Monday, January 31, 2011
Just saw this online....sounds really cool. If anyone goes please post a comment here on what you thought. Thanks....JB
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12
4TH ANNUAL FLY FEST & ICECAPADES
10:00AM - 4:00PM
CATSKILL FLY FISHING CENTER & MUSEUM
LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY
The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum (CFFCM), in cooperation with sponsors Catskill Flies and ClassicTrout.com will host the Fourth annual Fly Fest and the second IceCapades.
Fly Fest is a gathering of 50+ fly tyers who get together every year in the CFFCM to tie flies and minimize cabin fever and mid winter blues. Both professional and amateur tyers from all over the Northeast come to share their latest patterns, swap stories and tie flies for the upcoming season. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the warmth of the day inside and pick up some pointers from the group. On this day, Fly Tyers are sure to see their shadow and return to their basements for another 6 weeks of fly tying, just in time to return for the 2011 Trout Season Opener at Junction Pool in Roscoe, NY. Volunteer Coordinators for this event are JB Martin, Jack Ganz, and ‘Catskill John’ Bonasera.
For those who enjoy the cold and the excitement of ice fishing, the CFFCM will host the second IceCapades. IceCapades is an open day to all to fish on the CFFCM Pond. Last year a number of large yellow perch and brown trout were caught. Participants will be encouraged to donate $5 to fund the spring pond stocking for children’s fishing educational programs, on pond demonstrations and for those physically challenged. A member will be on hand to drill holes and those wishing to make their own can take advantage of a hand ice auger that will be available. Hot dogs and warm drinks will be available and fun will be had by all. IceCapades is coordinated by Mike Canazon, Jan Weido and CFFCM friends from the Mid Hudson Trout Unlimited.
For more information call: The CFFCM at (845) 439-4810
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Yes, this winter has certainly been complete….with plenty of snow that is. But winter is never truly complete - in the western Catskills anyway - without a little bit of ice-fishing. So where does one go ice-fishing in the tranquil western Catskills? Well….it is usually Big or Little Ponds, silly. Both are located along Barkaboom Road, near the Ulster-Delaware County line in the Beaverkill Valley.
Little Pond is of course a popular NYSDEC campground – operating from Memorial through Labor Day. In the winter though, there is no entry fee, certainly no camping, and a long walk in (the entrance gate is locked) greets the die-hard fisherman.
Big Pond, located adjacent to “the Barkaboom”, is deeper, larger, and like Little Pond, but unlike most of the waterbodies throughout the Catskill Mountains in winter - allows for trout fishing year-round. Even more importantly, well sometimes anyway, is that after you shut the door on your truck (usually at around 4:30am if you are a die-hard), you are on the ice in under 60 seconds. Don’t be worried about the ice thickness this year either. NYSDEC recommends a minimum of 2” to support a person – the pond is at least 6 to 7 times that now…and getting thicker.
To ice-fish, you need a few things. Aside from the obvious things like tons of warm clothes, a fishing license, and something to drill a hole in the ice, you need to know the regulations. Many waterbodies in the Catskills have specific regs that are important and necessary in order to protect and preserve the fishery. Abiding by the minimum length, type of species and numbers taken is so critical to keep the fishery intact for others to enjoy next year – or even in the following Spring. Some regs also limit the number of lines in the water per fisherman - each person can have 2 jigging rods (a mini fishing pole) and up to 5 tip-ups. A tip-up consists of a spool of fishing line attached to wooden crosspieces that sit over the hole in the ice, and a flag that pops up when a fish takes the bait.
I know what most of you are thinking….ice-fishing is like what happens in that movie Grumpy Old Men; A wooden shanty that blocks all of the wind, however this is not exactly like most ice-fishing in the Catskills. Sure, some folks have collapsible shanties, but ‘warm’ is not the wod I’d use to describe them. Then there is the issue of piercing the ice. I use a hand ice auger to make that 6” hole, others splurge for a gas powered one, making quick work of even the thickest ice.
