Day Trip to Hunter Mountain

This weekend, I celebrated the arrival of 2010 with my first ski outing of the season.  On January 2nd, the weather was perfect for a ski day!  Snow was lightly falling in the city and continued throughout the day.  There was a dusting already on the ground when I headed to the Times Square pick up location.  

I signed up for this day trip through Outdoor Bound and prior to the day of the trip they sent an email noting the two pick up locations available, what to bring and who our guide would be.  While waiting for the bus to arrive, I received a message from the trip leader that he was on a different bus at the alternate pick up location near Union Square.  So I was on my own heading to Hunter Mountain but since it was mostly a sleepy ride that was fine with me.  The bus company we went with was Urban Sherpa and it turns out you can also sign up directly through them for numerous ski day trips.  Even though my Outdoor Bound guide was on the other bus, everything was still handled properly and I left the bus with my lift ticket and rental pass in hand ready to get on the mountain.

The main mountain (Hunter West) had many extremely difficult slopes, so I spent most of my time on the intermediate slopes at Hunter One.  Since we left the city at 6:15am, we arrived at the mountain early enough to enjoy some of the freshly fallen powder before the slopes got more crowded.  As the afternoon went on, conditions got a bit colder and icy, so I headed inside to warm up before the bus ride back.  Our Outdoor Bound guide sent us a message that he was doing the same, so we were all able to meet up and hang out for a bit before the return to NYC.

Since I went alone on this day trip, I would have to recommend that anyone going alone should prepare to spend the day that way.  Most people on the Urban Sherpa bus were with their own friends and there was no real mingling that I was aware of.  Even alone though, I still had a lot of fun and enjoyed some great time on the slopes.  And because I had signed up for this trip with Outdoor Bound it worked out well as I had people to hang out with for a bit towards the end of the day which I would not have had otherwise.  Outdoor Bound and Urban Sherpa have many upcoming dates available if you would like to plan a day to get out of the city and onto the slopes.

I am very excited for more skiing and other winter adventures in 2010.  Happy New Year everyone!

Experience Fall with a Biking Adventure

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Get away from the city and immerse yourself in fallOutdoor Bound has a new event that will have you exploring mountain trails both on a bike and by foot.  I went on this event during the first weekend in October.  The fall colors were just beginning to peek through.  There is another outing scheduled in late October when there will be even more colorful views, so sign up now if you are interested!

The event was described as a day of leisurely biking, including a hike to a scenic view.  This was all to be followed by a visit to a local pub before returning to NYC.  After meeting in the city at 10am, our van ride lasted for an hour and a half before we arrived at Cromwell on the Hudson.  Our bike and helmet rentals were arranged through Storm King Adventures whose staff was very helpful.  

Once the group and the bikes were driven to the start of the trail, it was time to get our equipment and begin the ride.  A lot of us had not been on a bike in a while, but once we reminded ourselves how to shift the gears, etc., we were ready to go.   Now, since some of us had not been bike riding for a long time and were under the impression based on the trip description that this would be a leisurely event, we quickly learned that there was more hard work getting through the trail than expected.  There were a lot of uphill portions on the trail which took their toll after a while, even though we were all in pretty good shape.  So there were times when those of us who were tired would just walk our bikes until the ground was more even.  

The hiking portion was rather steep but not too lengthy of a walk.  Once we reached Eagles Cliff though, the view was spectacular and it was a perfect spot to rest and enjoy our lunches.  After we returned to the bike trail, the last portion of the ride was a lot more downhill which was an exhilarating way to end the day.  After our biking workout, we went to a local restaurant for some delicious treats.  They served beer and wine, but most of us were more eager to enjoy their menu.

While the trip was a lot more demanding physically than expected (Outdoor Bound has since revised the event description), it was still a lot of fun.  The scenery was gorgeous and I took a lot of great pictures along the way.  I can only imagine how glorious it will be during peak fall colors.  If you are looking for an active way to view the fall foliage, then this is a great way to do it.

Harbor Cocktail Cruise Aboard the Zephyr

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After all the rain we have had in the month of June, we actually had some dry and sunny weather yesterday.  So, I happily agreed to go on a Harbor Cocktail Cruise after work where I could thoroughly enjoy the perfect weather.  I signed up for this particular cruise aboard the Zephyr through Outdoor Bound.  The Zephyr is run by Circle Line and is located off of Pier 16 right next to the South Street Seaport.  Having just been on the other side of the river at Brooklyn Promenade Park, it was nice to see the Brooklyn Bridge from the exact opposite viewpoint. 

