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2540 Years Of Fun And Friendship:
The Annual Mt. Erebus Fishbrook Oktoberfest
JB: 40! 40 years this weekend, 40 years of haulin' shit up the mountain. 40 years of friendship. And a few more...
MIKEY STEW: Hard to believe, isn't it? It's been 25 years since the first Annual Mt. Erebus Fishbrook Oktoberfest. Many of our crew, including myself, had traveled the long road to Mt. Erebus for several years before the first annual trip. For some of the early-goers, the hike included the length of Buttermilk Falls Rd. I personally never had to hike that entire distance and to this day wonder how those forefathers did it.
It was October 1977 though, when this fine tradition began. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Joe Paz, Robert B, Jeff Wy, and myself attended the first trip. It was actually in the latter part of October and we froze our asses off. There was on and off frozen rain and a cloud sat on the lake all weekend. I don't think the temperature went over 35° the entire time we were there. We moved the table into the lean-to to stay out of the weather and hot knived the weekend away, listening to jamming music (WRPI) and getting shit-faced. On the hike home, as the lake went out of sight, we looked back on it and had the thought that, as miserable as we all were that weekend, we should make an annual event of this trip. After all, the friendship made the misery of the weather seem not that bad. And so was born the Annual Mt. Erebus Fishbrook Oktoberfest.
Since that first trip our "little" get together has grown to be a trip that has inspired an average of 10 to 20 campers every year. A lot of booze and other "intoxicants" have gone down there over the years. This trip has given birth to many traditions. El Whoppo's Cafe, the Saturday Morning Whiskey Party, Rootin' Tootin' Trouble, Point Parties, Lean-to Roof Parties, Bong-A-Thons, and the Morning Mixture are just a few. The best thing to come out of this trip, however, has been the guarantee of seeing friends we sometimes rarely get the privilege of seeing at least once a year.
This introduction can't be complete without a tip of the hat to the Berke Brothers. It was they who were the first of our gang to go to Fishbrook, being shown the way years earlier by their father. Hats off to you guys, as well as your Dad for leading the way.
JB: This year will be #32, and the annual autumn backpacking trip to Fishbrook Pond has got to be about one of the best traditions a man can have. A high-mountain pond, clean as a whistle, teaming with trout, beaver, otter, newts, and bookended by Adirondack lean-tos - 'tis a special place for sure. We favor the 2nd lean-to in the Fall - more sun. It's not a hard hike, 3.5 miles tops, but the first mile is a doozy, especially when you're packing in a case of beer. A 60-pound pack is not unusual. The rule rather than the exception. As we get older and wiser we carry up kegs! (See Zeke, El Whoppo, Joey & Vinny Bones about that. HEROES!)
Always a great party, a dozen folks that pretty much grew up together and know how to have a good time anchor the inevitable madness. We all share a love of the outdoors. And MUSIC! The hikes up Black Mountain, Sleeping Beauty and the Vistas have become a tradition, and occasionally we'll stumble upon a place we haven't been. Or walk more miles than we'd planned. We've seen rain, sleet and snow, and summer-like weather in the fall sometimes where a dip in de old pond is called for. (Almost hypothermiated meself once, but that's another story entirely.) A feature of the summer trips is the swimming. About as nice a place as you'll ever swim. I'm not kidding.
JOHNNY MUDD: I have an impressive collection of Erebus vintage photos going all the way back to Mr. Chaz "D" Hammers very first trip. There were actually a few trees in the campsite back then. Bumps Pond was a total swamp back then, nothing but mud, bugs, and snakes. (Not to mention the haunted fireplace.)
Walking in from the first parking lot was the norm back then, and even if the road to Dacy Clearing was open it was a 5 mile an hour drive at best. We used to drink right from the lake with no side effects, then again, there was so much alcohol in our bodies the beaver shit bacteria didn't stand a chance.
Who remembers the famous "Zoup Festivals"? For you newbies, when we ran out of food we would put a pot of boiling water on the fire (nobody brought stoves back then) and put in whatever we had left, from rice, to spam, to cheese, to potato chips.
We used to catch crawdads and make them fight to the death in gladiatorial combat.
Who remembers when WRPI was really WRPI !
Remember the shit they would play !!! ALL WEEKEND LONG.....
BERNIE: Apparently because the director role was so vitally important ensuring the success of the annual trek to Fishbrook Pond, I was elected for 1996, only a year after my virgin hike to the festivities.
A little about the my virgin encounter with my new found friends of the mountains; As I walk into camp there is Trouble on the Point and having the immediate pleasure of meeting El Whoppo, as he chanted "Waxin the Weeze", liars poker, 5 card stud and whatever they could make a bet on going on in the lean-to. I immediately knew I would make this trip as often possible and for as long as the old body would allow me too. That first year was spectacular weather, I chose not to hike but to lay around for a lazy day by the pond, eat, drink and do a "leisurely wood run". The Paz brothers, Mikey Stew, Charles, Vinny Bones, Rob 5 Hands, Pat etc. and of course the New England faction (which I am proudly a member of) Scumby, JB, Quarter, Zeek, Weezel, each and everyone great people and fucking insane!!!
Over the years, I have brought a couple people up, one stood around dumb founded holding a football all weekend. I think the icing on the cake for this individual was that he gave Quarter a ride and getting a Traveling Dinkleberries greatest hits cassette tape stuck in car player, so he could be reminded of the trip forever! 'Nuff said about that. The other "Help I'm off the trail" has not returned either, something about sleeping with Johnny Mudd in the lean-to!!!
The weather can be phenomenally beautiful or extremely ugly, but it rarely matters because it's about getting together with great friends, partying our asses off and enjoying the surroundings of Fishbrook Pond and the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains.
.:: T -Shirts & Collectibles ::.
To purchase Official Erebus Gear & Collectibles for big bucks,
.:: Historical Documents & stuff ::.
.:: 1978 1st ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
No Direction Home
The above photos, courtesy of Johnny Mudd, were almost certainly not taken on the 1st ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST. But they seem to be the oldest yet to surface. Chaz thinks '77 or summer '76, but this doesn't quite jell.
.:: 1979 2nd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Joe Paz
.:: 1980 3rd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Brian Oaks
(Oktober 1981) Who knows for sure, but by photographic proof, this was my first time on Mt. Erebus. Don't remember many specifics, but I do remember that back then my usual haul was JD Old #7 and a bag of the Icky Sticky. And a 2-pound chunk-o-cow. Seems I was a tad wiser then (at least pack weightwise) - nowadays I mule up a case of fine ale and eat oatmeal and pasta.
