Cloudy with a Chance of Bears

** Written by Sofia (8) and Brandon (11) **

Sofia – “Yesterday I went hiking and camping at Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks.  They are located in Upstate New York and it was 90 miles to drive there.  First we drove to the top of Bear Mountain and we hiked down a little to look at the valley and trees.”

 

Top of Bear Mountain

Top of Bear Mountain

 

Sofia – “At the Perkins Tower, we climbed up 4 stories to the top.  I saw an amazing view.  It had all these mountains and trees.

Brandon – “On every floor of the tower there was pictures of different times in the history of Bear Mountain and what it looked like.  People used to take steam ships to get to the bottom of Bear Mountain”.

Perkins Tower

Perkins Tower

 

Sofia – “After we came out of the tower we hiked on the Appalachian Trail and we

saw all these white paint on the trees.  The white paint is there because that’s how we can know where we can walk so we don’t get lost.   Brandon and I climbed up all these huge rocks and one was so big I almost fell and twisted my ankle.  I didn’t get hurt though.”

Brandon – “We went on a short hike on the AT.  There were pretty trees.  There were all these berry bushes with serviceberries.  They tasted sweet like blueberries but they were a lot smaller.  We thought they were ok to eat, but just in case they were poisonous I only tried 2 so I could drive us home if Sofia and daddy got sick”.

Appalachian Trail runs through Bear Mountain State Park

Appalachian Trail runs through Bear Mountain State Park

 

Brandon – “We were parking for our hike towards the Tom Jones shelter and Sofia and I turned around and saw a deer in the woods just off the lot.  I named the deer J.J. McCraycray.  He didn’t run away when daddy went really close to take pictures of him”.

Even though there is some hunting in the area, this deer let me walk within 15 felt to snap this glamour shot

Even though there is some hunting in the area, this deer let me walk within 15 felt to snap this glamour shot

 

Brandon – “While we were walking up the trail, we thought we were on the Victory Trail, which was only supposed to be uphill for .25 mile.  We hiked up Tom Jones Mountain about 2 miles over a very rocky uphill terrain.

Uphill on the red-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Uphill on the red-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Sofia – “So while we were walking up the trail I thought that it was so easy even though I was sweating a lot and the whole hike was uphill on rocks.  But when Daddy told me that on the computer it said that this was actually one of the hard trails I was surprised.  We were trying to find the Tom Jones shelter but Daddy didn’t want us to walk too far because we couldn’t find it.  We asked someone and they said we were on the RD Trail, not the Victory Trail that would take us to the shelter.  We went the wrong way!”

RD Trail is rated moderate->strenuous.  We thought we were on the easier Victory Trail (oops)

RD Trail is rated moderate->strenuous. We thought we were on the easier Victory Trail (oops)

 

Fire Pit on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

Fire Pit on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail

 

'proof that I was there' selfie

‘proof that I was there’ selfie

Sofia – “So when we got lost we still found this beautiful view.  In front of it was a fire pit that was awesome and it was in the middle of nowhere overlooking trees and amazing mountains.”

Brandon – “We kind of got lost but we walked over by this ridge and found a cool fire pit.  Out in the distance I saw a Black Bear climbing a tree down below. I tried to show everyone but no one else saw it”.

Amazing View while we were 'lost'

Amazing View while we were ‘lost’

 

Pretty happy for being on the wrong trail

Pretty happy for being on the wrong trail

Sofia – “When we finally took the right trail we found the Tom Jones shelter that we hoped to stay at.  There were a lot of people there already.  They were so nice; two families slept in their tents and two guys named Matt and Justin were so nice they actually slept on the ground in the shelter and I slept with my dad and Brandon on the wooden bed in the shelter”.

Arriving at the Tom Jones Lean-to to party and sleep under the stars

Arriving at the Tom Jones Lean-to to party and sleep under the stars

Sofia – “I climbed on top of the roof and watched the sunset.  I liked how the shelter was made out of wood and rocks.  People that stayed there before carved their named on the wood in the shelter and what year they visited”.

Brandon – “When we got to the shelter, we started playing War but realized we were using Pinnacle cards when we kept having Wars all the time and the lowest card was a 9.  There were 8 Aces in the pack.  One of the other campers staying at the lean-to came over to play cards with us.  Here were the other people staying at the lean-to or in a tent nearby:

Matt and Justin: They are from Hoboken and Jersey City and they used to work together.  They hike and camp a lot together.  In the Winter they camped at a really high mountain (we forgot the name).  Matt said it got down to 10 degrees.  To stay warm they put one sleeping bag inside another.  They had to wear spikes on their feet so they wouldn’t slip on the ice.  There was a waterfall that had frozen over.

