Mosquito Coast

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Amusement, Finger Lakes, Outdoors

After watching the tower come down, Anna and I continued on to our real adventure planned for the weekend — bike camping along the lake shore. On our way out of town we stopped at the public market to pick up Katie, Jake and Tom, and went on from there to route 101, and about a 40 mile ride to Sodus Point. Our destination: Beachwood State Park, a newly acquired property that was once the boy scouts’ Camp Pioneer (which would be replaced in 1951 with the current Adirondack site), then the girl scouts’ Arrowhead Camp, before closing around 2000.

Just off of 101, the first ruin we’d noticed was this “cobblebrick” construction, probably from well before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like this before, probably one of a kind architecture? (normally cobblestones are not the exact same size, and are piled on just as they fit)

And then, the mosquitoes started. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. Walking through the camp. their buzz was constant, a teeming, pulsing life to the fields and the undergrowth. We finally escaped the horde in the abandoned mess hall, probably the largest of the surviving buildings

They left the antiquated kitchen appliances right in place. These probably were relics from the boy scouts’ days here, I would not be at all surprised if they’re 60+ years old.

This was the only graffiti we saw in the whole camp. And just before we noticed a rather rowdy group starting to show up.

We had started to claim Yellow Camp for ourselves when these teenage thugs began laying claim to it themselves, saying it was reserved for someone’s high school graduation party. Whether or not this was true, we let them be and went looking for the beach. Continuing past Yellow Camp there are apple orchards, going the other way the trail follows the shore rather closely.

Close to the lake, we found another camp, with a few abandoned cabins in it, and took this one instead.
Not Yellow

After watching the sunset and having a fire on the beach, at around midnight we tried to sleep in the largest of the cabins. Katie, Tom and Jake fell right asleep, somehow, but I was being eaten alive by the worst infestation of fleas I’d ever found. After a while Anna was awake and just as aggravated, so the two of us went down to the beach, and took advantage of our new environment. Just as we nearly fell asleep again, the thugs were back, chucking firecrackers and mortars over the cliff at us. I’m still not sure if they were that oblivious, or if they thought two naked hipsters on a beach made fun target practice, but after about 10 shots or so, one connected, and exploded right in front of our faces! After that though it was an amazing night and morning, at least until we got back to the cabin. All of our belongings were thrown around all over the place, and Tom and Katie left at 5am, leaving behind only a note, “couldn’t take the bugs, got a head start”.

Upon further review, it was clear we had been ransacked. The thieves were classically inept, at best, but still managed to rob us blind! They did their best to relieve us of our clothes, and took my phone, but left two wallets full of cash, and our expensive cameras, completely untouched. We picked up what little remained of our stuff, downed the last beers we’d brought, and went searching for the thugs of Yellow Camp, whom we found almost immediately. As soon as they saw who they were, they broke into a run, and we gave chase as well as we could, only losing then once they’d piled haphazardly into a pickup truck and hauled ass toward the 101.

With our remaining direct actions at a loss, we did the one thing we could think of, and biked to the police station (remember, we can’t call — fuckers took our phones!), and filed a report. The officers weren’t the most helpful, but I’m not sure how much they could have done anyway, when we didn’t know whose party it was, or even who might have been there. The ride home was long, but relaxing and quite interesting, 61 miles along the roads and canal in Wayne county.

This morning, I finally heard from my phone, after a few dozen calls to it, believe it or not — calling the number actually worked, and it wasn’t a thug who picked up, but a fireman. Unfortunately, the battery picked the worst time imaginable to give out: halfway through his address, thirteen thousand, eight hundred and ni….”. I tried to find 1389x of every road in the area and call them, but none seemed to have an extra Droid lying around. At least I tried…

And when all is said and done, a phone was a small loss to pay for an amazing weekend with Anna, and the chance to go bike touring and see a place I never would have otherwise.

Who Are We But Albatross?

