Winter Camping

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It’s official.  Camping season is here!  Well almost.  But that didn’t stop us from heading into the woods on this semi warm (21 degrees) winter weekend.  Yes some might call us crazy, buy and this would be one of those times.  But when you feel the need to escape you can’t deny it.  So we hit the trains and trails of Harriman Park and set up camp at our favorite spot, order Lake Skenonto.  We only went for in quick trip this time so we only prepped one meal.  Beef stew.  We wanted something hardy and quick to heat up, as time and day light would be short when we arrived at our campsite.   After trudging through two feet of snow we hit camp and started to prep.  Jason worked on getting a space cleared for a fire and I went hunting for wood.  I came back with very little so we swapped chores and Jason hit the mother load!   I found a log under the snow that we could sit on while our fire roared and I also set up the tent.   After all that work and we rewarded ourselves with a shot of whiskey.   With our fire ablaze we started dinner and enjoyed the serine quiet and beauty of the wilderness.   After dinner and whiskey with a little snow to mellow it out we enjoyed the fire for a while and then headed into the tent to watch a movie.

The next day we woke to a couple of eagles singing a song, made some coffee and breakfast.   After a little leisure time in our winter wonderland we decided to pack it in and slowly made our way back to the train.   We didn’t have time for our usual Chinese farewell meal but that was ok.  After walking through all that snow both ways, just getting home was reward enough.   With our packs off our backs and a congratulatory glass of white wine we are melted into our coach and are dreaming of hitting the trails in spring.




Beef Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a great make a head of time meal for camping.
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 32oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper(your choice)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stocks chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and slice ¼ inch
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic gloves crushed and separated
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of thyme
  • Splash of wine (red or white)
  • Couple dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • Smidge of horseradish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour to dredge meat
  • Olive oil
  1. Salt and pepper as you go along
  2. Dredge meat in flour and cook in stock pot with olive oil till they get a little brown on all sides.
  3. About 5 minutes, a quick sear.
  4. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Add onion and celery to pot and cook till onions start to get translucent.
  6. Add thyme and oregano
  7. Add one crushed garlic clove
  8. Add bay leaf
  9. Add potatoes
  10. Splash of wine
  11. Cook till potatoes are half way done
  12. Squeeze tomatoes with hands and put in pot with juice from can
  13. Add carrots, bell pepper, Worcestershire, horseradish
  14. Add meat including any juices.
  15. Add last crushed garlic clove
  16. Salt and pepper to taste
  17. Simmer for 45 - 60 minutes


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Oktoberfest begins our wilderness camping season.  It’s a short season but hopefully we can get in a few more before the snow falls.  It’s a three day hike across Harriman State Park and ends at Bear Mountain where a polka band, medical steins of beer, decease pierogi’s, dosage bratwurst with sauerkraut and stuffed cabbage await us.   Did I mention people dancing in traditional lederhosen outfits???  Yes that too!!!

We start by taking the train from Hoboken New Jersey and head north to Tuxedo Park, where we get our final supplies or anything we forgot.  Each day is a full day of hiking, so there is no time for dilly dallying.   Our daily goal is to get to a shelter before someone else.  Unfortunately you can’t reserve them. The first day is the most grueling but the shelter has an amazing view of the sunset just up the rock hill, and a fireplace where we cook.  This night we will have caveman ribs and potatoes.  Dry rubbed ribs in foil and thrown straight into the fire along with the rest.  I have also brought along pudding cups for desert as they need no refrigeration.  Of course everything is frozen and thaws as each day progresses –  including the cucumbers I juiced for our after-dinner cocktails.  Jason also had a surprise that made the whole trip and future trips glamorous (well to us it was!).  Hot water bottles! No more cold tent for us!!!

The Second day is one of the longest and takes us through the famed lemon squeezer(you can see why).  It is a very long day with a short stop for lunch.  The shelter that is mid way to our next destination is empty  and even has lovely art work. We chose to go a little further and stop near a creek to get some water and eat there.  We walk along the Long Path and pass through a small portion of the West Point Military School property. We call this passing through enemy lines!   After that comes Hippo Rock, which means we are just moments away from our last resting spot.  A shelter with two fireplaces!  Very deluxe especially when it gets to be night and its cold!  I have had to defend this place so others can’t/wont join us.  I will always fight to have this space to ourselves, it is the best spot and the view is breathtaking.  We will be having chili for dinner, a box of Merlot to drink and more pudding for desert.  Yum!

On the last day we make our final breakfast of eggs and bacon, then it’s time to head off to Oktoberfest! We walk along some famous paths that were used during he revolutionary wars (1777 and 1779) and another part of West Point.  Stop for lunch at Turkey Hill Lake and follow the Popolopen Creek till we make it to Bear Mountain Lodge next to Hessian Lake and Oktoberfest!!!  Once there will will eat, drink, listen to music and enjoy our fellow revelers.  The older couple are there every year and are total hams!  We love them and enjoy their wonderful party spirits.  It is a short visit as we need to catch the last bus back to the city.  But with full bellies and a little light headed from the steins of beer we slowly drift back to our home in Brooklyn Heights satisfied and dreaming of next years adventure.


Dry Rub:



Garlic Powder

Dry Basil leaves

Smoked Paprika

Ancho Chile Powder

Cayenne Pepper