.:: 1981 4th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Mikey Stew
Got a cool and crisp mountain experience this year. My Coleman sleeping bag just didn't cut it this October. A coupla years later it was burned at the stake. Accidentally. Or so I'm told. (I was out hiking and my bag was drying atop the lean-to roof. A robust fire sparked it up. Slept in half o' bag the next 2 nights. Very cool.)
(Oktober 1982) Lookin' back on the photos (Kodak Instamatic for y'all photo-buffs!) I remember Chrissie the Dog, talkin' Yankee baseball & such with the Weasel endlessly (always a good thing!) and smokin' way too many spliffs. Which may explain my Davy Crockett hat. Or not.
.:: 1982 5th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: El Whoppo
(Oktober 1983) The 6th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND. "The year without the moondance" says the most excellent Bev-drawn t-shirt. Though Devo, inventor and lord of the moondance was indisposed, his protégés carried on best they could. Spil entertained with some fine guitar - maybe the only guitar to make it to the top. At least with a great tunesman - another Erebus miracle!
.:: 1983 6th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1984 7th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 1984)The 7th Annual is believed to be under the Directorship of the Weasel (although there is some uncertainty from Dan himself), and there is but one known photo. Bev designed the lavender hooded sweatshirt, of which none are known to still exist. I'm surprised I didn't save mine, despite the fact that it shrunk to the size of a pygmy. Perhaps this is the year I learned to get t-shirts a size or 2 bigger... Just spectafyin'. Retrospectafyin'. -- JB
.:: 1985 8th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
JB: Found a handful of pictures from 1985, the year Johnny Mudd was impeached. Why was he impeached?? Can't recall a thing from this year other than that...
John Cinq: I, Johnny Mudd, was impeached by a kangaroo court! It's been 20 years and I still carry the shame. The name of Johnny Mudd will someday be cleared. I would welcome the chance to testify before a gathering of my Erebus brothers regarding this disgrace that weighs heavy on my soul. I will gracefully accept whatever decision you arrive at providing I receive a fair trial.
Joe Paz: HANG HIM !! No need to wait. I remember it all too clearly. Johnny Mudd, stood high on his alter atop the leanto, when his faithful subjects below on the ground asked, "O Director, we ask thee, what have you brought up the mountain to celebrate your directorship. A tee shirt,hat, etc."
But Johnny Mudd glared down upon his servants and proclaimed, "I am the director and YOU GET NOTHING, I BRING NOTHING FOR YOU, YOU DESERVE NOTHING. Now away with you all." What else could the board do.
John Cinq: I remember that too. I cannot tell a lie, those words were spoken by me. BUT !!! Immediately after I spoke, as if a sign from God Himself, an A10 WARTHOG came screaming over the lake at treetop level. That asshole pilot missed his queue. He was supposed to drop the tee shirts and the ice cream and cake.
.:: 1986 9th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1987 10th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1988 11th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: BLACK MOUNTAIN: 2646' ::.
(Oktoberfest 1988) Back in the day, 'twas sometimes hard to sucker the partying peoples into exploring our little mountain range. Never the type to be discouraged, I oftentimes hoofed around aimlessly (as is my way) in the mountains. This was a solo (no oxygen) dayhike I did on Black Mountain during the 1988 Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond. And it was a long one. Headed down the Lake George side of Erebus to the lake, a steep descent of maybe 1˝ miles. Hit the eastern shore of Lake George, then hoofed north to Black Mountain Point. Some nice campsites for boaters along the shore here. From here it's a rough 2.75 miles (2200' gain) to the summit. Probably 14 miles roundtrip.
At this point in time you could climb the fire tower and there was a ranger cabin in use. The cabin is gone now, the tower remains but is gated. Appears to now be a weather station of sorts. But still spectacular views north on Lake George and towards Lake Champlain. The weather started rollin' in around mid-afternoon. Good hike - coulda been my first or second time up here. We've returned many times since, and always on easier, more direct routes. Great views of Lake George, the islands, and the Tongue Mountain Range. -- JB
.:: 1989 12th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1990 13th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Doc Welby
(Oktober 1990) Marcus directed, I did the drawing for the t-shirt, and the theme was the Fishbrook Music Festival, a concert featuring the finest living (and dead) musicians on the planet. Everyone brought music to this end.
The Sox (swiftly jettisoned by the ever dangerous Oakland A's) made the playoffs and I lucked out with a ticket, so I didn't make it to Erebus 'til Saturday. At that point in the festival I think the Village People were closing out their set... Saw the Weasel & Jay driving out on my way in - the Weasel assured me he'd be staying through Monday. Guess the beautiful weather was too much for him. Anyways, four hearty New Englanders and a dog were passing around a bottle of Scotch on Saturday afternoon as I arrived. No worries. -- JB
.:: 1991 14th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Norman Zeek
Started the hike up with Troy & his buddy late Friday afternoon. Troy was haulin' about 75lbs up the mountain, most of which he didn't need. Lots of cigarette breaks. Then about halfway up, by flashlight in the dark, we spotted a small bear off the path. Troy speculated that the mama might be movin'. Got us motivatin'. Never seen a man get up and go as quickly as this. Got some downpour this trip, an' young Troy's tent was a sieve, just couldn't repel the rain. Live and learn I suppose. We've all been there. A good guy, but ultimately defeated by the elements. He never returned.
Far as peak color goes, the 1991 Oktoberfest may have been the mostest. Just spectacular. Norman Zeek directed once again, and provided the mountaineers with a pair of stylin' moondance alien shorts, which are my lounging around shorts to this day. Some rain this year, and Troy's tent -- JB
.:: 1992 15th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: El Whoppo
.:: 1993 16th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1994 17th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
.:: 1995 18th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Johnny B
I was kinda strong-armed into the 1995 Directorship. I told the Board of Directors they couldn't afford me. Well, after being batted about the head a few times, I relented. Designed a t-shirt, probably the most important task the Director had back then, along with calling for Point Parties and Roof Parties. Ashamed to say I found only one photo from this year (from the summer trip). Nothing from the Oktoberfest. And I'm almost never without camera (even if it was a Kodak Instamatic or Polaroid Swinger.)
