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FBON 2011: Sleet and Freezing Rain at Trout Pond in the Catskills

Ice behind Trout Pond lean-to

On April 21-23, 2011 my friend Dave and I participated in the 26th annual Frostbite Overnight (FBON). The FBON is an early spring camping trip taken the three days prior to Easter in the Catskills State Park. This year we hiked into Trout Pond in the Cherry Ridge/Campbell Mountain Wild Forest. The following article chronicles the last day of our trip including a very wet and cold hike out, breakfast at the Roscoe Diner and a sunny ride home.

The Frostbite Overnight (FBON) is all about tradition. From the date of the trip (three days before Easter), to the destination (the Catskills), to the purchase of flatbread (from the Columbus Bakery in Syracuse), the list of traditions can go on and on.

While we freely chose to uphold many of these traditions, others are thrust upon us by good, ole Mother Nature. One of these traditions include hiking out in inclement weather on the last day only to see conditions change to sunny and pleasant for the majority of the ride home.

Early on Saturday morning I woke to hear a strange metallic noise repeated with great frequency. It took me a few moments to wipe the sleep from my eyes and realize what was causing this irritating tic-tic-tic sound. Apparently some type of frozen precipitation was repeatedly striking the aluminum wind screen on Dave’s and my stoves.

It appeared another important tradition of the FBON was going to be upheld by Mother Nature, after all.

Luckily, both stoves were located between the two of us so I leaned forward and moved both stoves farther back into the lean-to. While moving the stoves I placed my hand on the end of my sleeping bag and was shocked to find it soaking wet.

Fortunately, my Marmot Mystic sleeping bag was on the outside of my down-filled Western Mountaineering Highlite bag. Although significantly wet on the outside the synthetic fill of my Mystic was not wet all the way through. My feet were still dry and warm. Well, at least they were still dry anyway.

After drifting off back to sleep for awhile I woke up and it was still sleeting. A glaze of ice covered the tree branches, which was clearly visible despite the low light levels. The sun had clearly dawned but the thick cloud cover obscured the light so much that it appeared to be much earlier in the morning.

The thought of breakfast in a nice, day diner inspired both Dave and I to get up and start packing our wet and damp equipment. Even I was uncharacteristically efficient in packing up in a timely manner this time. The thought of pancakes fueled my desire to get going on such a miserable morning.

By the time we had packed up and started our hike out, the frozen precipitation had turned to a cold, hard rain. In addition, the wind seemed to have picked up. It seemed certain that the Frostbite tradition would be maintained this year. Would Mother Nature still provide us with the traditional sunny ride home?

The hike out was quite wet with my legs getting soaked from the knees down before we made it around Trout Pond. I definitely needed to purchase some new rain pants soon before the bushwhacking season gets into high gear.

Because of my current predicament, the conversation on the way out centered mostly on rain pants including outdoor gear manufacturers’ obsession with the color black and the myriad ways my Golite Reed rain pants could be repaired using seam seal. At this point I had not decided whether to try to repair my trusty Reed rain pants or buy a new pair but whatever I was to do I had to light a fire under my butt and get it done soon.

View from Trout Pond lean-to

It was still raining by the time we got back to the car so instead of the traditional clean-up and post-trip photograph, we just jumped in and headed off to a much needed breakfast. We decided to hit the infamous Roscoe Diner but neither of us knew exactly where it was other than in Roscoe, NY. So that was where we headed.

By the time we found the Roscoe Diner the rain had mostly stopped but we still did not bother to change out of our hiking clothes. It was no surprise that the greeter sat us way in the corner away from most of the other customers given our semi-wet hiking attire.

After breakfast (and yes, I had pancakes), we headed back to Syracuse, retracing our route from two days before. Other than spotting a bald eagle perched on a branch over the Beaver Kill, the ride home was largely uneventful.

We broke with tradition and decided not to stop at the Eureka store in Binghamton (neither of us was planning on buying anything) or at Clark’s Ale House for a beer (since it is closed but hopefully reopening soon).

But one tradition remained intact; the ride home was mostly sunny in contrast to the adverse weather conditions of the hike out. It is comforting to know you can always count on Mother Nature to provide a nice, sunny day for the ride home from another successful Frostbite Overnight.

See ya next year!

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