Where were you on July 26, 2016? We know where most of the Old Men of the Mountain were ─ they were at Kim’s West Winds Diner on Route 145 in Preston Hollow.
When the OFs first traveled to Kim’s those that came over the mountain from Rensselaerville mentioned how beautiful the view is on top of the hill on County Route 359 looking towards the Catskill Mountains. Early this morning it was clear with low humidity, with patches of fog in the valley and the mountains appeared as if they were no more than a few yards away. There is a small area there where a car can pull off and take in the vista. This morning we spotted someone doing just that and the occupant was taking pictures.
The OFs, without prompting or pre-conversations, had part of their discussions on just that subject, alluding to the fact that much of the scenery in New York State is unequalled. The OFs mentioned boat rides down the river and taking in the sights from Athens, or Coeymans, to at least the Saugerties Lighthouse and how spectacular this trip on the river can be. One OF reported making that trip in his boat and managing quite a sunburn as a reward for the trip sometime last week.
This led to some discussion on the river itself and its tides. One OF reported the tide being as high as four feet at Troy. Then other OFs joined in; these OFs have had time to watch the river from various points. One OF mentioned that it takes 7 days for an object to pass a point, any point, on the river. We do not know if this OF read this somewhere or sat for 7 days on the bank of the river and actually calculated it.
The OF’s information was backed up by other OFs who have witnessed large objects moving back and forth on the river. One OF reported sleeping on his boat in Athens and in the morning seeing a huge tree with half the root system protruding out of the water flowing right towards his boat. He said before the tree reached the boat it stopped, and then started floating backwards as the tide came in just in time.
Still another OF reported eating at a restaurant in Kingston (during the winter) at lunch time with a friend watching ice floe (ice float) go down the river. A very large section of ice that stood out because of its size slowly moved along with the rest of the floe until it went out of view because it was out of the scope of the window. As the OF and his friend were finishing up their lunch they looked out the window and the friend said to the OF, “Isn’t that the same chunk of ice that went down just awhile ago going back up the river?” The OF said, “Isn’t the whole ice floe going up the river now?”
The waiter mentioned that this was the third day that floe of ice had gone by the window. Maybe the OF talking about the river taking seven days to clear a given point on the river is right. The OFs really don’t know.
Another OF mentioned that is why the Hudson River Sloops worked. The river boats would use sail and tide to move produce up and down the river with ease.
Then an OF mentioned that the river from Troy down to New York City is not a river; after the last glacial period the river became an estuary (which, according to Wikipedia, is the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream) and this eventually becomes a fjord (a long narrow inlet with steep sides, created by glacial erosion). It is a river from the Adirondacks to the tidal area, and then the river becomes a fjord. One OF did a painting of the glacial period and claims it is one of his favorite. It is of the Hudson when it was part of the great Albany Lake’s floor. The great Albany Lake was formed in the proglacial period when an ice jam and its debris formed a dam below Newburgh and backed the river up (almost) to Lake Champlain. According to the OFs there are reports that this phenomenon created one of the most beautiful parts of the country after it finally drained. There! Now through the OFs you know more than you want to know…the OFs in their discussions have once again offered TMI (too much information). How much of it is true only the OFs know from their living experiences what is or what may not be so.
This scribe must add that the OFs have boats, not yachts. This scribe does not know of any OF that could afford a yacht. Traveling with the OFs in their boats requires the knowledge of how to use a bucket from which to bail out the boat from time to time.
In the heat of summer, like it has been, the OFs began talking about ice houses, and how many of them remember cutting ice from a pond and storing it between sawdust, or layers of straw in Ice Houses on the farm to keep perishables edible throughout the summer. Some farmers used this ice in the milk coolers to keep the milk fresh until it could be picked up and taken to the creamery.
One OF reported that in the town of Kortright, in Delaware County, they still do this and make a day of it where people can go and participate in the ice harvest. One OF mentioned that there are other areas in New York and New England where they have such days. “There is really lots to do,” one OF said, “Other than walk around with your nose stuck to a 4 x 6 inch screen”. “Now, now,” was an answer, “If you were 12 or 13 that is where your nose would be”.
Those OFs that took time to stash their oars, and make it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow (which, by the way, has the Catskill Creek running right in back of it, but at this point of the creek it is not navigable so they would have to beach their canoes and hike) were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, (with his son Mike Shafer, and grandson Colin Shafer), Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Marty Herzog, Don Wood, Jim Rissacher, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Roger Fairchild, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.