So, just before the sun begins to rise, the typical fisherman loads up a plastic sled (or sleds) with his gear, pulls it all out on the ice - heading to an open, but ‘lucky’. Then, it is ‘drill baby drill’ - drilling holes (up to 7) with the ice auger, setting up the tip-ups – baited with live minnows, and affixing your ‘best guest’ of tackle to the jigging rods (usually flashy lures or mealworms). Turn over a 5-gallon bucket for a seat, sit down……and wait.
Would you believe me if I told you that ice fishing certainly can be fun? Well next time I’ll do my best to convince you.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Does this look like Southern Comfort to you? Nah, bet you were thinking it was Sundown.. but shortly after the triple chair was installed Sundown had a different name. Southern Comfort. And a story behind it.
A Roxbury businessman, also a skier, also a fan of Plattekill was a bit over the edge on Southern Comfort – and fell and broke his leg, hence the name. North Face was originally Barney’s Bluff named for Plattekill’s original owners golden retriever, Barney, yes. And, Barney was quite a dog – and quite a drinker …. He’d also sit at the bar and lap up beer. Indeed.
Shredded Mozzerella has a far more recent name. For the shredders. It was the terrain park’s original location when it was first installed and the name? That we can thank Danielle for…
The stories about the trail names are all from Macker, the man in charge of mountain ops… Now it’s up to you to draw your version of Plattekill’s trails with or without their original names. Or, new names that you think fit. Oh, and yes, routes through the trees are all welcome too.
The prize is a pair of tickets to Plattekill this season or next. And there are two age groups. Under 14. Over 14. No cheating and lying about your ages, now.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Inspired by the awesome hand drawn trail map hanging in Platte's bar, Winter in the Catskills in conjunction with Plattekill are having a competition! Draw Your Own Trail Map. All you have to do is draw your version of Platte's terrain. Best interpretation wins. There are two age groups: Under 14 and Over 14. The prize for each category is a pair of lift tickets good this season or next.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Okay, so it is going to be damn cold this weekend.
I know - I know, it is winter in the heart of the Catskill Mountains after all, what else should I expect? The forecast I have seen for Sunday is a high of 7 (that ain’t Celsius folks…) and get this – a low of -12 degrees below zero.
Now, I have camped at 20 degrees below zero in the Catskills -something I am not too anxious to repeat. Of course I have also sat through frigid days at Big Pond ice-fishing – highs around 10 degrees and windy (sitting still in the middle of a wind-tunnel-like vast open space).
So what is there to do when it is this frigid? Knowing the Ski Plattekill die-hards, well they will be out there having a blast - but what should the rest of us sane folks do?
Obviously the answer for western Catskills’ residents and visitors is not to stay indoors. On Sunday the Jets aren’t on stage until 6:30 so there is plenty of time to get out of the house. In fact, the Jets are really the lucky ones - they will get to play outdoors in balmy (predicted to by 15 degrees) Pittsburgh!
If downhill, cross-country, snowshoeing, or ice-fishing isn’t your cup of tea this weekend, I can’t blame you. What will I do? Well, after attending a birthday in appropriately-named “Winter Hollow” in New Kingston – I plan on taking a drive with the wife and kids down along the East and West Branches of the Delaware River.
Why? Every winter 150-200 bald eagles visit the Catskill Mountain region. The southern and western Catskills are like the Florida Keys for eagles. Bald (and some Golden) eagles from Canada seek a reliable food source (meaning partially-thawed waterbodies) and undisturbed habitat so they can survive the cold winter months. Open water on the Delaware and Hudson Rivers provides a source of fish and the vast expanse of forested landscapes provide a great habitat. Apparently some bald eagles travel 900 miles to winter in this region! That is similar to tourists coming from Madison WI, Atlanta, GA, or Nashville, TN to over-winter the Catskills. That’s dedication; however if I had to live in Georgia I would surely make the 900-mile trek each year!
Over the last decade I have seen a ton of bald eagles – and the vast majority right here in the Western Catskills. I will say that my “at one time” record for eagle sightings was 20 – which occurred in Sullivan County at the Mongaup Falls Reservoir. While this area is certainly a hotbed for eagle sightings, you not need to venture that far.
