t even tell the difference. So, enjoy. Put your own yummy touches in your recipe (if you arrive at something super delicious do share it with us please on our Facebook page.) Just remember – add lots of Karen’s special ingredient!
Karen’s Banana/Blueberry bread
Preheat oven to 350 and butter a loaf pan
4 mashed ripe bananas…add 1/3 cup of melted butter…mix with love and a wooden spoon add …1 beaten egg, 1 tsp of vanilla and 3/4 cup of sugar……mix in .. with love.
Sprinkle 1 tsp of baking soda and a pinch of salt over the above … mix in … as always with love…
add 1.5 cups of flour and 1 cup of blueberries …mix with love and add any additional nuts, spices or other fruit that you fancy!
Bake for 1 hour.
Every once in a while we become silly and think we can control things. We plan. We schedule. We prepare. And, nature has its way. So it is this Thanksgiving in the Hudson Valley. We’re humbled and amazed at the beauty that has descended upon us with this snow storm. Yes, some are still scrambling to get to destinations and the airports are not where you want to be. Yet, the goal of being with loved ones, of gathering together and giving thanks is what motivates us.
And so, we learn to take time. Enjoy the moments as they appear. Be thankful for the big and the small things: for seasons that blend together and remind us that time passes, but memories linger; for the blessings, the people; even those oh-so-frustrating storms that force us to juggle schedules and plans; for the peace we are privileged to enjoy and that we want to extend into this big, sometimes scary, but oh so so amazingly beautiful world.
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Farmers may be rushing to harvest the last of the crops before serious frosts hit, but that doesn’t mean an end to the locavore opportunities in the Hudson Valley. We are so lucky to have such amazing brewers, vintners and distillers nearby that it’s easy to see why the region has become a libation groupie’s year-round destination. A tour of the local treasures requires nothing more than planning an easy and beautiful day trip from the Inn. (Don’t forget to name the designated driver!)
The Shawangunk Wine Trail is a great offering of area wineries and its Wreath Fineries at the Wineries is always a holiday hit. Held this weekend (Nov. 22-23) and the first two weekends in December (6-7 and 13-14) this event highlights the 14 wineries that call our region home. To start the day guests receive a grape vine wreath and at each winery an ornament is added, culminating with a memorable holiday wreath at the end of the tour, not to mention exploring and tasting lots of delicious varietals. Certainly, as more Hudson Valley wineries are gaining national recognition for their locally-crafted selections our area is getting some deserved kudos for both reds and whites. Whitecliff’s versatile Red Trail wine is always popular – whether its part of a picnic lunch for cross country skiiers or enjoyed in front of the fireplace, its blended smoothness reflects the diversity of the area’s grapes.
Distilleries are again resurfacing in the Hudson Valley, buoyed by the state’s Farm Distillery Bill. In the past five years they’ve been partnering and working together to draw in visitors as a destination trip. Certainly, Tutilltown Spirits in Gardiner dominates the state’s microdistilling field. Its Baby Bourbon, vodkas and whiskey are all popular, but the funky tasting room and behind the scenes tours make this a popular – and insightful – stop. Additional nearby distilleries include Coppersea Distilling in West Park and Catskill Distilling Company down by Bethel, but contact them directly to schedule tours.
And breweries in the region are surging, as the craft beer movement continues its popularity. Currently nine breweries are on the Hudson Valley Beer Trail and they produce a variety of beers. Keegan Ales is right down the road from Woodstock, in Kingston.The brewery has been serving up award-winning beers since 2003, including a delicious stout that the New York Times named one of the Top 10 stouts in the country. Their limited holiday offerings are also popular this time of year.
Of course, after a tough day of tastings, guests at the Inn can relax by the stream or in the gardens, sipping their favorite purchases of the day. Or choose a fireplace room, snuggle up and offer a toast to the amazing bounty within the Hudson Valley.
The chill is officially in the air, which means one of our favorite Woodstock holidays is rapidly approaching – that’s right Halloween is right around the corner. The Woodstock Film Festival wrapped up another amazing event this past weekend so now we’re on to costume planning, candy buying and trick scheming.
As always, Tinker Street will be the happening spot. (Remember the road will be shut down from 4 to 7, so if you’ll be staying at the Inn you’ll need to follow the detour signs.) The slight inconvenience of re-routing traffic is well worth it as the parade safely winds through town. Zombies, princesses and people of all ages enjoy the early evening revelry. The costume contest is always a highlight, but those candy treats from merchants are a close second.
One of the best things about Woodstock’s Halloween – and Woodstock in general – is the creativity that is seen everywhere. Costumes go from elaborate with special effects (think water melting off a human dressed as a glacier) to funny (think the queen of hearts in cheetah print.)
Sunfrost Farms will again be hosting its creative jack-o-lantern display – this year it will be on both Oct. 30 and 31. This may very well be the best, if not the most attractive, use of unsold pumpkins in the country and truly transforms the store/restaurant site. It’s worth it to do a drive by in the day and then at night when it’s aglow. Who needs Christmas decorations when you have Sunfrost in the community? Located just west of town, at 217 Tinker Street, this is a must-visit for residents and tourists alike.
And yes, of course, it’s Woodstock. It’s a holiday. Obviously the music will be amazing. Connor Kennedy will be rocking at Bearsville with the Pink Floyd Halloween Freak Out show, with special effects by Liquid Light Lab. Creativity abounds.
And, to think – this is just the start of the weekend! We still have all Saturday and Sunday to enjoy everything else: hikes, galleries or better yet – sitting by the stream, watching nature weave her beauty on the trees and water. Pure bliss.
There is just something so refreshing when the air gets crisp and the nights are cool and star-filled. In Woodstock we are lucky to enjoy so many outdoor activities, but certainly one of the funnest and tastiest is apple picking. Sunshine, a picnic basket, family and friends – what more could a person ask for? This year’s apples look to be a bumper crop coming in, so it will likely be an extra-rewarding season. Whether it’s the zestiness of a Gala or the juicy Cortland that you’re after, nothing beats the satisfaction of eating fruit that’s been warmed by the sun and fresh off the tree. In the Hudson Valley more than a dozen different types of apples are grown and each has a distinct aspect, from texture to tartness.
You can explore these options by visiting any of the nearby U-pick farms (Maynard, Stone Ridge Orchard) or many of Woodstock’s local stores and markets sell freshly-picked, locally-grown apples. One of our favorites is Woodstock Meats, which not only provides fresh, local produce it’s also a town staple. (If you wonder just how much a meat market can bring to a community check out their amazingly fun video, created by some of the Woodstock’s young and certainly talented youth.)
Of course, once apples are enjoyed in their natural form it becomes time to ponder how best to bake with them. The options are endless. We tend to stay with the traditional apple crisps, apple bread, apple pie, etc. However if you want to know more than you ever imagined about ways to eat apples, check out this list of 50 things to make with apples. Who knew that sesame-apple slaw actually exists?
It’s a bittersweet season – the literal fruits of farmers’ labors are being enjoyed, but we also know it is fleeting. Soon the sun won’t be quite as warm, the days will be even shorter, the nights longer. So, while the time – and picking – is ripe, enjoy this glorious gift from nature.