Frum Jews do hike in the Catskills

So there I was debating if my tired self headed home should hike the 3.3 miles of steady uphill to the top of Peekamoose Mountain. I heard the view was good but hadn’t planned on hiking today. The debate raged on as I checked the little brown wooden trailhead sign again to make sure it was only 3.3 and not 8.3 or something like that. Oh those little trailhead signs with the yellow lettering beaconing the wary backroad traveler to recharge their viens with a good kick of solitude and nature. I was really tired having just ridden some good singletrack in Carbondale PA, on the way back from Scranton where I had spent Shabbos. Those climbs had taken their toll on me and refusing to “do the dew” so to speak I had driven straight, well as straight as avoiding highways you could. My buddy told me about a nice swimming hole on county rd 42 so I figured I would drive there instead of doing the traditional boring 209 north through Kingston.

My solitudinal self wins the fight over my tired aching self. As Iam lacing my boots I notice a man with a grey beard, baseball cap and a shirt that was completely soaked with sweat making his way toward me. “Its a little late to hike to the top, dont ya think?” he says striking up the conversation. To my suprise only by noticing his shirt I realize this man is a frum Jew. He is equally shocked saying this is a near first, seeing a fellow Jew at the trailhead. Though I know the answer I ask him if any other Jews hike around here since this is only 20 miles north of Woodbourne. He laughs and says that Jews never even come to route 55, home of Grahamsville, the Neversink and Roundout resevoirs, 2 beautifull fishing lakes right in the area.

“I am not really much of a hiker” the man says pointing to the two beautifull machines adorning my Roofrack. “I’m more of a cyclist, not a mountain biker though”. I am shocked non-the less. A chance meeting with a fellow yid who hikes and bikes, wow what a day. He tells me his grandchildren are up there with a more seasoned guide who is a crazy treehugger.

I begn my ascent up to the top of 3,874 foot Peekamoose Mt. About half mile up around the point of registration I come across the rest of the party. Though I knew they would be here, they are shocked to see a yid on the trail. The leader is a man from Broklyn who “escaped” to Neversink and lives there all year round. Though he guides hikes for Jews in the lower Catskill area he is once again shocked as I am too by the presence of a solo unguided frum yid treking along the trail.

I would expect more Jews here merely 20 miles north of the Frummy capitol of the Catskills, then say the High-Peaks area. He tells me its just as rare to see Jews here as it is in the north or for that matter anywhere.

A Mincha at the top of a mildly easy hike and a chill of about 30 minutes taking in the view. I still cant stop thinking about finding Jews in the woods the whole way down.