Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Our day began very early, as Rich and I both awoke around 4:00am to the sounds of thunder and rain wildly pelting our roofs. As I typically do, I checked the weather radar immediately and I knew we were out of luck for our intended pre-7:00am departure. In the space of a few hours, though, the fierce rain passed through and our only remaining decision was—east or south? East (toward the Gunks) won out over our alternate ideas of heading south toward Downingtown (where we could explore French Creek and Marsh Creek State Parks, and fill up on pub snacks and interesting brews at the Victory Brewery) or Jim Thorpe (featuring the Broad Mountain loop, and the Switchback Trail to Mt. Pisgah). For once, our decision was a wise one.

By 9:30am—a very late start for us—we were ready to leave my driveway, bikes atop the car and plenty of drinks and snacks in the back. The trip to Minnewaska was uneventful save the lingering putrid mystery smell on I-84 (near Middletown, I believe). Rotting deer carcass with rancid cheese, served with a side of spoiled cabbage, anyone?

Zhanna nearly goes over the cliff at Castle Point!  (Or at least tries to make it look that way.)
Zhanna nearly goes over the cliff at Castle Point! (Or at least tries to make it look that way.)

Arriving well before noon, we began our explorations by seeking out the restrooms and the green (Upper Awosting) trail. We rode this carriageway to Lake Awosting, where we picked up the black and then the blue trails to make a big circle up to Castle Point. We enjoyed view after expansive view from the many smooth rock ledges along the way, and the sunshine felt great. We shared pineapple and strawberries and half-melted cherry fruit snacks (hey, they were in good shape for having traveled all the way to Maine and back!). At Castle Point we stopped for some photos and to take a brief look around for the CASTLE POINT tri-station, which I only guessed by its name was at this spot. We found nothing.

At Kempton Ledge we tried to nap, but found ourselves poaching in the sweltering humid air and sunshine. Even the thick clouds from a thunderstorm on the opposite ridge came nowhere near us, and provided no relief. So we soon moved on.

Rich is ready to ride! It was a beautiful, sunny day with just a slight threat of storms in the distance. They never reached us.
Rich is ready to ride! It was a beautiful, sunny day with just a slight threat of storms in the distance. They never reached us.

Feeling sweaty, we decided at this point to shorten our journey a bit and hang out at the “beach” for a while to cool off in the lake. We should have found our own little private beach somewhere, because the rocks were too sharp to walk or sit on, and the lake was crowded and crawling with kids. We’d had enough after just a few minutes of splashing around. At least we were able to cool off.

Still in the mood for riding, we decided to make the complete loop around the lake. A very hilly start gave way to a smoothly rolling ride as we passed by the swimmers’ association permit-only area. (Much less crowded than the public beach.) We soon climbed to another wide ledge high above the lake, with a beautiful view, sunshine and a cool breeze. We enjoyed a pleasant rest/nap here, trying to ignore the chatter of other visitors, before heading back to the car.

Our food-plan for the evening included a stop at the Mountain Brauhaus for beer, and then a move to Lemongrass for some Thai specialties. Puppy-dog eyes convinced Rich to go for the vegetable strudel despite our earlier vow to have nothing but beer at the Mountain Brauhaus, but I think he’s glad he allowed me to persuade him. It was delicious! Roasted vegetables and smooth melted fontina cheese inside a flaky pastry crust, with an artichoke sauce on top. It was amazingly good. (I’m deliberately not elaborating on the damage to Rich’s car that we soon discovered, that some @$$hole had committed in the parking lot, because it was the only dark spot in an otherwise beautifully bright day!)

After the Brauhaus we made a brief stop at Rock & Snow, everyone’s favorite skiing and climbing shop. They didn’t have the pack Rich wanted to see first-hand, but on our way out we found a survey mark in the sidewalk! I don’t know how I missed it all the other times I was there. After documenting it we went on to eat at Lemongrass. No shrimp spring rolls, but we enjoyed pad thai and a heaping plate of pineapple fried rice. It was a beautiful, fun day all around. And nothing makes the ride home as special as an ABBA CD-fest!

Today's Survey Mark

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