1995 was a transitional year for Fishbrook Pond. We discovered this the hard way on the Summer Trip. Notices were posted along the trails: 'Fish have been eradicated. A fish toxicant was applied to eliminate undesirable fish. When the water is no longer toxic, it will be restored with trout. DO NOT USE THE WATER FOR DRINKING, COOKING OR SWIMMING.' Nearby Millman Pond became our source for water, and a quick dip on this steamy August weekend. And there was a Hollywood ending. Fishbrook Pond was restored to its 'natural state' - before the evil baitfish threw it into disarray. I've snorkled and observed the pond in summer through the years, and I think this was a successful endeavor. The algae is gone, the trout and newts have returned.
Far as the 18th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST goes, we got fine weather, a super-poor showing by my New England brothers (who shamed me into this!) but a fine crew who was not afraid to party. Water runs became more common than wood runs.
.:: 1996 Mount Marcy Expedition ::.
(March 11, 2006) Well, since I done lost my original notes, I'll have to resort to my razor-sharp memories of happenings ten years time ago. Of a by-gone era. Mount Marcy is the highest of the High Peaks, 5344', which be more than a mile. And generally a popular hike by shameless peakbaggers. But on this day the summit was devoid of said folk. Perhaps it was the extreme conditions. Conditions that sent much of our party on retreat.
First time on Marcy, first time in the High Peaks for much of our expedition. Joe C, Chris, Missy, Mikey, Marlene, Rob, Rich, JB & Buddy the Dog were the adventurers on this weekend. (Hope I didn't forget anyone.) And some excellent black & white photos were had. The end of an era. (And of my black & white film.)
Set out from Upper Works on the Calamity Brook Trail to Flowed Land, a body of water in the flow and south of Colden Lake and Avalanche Lake. At this point, an emergency arose. A Boy Scout had fallen off a cliff. Rob, an EMT, without hesitation took off with the reporting Boy Scout to aid the injured boy. El Whoppo and I decided to scout the trail ahead and lean-to possibilities. We found a spot on the Opalescent River a coupla miles up. (Seems trivial now.) Shortly after we returned, Rob returned and his rescue was successful.
I'll never forget this. Rob really came up big. The kid's a hero to me. The kids' ARE alright. Anyhoo, we hiked a coupla miles to a lean-to on the Opalescent. Camped in fowl weather for the night. Met up with a drifter and his dog (the Blonde One, a good dog) who honed our hospitality then ratted us out. (We were, admittedly, not a seasoned group environmentally.) Meanstwhile, we (ignorance isn't always a virtue) tempted a big-ass bear. Our campsite was a mess - foodstuff all over the place. And a frikken BIG bear took an interest... Circled our camp several times whilst we cleaned our mess and packed away our food.
We survived that one. Thank goodness Buddy the Guard Dog was asleep.
JB -- The 1996 Marcy Expedition calls for some belated commentary. Mount Marcy, the high peak of the High Peaks, was scaled on a blustery day by mountaineers Missy, Mikey, Marlene, Rob, Rich, Buddy the Dog & I. It was RAW above treeline. The wind was a whippin'. Like a mutha. As we approached summit Marlene's packcover flew off her backpack and down the mountainside, never to be seen again.
Marlene -- Everyone gave me so much crap (in a fun way) about that packcover (which was BRAND NEW by the way!)? I was being voted most prepared camper and then they kept teasing me for "polluting" the mountain. Too funny. I have such specific memories of that trip.... such as the BEAR that wandered into our campsite and how Missy and I climbed onto the roof. Nobody was looking and it was just walking down the trail next to the water and at first I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. What was it about us and bears? Remember Lake O'Hara and the bear? Anyway.....I also recall that Mike set up his tent too close to the trail and a ranger made him move it, and how during the rain at night all the water flowed under it and they didn't have enough dry clothes. Do you remember I had packed a linguini and clam sauce meal and was cooking it (we were first back from the peak) and everyone was drooling over it and then they realized they didn't pack enough Ramen's for their party?
As for the climb itself, I think more people came on the hike but didn't go all the way up. I still say to this day that that was the most scared I have ever been on a mountain. That wind was HOWLING up there and I had the pack on and it kept pushing me closer to the edge and I really, really thought I was going to go right off the side. Once I found a little crevice and sat in it, I was too petrified to move...I really couldn't, it was the weirdest thing....you had to talk me out by taking the pack from me and help me up to the top where you can see from those pics how thrilled I was ;) lol! We also stopped for a bit to have lunch in a nice little clearing spot before attacking the top.
You know, I really need to go on a hike again.
.:: 1996 19th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
BERNIE: Apparently because the director role was so vitally important ensuring the success of the annual trek to Fishbrook Pond, I was elected for 1996, only a year after my virgin hike to the festivities.
A little about the my virgin encounter with my new found friends of the mountains; As I walk into camp there is Trouble of the Point and having the immediate pleasure of meeting El Whoopo, as he chanted "Waxin' the Weeze", liars poker, 5 card stud and whatever they could make a bet on going on in the lean-to. I immediately knew I would make this trip as often possible and for as long as the old body would allow me too. That first year was spectacular weather, I chose not to hike but to lay around for a lazy day by the pond, eat, drink and do a "leisurely wood run". The Paz brothers, Mikey Stew, Charles, Vinny Bones, Rob 5 Hands, Pat etc. and of course the New England faction (which I am proudly a member of) Scumby, JB, Quarter, Zeke, Weezel, each and everyone great people and fucking insane!!!
Over the years, I have brought a couple people up, one stood around dumb founded holding a football all week end. I think the icin.::MAINE .::MAINE .::MAINE .::MAINE .:.::MAINE :MAINE .::MAINE g .::MAINE on the cake for this individual was that he gave Quarter a ride and getting a Traveling Dinkleberries greatest hits cassette tape stuck in car player, so he could be reminded of the trip forever! 'Nuff said ab.::MAINE out that. The o.::M.::MAINE AINE ther "Help I'm off the trail" has not returned either, something about sleeping with Johnny Mudd in the lean-to!!!
The weather can be phenomenally beautiful or extr.::MAINE .::MAINE .::MAINE emely ugly, but it rarely matters because it's about getting together with great friends, partying our asses off and enjoying the surroundings of Fishbrook Pond and the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains.
I can not wait for next year... every year. See you guys soon.