Between Fleischmanns and Margaretville along the Bush Kill (in the sycamore trees by the Delaware & Ulster RR – see image) is a great place to see them. Even by the Freshtown supermarket in Margaretville, and certainly driving around the Pepacton Reservoir (NYS Route 30 west towards Downsville) will serve you just fine. One winter I drove from Downsville to East Branch (along the East Branch Delaware River) and spotted no less than five mature bald eagles perched above the river.
Or course driving along NYS Route 10 between Walton and Deposit will surely work too. A couple pairs even make this portion of the Catskills their permanent home. If you are truly dedicated to eagle-spotting, I am confident that you’ll see them – especially this time of year.
There are numerous breeding pairs all throughout the Catskills that remain year-round for residents to observe. To learn more about the winter eagles that visit the Catskills, check out the NYSDEC 2008 NY Bald Eagle Report at: www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/baea2008.pdf and for upcoming events and do’s and don’ts for eagle observation, visit the nearby Eagle Institute’s website.
So, if you deem it too cold to be out, why not take a drive spot this majestic creature? Be sure to bring a camera, but more importantly the binoculars. If you are lucky enough you’ll get to see this comeback species not only in flight, but also pick off an un-suspecting trout. Happy hunting!
- Aaron Bennett
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Indeed the forecast is snowy -- after 5 inches of wet snow (great for the base ) we'll be getting some light and fluffy for the weekend with good snow temps. So all looks great for my (and hopefully your) snow hopes. Now if my husband would just buy me those Lotta Luv's I want...
Monday, January 17, 2011
When we say Live and Raw - we're not talking about the weather now..... Check out the Turquoise Barn in the Western Catskills. Owner Michelle Premura is a certified Raw and Living Foods chef and instructor. She's also a mixed media artist and jewelry designer - which probably has something to do with why her food looks as gorgeous as it tastes delicious!!! Now through the end of February you are invited to stay on their organic farm and B&B in Bloomville, NY and partake in a little bit of the healthy life. Two of you will receive two nights lodging in their renovated 1800's Carriage Barn B&B (includes choice of organic vegetarian, vegan or raw food breakfast options such as fresh juices, green smoothies, sprouted breads, scrambled tofu or fresh organic eggs from their chickens), as well as a two hour raw food workshop.
Raw foods are getting a lot of talk around my circle of friends. While owner Michelle eats about 80% live and raw - we set out on our weekend with them wanting to have the skills to get to about 30% live and raw. It's not that hard once you're more comfortable in the kitchen whipping meals up and Michelle is a pro at teaching you how to do this. You can add to your mind, body, spirit connection by asking Michelle if she can help set up a yoga class, or massage for you. If you are interested, they can also arrange for infrared sauna sessions - but advanced notice is absolutely required.
While you're there you can hike on their farmland, or borrow a set of snowshoes and hop on the Catskill Scenic Trail. This is an amazing 19 mile rail trail that is completely flat so anyone can walk it. All this healthy living is why so many City folks have weekend houses there, or moved to the Catskills full time. We met friends of friends almost immediately - which we were informed is a normal two degrees of separation happening around here.
Ask Michelle or her husband, artist Michael Milton, to let you in their barn gallery to see some of their artwork. We love Michael's wood working skills in the house (which he renovated himself and feels more like a series of lofts inside) and just had to see his tables and sculpture. Now I'm trying to figure out how to make room for some of their creations in my tiny apartment. We did stock up on some local foods, raw foods (like yummy raw honey), and beeswax candles also for sale in the barn. And a pair of beautiful earrings made by Michelle.
The western Catskills is definitely climbing in it's hipness factor. Unique B and B experiences like this truly add to the vibe. And who couldn't use some additional healthy living skills as part of their new years resolution???
Cost: $520 ($600 value - valid December 2010 through February 2011).
