2015-04-18 41 -74
A wooded hill just inside Harriman State Park, near Sloatsburg
On Friday at work I noticed the interesting location, in an accessible-looking part of the Ramapo Mountains (glorified hills really) where a river and rail line cut through the rugged country. I woke up on Saturday and decided to go for it, especially since it was supposed to be the nicest day of the year so far, sunny and 70s F (mid 20s C.) Identified trains, wrote down coordinates + vague directions and was off. Figured I'd rely on geohashdroid for more detailed navigation. It was going to involve maybe 1000ft (300m) of moderately uphill bushwacking from a rural residential lane.
Long story short it ended up eerily similar to Mouseover Day 2012. But was still a lot of fun.
Took the subway to Penn Station, got a reuben (yay for east coast food) and then rode New Jersey Transit commuter trains out to Sloatsburg which took an hour or so. Once we got out of the swampy meadowlands NJ was actually quite beautiful. The mountains started right around the New York / New Jersey border and Sloatsburg was maybe the second mountain stop. The town was even smaller and quieter than I thought, most of the other people I saw were fellow hikers walking to or from the train (plus a few folks fishing in the river.)
On the train I'd already found out that I forgot to charge my phone battery overnight (for the first time in months) so would have to be judicious with map use. But when I tried to open up geohashdroid anyway just to get my bearings, I realized that I had no data out here! Darn T-Mobile... why didn't I think of this?? I could have easily sketched myself a map like I used to do routinely before I got a smartphone, but the possibility of no data never entered my head (even though I was headed into deep woods.) I'm getting soft. Figuring out how to load maps onto the gps would also help.
But I resigned myself to proceeding from memory of the google map from a few hours earlier. After a quick pint of water at a friendly-looking roadside bar, I proceeded under I-87 and readily found the turnoff for Laurel Road, the wooded residential street I'd written down. It efficiently climbed out of the valley gaining a couple hundred feet, and delivered me a bit out of breath to Hazelwood Road. This was supposed to be the road of closest approach. However, after another eighty vertical feet or so, a huge, very professional looking gate with clear signs (and a cute winter animal decoration) blocked the remainder of the road. Another giant property in the way of the hash just like on mouseover day.
It was clear these people owned everything stretching back toward the hash mountain, so I needed to cross their property. I was still rather winded and thinking of just turning around and giving up, but then noticed a call box. Maybe someone was at home and could be convinced over the intercom? After a few nervous minutes I rang. But it went to the answering machine. Convinced that I had no other options (and lacking a map) I sadly headed back down the hill.
A pint of Budweiser and conversation at the tavern improved my mood, and I caught a little sleep on the train back south. I actually rode all the way to Hoboken since I was headed downtown for a friend's concert... so I got to take another, more pleasant nap in the beautiful Hoboken waterfront park which I'd never been to. Walking from the 9th St PATH station through Washington Square Park (where this was set up) to the Lower East Side for the show was also quite interesting. Geohashing rocks.
After the expedition...
I decided to look back at the map and see if my memory of the point's location had even been correct. It had - but my memory of Hazelwood Road had not! My head had it looping around to the south, but in reality it did not. So I might have been lost even if I'd gotten permission. Then I checked on Zillow to see exactly where the big property ended... and I realized there was an unowned way into the public woods from a neighboring street, would have been more of a bushwack but a much better chance of getting to the point.
Lessons learned: always check Zillow for exurban or rural hashes like this one, always draw yourself a map in case you have no wireless data (especially for rural hashes), don't forget to charge your phone, and consider getting a different phone provider! (No offense to T-Mobile fans elsewhere, but it's subpar in the New York City area.)
On posting this report I also realized this is the Newburgh graticule's first expedition since 2009. Cmon you guys!
| OtherJack earned the Blinded by Science Consolation Prize