.:: 1997 20th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: El Whoppo
(Oktoberfest 1997) The newly proclaimed (by himself) Director for Life El Whoppo supplied the sombreros and other optional entertainment. Some of the pre-hike drama will soon come to light. Rare summer-like weather capped it off. Despite the loss of Joey's sombrero, the 20th Annual Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond (sho' like the sound of that!) was a party for the ages. Can't remember much more, 'cept the weather was superfine and no one lacked for thirst. And El Whoppo was a benevolent dictator-director. New England breathes deep... At least until the next incident...
Nice daytrip to Sleeping Beauty on Saturday. And on Sunday, whilst God rested, Zeke reeled in a beautiful Rainbow Trout, flymaster he. -- JB
.:: 1998 21st ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Vinny Bones
(Oktober 1998) Vinny Bones directed the 21st Annual Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond. Provided us with some fine longsleeve t-shirts, and leadership that cannot be underestimated. When should we bring on the scotch? The bones? The cards?? These crucial decisions can only be decided by the Director. Overcast and cool, nice foliage, not quite peak...
Got an early start (which is rare) so I decided to take an alternate route over Sleeping Beauty to Erebus. Didn't work out too well for me. Misty and gray, weather I generally like in the mountains ('cept on mountaintops), I hung a right on the trail up Sleeping Beauty, an incredible cliff and a popular destination of day-hikers in the area. To my surprise, it was deserted. Spent some quality time exploring the gray cliff face. Enjoyed a Boddingtons Ale atop the mountain whilst taking a few pictures and generally BUSTIN' about bein' back in the 'Dacks. Well, I packed out the beer but left my camera on the mountaintop. Couldn't find the alternate path in the fog so I hiked down to the Ol' Same Trail. When I went to take the traditional Lookout One photo, I suddenly realized...
You know most idiots would blame it on the beer, but I, for one, blame it solely on the beer. Anyhoo, I stashed my pack and hot-tailed it up Sleeping Beauty for the second time, found my camera where I left it and continued onwards. -- JB
.:: 1998 HAYSTACK, BASIN, SADDLEBACK EXPEDITION ::.
(July 30, 1998) The summer trip in 1998 was an ambitious one. Mt. Haystack (3rd highest mountain in the Adirondack High Peaks at 4961') was our primary goal. On Thursday morning, July 30th, 9 hikers followed our fearless leader Buddy the Dog from the Keene Valley to the Phelps Trail. A few miles later we passed the Johns Brook Lodge and continued to Base Camp at the Bushnell Falls Lean-to. We took some time bear-bagging our supplies, a lesson learned from the incident on the Mt. Marcy Expedition the previous year.
(July 31, 1998) The 9 adventurers departed camp early Friday morning towards Slant Rock, continuing on the Phelps Trail. The Range Trail took us over Little Haystack and up Mount Haystack. Sounds a tad easier than it was...
Six mountaineers reached the summit on July 31: Allie, Lori, Chris, Mike, JB and Buddy the Dog. It was clear and cool on top, and the view was tremendous.
(August 1, 1998) Mike Paz and I continued Saturday morning towards Basin (4826' - #9) and Saddleback (4515' - #17). We again followed Bushnell Falls via the Phelps Trail to Slant Rock. Shorey's Shortcut was a helluva trail, a climb in itself, finally intersecting with the Range Trail once again. Basin and Saddleback are both double mountains, a pretty good trek for sure. Got a nice eyeful of the next mountain over, Gothics, a future destination. Some of the trails were just breathtaking, sculpted with moss and wildflowers. Amongst the finest I've seen.
(August 2, 1998) We returned via the Orebed Brook Trail to Johns Brook Lodge, then back to Bushnell Falls a leisurely wood run. Some rough and scenic terrain...
.:: 1999 22nd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Pat C
.:: 2000 23rd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Rob 5Hands
(Oktober 2001) Peachy director Johnny Mudd provided the masses with some supa-fine Polynesian delight, including Hawaiian-style shirts made in... NEW YORK?? Hey, at least he didn't get impeached!
.:: 2001 24th ANNUAL TIKIFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Johnny Mudd
.:: 2002 25th Annual Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond ::.
Director: Mikey Stew
IN A NUTSHELL . . .
The 25th Annual Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond was a classic event in every way. Bullets couldn't stop it, Osama couldn't stop it, and the generally foul weather certainly couldn't stop it. There were the standard highlights of many an Oktoberfest: a Point Party or two, a Lean-to Roof Party with a Scumby-esque Devo Moondance, El Whoppo's Cafe, Rootin' Tootin' Trouble, the poker game, and the Saturday hike.
Everyone came up big on the 25th. Real big. Director Mike Stewart set the tone with a collection of historical photos and some rockin' tunage on a double CD. El Whoppo's Cafe was stocked with the cream of the top-shelf tequilas and whiskeys. Richie arrived with bones the size of Chicago. Erebus: the Rock Opera and my first homebrew Fishbrook Pale Ale were dispensed. But the topper (perhaps never to be equaled) was the hand-delivered keg of Davidson Brothers Brown Ale. Norman Zeke made this a reality, fortified with the muscle of Vinny Bones and the Brothers Pascuzzi. The site of a keg on the mountaintop was an age-old fantasy come true. A gaggle of mountaineers not wanting for beer. That it was lugged 4 miles uphill by a bunch of 40-somethings (each carrying 50+ lb. backpacks) defies belief. Or perhaps common sense! The Davidson Brothers themselves were impressed enough to give us all baseball hats and feature us on their website. Maybe they'll join us next year and personally deliver the keg! Hats off to all.....
.:: All photos by the late-great Joe Paz. (Okay he wasn't THAT late. Quite on time as it were. Way earlier than me.)::.
.:: The Vista ::.This year's hike took us (Mikey Paz, Weasel, JB) to the Vista, a scenic ledge overlooking Lake George & the islands. The trail starts by circling Fishbrook Pond along the other side of Erebus and links with a horse trail cutting west towards the lake. The three of us (with Norman Zeke) discovered this place last year (via a different route) and it demanded a return. A few Fishbrook Pale Ales and lunch on the cliff put the return trip in gear. And had El Whoppo leaving trail-biscuits right and left... We hiked onto Bumps Pond and took the well-beaten trail back to Fishbrook.
.:: 2002 Gothics & the Great Range ::.