Before embarking on our cruise, my friend and I enjoyed the happy hour specials at Skippers Pierside Cafe.  Skippers is entirely outdoors and offers $4 domestic beers and $5 imported beers during their happy hour.  They also have a menu of varied food options if you are hungry.  All the groups for our cruise met up at this spot for some drinks and appetizers which was a great way to begin the event.  Our cruise event was priced at $30 which included one drink on the boat and then drink specials offered afterwards at Skippers.

Our departure time was 6:30pm and the boat left promptly.  On the first level there is a an enclosed area with seating (this is also where the DJ was set up since there is a dance floor).  The second level has both indoor space and access to an outdoor deck.  Then one flight up there is a full sun deck with benches if you prefer to sit.  These benches were helpful for keeping balance and holding on when the water got a little choppy.  

Since the weather was so cooperative it was very refreshing to see the sunset behind the city skyline.  Our journey took us up towards Long Island City and then back south to a beautiful view of the sun setting behind the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  It was very relaxing to take all of these sights in while sipping on beverages from the bar.  Since I love boats and being on the water, the cruise ended way too soon for me.  We were back at Pier 16 by 8pm.  The groups were supposed to mingle with drink specials and food afterwards, however there was a music/dance event being held so it was way too loud.  So, my friend and I ordered some dinner at Skippers while some very talented New Yorkers danced the night away on the pier. 

All in all, I had a very pleasant evening.  I took lots of pictures and loved my time on the water.  There was not as much mingling aboard the ship as I had hoped, but it was still a great way to end a busy work day.

Don’t Let Winter Pass You By!


As I eagerly await my next ski trip, I am still on the look out for other fun winter activities to sign up for. There are so many options out there that I thought I would share some links for anyone who would also like to get out and enjoy the snow before the season ends.

Check out ZogSports for ski trips. They have both day trips and weekend trips offered. I enjoyed my ski day with them so much that I signed up for another one. All the details are at http://www.zogsports.com/.

Outdoor Bound is a great company for anyone who wants to really get out there and be active. Some of the activities they offer include snow shoeing, cross country skiing, even ice climbing! I have enjoyed my hiking experiences with them and look forward to trying more of their events in the future. Check out their event calendar at http://www.outdoorbound.com/.

For those singles out there who want to enjoy an activity with the prospect of meeting someone new, head to Meet Market Adventures. They host a variety of indoor and outdoor activities so there is something for everyone. Some of their activities are even co-hosted with Outdoor Bound. I recently went Snow Tubing with them and it was a lot of fun! Their website is http://www.meetmarketadventures.com/.

I hope these links will help you find something fun to sign up for! You can read about my experiences with all of these companies in some of my past entries which will help you know what to expect.

Art, Music, Film & Drinks! All in One Night!

Outdoor Bound is hosting an event called Himalayan Happy Hour at the Rubin Museum this Friday, December 19th, 2008. This one sounds too interesting to say no to!

For those of you who might not want to do some of the more physically challenging activities Outdoor Bound offers, this might be right up your alley. This event at the Rubin includes: Happy hour with drink specials, a private tour of the exhibit which features sacred art from Bhutan, music from a series of Himalayan art-inspired jazz concerts and an optional movie on-site in the Cabaret Cinema.

According to the website, there are still some spots left, so I thought I would share it with you in case you were interested! It sounds like a great way to end a work week to me! Here is a link to the event on http://www.outdoorbound.com/: http://www.outdoorbound.com/index.php/events/sub/himalayan_happy_hour_at_the_rubin_museum/

Hiking in the Moonlight

This Saturday night, when most people were getting ready to plan their evenings out on the town, I was getting myself ready to enter the wilderness. I had signed up for a Full Moon Hike through Outdoor Bound. So I gathered my new headlamp, my water bottle, some snacks and my backpack. I was ready to go.

I had been worried about the weather since showers were in the forecast. All day it looked dreary and cloudy. I wondered how I would be hiking in the moonlight if there was no visible moon? But the trip was still a go so I met up with my group at 7pm. We ventured out of the city and were on our way to Harriman State Park in upstate NY. It was about an hour drive away from the city.

