We waited and we waited, all year long, and then came time for Oktoberfest 2006 at Hunter Mountain. And then it rained. We kept looking out the window and checking the weather report last weekend, but there was just no way we were going to get a good day of drinking German beer and riding the skyride, It actually cleared up later in the day on Sunday, but still, by the time we got there would’ve been time to leave. We also would’ve been beating ourselves up for not going yesterday, because of the perfect weather we had.
Yesterday was the day. It doesn’t happen too often. You know…those days that just couldn’t be better. It was 63 degrees all day, it seemed, and half of New York was on Rt. 28 driving through Phoenicia, NY. When we drove through that little town, there were Harley Davidsons lined up and down both sides of the street. Again, it just couldn’t be better.
We took Rt.3 from Kerhonkson, so I could show Laura what I discovered when I went up to get the bluestone for the pellet stove. It wasn’t what I discovered really, but what we were missing every time we took the Thruway North to Kingston and then onto Rt.28 West. It is probably the best Catskill country road I have been on yet. It follows the valleys of mountains and passes beautiful farms…and not to mention the patches of crunchy leaves to drive over while watching out of the rear view mirror at them being tossed into the center of the street. Lots of shade and lots of White Pines and Hemlocks. You know what I think of Hemlocks…
We made it to Hunter Mountain and just passed the mini-golf place at it’s base, when I saw the first shot I wanted for this entry. I kept laughing and telling Laura that this whole day was a blog post and she was living it. I am not sure that went over too well, being Autumn and romantic and all. Yeah, a guy with a camera and his blog on his mind…Hmmm.
So there it is. If you haven’t been to Hunter in the off season, now becoming the on season, this is what it looks like. Personally, I like it in the Summer better. Grabbing your mountain bike and cruising down the mountain is more of a rush, I bet.
We parked the car and went inside for one thing…the beer. We come for the beer. It just tastes better up here. I have this illusion of steam boats leaving the docks in Germany loaded with wooden barrels of dark Oktoberfest beer settling for the ride. It takes weeks to get the ports of Boston, where they place the barrels in horse drawn wagons for the trek to the Catskills. I think that’s how it works, right? Well, that’s how it works to these people…the die-hards who make it every year, just like us.
They dance and dance and dance. These guys love to dance and love to be watched by all the folks sitting at the tables drinking their dark German beer. This is one tradition that will be with me for life, and I’m sure for these guys too.
So we had our beer and had a stroll around to see what the vendors were offering. Some nice sweaters, candles, fudge and jewelry. Ok, what now…well let me tell you. It’s something that I have been waiting to do for years. Good thing I am a patient person. Take a look at the next photo and take a guess.
I have always wanted to go to the top of a ski mountain without the snow, just to hike around. I always thought that we would be the two people going up, because it wasn’t that popular. Well, remember all those people I told you about that we passed in Phoenicia? They arrived here right after us and hopped on the skyride too. What a cool thing to do. There were so many people and so many smiles and the best day of the year.
We got near the top and the guy asked us if we were getting off. To tell you the truth, I never even gave that a thought. I just assumed we would ride up and ride down, until I saw everyone up here walking around taking pictures. Sure, we hopped off to enjoy the view…and to pose for some pics. By the way, my sister Steph saw this photo and called me granola. Can you believe that?
There was one thing that disappointed me…there were none of the wooden barrels of Oktoberfest at the top of the mountain. We would just have to make do with that we had. We took a bunch of pictures and hiked around to every possible point we could, when we started heading towards some sort of action near a cliff with a cable handrail.
We started down the path and asked a couple what that engine revving noise we heard was. They said it was the statue. What? The statue. Neato. We continued on the path and made our way to…well, the statue. Right in the middle of the woods at the top of the mountain, there were two guys carving Rip Van Winkle out of a large stone.
This is undoubtedly going to make for some good stories for the snow boarders. I can hear it now, “Yo, did you see the old man in the woods?” “What old man?” “You know, the old dude up near the double diamonds…” Yeah, this was going to give Hunter some buzz.
We stayed on top of the mountain for quite some time and I really wanted to get a picture of my favorite trail, “Belt Parkway.” So, we wandered over and took a few pictures of Hunter Mountain’s longest trail.
This will change your perspective come Winter. We needed to get down and head back towards Rt.28, because I saw a vegetable stand on the side of the road and I really wanted apples. I wanted to be sure we got their before closing, so we headed back down the lift…
…and left Hunter to get some apples. What a view. We couldn’t get enough of it.
Just to let you know, we did make it before they closed and got some big, beautiful New York apples, but will hopefully have an entire apple picking post up soon…Cheers!