(July 11-14, 2002) The Gothics-Great Range Summer Expedition was a dream come true. El Whoppo, Zeek and I were the mountaineers on this singular occasion. El Whoppo and I got a gander at Gothics back in 1998 from the summit of Saddleback. I was obsessed with it. (Still am.) We knew we had to return. And Norman Zeek was game, rounding out our summit party.
(July 11, 2002) Day 1: We hiked in on the Phelps Trail from the Garden and set up camp near Wolf Jaw Brook. Pretty much did the Great Range in two trips from the center outwards. The Orebed Brook Trail meets the Range Trail between Saddleback and Gothics.
(July 12, 2002) Day 2: Headed out early on the Orebed Brook Trail to the Range Trail, then a loop up and over Saddleback, Basin, Little Haystack & Marcy. Then over Little Marcy, the Hopkins Trail to the Johns Brook Lodge and back to camp. A long rewarding day.
(July 13, 2002) Day 3 found us back on the Orebed Brook Trail and the Range Trail and up Gothics, Pyramid Peak, Armstrong & Upper Wolf Jaw. As fate might have it, on Pyramid Peak a fellow Sox fan was in the midst of opening a bottle of bubbly and proposing to his sweetheart. But forgot his camera. We witnessed, wished 'em well, and mailed a coupla pictures. Cool moment to step into. El Whoppo was more interested in the bubbly...
Photographic evidence also indicates that, around this point in time, Zeek picked up a hitch hiker - a deer tick. Got him some lyme disease a few weeks hence. Not a good thing. But everything else was mahvelous on this trek. We stood atop some of the finest mountaintops in the Adirondacks. Good to be King.....
(July 14, 2002) Day 4: While the Lord rested, we packed up & hoofed out. -- JB
(Newton, MA, Oktober 17, 2003) This Oktoberfest was truly one for the ages. Temps in the mid-70's, peak leafage and a surprise appearance from the impeached and subsequently peached Director Rich Justo. Yep, the first peached in history. And a bang-up directorship to boot. The Saturday hike was memorable: 7 mountaineers (Rob, Weasel, El Whoppo, Zeke, Devo, JB & Bean the Dog) made the 10-mile trek up Black Mountain, at 2646' the highest on Lake George. We tramped north from Fishbrook past Millman Pond and Lapland Pond. Cut through the valley alongside the Black Mountain Ponds, then upwards. Caught some gorgeous views from a rock outcrop partways up, then tackled the switchbacks & sweatrock. The gods smiled upon us with incredible views of Lake George's islands and beyond. Ripples of mountains.... Yep....
.:: 2003 26th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Rich J
Over a period of 26 years on Fishbrook Pond, we've had only a handful of encounters with Forest Rangers. They're real common in the High Peaks, and evidently getting serious here in the Eastern Adirondacks. The Ranger, who turned out to be a good dude, scolded some of us for camping too close to the pond. I arrived after this, and was chopping wood when he made a second appearance, really pissed off. "I TOLD you guys once...." Evidently Devo had arrived, and was pitching his tent on the forbidden soil. And none of us knew. Anyways, it was diffused and we've maybe learned a lesson.
The point is presumably low-impact on nature, which we were not. At least in the past. We break some rules. If this guy was a hardass, we could have paid heavily. He served a warning, and we took our game up a notch.
Fishbrook Pond Summer Trip July 24-27, 2003...
A bakers' dozen adventurers climbed the mighty mountain this summer. Jo-Ann, Mikey, Missy, Mary, Marlene, Zeke, Devo, Johnny, Rick, Jay, Jamie, Dan & Woody. The Saturday hike took us to Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps the crowning achievement of this trip was (aside from luring Jo-Ann up for the second time in 30 years) was acquiring a sea-faring vessel for the Oktoberfest. Yep, seaworthy fer sure. Field tested. Weasel caught a WHOPPO whilst fishin' from it. Just sayin'......
.:: 2004 HIGH PEAKS & EREBUS ::.
(October 7-8, 2004) Classic loop in the High Peaks, starting from Heart Lake on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, over Algonquin Peak (#2 @ 5115'), Boundary I & II, then a herd path up Iroquois Peak (#6 @ 4849'). Doubled back over the Boundarys to descend Algonquin and intercept the Avalanche Pass Trail at Lake Colden. "The most spectacular route in the Adirondacks..." the guidebook says. They ain't lying. Avalanche Lake is just an incredibly beautiful place, nestled between the sheer cliffs of Mt. Colden and Algonquin. A network of boardwalks and ladders called Hitch-up-Matildas make the Pass passable without swimming.
Saw a coupla black bear about a mile from Marcy Dam. Startled a small one near the right side of the trail - it lumbered into the woods. And as I reached for my camera I heard a growl from behind me on my left. No photo op here. Didn't look back, just kept on going... filled out a bear report at Marcy Dam. This is a superb loop - one of my favorites all-time.
And on the 8th day (of October), I hoofed it back to Avalanche Lake to take a few more pictures. Kinda overcast so the pics from the day before looked better. A special place though... -- JB
.:: 2004 27nd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(September 18, 2004) With the 27th Annual Oktoberfest atop Mt. Erebus almost upon us, the director-at-large, a.k.a. the Weasel, set forth the proposition that a fine brew be drunk atop the mountain in 2004. And so it was written. Then brewed. Weasel & JB brought the kettle to a rolling boil, tossed in a few ingredients from Mother Earth (Caramel 20 barley, 3 helpings of Cascade Hops), with a smattering of Saaz hops for the bittering. SHERPA ALE, now fermentatin' in a small town close to nowhere. And champin' at the bit to be drunk by a bunch of yahoos on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks. (The Good Lord willin' & the barleymalt don't rise...) Speaking of which... the trail was reportedly very flooded for the summer trip a coupla months ago. Might want to hike this in the daylight. Just sayin'......
(October 2, 2004) The high noon bottling session for Sherpa Ale was a lookin' like a lonesome train... When suddensome, a dedicated crew done arrived. Kate & Big Nude came ready to rock, and the Weasel & his kinfolk a tad later. Courtney assisted Kate on the labeling, Big Nude & Sandy prepared the bottles for capping, and the Weasel supervised the capping.
(Oktober 2004) Sherpa Ale was served atop three mountains in the 'Dacks on Columbus Day Weekend. The Weasel hauled a case up Erebus and I drank some atop Algonquin & Iroquois. And unfortunately, the mountaineers atop Erebus ran dry 2 days in and were unable to be saved. At least 'til they got to the Davidson Brothers Brewery on Sunday. I myself (on top and below) kept well-hydrated throughout. I did feel a bit guilty, and I missed my comrades, but it was just too nice to leave the High Peaks this year. Just one of the finest mountain experiences I've had.
