Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Weekend's Camp

It was damp and breezy, but not the blowout weather reporters were forecasting. 

Our site, which I picked on a scouting trip a couple of weeks back was good in every measure, except one feature that I missed -adjacent to the Taconic Parkway. Oops. 

We were completely concealed from the other camp sites and the bathrooms, which were only across the road, thanks to some large boulders, and otherwise surrounded by the woods. The air had what I call the mineral scent, probably having more to do with decay than stones, but that's what it brings to my mind.

I am new to camping, although not completely, as I once lived out of my truck in NM for two months, and have overnighted on various cross-country trips. Once I back-packed in Hell's Canyon, but that's a story for another day. Packing the van took way too long, it seemed that I was bringing the whole house, one of everything, a Noah's Ark for domestic objects. I was a little frustrated by needing too much, but at the campground I could see that everyone else had too much, just like we did, and somehow this quelled my frustration. 

My favorite part of  the trip was waking up in the chilled morning, the coolness already enveloping me, jumping up and out to take some pictures.

 How rare it is that I am up at 6 am! The sun just coming above the ridge. 

It wasn't nearly as cold as we expected, the air was fresh, from the north, and the wind was brisk, but high in the canopy. 

And the geese hawnking overhead.

We started the fire for breakfast and coffee. Potatoes were boiled the day before, onion and garlic chopped, all in the pan with some oil. 

I began that morning by making Marie's camp bread (self-rising flour and milk, pinch of salt -recipe here). In fact, if it weren't for reading about her camping endeavors, I probably would have never reached beyond eggs and potatoes. She made bread seem possible, and to some degree, effortless. To ensure my over-reach, I had also brought with me a' no-knead' bread dough begun on Thursday night. That bread suffered from the chilly air, not rising to expectations, but still good enough to eat. It appears that bread can be made on an open fire.

The camp bread came out well, if a bit burnt on the bottom (I used an enameled steel oven, not heavy enough) and everyone thought it was awesome with jam and butter. Friends were impressed, although I'm not sure the crust should look like cooling lava.

Afterwards -eggs to order, with potatoes.

This plant was all around the campsite and I thought it was a kind of wintergreen, actually confusing it with Spotted Wintergreen until I stumbled upon that later. Still no understanding of what it is. *Update* Thanks to Ellen Zachos (and an anonymous), I can now safely say this is Mitchella repens, or Partridgeberry.

The funky crumpled ribbons of autumn blooming witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana, near our campsite.

Of course, Solidago -the kind I often see in the woods, I believe is S. caesia, Bluestem Goldenrod, near camp.

On Saturday we went out for a hike around Pelton Pond, and then connected to a small section of the Appalachian Trail around Canopus Lake. I've never actually hiked any of the AT, although I've driven passed its many trail heads throughout New England. It's always held an allure, the three month hike, Maine to Georgia, August to November. I can say with confidence, that won't happen, but 5K on a Saturday, yes sir.

 A sleepy, and maybe sick, raccoon on the trail. I went around it, while the others went above. It never moved from its spot, but was irritated with us.

This waterfall drains a swamp over the ledge, tumbling down an impressive swath of  rocky slope toward Canopus Lake, which was possibly named after a nearby Wappinger community of a similar name. Dig a little into the Native American/Colonial history in these parts and there's blood on every stone, knowledge of which often obfuscated by the later wars of the plains.

Beauty tempers those thoughts.

Canopus Lake


  1. partidgeberry, perhaps? (Mitchella repens)

  2. I love camping in the fall, it's fantastic! That bread looks amazing! So impressive!!

  3. Oh, how lovely! I love camping in fall as well. I don't do nearly enough of it since I moved to NY. Your site and the area look gorgeous - perfect time of year and weather. Bravo on the bread!! Glad you went for it. The eggs and potatoes don't look half bad either - nothing like good food in cool weather, when you've hiked and earned your hunger.

  4. I wish we earned all that we ate!

  5. All looks fantastic, and the bread looks yummy. We sure never had eggs and potatoes for breakfast :-) The van picture looks funny, kind of like it is up to no good...


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