Andrew and Shi-Shi:  They live in Manhattan, but they were from San Francisco and Ohio.  They were really nice and moved from the lean-to to a tent in the grass so we could sleep in the shelter.

Simeon and Jack:  They live in New Jersey.  Jack is 7 or 8 (Sofia isn’t sure)  and he liked to throw more wood into the fire and use the poking stick to move the embers.  Simeon is Jack’s dad and he was playing Iron Maiden on his phone.  They also moved to a tent to make room for us.

Tom Jones Lean-to.  Met some cool trail buddies

Tom Jones Lean-to. Met some cool trail buddies

 

Jay – “Justin told us this story of the last time he went hiking and along the trail he ran into 3 bear cubs and a large bear.  The cubs started climbing nearby trees, but the adult bear stood up on its hind legs and made a lot of noise.  Justin stood his ground and waited and eventually the bears lost interest and left.  It was then I realized next time I am bringing bear spray”.

Sofia – “While we were building the fire Matt and Justin showed me the fire poker stick and how to stoke the fire so it would be huge.  We wanted the fire to be huge so we could roast marshmallows, tell scary stories once it got dark and also to keep us warm.  My scary story was named ‘the Hairy Toe’.  Matt found this story on his phone and I read it to everyone.  Justin got really scared and was hiding behind my chair.  I’m not scared of anything.  Then Justin told me really loud that there was a snake under my chair!  Matt said it was there too.  But I wasn’t scared at all.  And there wasn’t a snake anyway.  Haha!”

Brandon – “Sofia ate at least 10 marshmallows and kept asking for a hot dog.  At 11:00 Justin asked us if we wanted steak.  It was one of the best pieces of steak I ever had.  It was really thick and tasty; it wasn’t hard to chew.   Matt and Justin showed us how to find the Little Dipper and Big Dipper and the North Star.  They taught us how to find out what kind of moon would be out at night.  Matt showed me how to use a flint and Justin showed me how to start a fire.

Sofia stoked the fire up pretty good so she could eat

Sofia stoked the fire up pretty good so she could eat

Brandon – “When we were telling scare stories I told one called ‘Henry’.  It was about 2 farmers who made a scarecrow who became alive and ate them.  Actually I think his name was ‘Harold’.  Matt told a scary story called ‘Rawhead and Bloody Bones’.  I was a little scared but I didn’t show it”.

What What?  I always stay up past 11 on the weekend!

What What? I always stay up past 11 on the weekend!

 

Sofia – “For breakfast this morning we ate donuts and beef jerky.  Then I made Justin do 20 pushups when he work up.  Me and Justin and Matt had so much fun when we left I almost started crying. #wah wah.  The greatest memory of the trip was spending time with Brandon and daddy and Justin and Matt”.  I hope they visit our blog and write to us!  Make sure you see our silly picture at the bottom…”

Brandon – “That was the best camping trip I ever had in my entire lifetime because of the steak and just having fun with the people at the shelter.  Next I want to climb Mount Everest :-)”

Jay – “Sofia told Matt and Justin about our 1quest2thenext website and they said they would visit and leave some comments for us.  They were really good guys and as much as they helped us and made our stay at the lean-to a lot of fun, I think Sofia and Brandon made them laugh a lot and they enjoyed spending time with the kids last night.  I hope on future visits to shelters in parks we have this much fun again.

 

Matt and Justin made our night at Harriman State Park memorable.  So much fun!

Matt and Justin made our night at Harriman State Park memorable. So much fun!

 

Silly Picture of our new trail buddies

Silly Picture of our new trail buddies!

 

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10 thoughts on “Cloudy with a Chance of Bears

  1. What a great experience for everyone! Glad you had fun! I really enjoyed your writing Sofia and Brandon! Well done :))

  2. Terrific writing. You know, some people hike to the lean-tos hoping not to see a single person there. I love that you guys not only found people at Tom Jones shelter, but made friends and had a great time.

    Those bears are getting more common and brave, especially near the shelters. Love the bear stories!

  3. Terrific writing. You know, some people hike to the lean-tos hoping not to see a single person there. I love that you guys not only found people at Tom Jones shelter, but made friends and had a great time.

    Those bears are getting more common and brave, especially near the shelters. Love the bear stories!

  4. Jay, Sofia and Brandon: Thank you for mentioning us in your blog! Justin and I had a great time with you and we enjoyed the company. Truth is, Justin is afraid of a lot animals, so it’s a good thing you were there to ease his anxiety. 🙂

    I hope you keep going out into the woods and experiencing nature.

    Matt

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