Thank goodness the 1st EVER (!) Erebus director was here to document this. Check out Joey Paz's classic collages below. And Rich's burn of yours truly. -- JB
.:: 2005 HIGH PEAKS & EREBUS ::.
(October 2, 2005) Rollin' into upstate NY - Davidson Brothers Brewery for lunch and a Smoked Porter & IPA. Camped at Whispering Pines (on Rt73 between Lake Placid & Keene). Staked out sunset near Adirondack Loj, then retired to the Great Adirondack Brewing Co. and Lake Placid Brewery. Both coincidently serve beer. Superfine beer. A week on the Peaks - can't get much better than that....
MT. COLDEN (4714').(October 3, 2005) Beautiful day. Set out from Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, then on towards Mt. Colden on the spectacular Avalanche Pass Trail, complete with ladders and hitch-up-matildas set into the rockface to negotiate Avalanche Lake. Did this trail twice last year, and it is a gem. The lake divides the cliff faces of Algonquin & Colden. Incredible spot. Saw a weasel in the wild! This sucker bolted when it first saw me, but I stood perfectly still and she approached, obviously curious. As I got my camera focused I moved and she vanished. Dammit! (Subsequently saw another Weasel on Erebus, but that's another story entirely...)
Was aimin' for Trap Dike, a steep climb up a fault in the center of Colden, but upon scrutinizin' with binocs, waterfall & wetness turned me away. Sos I headed upwards on the Red Trail, heading east then north from Lake Colden. And up in a serious way. Great trail, whole lotta rock and hand over foot climbing. It was wet rock but generally not too slick. Pleasantly surprised. 'Specially after 'the incident'... Anyways, after a Sagamore Ale (Davidson Brothers) on the summit, I descended via the L. Morgan Porter Trail to Lake Arnold and looped back to Van Hoevenberg.
How did it take me this long to climb this mountain? Admired it for years... It is a beauty, visually & physically. One of my top 3 'Dacks peaks alongside Gothics & Haystack. Tall, but worth the climb...
GOTHICS (4736'), ARMSTRONG (4400') & UPPER WOLFJAW (4185').
(October 4, 2005) Champin' at the bit to get back to GOTHICS. Did a little variation on a loop El Whoppo, Zeke and I did in 2002. From the Garden took the Phelps Trail (Johns Brook Trail) to Johns Brook Lodge, the Orebed Brook Trail to the Range Trail. And up 'n over GOTHICS, ARMSTRONG & UPPER WOLFJAW.
The going was slower going than anticipated - wet rock and muddy trails. Knew I bit off more than I could chew and hustled where I could. A race against nightfall. I was confident that when I looped back to the Phelps Trail, those 3˝ flat familiar miles back to the Garden wouldn't pose a problem, even in darkness. I'd footed this trail many a time in the last few years. But when I reached the Interior Outpost I gambled and chose the untested Southside Trail, which could save me almost a mile. Bad choice. Nice enough trail but wet and slow and a lotta rock-hopping on Johns Brook.
Well, it got dark but I found my way to the brook crossing less than a mile from the parking lot. My flashlight was working. Crossed Johns Brook but the marked trail seemed to end abruptly so I backtracked to the last sign. (Cue in "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith.) Again I followed the markers and the trail ended. Did this maybe 5 times. Like an idiot. Finally, after rechecking the map, decided to bushwhack to the Phelps Trail, which was about 1/2 mile from the parking lot and probably 1/4 mile from where I was. If I couldn't find it I was prepared to hunker down for the night. Guess they don't call me BeerCompass for nothing. Found the trail and was sitting on a barstool in the Lake Placid Brewery by 10pm. Showered and thirsty.
CASCADE (4098') & PORTER (4059').(October 5, 2005) Some good old-fashioned shameless peak-bagging here. Shout it out from the mountaintop: I gots 20 'Dacks High Peaks! (Just braggin'.) Truth be told, amongst the 8 peaks I (triumphantly) stood upon this week, only 3 made the list. But that don't mean that I'm not GREAT! I'M Great! THE GREATEST! GREAT! etc... (OK, 'nuff said. Just back from the New England Beer Festival so I'm in writin' mode.) There was nary a cascade on the Cascade Trail. Nada. Nyet. None.
MT. AMPERSAND (3352') & MIDDLE SARANAC LAKE.
(October 6, 2005) Comes a time a mountainman's got to have a drink... Well, this man was a bit parched. So's I sits meself down on a stool at the Great Adirondack Brewing Company in Lake Placid. And this friendly wholesome bartender (Marcy, a fitting name for the area) starts ravin' about Ampersand. Caught my ear and fogettabotit, an incredible mountain. (That's fo' my NY brethren..)
AMPERSAND is in the Saranac Lake region, and the trail is scenic, an ancient forest trek before the climb. A beautiful trek, a fine mountaintop with views of the lakes to the north and the mountains down south. The gods were smilin', and the wind was a whippin'. A Davidson Brothers Sagamore Ale celebrated the summit. Met Marcy and her retriever on the way down and thanked her. Afterwards, on the urge of another friendly local, did a short (1 mile) trek to Ampersand Beach on Middle Saranac Lake for a swim. A fine day indeed.
.:: 2005 28th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Director: Norman Zeek
(October 7-9, 2005) The 28th Annual Oktoberfest at Fishbrook Pond saw a severe turn in the weather. The clear warm Adirondack clime I had soaked in all week on the High Peaks (and the NYers who hiked up on Wed. & Thursday) turned raw on Friday evening. And the rain and wind never let up from then on.
That being said, we had a helluva time. Norman Zeke directed, we celebrated two 50th birthdays (Johnny Mudd & Devo), and welcomed back Bernie & Quarter who we hadn't seen in a few years. Dap to Weasel & Quarter who hiked in the downpour on Saturday and slept in the lean-to on that raw night. Good turnout, maybe 15 folks & 3 dogs (Woody, Beany & Scruffy). (And a weasel...)