Cooperstown 50 min., Woodstock 1 hr. Approx. 2 Hours from George Washington Bridge - 3 Hrs. from NYC, 1.5 hrs. from Albany
This weekend Platte was happening. There was even a lift line. I’m talking three deep here, six at the most. The kind of thing that puts other mountains in perspective. Certainly it did when someone on the chair said he’d gone to another hill and had to leave because it was a zoo. Platte was not a zoo but filled with characters – including the owner Laszlo Vajtay working the lift, loading kids too short to hop on the chair alone and sporting a yellow “Courtesy Team” jacket and matching yellow safety glasses. Platte is truly a place with horizontal management – the owners do everything.
Skiing this weekend were art world insiders and the director of Wild Style who has a fondness for my fave little hill – calling it the secret Catskill powder stash (he first came a couple years back when there was great snow and no crowds). Seen at the bar après-ing to the band was even my favorite character from The Good Wife. That would be Eli Gold. AKA Alan Cumming… (The pic is one for reference. I didn’t take it at the bar… he was wearing a beard, but no suit..)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Okay now I know most people would take the West where snow and skiing is concerned, but I went to Alta and all I got was 4 lousy little inches. There was crust and hardpack – chowder and crud. For that I could have stayed home. Don't get me wrong (or feel sorry for me) I had a great time skiing the Backside and Ballroom and Baldy Shoulder and being off trail, but (and this a very big but) I was homesick.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Have you ever had been to place for the first time and after you get back you want to tell everyone about it? But then you decide against it …. realizing that you run the risk of spreading the news too far and that all of your future journeys to this spot may not be as enjoyable?
After the most recent snowfall I will soon be visiting one of these places - forgive me if I happen to leave out some of the important details! I live near Highmount, on the Delaware County side at about 2,100’ and got 8-9” of snow from the Wednesday storm, followed up with another 4” that night. Without question, this sets up perfectly for cross-county skiing (or snowshoeing) this weekend.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the City of New York owns some incredible parcels of land throughout the Catskill Mountain region – especially in Delaware County. While these sensitive lands have been acquired for water supply protection purposes, they serve me (and hopefully other locals and tourists) just fine for some outstanding outdoor recreation that is always close to home.
I will be heading to a less than 100-acre parcel located about five minutes from my house which is also is adjacent to the soon-to-be Route 28 Scenic Byway (Andes to West Hurley), and is managed by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
This parcel is just one of …..are you ready for this – 110 parcels totaling over 31,661 acres that DEP manages/owns in Delaware County that are open for various forms of recreation! That is roughly 50 square miles of land (an area bigger than the towns of Bovina, Hancock, Harpersfield, Sidney and Stamford) just waiting to be explored by you (and me of course).
To access this parcel, an access permit is required. These permits are free, and can be printed out at the DEP website (http://nyc.gov/html/dep/html/watershed_protection/recreation_rules.shtml) from the confines of your home. A number of these 110 parcels, especially those that adjoin the State Forest Preserve or other State-owned lands in Delaware County, are dubbed “public access areas”. These are units where no permit is required. For a list (and good maps) of DEP lands in the western Catskills, visit (http://nyc.gov/html/dep/html/recreation/recreation_maps.shtml)
After parking alongside Route 28, putting on my snowshoes, and entering the woods what will I encounter? Well if you must know - after heading straight down the hill for a few minutes, I will reach the edge of a frozen pond lined with bedrock ledges and a dark stand of hemlock on its southern side. While I won’t be fishing for yellow perch this time, I do know firsthand that they are in there.
Continuing on along another old road I will reach one of the most beautiful places I know of in the western Catskills, if not the entire Catskills; A crystal-clear stream full of cascades, bedrock glides, and deep plunge pools at the bottom of a hemlock ravine. Ain’t it funny how the exact same payoff never gets old on this snowshoe?
Although I have probably set foot on only 10 of the 110, believe me, there are many ‘payoffs’ just waiting to be discovered by locals and tourists alike on DEP land. So get out there…no matter what the season. And the next time you see a car pulled off on the shoulder of Route 28, don’t assume they are talking on their cell phone, take a closer look and you just might see one of those white and blue DEP recreation signs nearby.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
This blogging stuff is sure new to me. This is my first attempt, so we’ll see how it goes. Something that is not new to me though is winter recreation in the Catskill Mountains. Two things that I have come to appreciate more and more each year are recreating outdoors during the winter months (as there are usually fewer people on the trails) and the other is exploring the bountiful nooks and crannies of western Catskills (and once again, there are fewer people on the trails). Originally I was going to kick this blog off with some ice-fishing, however with the predictions of 9” or more of the white stuff this weekend I suppose fresh powder will be one everyone’s mind.