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Outdoors

As many of you know, two weeks ago, on June 23rd, I was hit by a car for the first time. Well, sort of hit anyway, the car just clipped the back wheel of my bike enough to send me careening into and over a guard rail, and landing in a lump on the shoulder of 490. The bike was a wreck, basically totaled, after having it for all of 10 minutes; I’d just bought it from Jason at a Euro 2012 soccer party. I didn’t know I was a wreck yet. It didn’t hurt *that* much for some reason, as I climbed back up to the crash site, where the damn driver of that SUV (a black Escalade with Ohio plates, if anyone cares) waited to ask me if I was all right. He didn’t even wait for my answer, just gunned it back onto 490 and told me to go fuck myself (stay classy, Cincinnati!) never to be seen again. I didn’t even call the cops, not sure why, part of it was I didn’t want to go to court, some of it was not wanting my parents to know I’d been hit, or even that I had a bike, and I really didn’t see the point I guess when I didn’t even remember the number on the Cadillac’s plates, and he was long gone anyways.

No, I just sat on the side of South Goodman for a while wondering what the fuck just happened, probably in shock, soaking up the June sunlight and bleeding into the sidewalk. I’m not quite sure how long I was there before Jake just happened to find me, still laying on the sidewalk next to three-quarters of a bike. As the evening went on, to a bit of shock I actually felt almost normal, and we even fixed the bike, gave it a new back wheel and built it into a single speed in his garage. That’s really the way it is around here, most of my friends are pretty much fearless I think, at least it seems that way to me… with the bike whole again, we rode around the city for a while, and I even managed to get back to my plans for the night, taking in Real Beer Week at the Old Toad, downing at least 40 little “tasters” in a night really adds up, but fuck it, I got hit by a car, I wasn’t about to let last call end my night. My friends were ready to go home so I just invited a group of buskers playing on Alexander out instead, said we could drink and jam some on the roof of my building, and I assume we did.

I woke up Sunday afternoon crumpled up on my roof in a torrential rain, not really wanting to or being able to move as the thunder crashed around me. Shit. I’d completely forgotten about being injured, all I realized was I was hungover as fuck, and this rain was cold.

Monday wasn’t much better… I’d started to figure out what was hurting, nothing was broken because it all moved after enough tries, but nothing really felt right either, my shoulder and hip were both half-locked in position and seemed like they were about to go giant and purple with swelling. I went to work anyway, mostly because I work at a hospital, and figured maybe one of the doctors I deliver the mail to might know what was wrong. I actually did see a doctor, and a very relevant one, a sports physician for the hockey team, who said all I had was bone bruises, and if I were on his team I’d be good to play that night, as long as I could get through the pain. Not really the answer I was looking for, I thought maybe something was dislocated or torn or something and there’d be a treatment, but I took it for what it was, and just started hoping I’d stop hurting in the next 5 days, so I could still finally make it to the Adirondacks.

By the time I made it to Lake Placid, I was convinced I was nearly cured, nothing really hurt at all anymore, and Christian thought I looked as good as ever, so we went on our hike anyway exactly as planned, or at least as our plans always evolve, starting right out the first night on some ungodly marathon.

Everything still seemed good through the night and morning up to Mt Marcy, in fact I even felt like I was in better shape than any other year I’d made that climb. We reached the summit just after sunrise, while the fog was just melting off the lower slopes


There really is no feeling quite like a successful climb, looking out at all below us

The fog stayed with us for most of the day, as we climbed Haystack, Skylight, Grey Peak (below) and Mt Redfield.
Grey Peak

The sixth peak of the day, Cliff, finally got the better of me, as my hip started acting up (predictably, probably) 28 miles and far too many vertical feet into the day, and I was stuck maybe 30 feet below the summit, on the final cliff, just on account of not being able to bend that far anymore… It was dark again by the time we made it to the Flowed Lands, but at least I was still in one piece.

