Trip Journal –Big Indian Wildness Area Overnight Backpack行程記錄 – Big Indian Wildness Area 兩天一夜之Backpacking之旅

backpack big indian

It was the third weekend of May. Before the trip, two things worried me: 1. the black fly season was about to start. 2. The weather forecast called for thunderstorms for both Saturday and Sunday.

Thunderstorms showed up earlier on my way driving up to the Catskills. When I reached the parking lot for the north-end trailhead of the Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow Trail, it was dark as ink. Without the help from either moonlight or starlight, I could still recognize that there was only one other car parked in the lot. My nerve was irritated and I started to worry about one more thing: 3. there should have been two other cars. Who was or who were the missing one(s)?

A four tenth mile of uphill led me to the Fox-Hollow lean-to; the outer shells of my boots were a bit damp and muddy. I lied down and soon fell asleep. The dawn didn’t bring me the sixth, and last, participant. I had to assume that he was waiting for the group at the end point (where we would shuttle some of our cars to), and luckily this assumption was verified in a couple hours.

There were no thunderstorms on Saturday; instead, there were occasional light showers. The rain brought down the temperature, and drove away black flies, which made Saturday a pleasant day for hiking. This excellent condition switched the opening challenge (a 1900-foot climbing over 2.2 miles) from a struggling one to a fulfilling one. One of my trip participants used to say, “It’s always nice to do the hardest part at the beginning.” As a leader, “the hardest part is over” is the best line to encourage my participants if needed.

The climax of the trip came when we tried to set up a fire at the Shandaken Brook Lean-to. I am not pro or against camp fire usage because I heard different arguments from both sides and haven’t made up my mind. My standing is that I don’t propose starting a camp fire unless there’s a good reason; however, if my participants want a fire and voluntarily take the job as a fire starter and in addition to that there’s an existing fire ring, I don’t see any reason to oppose it, especially since we were damp and the sun was about to set.

It was very difficult to set up a fire given the circumstances. Around the lean-to, we had no problems to collecting leaves and broken limbs; however, everything that was from the ground was wet and soaking wet. Water molecules built up stubborn shields to prevent any heat source from taking over their territories. The head of the fire starting team, Alyssa, tried to hold the lighter as long as possible and later even my emergency fire starter joined the troop; there was no luck. No fire could stay on any thin and tiny branch for more than a few seconds.

“Give me the log book of the shelter.” I could see the hesitation on Paula’s face when she handed the log book to Alyssa. “This is friendship, but as a leader I have to make the call if this course of action is appropriate… “ I wondered. Paula and I both suspected Alyssa was going to tear down some pages off from the log book since it was the only dry stuff around. Surprisingly Alyssa didn’t take the log book and requested Paula to fan the fire using a quick but steady pace. I was relieved, and so was Paula. The fire started to dance with the fanning motion, but the smoke soon danced more wildly.

Before the fire took over the branches, the smoke took over our eyes first. “You tried your best, they are just too wet,” I said to Alyssa, given that it was not a life-or-death situation we needed to solve. At the moment Alyssa was about to step down, another participant expressed his interest to give it another try. Hmm… it seemed that my group wanted a fire.” I could understand that. On a backpacking trip, once the group gets to the camp, besides cooking and chatting, what else can we do to entertain ourselves?

I participated in the fire team too. The new fireman took a different approach to build a pyramid with slimmest branches mixed with some half-dry ones taken over from Alyssa’s previous work. I used my “chopstick approach” to move a burning fire starter to the center of the architecture. A participant joined in to fan the fire while another one was breaking down collected woods into small pieces. Although I still got a lot of smoke in my eyes, I saw the slow birth of a fire. The group effort rocked!

The next day, Sunday, when we got up and cooked our breakfast, dark gray clouds still occupied most of the sky. Rays of sunshine started to penetrate and eventually the sun managed to give us a warm, bright shower. Ironically, less an hour after we put on our sunscreen, heavy clouds recovered their lost land. It started to rain, starting from a bunch of rain drops to almost cats and dogs. Since there was no wind and the temperature was pleasant, and most importantly we were almost there when it started to rain more heavily, nobody stopped and put on their rain coats.

In no time, the group hiked out, taking off their boots and changing to their dry clothes. After we picked up the cars parked at the starting point, we headed to Phoenicia for a celebratory afternoon snack. Everybody enjoyed the trip and the company from each other. To me, it was the best reward as a trip leader.


雷陣雨倒是在星期五,驅車前往紐約州的Catskills山區就開始了。到了Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow步道的北端停車場時,天色漆黑如墨。即便沒有月光,亦無星光,還是辨認出該處除了我的車以外,只停泊了另一輛車。呃,我的緊張指數表開始標高,開始咕噥著第三件事:三是,應該總共有三台車啊,不是大家都說好,要到這裡來集合過夜的嗎?



旅途的高潮發生在當天,於Shandaken Brook Lean-to紮營,隊伍決定生營火的時候。我個人對營火的態度是不贊成也不反對,因為聽過兩派人馬的意見,似乎都還蠻有道理的,所以還沒有能下最後的決定。基本上,我是不會主動說要生營火,除非真的有很好的理由。如果團員主動願意擔任生火的工作,而且現場已經有個生火基台,那倒是找不出理由反對,更何況雖然走過的是濛濛細雨,大家身上還是少有乾燥的區域,且,當時太陽也快要下山了。







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Trip Announcement: Big Indian Wildness Area Overnight Backpack

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