As you may or may not know, the third member of our little family is a scrappy beagle-terrier-chihuahua pound mutt named Charlie Mae.
Mr. M & I spotted Charlie at a rescue while visiting family in Los Angeles and instantly knew she was destined to spend her days with us. Less than 24hrs after we adopted her, the poor beast flew on a cross-country flight to Manhattan (Disaster. Capital “D.”), and she’s been a city dog ever since.
Last week, as the summer humidity began suffocating New York City and Mr. M was embroiled in a particularly heinous work week, we all three knew it was time to take to the countryside. Or, as one of my dear friends so eloquently put it, to start using the word ‘summer’ as a verb.
Days #11, 010-11: We managed to escape Manhattan by 9:30am, and Charlie Mae was balanced precariously on my knees, her unclipped nails digging into my skin, her eyes fixed on this new adventure called a road trip. Our first stop was Harriman State Park and a (very small) portion of the Appalachian Trail. Charlie had never seen so much nature in all her short little life (Geese? What the…? Enough dirt and grass to roll in?). She was stoked, and so were we.
We stopped for lunch at Main Street Bistro in the college town of New Paltz. I’m a sucker for any diner where you can sit at the counter, and I’m doubly a sucker for a diner where I can sit at the counter and eat an egg-avocado-sprout-pesto breakfast burrito like the hippie I am.
Because I also stuffed down a giant pancake and several truffles from the neighboring chocolatier Krause’s (truly, I have the appetite of a lumberjack), I pushed for a second, glute-burning afternoon hike in Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
The view from the trail was absolutely stunning as we hiked along the edge of a rock cliff.
Midway through the hike, there’s even a grassy meadow overlooking the Catskills and complete with picnic benches. Eventually we came to Lake Minnewaska, where Charlie paused, cocked her head in a supreme effort to comprehend, and took a flying leap into the water. Presumably the little beast thought it was some sort of strange glass flooring because she looked terrified and a little bamboozled when she popped back above the waterline, soaking wet and clawing for solid ground. Damn nature, you scary!
We stayed at the Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper, which was- to use a technical term- friggin’ awesome. After splashing around in the river behind the resort, we played in the huge fenced-in dog run. Sad as it is, living in downtown Manhattan, we’ve never had the opportunity to take Charlie off-leash and throw the ball for her! Oh, city folk… I shake my head in disparagingly.
That night, while walking Charlie after a superbly yummy dinner at Peekamoose, I saw my very first firefly EVER. Growing up in California, my childhood was utterly and sadly devoid of fireflies. It. Was. Magical! Apparently, like small rodents and birds, I have an innate and insatiable love of shiny things.
Our first weekend ‘summering’ in the Catskills made me want to move out to the country, buy an Adirondack chair for my porch, set up some sort of rope swing over the Esopus River, and catch up fireflies in mason jars.
Details of the Day:
Accommodations: Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper, NY.
This is probably the coolest dog-friendly lodging I’ve ever seen. Perhaps because it feels like a really nice mountain lodge and lacks the wet dog smell that so many dog-friendly motels have. Mr. M has decided that because we are not at all inclined to ‘summer in the Hamptons’- never mind the fact that we are also not nearly rich or classy enough- we shall become the type who ‘summer at the Emerson.’
Eatin’: Main Street Bistro (59 Main St, New Paltz) has a ton of veggie-friendly options, great coffee, a counter, and laidback, friendly staff. Thumbs up. If you’re in the mood for a really nice dinner, try Peekamoose (8373 Rte 28, Big Indian). The compressed watermelon appetizer, chive butter that comes with the bread basket, and onion-goat cheese tart are all amazing. Mama’s Boy Market (7 Church St, Phoenicia) is amazingly dog-friendly with an equally amazing and friendly staff. They have great varieties of coffee and a number of yummy baked goods, tamales, and quiches to pack up for a picnic lunch.
Harriman State Park Island Pond Hike: Although there is an Island Pond loop that you can take, this was Charlie’s first day on the trails, and we took it slow with an out-and-back route. To reach the hike, take exit 17N from I-87, make a right onto Arden Valley Rd, and you’ll find the parking area just to the right. Cross the grassy field from the parking lot, and follow the red blazes of the Island Pond Loop. When you come to the large gravel road, turn right to head down to Island Pond.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve: From New Paltz (I-87 to exit #18), follow Rte 299 west until it ends at the T-intersection. Turn right onto Rte 44/55. 3mi after you drive under the Trapps Bridge steel overpass, you’ll see the entrance to Minnewaska on the left side. Head uphill to the Beacon Hill Carriageway parking lot on the left. Head out on the gravel road (“B” on orange diamond blazes). Turn right to follow the Beacon Hill Trail (triple yellow blaze) into the woods and along the mountainside for some awesome views. The Beacon Hill Trail will end at a grassy picnic area.
When you’re done refueling and enjoying the views, cross the lawn and turn left onto the gravel road, which is the Lake Minnewaska Carriageway (red diamond blaze). Follow this road all the way down as it descends towards the lake. Continue straight past the intersection with the blue Castle Point Carriageway, and turn right at the next intersection to follow the red Lake M Carriageway. Continue straight onto to the parking lot, and consider stopping at the ‘food truck’ at the top lot for a snack.
Tips & Tricks: There are some wonderful flat rocks down by Island Pond that are pretty much made for picnicking, if you’d like to take a snack.
Minnewaska charges $8 for parking. It’s worth it… the trails are well-kept, and the scenery is beautiful. At the top parking lot (keep heading away from the entrance gate), there’s a food truck (read: a nice older couple selling snacks out of their RV), if you’re in need of sustenance. The free trail maps bite, but our hiking directions are spot on, if you want to follow those.
If you’ll also be bringing your pup to the Catskills, be aware that rattlesnakes are prevalent in the area. It’s a really good idea to know the nearest emergency vet clinic in case your curious dog gets bitten (and I karmically believe just having the vet info on hand will make it less likely you’ll need it!). If you’re hiking in Harriman State Park, the nearest clinic is Valley Cottage Animal Hospital (202 Rte 303, Cottage NY; 845-268-9263). Near Minnewaska, head to the Animal Emergency Clinic of Hudson Valley (84 Patrick Lane, Poughkeepsie NY; 845-471-8242). Happy trails, safe tails!