As we drove, there were some rain showers and only cloudy skies. I just hoped the weather would hold out when we got there. Luckily as we were driving up the mountain it looked like the rain had stopped! Hopefully it would stay that way while we were out in the woods.
We went up a small winding road and when the van was parked and we turned out the lights it was pitch black. All you could hear was the chirping of all of the surrounding nocturnal insects. It was then that the reality hit me of what I had signed up for. I was about to head into the middle of the forest with 12 other people with nothing but our headlamps/flashlights and our hiking guide to lead the way. It was exhilarating and a bit scary.

As we started out, I quickly adjusted to the ways of night hiking. You could only see what your headlamp revealed directly ahead of you, along with the trail of lights ahead where the others were walking in front of you. If you wanted to see the surrounding area, you really needed to watch your step since your light would no longer be guiding your feet! As I walked, I kept thinking to myself – WOW! I am in the middle of the woods, in the dark, and if I turn off this light I will be in complete darkness! Not only that but we were climbing steep trails and slippery rocks since it had rained so much before. It was hot and muggy so any rain drops that fell through the trees were actually welcome.

We made our way to the lake where if it hadn’t been raining you would light a fire and roast marshmallows. This wasn’t possible for our group with all the rain that had occurred but it might have been even better this way. This way you got to fully appreciate the surrounding darkness. To my happy surprise the full moon had made itself known through some thinner clouds. Shining brightly in the sky it had an illuminating glow over the lake and surrounding forest. It was beautiful! We had been prepared for a possible night swim in the lake but the water was a tad chilly. So those of us who were so inclined went in to wade in the shallow water. I could have stood there for hours. It was such a peaceful experience. Most of us had turned off our lights and our eyes had adjusted to the moonlight while we rested. I really enjoyed our time by the lake.

Soon it was time to get back on our way. For the rest of the journey we encountered some steep inclines, had to climb some rocky sections (which is why they suggest using a headlamp so you have the use of both hands), and were able to hear some owls, see a family of deer and hear the surrounding wildlife. I felt a million miles away from civilization. When I turned off my light and looked around I could see no other lights at all. We were that far away from any stores, houses and lights. I loved it!

Our hike was completed at around 1am. I was sad when we returned to the van and had to head back. But my body was a bit sore from all the activity so I guess it was for the best. All I know is, I had an amazing time and cannot wait to go on another night hike. I was also extremely thankful that the weather had held out for us. Once back in the van we had more showers to drive through and I was happy to be sheltered again when that happened.

Outdoor Bound has another full moon hike offered in October. That is the last one for this season but they will have more next season. I know I will be signing up next spring/summer! It is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend giving it a try.

White Water Rafting Adventure

Looking for an adventurous day trip? How about going White Water Rafting! I signed up to go through a joint Outdoor Bound and MMA day trip and there were about 40 of us departing from NYC. Our NY group also met up with 20 people from Philadelphia at the location so we had a pretty good number of people.

The bus ride out took about 2 hours and we went to an area in the Poconos for our day of river rafting. The rapids were said to be a class 3 and it was during a weekend dam release so there would be enough water for our trip down the river.

Once we went through basic instruction on land and were split into 6 people per raft it was time to head to the water. This ended up being a short nature hike through the woods to the place where we got our rafts. It was more of a challenge than I anticipated to carry our raft through a rocky creek path to get to our departure point. It was a relief to finally get it into the water!

This is where is got quite interesting. Since most of us didn’t know anyone else on the raft, we had to get ourselves working together as a team quickly. This proved to be a bit of a challenge in the beginning for our rafting team but we finally started to get the hang of things. Even with the dam release there were lots of rocks that got in the way of a perfect trip down the river. We got stuck many times but got better and better at maneuvering our way out of the rough spots. Some of us even fell off the boat at times – myself included! – but as a team we were able to work together to get everyone back on the boat where they belonged. We also had some great guides following along to help us through all the water challenges.

Half way down we all pulled over to take a break and eat lunch. Our muscles were sore and it was nice to relax for a bit. Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the water. The good news was that the break was all we needed to really get our act together. The second part of the journey was much better than the first and we had gotten so much better at working as a team and overcoming obstacles as they came along. When we got to the end it felt like quite an accomplishment!

So, if you too would like to head out on a white water adventure, there are many ways to get out there and do it! Outdoor Bound and MMA offer great day trip options. There are also meetup groups that go on white water rafting trips so you can also sign up through them. Most of these options will meet in a central location in the city so anyone in the Tri-state area can partake in the fun! Even one of my local bars has group outings including white water rafting days so just research around your area. I am sure you will find a way to get out and enjoy the water yourself. It is definitely worth it and lots of fun!

