Dispersed Camping in the Catskills

Adventure Tuesday

North to the Catskills

I’ve been MIA again, for a while. We do things, quite often, but with life i don’t feel that I have enough time to share it. Back in May, when it was raining every other day and I also got soaked each and every one of those days we decided to go north. Nowadays I take less and less photos, and if I do it is with my Iphone, it is just too much of a hassle to bring the big camera. Maybe I need to invest in a a smaller, mirror-less camera. Either way, we finally found ourselves driving north under dark clouds and rain, but the weather forecast had promised us some sun this weekend. We were heading towards the Catskills, a name that actually comes from the dutch, go figure, and mean cat stream. The Catskills are a part of the Appalachian Mountains, and thus the mountain part is the reason we ventured out in the first place.

At first we were thinking of maybe finding a cheap airbnb in the area. but it seems as if cheap airbnbs are in the past, and today many, if not all are an expensive endeavor. So instead we went camping. In the US there are a few tricks that can give you free camping. Many National Forests allow you to camp for free, maybe you have heard of the term dispersed camping. You are allowed to camp at certain locations if you are x feet away from a stream, road, established campground. Of course in this way you have no amenities. Forget about that vending machine that stares at you when you want to use the restroom at 1 am, and yes forget about the restroom too. Dispersed camping is not for the faint of heart, and for you to have the best experience at this you should be prepared on being miserable, well, if you are not used to camping in this way that is. You can always read more about dispersed camping and where you can, and can’t camp on your local National Forest webpage. There are also wilderness areas, which is where we did our dispersed camping. If you want to read more about all the public lands the US has to offer and what the difference is between all of them you can read more here. It could have been an awesome weekend, if it wasn’t for the fact that I got such a bad stomach ache during the night that we had to call it off and go home already on Saturday, but not before we did a tiny bit of hiking.

As the rain slowly tapered off we realized the rain had been moving towards us, which is a good thing, and we entered a very wet Catskills that had been dumped by large amounts of rain earlier. I have to admit, the east coast is growing on us. I mean look at these photos. The small towns we drive through, and the medieval look to it was fantastic. I had been browsing a Facebook group about camping suggestions in the Catskills, and found a couple of good options, free options in the area we wanted to be. Of course, since it had been raining we were alone. At first we started walking on the big open field, and realized it was all soggy, totally soaked. We can’t camp here. I turned towards the other side and the forest. Usually in areas where dispersed camping is allowed, a campsite has already been established, and a path usually takes you there. This was true in this area too. Once we walked towards the forest and the dry understory, we followed a path to a perfect flat area.

There is something about arriving at your campsite, grab a drink and just exhale. This is how we relax now, go somewhere where we can be alone. New York City and Manhattan is growing on us, but it’s not like Madison, or even close to Fairbanks. We love smaller towns, which sometimes makes us wonder, what are we really doing here. But, we are not going to be here indefinitely, so we are trying to soak up this adventure while we are at it. When we go camping I usually set up the tent and W does the cooking. In the morning I usually make coffee, because I get up early, and W makes breakfast while I take down the tent. It works very well, and I think it is good to have set chores like that. It is a lot easier to get a smooth set up if each one knows what they can do. We had a great evening, even though it got dark pretty fast. We went to bed pretty early, since we have had a really long day, working and then travelling north.

The next morning I woke up early, I had been waking up and falling asleep for quite some time because of pain in my stomach. It wasn’t the food or anything like that. We had a slow morning, for me to decide what I wanted to do. And I decided that we should go home. We packed up the tent, well W did because I was in pain. Had coffee, W had breakfast but I didn’t want any. We did go to the hike we had planned, and walked around in the forest for a bit before driving back towards NYC. Until next time!!

It was still nice to get out into the forest like this, and again so amazing to be in a place with fewer people out and about. The east coast is known for its dense population and so many people out on the trails. But again, we found ourselves almost alone.

Even though this trip got an abrupt ending, I still look forward to exploring more of the Catskills. We just have to make time for it!