I am not much of a downhill skier anymore – the last time I went was probably 2001 (at Plattekill and of course had a blast – how can you not?). I tend to stick to the slower stuff – like snowshoeing and occasional cross-county skiing. The Delaware County Catskills, or western Catskills, offer incredible opportunities for both. Most places are what I would call “lesser-known”; of course some of us like to keep it that way (ha, ha). No worries, as the winter progresses and this blog continues, I’ll certainly hit on some of them.
With the abundant trail network found in the Catskill Forest Preserve, the state forests, the multiple use areas, and the old roads on City of New York lands aside, one of the most prominent is owned and maintained by a non-profit called the Catskill Revitalization Corporation. Located in the Towns of Roxbury, Stamford, and Bovina there is a very attractive rail trail – I mean really attractive. The setting is so beautiful in fact that "scenic" is actually in the name - the Catskill Scenic Rail Trail (http://www.catskillscenictrail.org).
The southern end begins near the hamlet of Roxbury (at Hubbell's Corners), and it heads north alongside (and then between) NYS Route 30 and the headwaters of the East Branch Delaware River for six miles to Grand Gorge before curving west another eight miles to Stamford. It then heads south along NYS Route 10 and the West Branch Delaware River, past Hobart and South Kortright, and finally reaches the other end in Bloomville. The length? An impressive 26 miles.
So on Sunday, after this big snowfall, or a weeknight after work, or what the heck, take a day during the week to grab your snowshoes or cross-county skis, and hit it. Its eastern terminus can be accessed at the corner of Rt. 30 and Hardscrabble Road (just north of Roxbury). Parking is also found in Stamford (roughly the middle) on Railroad Avenue, and at the western terminus in Bloomville (off of Route 10).
Heading out from its eastern end what can you expect? Well, as the trail parallels the headwaters of the East Branch Delaware River, the low topography makes for a virtually flat trail, also making the river more of a placid wetland than a flowing stream in most places. Of course this makes for great birding, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for weasels, mink and many other critters.
With the predicted dump of powder you’ll find the whole landscape having a soft, peaceful feel all the while as you hear that wonderful ‘crunch’ of fresh snow as you break the trail. Snow-coated wetland plants dropping to the wet edges of ice on the river, and gracing the mix of hardwood and conifer trees on the hillsides. A winter wonderland for sure.
After 3 miles of hugging the stream, you’ll reach Grand Gorge Gap, the deep notch in the mountains where the hillsides rise steeply from the valley. The Grand Gorge Gap is a break in the Moresville Range, between Jump Hill and Irish Mountain. This rugged mountain pass is geologically significant, as it is the outlet site where a large glacial lake - Lake Grand Gorge, some 700'-deep – once drained at the end of the last Ice Age, creating the pronounced notch that exists today.
Of you were fortunate enough to bring not only a companion along but also an extra car, and were smart enough to plant it in Stamford (or Bloomville), then you can continue along this western Catskills treasure, through this winter wonderland. If not, then at some point you’ll have to do what I always seem to be forced to – turn around and head back way before I am ready to.
Fortunately Cassie’s Cafe on Main Street in Roxbury will still be open for a late lunch…..and ohhhh how that country chili will warm you right up!
More Snowshoeing than Shoveling,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
This straight from Plattekill's FB page... Best photos at Platty win. (BTW this is my favorite photo in their own Xmas album...)
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Other than Rocker skis Ski Tracks is my first wish-list item for this ski season. The app tracked the multiple runs down North Face my friend did yesterday – including a few poached on Twist ... Thanks to his iPhone and the app (basically an altimeter that knows when you're on the lift – see that thick red line on the right – and when you're on the trail) he could export the info on his runs to Google Earth...