Thursday, August 04, 2011

X-Treme Mountain Adventure

MacDade Trail 1
Our usual summer vacations involve a lot of sitting. Most years, we rent a house in Ocean City, NJ, where we spend almost every day schlepping our chairs and umbrella and all to the beach, set up, slather the kids with sunscreen and settle down for the day. After a week of this, I typically have gotten through 2 books. There is some jumping of waves and some building of castles in the sand, but generally it's a pretty low-key way to spend a week.

This year we shook things up a bit.

In the Doane online auction fundraiser last November, we saw a listing for a week in a 2 bedroom villa at Fernwood Resort in Bushkill, in the Poconos, including two rounds of golf. No one had even made an offer yet. We had never been to Fernwood, and did not know anything about it beyond what I was able to find out on the Internet before the auction closed. The money would benefit Doane. The minimum bid was less than $100 a night, even ignoring the fact that Rich and Mathboy would get to play golf twice. How bad could it be? So we took a chance and offered the minimum bid, and we won the auction.

We did not know what the place was going to be like, but it seemed as if there were a lot of fun things to do in the area. We were determined to take full advantage. So last week, with Dd's friend ready to watch over the chickens in our absence, we packed our bags and drove off.
Cat wants to come too!
The cat tried to come with us.

We arrived in Bushkill along with some very gray skies. We couldn't check in yet, and that was the day we had planned to hike through Bushkill Falls. As soon as we finished eating our picnic lunch at the Bushkill Falls site, it started to pour. Mind you, it had barely rained in weeks--now that we were starting our outdoor vacation, the skies open up? It seemed pretty unfair. We were also getting worried, because our first glimpse of the Fernwood resort was pretty depressing. Grim, even. We tried to wait out the rain, but after an hour of browsing the gift shop and reading in the covered picnic area, we decided to just go ahead and do it anyway.
At Bushkill Falls in the rain
This is the only picture from Bushkill Falls that turned out to be any good. It's hard to take pictures in the rain! I didn't want my iPhone to get wet, and my Nikon kept trying to flash. Sheesh. Such a gorgeous, amazing place, and I have one picture.

After we got totally soaked at Bushkill falls, we drove back to Fernwood to check in, and we finally got to see our home for the next week. The villa was great! The kids had a loft with twin beds, we had a full kitchen, a jacuzzi tub and all sorts of amenities. It was the perfect place to serve as our home base for our X-Treme Mountain Adventure. (What a relief! I really was starting to think we had made a dreadful mistake.)

On Tuesday, Mathboy had decided that we should hike up to the top of the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap, and we said okay with the optimism and hubris that only people who have climbed Old Rag in the Shenandoah National Park can have. After all, if we made it up Old Rag, we can do anything right?
Mt Tammany 2
Oh. My. God. After a couple of hours of this, we realized that the days of hiking Old Rag may be behind us. We persevered, and reaped our reward.
View from half up Mt. Tammany
View from Indian Head 1
View from Indian Head 4
View from Indian Head 5
This spectacular view of the Delaware Water Gap, from Indian Head at the top of Mount Tammany.

After we hiked back down (using the not so steep side of the mountain), we stopped in at Kittatinny Point, and enjoyed our picnic lunch and a soothing wade in the Delaware River.
Delaware water gap wading

The rest of the week included more hiking, through hills and swampy forests ...
...fording streams...
PEEC Stream
...rapelling down steep ridges ...
PEEC rapel line
...and following old rail lines between the river and the soybean fields.
MacDade Trail 2

While the guys played golf two mornings, dd got her first real horseback ride.
Fernwood horse ride
This is Phantom.

We also got to spend a day at Camelbeach Water Park, where Rich and I finally got to sit in those beach chairs for a day. We did ride a few water slides with the kids, but the beauty of having older kids is that you don't need to hold their hands all the time. (And I had a big book that I wanted to get through! It took me the whole vacation to finish A Dance With Dragons.)

We also got in a day of kayaking down the Delaware River, which was so relaxing.
kayaking 1
kayaking 4
We liked that so much, that we want to look into getting some boats of our own, and a rack for the top of the car.

On the last day, I went to the outlets while Rich and the kids did the Treetop Rope Courses at CBK Adventures. After 3 and 1/2 hours of climbing and sliding and ziplining, the kids came down with smiles and Rich came down with his arms shaking. It was quite a work out! Then it was time to go home.

1 comment:

K8erpillar said...

Looks like a great trip! I canoed the Gap several years ago and hiked Mt. Tammany as well - glad to see that it still looks as beautiful as I remember it!