For a while longer anyway… I finally took a fall, and an awful one, in a nasty section of Avalanche pass. It felt all too much like a repeat of the first one, landing right back on my bad shoulder and bad hip, and getting dinged in the head this time by a leftover falling rock just for good measure. Just like last time, it didn’t hurt so much right away. About the only thing that changed was my head filling up with weird music, and a constant chorus of “Who are we but albatross?”, a disembodied line from some song I can only assume hasn’t been written yet (upon further review, Google comes up with nothing).

We finally staggered back to our campsite just after (another) sunrise, covering 6 peaks and 43 miles in just over 30 hours (ouch!), falling just a bit short of our goal of going farther and higher than in 2010. I didn’t want to admit it yet, but after that fall, I could tell it would be a season ender. A few hours of sleep confirmed this (along with an awful sunburn from sleeping the day away on the beach!), and when I figured out that a shower had turned into giant raindrops made of pain, the trip was over for me. I was upset enough about the pain, but on top of it all the guilt was almost worse. I’d already decided in 2010 I was done with these mountains, I knew i’d probably never get the chance to go back (it was enough of a surprise this even happened), and I had to ruin it by not only showing up coming off an injury when I should probably have stayed home, but having to get dragged out of there too, I’ll be amazed if this isn’t my last climbing trip, certainly my last one with the one person who’s been willing to go with me all these times.

At least, if there’s any positive out of all this bullshit, it’s that I can still ride a bike without everything hurting. But I still can’t quite escape the feeling that I got exactly what I deserved on this one. Ouch!

Lost Art

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Outdoors, Rochester

Rochester is lucky enough to have four huge, legal graffiti areas. This is one of them, the abandoned water tanks at the top of Cobbs Hill. The art changes completely about every three months or so; on any sunny weekend there are a few painters around the towers making their art. It’s one of the few places that one can actually see graffiti in action, since there is no fear of being caught at the legal walls.

…and one stray shot from another of these legal walls: the abandoned subway

Plenty more graffiti shots here

Once More To The Lake

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Adirondacks, Industrial, North Country, Outdoors

I never thought I’d be able to say it about this spot, but it came painfully clear from the first night: the glory days were over. Far from living up to its name, the 3rd½ Annual UR UrbEx Semi-Cold Sesqui-Awesome ExploroCamping Extravaganza felt like hollowly going through the motions of something that once was special. Gone are the hipsters and artists, here are the new order, the engineers. Even when it comes time for the traditions from old Concrete, the sausage roast, the pomegranates, tetherboating — the rules are what they are, and rule us in our time of freedom and release. So once the new leaders were safe asleep, the fires started again beneath these boreal stars, and we sang the songs that remind us of the good times, and the songs that remind us of the better times.

Starry Night

In the morning we headed out to Benson mines again, the spirit of exploration quashed by the randomly selected groups of six we would be to stay together in, and the crackle of walkie-talkies taking frequent attendances. I took a bunch of terrible photos (no surprise given the overall mood here), and a few decent ones like this
Not so bad?

and this

At lunch we regrouped and I managed to talk some much needed adventure into the group; we would spend the afternoon in the more photogenic and contained Upper Benson Mine, then climb a mountain after dark to watch the meteors. I’ve been to Upper Benson enough times that I stopped shooting anything but HDR. Cover your eyes if you’re not a fan!

The rest of my weekend photos (50% less HDR) are here!

Rico Cave

Written by Concrete on . Posted in Outdoors, Rochester, Underground

Does it still count when you can just tell they only met me out of pity? A cool spot but not much of an explore, which is probably the only reason two real explorers could be trusted to take me there. As expected, it wasn’t much but awkward, Yield and CuriousGeorge curiously didn’t want to be anywhere near me, being far above my level and loath to waste their time on someone so useless, in such a pointless place. I only took one photo worth saving (and experimenting heavily with HDR)

Clown Vomit!