Stoked DOGS Camping Trip

DateAugust 4-6, 2006
HostsBrenda and Larry Isherwood, Cheryl Prudhomme and Mark Cook
Where Stokes State Forest; Sussex County
Who (else) Helen and Bob Bird (Saturday and Sunday), Deb and Al Cudworth, Renee Mayeux and Bud McIlvain, Susan Nicolich and Dave Snope (Sunday), Linda and George Wells (Sunday),

Friday 8/3

The morning was overcast, but that did not dampen the spirits of the DOGS who headed to Stokes State Forest campgrounds for the third annual Camp & Ride event. Couples began arriving to set up camp early. The clouds parted and the midday sun was in full bloom. Soon we were all situated with tents and tables and ready for a quick snack before riding. The group quickly decided to share the area, food, and workload with everyone pitching in. Cycling clothes and bikes were next.

Three tandems (Isherwoods, Cudworths, Bud/Renee) and a tiny half bike (Cook) took some deep breaths and headed out of the campgrounds towards the top of Sunrise Mountain. It was only a 17 mile ride but it seemed like 16-1/2 were uphill! Everyone dug in, put their heads down, and pedaled. On the way up, I spotted a large, golden-haired cat as it jumped from the brush onto the road. It landed deftly, turned towards us and just as quickly jumped back in the brush and scooted away. We WERE out in the wilderness.

At the top of the hill was the Sunrise Mountain Scenic Overlook that provided a spectacular view. From there we could see the Delaware Valley in PA, and even the High Point Monument where we were headed the next day. The ride down was 4 not too steep, but very fast miles back to Rt. 206 where a short trip down the hill returned us to the campgrounds in rapid fashion. It was only 17 miles, but a good precursor for the rides to come.

Dinner was at a great local pub (Sunset Grill), where we enjoyed the local menu, as well as a drink or two. Later we gathered around the campfire to share some stories (some of which were credible!) until far too late. A raccoon visited in the middle of the night, attacking a garbage bag that we mistakenly left attached to a tree.

Saturday 8/4

Cannot say enough about breakfast. Bud and Renee prepared a veritable feast. They decorated the site and wore simulated grass skirts, and an inflatable palm tree was the centerpiece. We all munched on fresh fruit, banana and blueberry pancakes, and eggs made to order.

After all the necessary carbohydrates and protein were ingested, the group gathered for the challenging ride up to High Point. We drove to the start point at Culver's Gap parking lot within the Stokes State Forest. In the parking lot we encountered an interesting man who was hiking the Appalachian Trail - THE WHOLE THING - from Georgia to Maine!!!! From there we headed back up the west side of Sunrise mountain. The descent down the other side was twisty and the cornering at high speed was frightening.

Then back to the task at hand, heading up the REAL mountain. The climbing was consistent and, at times, difficult in the heat of the day, but we rode at an enjoyable pace, taking in all the POI'S along the way. The end of the ride to the Monument greeted us with a short but very steep 22% grade to the parking lot at the top. With a surge of effort all four teams made it - some of us huffing and puffing!

The view from the top was even more beautiful than that of the previous day, with a wondrous wind to cool us off. We could see the NYC skyline to the East, Port Jervis to the North, the Delaware Valley to the West and Sunrise Mountain in Stokes State Forest to the South where we had started our ride from that morning. So what did we all decide to do? Ascend the nearly 300 steps inside the monument!!! It was hot inside, but we went up anyway. The view from the top was just looking out of a couple of windows. We hustled back down being cautious not to slip with the metal cleats on metal stairs.

Back on two wheels where we were more comfortable, we started back down the hill. Again some of the curves were tight and the brakes/rims were hotter than the riders on the way up the mountain. After fueling up on Gatorade and water at a local convenience store, we got back on the road heading home. There was still a good sum of elevation to conquer, but eventually we all made it back to the campsite where it was cool and serene. Team Bird joined us after a day at the Princeton cycling event. Since it was kind of late, the group decided to pool together much of the remaining food and have a pot-luck dinner. A good decision - as we all relaxed around the campfire and enjoyed the company.

Sunday 8/6

Following a well-deserved good night's rest, we broke camp and drove to the remote start point at Sandyston-Walpack Elementary School. There we met with Dave and Susan and Team Wells. It was another, beautiful, sunny morning. Today's ride was slated to be the "flattest possible ride in the area"! We'll see about that.

Unfortunately, only a couple of miles into the ride, George and Linda caught the rear wheel of the bike in front and went down in what seemed like a terrible crash. Fortunately neither seemed seriously hurt. Rather than chance a long ride with a possible injury, the Birds escorted Team Wells back to their cars, packed up and went out for lunch. The rest of us continued on hoping, that everyone was all right.

The ride was surprisingly flat and the group of five remaining teams stayed somewhat close together despite some minor hills just to keep us honest. At one point an adolescent black bear went bounding across the road in front of us. A grand sight, indeed. The route took us briefly into the state of NY in the city of Port Jervis and then out across the Dingman's Bridge into PA. We decided not to do the climb into Dingman's Falls Park due to a local road closure and we knew that the only big climb on this ride was to come. Near the end of the ride we all huffed and puffed up the long steep hill which had its downside into Peter's Valley at a corner with a craft store that sells the local artists' wares. Inside, Deb was the only brave stoker to make a purchase.

Once back at the parking lot, we packed up and bid farewell until the next event. A good time was had by all. Now - off to Weston, MA for the ETR.... Hope to see you there.

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Copyright © 2006, Mark Cook (text), Brenda Isherwood (photos)