10 Years in the US

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This past August marked the 10 year anniversary of my life on this side of the ocean. 10 years seems so unreal to have lived in a different place than where you were born. So many things have happened in these 10 years. I was so young when I first got here and had no clue that this would be where I actually settled down. I have lived in three very different states, spanning northwest to the very far east of the US. From a cabin in the woods to one of the largest cities in the world. I have been lucky enough to go to very remote places in Alaska, roaming around Montana and Yellowstone, walked through old plantations in Puerto Rico, experienced the Northwoods and the UP, seen the desert sunrises and sunsets, I have seen the desperation in old peoples eyes while walking through the casinos in Las Vegas, learned about the fire history in the west and seen the aftermath of reoccurring fires, learned about the Native Americans and how they just like the Sami people have been pushed away from the place they call home, skied long distances races in 20 below in the wilderness of Alaska, walked the streets of New York and seen the misery that comes when you lose everything. I have learned that you can’t take anything in life for granted, and that you never know when it will be the last time you see someone. I have grown but also lost so much since I landed at that small airport in Fairbanks, Alaska with only two bags. But most of all I gained a second family over here.

Posted on September 30, 2019 and filed under The great wide open.

It all Started Here

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Finally a Summer at the Summerhouse

There is a place up north where I spent all my summers as a kid. It’s right by the water, surrounded by the deep pine and spruce forest. Just like many other Swedish summerhouses this one is red with white borders. My grandpa started building it 1950, and it was finally done in 1955 after a couple of setbacks. Not a single day is the same up there, sometimes you can’t see the other side of the bay because of all the mist, and other times the whole water body is clear as a mirror as you watch the sky turn pink when the sun sets. Sometimes, in the middle of the night you can watch the lightning penetrate the water from the large panorama windows in the living room. Sometimes you can smell the summer rain in the morning or that strong and sometimes overwhelming smell of labrador tea if you are out on the mire.

This is where I learned the names of the different plants that are common in the boreal forest. That same knowledge that brought me to Alaska and then later on gave me free trip to Nome. Pine, spruce, labrador tea, fireweed, larch, birch and the list can continue in all eternity. This is where I learned when to pick the blueberries and how to make blueberry porridge. This is where I learned where the gold of the north grows, and the pain you sometimes have to go through to get those precious berries. But more importantly, this is where I learned how to swim, fish, and care about the nature.

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It’s a Fishy Business

At the summerhouse our main food source was the fish. We ate (well i guess we still do) fish for breakfast lunch and dinner. In the evenings we would get the boat out and go fishing farther into the bay. Sometimes we took the boat out to the “black sea” as we used to call it, because it was so deep and the water was all black out there, and tried our luck with the fishing nets out there. That place scared me, but it was always a thrilling adventure to go all the way out there. Most often though we took the boat out and laid our fishing nets straight out from the shoreline. This became something that I helped my dad with a lot. Laying out the fishing net in the evening, and picking it back up early next morning, before the seagulls started to get into them.

This summer W, his mom and aunt came with me to Sweden and the summerhouse. We had such a nice time and I loved that I was finally able to show them where my roots are. In the evening we all went out in the boat and put out three fishing nets and wished for the best.

As a fisherman, or fisherwoman the are no late mornings, and we got up early the next day to claim our bounty before the seagulls did.

Once the nets are back up on dry land the tedious work begins. First, the struggle to untangle and remove the fish from the net, and second to clean the net.

My dad of course knows how to untangle the nets like the back of his hand. He is a man of many trades and being a fisherman is one. He easily balances around the stones by the beach before he pushes out the boat from the shore wearing his clogs, just as easy as he removes the fish from the net. He knows exactly how much or how little of the juniper you need to get that perfect smell and flavor of a smoked fish.

Life is calmer at the summer house, and maybe this is also where I learned to appreciate life. From now on a visit to the summerhouse will be on my bucketlist for every single year ahead. If you ever wonder how it is to feel rich, this is it. A freezer full of fish and berries, and everything else you can acquire from the land.

When I was young my mom taught me how to clean and fillet the fish, she was a master of this and one summer I became one too. That was a long time ago, and I can’t really remember how to do it. But every now and then when we buy whole fish I magically know exactly where to cut the fish to remove the bones. My dad was doing this job now, he claims he’s not good at it, that mom was the master. The more I think about it, the more I understand where my ability to prepare things from scratch comes from. It all started here.