Couldn't convince anyone on this rainy Saturday morning, so's I had to go it by myself. Hiked over to Millman Pond. Raw and rainy, the trail was a stream, but it was a great diversion. Rain was a non-issue under the cover of woods, and my feets were wet anyway so what the f@ck! The lean-to at Millman is really nice - set up on a hill above the pond and the boardwalk that leads to water's edge. This is a REALLY nice place to camp. Hung out for a while, took some pictures - these misty scenes make for innerestin' photos. Had me a brew and some trailmix. Disappointed that the bottle of Chivas in the lean-to was empty... On the trek back I was growled at - deep and resonant, maybe a bear but couldn't spot anything.
Thanks to Stew & Bernie who provided some fine, fine, superfine photos, more of which will be forthcoming as I clear some space. And Norman Zeke for the excellent hats and direction.I think Stew got up a day before anyone and captured some great shots of the mountain before all hell broke loose. Also the first golf shots I've seen. Looks like Vinnie Bones & Johnny Mudd were co-champions. As this has become a tradition, I think we need some documentation in the Historical arena. Anyone have a list of the Champs? Photos? A scanned scorecard? Anyone? Bueller?? C'mon people, don't disappoint me! -- JB
(October 29, 2005) As I review and add images of this fine trip, several things come to mind. Things that crossed my mind whilst hiking. THESE HERE MOUNTAINS ARE PRETTY SERIOUS. By that I mean that scaling them is by no means what it was before the trails were blazed and smoothed. Climbing Colden & Gothics is a row to hoe even nowadays. But imagine scaling these peaks without a trail and ladders, without handholds on the rockface. Not impossible but surely not a daytrip. Trap Dike was the original route up COLDEN. Assessed as the easiest route - the weakest point on the mountain. When I bypassed this and took the the well-trodden Red Trail from Lake Colden, it was obvious that there is no easy route up this mountain.
That being said, I never quite understood the placement of the cables on GOTHICS. Took advantage of them, basically to change muscles. But it seems there are more stategic locations... Maybe descending in the rain or ice has something to do with it. GOTHICS remains one of the finest mountains in the Northeast.
.:: 2006 EREBUS & HIGH PEAKS ::.
MT. EREBUS (2527') & FISHBROOK POND #29.
(Oktoberfest 2006) 29 BABY! Yep, the mountain gods smiled upon us once again. The storm kicked in last year and and never let up. One o' dem fall weekends that was too good to be true. Many of the usual shenanigans ensued, as tradition hath writ.
The Vista, or ....
On Saturday we hiked to the Vista, only it wasn't really the Vista. It was the Other Vista. Very scenic nonetheless. Who knew there was another Vista? OK, I'll take the blame. I done lead 'em up the path agaA HREF=in. Zeke was smart and bugged out halfway to get fly-fishin'. Neil & I became the alpha-dogs and looped back towards Fishbrook, finally breaking Husker, who dragged tail fer the last few miles. Great hike (despite some whining) on a beautiful day. Added up to about 13 miles.
The BROTHERS & BIG SLIDE (4240').
(October 9, 2006) .::/21\::. After a spectacular weekend on Erebus in the Southeastern Adirondacks, Big Slide (4240') was a readyin' to be roped. (Reckon that's cowboy fer climbed.) Took the Brothers (3 of 'em, 2940', 3120' & 3681') from the Garden, the trail skirting the cliffs and rockface, and affording excellent views along the way. From the Brothers Trail, it was the Slide Mtn. Brook Trail, then the Phelps Trail - 9.5 miles roundtrip, 2800' gain. And, of course, bagged peak #21 in the 'Dacks. 25 to go....
MT. AMPERSAND (3352').
(October 10, 2006) AMPERSAND. Second time in 2 years - and a keeper fer sure. OK, not the required 4000', but incredible views south towards Ampersand Lake and the mountains, and north towards the Saranac Lakes and onwards. Lakes to the north and mountains to the south - nuttin' wrong with that!
(October 11, 2006) NOONMARK. As a longtime fan of the Noonmark Diner, I got wind of Noonmark Mountain. And a Mighty Wind it was. A scenic hike around Round Lake and onwards and upwards towards the Noonmark summit. Which affords a 360° view of the Great Range and onwards. Despite being a sub-4000 peak, this is a classic.
.:: 2006 FISHBROOK POND in January.... ::.
(January 7, 2006) The Official 1st Annual Winter Erebus Trip became a daytrip. The NY DEC declared the road to Dacy Clearing was open, but it wasn't. So I bagged the backpack in favor of a daypack. A shot of Woodford Reserve at the Hogtown parking area at high noon sent me on my way. Crisp and clear, 16°f, maybe 6 inches of snow, and about 10 miles roundtrip. Had snowshoes & stabilicers but didn't need 'em.
Very cool seeing this place in midwinter. Both Bumps Pond and Fishbrook Pond were frozen, but there was some running water on parts of the trail. And lots of blowdown. A batch of Sleeping Beauty hikers early on but no one beyond Bumps. Walked across Fishbrook Pond on my return. After seeing footprints... A fine day with no regrets. -- JB
.:: 2007 30th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 5-7, 2007) #30. No question. Sadly, I have no notes, only pictures from this year's madness. 'Course there was Stew's bloody cap - a story that Stew hisself must put pen to paper. 'Cause it is hilarious! And historical. And the boombox won! And Joey's shattered spectacles. And, not coincidentally our bushwhack to Spectacle Pond, a fool's errand with a handfulla fools. I contributed the flasks and a sh!tload of No Quarter Porter to the mix.
NO QUARTER PORTER. Many questions about the name. Maybe a little history is needed. 'No Quarter' was pirate slang fer "Take No Prisoners!" The Zeppelin tune was an element. But the bigger was as follows. Cue the fairytale music.....
Once upon a time, a fuzzy-headed boy named Quarter brewed an amazing Porter. His Quarter's Porter was the best in the Land. But the recipe was lost. Gone. Gonzo. And after many moons had passed, and an attempt was made to replicate the legendary Quarter's Porter. Quarter woulda been there, but apparently has a life beyond beer, or perhaps he had better things to do. So, although the quality of the brew (which was pretty damn excellent by all accounts) cannot be attributed to his name, bringing a sh!tload up Mt. Erebus can. Another Erebus miracle!
.:: 2008 31st ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 9-11,2008) Quarter & I hiked out of Dacy Clearing around 4pm on Thursday after a fine lunch (and a coupla barleypops) at Davidson's Brewery. Chaz shamed us into showing a day early, as the NYers go up on Thursday and leave Saturday for some reason. After a traditional trailhead brew, this one being Labatts Blue, we hoofed the beaten path. We seen a frog (good eatin') on the trail, but other than this, it was the usual packmule of heavy liquid entertainment. No need to emphasize how important hydration is in the wild. A beautiful weekend with the usual near-peak colors.