Anticipation for a Full Moon Hike!

It’s official. I have signed up for a September Full Moon Hike offered by Outdoor Bound. The hike is described as a 5.5 mile hike to a mountain top, followed by a lakeside fire for roasting some smores and swimming in the lake for those daring hikers. You bring a flashlight but with the bright full moon in the sky your eyes will eventually adjust so that you can see without any artifical lighting. It sounds like so much fun! I can’t wait! Of course, I will have a full report once I get back on how it went! 🙂

If you are interested, go to http://www.outdoorbound.com/. As of now there were openings in the September and October Full Moon Hiking trips.

Hiking to Van Slyke Castle Ruins

I had wanted to sign up for a hiking adventure for a while but was looking for the right one. Luckily, I found it at the MMA site for a Hike and Swim Majestic Ruins of the Van Slyke Castle in NJ. I couldn’t say no! I have not hiked since I was a kid at camp so this would be a new experience for me to do this as an adult. Having had fun at every event I participated in with MMA so far I didn’t think I could go wrong.

I showed up with my mom’s hiking books (which thankfully she lent me), a new cooling water bottle and a standard water bottle which together amounted to my minimum 2 liter water requirement, and a bagged lunch. I was ready to go! The drive was approximately 45 minutes outside of midtown Manhattan over the GWB. Once we started I immediately started to realize what I was in for… lots of uphill on what I thought was a very rocky terrain. We hiked first to Ramapo Lake and then made our way onto a trail around one of the neighboring mountains. With the hot and humid weather and lack of previous hiking experience, I found the uphill sections feeling a bit endless at times and rather difficult for me without some breaks in the middle. However, once you got to a lookout point you felt the reward of the heights you have climbed to get there. I was immensely thankful for my cooling water bottle too! I definitely needed it and had some envious fellow hikers.

After a lunch by the lake, we finally made our way towards the Van Slyke Castle Ruins. This was what I had been looking forward to the most so I was quite excited, even though I knew it meant more uphill climbing. It was well worth it. As an avid photographer, I took advantage of all that remained of this once glorious building. I would love to come back to view it in the fall or winter when there is less greenery and it will be more exposed.

Once we descended that mountain, our hiking day finished off with a brave swim in the lake. I say it was brave since there was some plant life that seemed to have taken over the water so that if you went in, you would have some interacting with you while you were swimming. I must say though, after all the hard work we did during our hike, most of us quite enjoyed the refreshment of the lake.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. I was encouraged by our trail leader that the more I hike the better I will get at both the uphill climbing and the effect on my knees. I took a rested the following day and my knees were fully recovered from the pain I was feeling immediately after the hike.

This hike was a combined outing with Outdoor Bound and MMA participants. Everyone was really nice and made the experience that much more fun. I would definitely recommend this to someone just starting out with hiking and anyone with an interest in taking pictures of the castle ruins. As I said earlier, I definitely plan to go back sometime!

Delaware River Water Tubing Fun

If you want a relaxing and fun summer day trip, try leaving the city and going to NJ for some water tubing fun. I signed up for this through MMA but it was another combined trip with Outdoor Bound. About 30 of us took part in this outing.

After meeting in Manhattan, our bus headed out for approx 2 hours to get us to our Water Tubing destination. After all the bathing suits were on, sunscreen applied and our tubes selected we were ready to go! We were packed into a bus with our tubes and were driven to the river drop off spot. Getting yourself onto the tube and on the water was a bit comical. There were a couple of funny wipe outs. But once on the tube it was the height of relaxation. The weather was hot enough that you were thankful to have the water underneath you and it was quite refreshing. With the company we used, you float down the river for 2 hours or so and then you come across the famous Hot Dog Man. We all stopped for a delicious BBQ lunch. They had veggie burgers for people like me who don’t eat meat, chicken sandwiches and the regular burgers and hot dogs all fresh off the grill. It was a great way to make more friends in the group and find out more about your fellow tubers. Essentially, this was the half way point so once lunch was finished you got back on the water and floated towards the final stop point. There were some fun tiny rapids that I kept trying to paddle towards whenever I could and the rest was more relaxation on the river. Afterwards, we took our bus back, changed, and were on our way back to the city. It was a delightful way to spend a hot summer day. 🙂 I have heard there is also white water tubing for a more wild adventure so I plan to try that sometime too.