Spent another delightful summer day in the Adirondacks, lazing in my hammock up by the tent, in the cooler shade of the forest. Yes, when dinner time rolled around, I started another small camp fire to cook some more hot-dogs. Why is food cooked over an open fire so delicious? Does it tap into some instinctive primal hunting urge? A vestigial remnant of evolutionary survival left over from our earliest ancestors. But oh yes those wieners smell good sizzling over the dancing yellow and orange flames. And they sear up nicely with a crisp outer skin that pops when you bite it. MMMM, that hot-dog goodness. Endless summer is here! Relaxing by the camp fire watching the forest get dark around me.
One of my best friends and I are guiding an overnight trip through the Hudson River Gorge! I haven’t seen her since that relaxing rafting trip we had down the “lower gorge” earlier this spring. We floated down in my own raft and ended up pulling off the river early because I was not feeling well, which meant we had to hitch-hike back to our shuttle vehicle parked at the originally intended take out. Every day is an adventure…
I have been looking forward to guiding this overnight trip since last years trip! They are a group of amazing women who have a lot of fun rafting and camping. We set up camp at the top of the first big swimming hole just below a small rapid. This spot is known as Upper Dunk (so as not to be confused with Lower Dunk further downstream). Apparently there is a pond somewhere up the ridge called Dunk Pond that is accessible (via bush-whack hike) from both campsites. I have never been there, but it could happen someday. We watched the water drop; it’s always fascinating to see how much water the dam releases as the “bubble” flows by and the river returns to its natural level. The sun was bright and warm, the water refreshing as we all frolicked and swam, laid out on the rocks like lounge lizards, laughed and ate. That evening we sat around the campfire on the beach watching as night fell, turning the sky purple to black, and watching the stars slowly appear in the narrow band of open sky we can see nestled down in the bottom of the gorge. This is what life is all about! Enjoying the company of good people and experiencing the wilderness in all her moody tranquility. Later, I climb into my hammock, through the bug net to keep out mosquitoes, and listen to the river flowing over rocks, a musical lullaby eternally singing my soul to sleep.
Today is my birthday. I am now 47 years old. Today is the start of my first overnight rafting trip of the season. We paddle in, set up camp in the gorge, and paddle out tomorrow. Overnights are a lot of work, but spending the night in the gorge is worth it. This group is all women about my age and looking for wicked fun outside their normal comfort zone. Perfect! It was an amazing day on the water. I guided the paddle raft and a colleague (the only male on the trip) took the oar rig down with all the gear. We made camp in the on a sandy beach in the middle of a mile long rapid; so we had the roaring river in our ears and hearts all night long. We all went swimming (yes the water is still to cold but we did it anyway) before dinner and watched to moon come up over the ridge across the river. Its almost full and made the white water of the rapid glow iridescent against the blackness of the night. Dinner was cooked over the open fire and everybody slept soundly and peacefully. Year 47+ is off to a good start!