As pictured above, on Oktober 11, a surly, foul-tempered young garter snake coiled and launched twice at my camera! Prima donna. Maybe 3 feet long, but as I tried to corner this slithering serpent from hell (in hopes of a better angle) it struck a defensive pose. STRUCK AT ME TWICE! Needless to say, I was ascared. Almost hadda check my underwear. Anyhoo, twasn't a copperhead, just another angry garter. But they're gettin' uppity I'm tellin' ya.
.:: 2009 EREBUS LABOR DAY TRIP ::.
(September 4 - 7, 2009) Weasel, Joe, Bernie & Jeanette, and Husker the Dog climbed the mighty mountain and, after some 'hydration' and celebration, climbed Sleeping Beauty as well. Jeanette's first ascent. Husker, a veteran of several trips, is a fine dog.
BERNIE: Well the creek didn't rise, the moon beamed bright, the night was buzzing, the roof was solid, the water was warm and all was well at Fishbrook. Can't wait until October.
JEFF: Looks like a small, but mighty crowd! Thanks for holding down the fort....or shelter as the case may be. Is the Coal Miner's daughter coming to the fall trip? Now that she's a veteran, we could make her Director! Sorry I missed it.
JEANETTE: Coal Miner's daughter had a good time but it will take her at least a year to forgot the hike and her blistered feet :) so October would be a no.
WEASEL: What a great trip! When the trip pared down to 4, I was starting to waver, as that is the smallest crew I can remember. I'm glad I went, and spent a glorious weekend with 4 of the best folks you could share a lean-to with! The weather was flawless, the liquid refreshments abundant, the forest was as great as always, and the dessert's were out of this world! After sharing some good Q with Joe, I hit the highway with Husker, and went to meet Sandy out in the Berkshires. I passed out in a recliner there for awhile, and then went with Sandy and her Mom to the Pittsfield BrewWorks - a worthy last leg of the trip. Wish you all were there as well. Well - we have checked to see if the site is still there with October coming up, and it is! Lets do something on Columbus Day weekend. Sounds like rootin tootin trouble!
.:: 2009 32nd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 7-11, 2009) 18 knuckleheads and two dogs pack-muled the mighty mountain this year for the 32nd Annual Erebus Oktoberfest. And a toothless guinea pig. (That's another story entirely.) Amanda returned for another hike (bless her, the only woman for two straight years) as did Bill, who had a unique experience in one of the worst weather years I've seen a few years ago. But the weather held solid until late Friday night. Thursday was around 60°f when Bernie & I hit trail midafternoon. Overcast on Friday and cleared nicely Saturday afternoon. Cold at night and dropping steadily. The colors were fantastic, near peak fer sure. The weather was pretty much a roll o' the dice. By the time the heavy rain hit on Friday night, most everyone was tucked away in sleeping bags.
Twas a slow hike for us, our packs overloaded with too many fine ales including the Fishbrook Dak Woods Porter that Bernie & I bottled on Tuesday, along with bottlers (and brewers!) extraordinaire Big Nude & Quarter. (Contrary to conventional wisdom, Keystone Lights ARE lighter!) Bernie and I got a case up on Thursday, and when Joe Paz, Bernie & I set out late morning Friday in search of scenery and brewsky, we found some more ... Signage said 0.8 miles to the Sleeping Beauty Summit, so's we pushed onwards and topped said mountainpeak. Rain was spittin' a bit on top, but it was deserted (very unusual, it's a popular dayhike) and the views were excellent. Took a bunch o' pics, had us a snort or two and some munchies, and pushed towards Dacy Clearing for beer. And Dacy paid immediate dividend. Friday's mountaineers arrived as we were loading up (getting loaded?) so we joined them on their journey. Beers & bones kept morale high for the hike. Great day.
(Friday, Oktober 9, 2009) The trail to Fishbrook and Sleeping Beauty was pretty wet, but better than many years. Someone asked me how much this has changed over the years. I think not so much. The trails change a bit with the rains, the beaver certainly lay some claim to the wetlands. There are some swampy areas that are becoming ponds. But in some ways, it's very much as it was some 30 years ago when I first came up here.
.:: 2010 33nd ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 7-11, 2010) Missed this one, but am assured that it did indeed happen.
.:: 2011 34th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 6-9, 2011) A little twist this year, leastways fer some of us New Englanders. The trek has always been via Dacy Clearing from the south, but when Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc upon these lands, and access to the clearing, we thought about alternatives. The Clearing was cleared by E-Day, but hiking in from the east, from Pike Brook Road, was calling. A really nice hike, pretty flat, 2.1 to Lapland Pond, 3.3 to Millman Pond, 4.3 miles to Fishbrook Pond.
Quarter, Weasel, Jay, Jamie & Husker hit trail around 1:30pm, I got there maybe an hour later. And caught them up in around an hour. Decided to camp at the pristine Millman Pond Lean-to, as Jay and Jamie continued onwards to Fishbrook Pond. Been wanting to camp here for many years. Tent space is spotty, but the pond is beautiful and the lean-to and facilities (Le Prívy!) were spotless. Got settled in, had us some chicken sausage sandwiches washed down with fine ale (Fishbrook Pond Amarillo Ale amongst them) and booted on to Fishbrook for the Friday night party. The usual shenanigans were in full swing, rooftop party, blazing fire, and the high-stake poker game.
Twas a fairly challenging mile (there and back) from Millman to Fishbrook. Overgrown and over-flowin'. (I want that to rhyme.) But we settled in sometime in the wee hours, fat and happy. Quarter & Weasel decided to pack up camp (somewhat) to Fishbrook on Saturday, and I decided to hike up Black Mountain.
(Oktober 8, 2011) Took the blue trail east, diverted towards Lapland Pond, another beauty, to check out the lean-to. A flyfisherman was gearin' up, seemed to have limited success in these ponds. (Gotta get you some pointers from Norman Zeek I wanted to tell him.) Amazing scenery on this one - I've done it many times. The last mile's a doozy. The view from Black Mountain is spectacular. North up Lake George towards Champlain. And to the west, ripples of the Adirondack.
For the first time EVER, I made a bad decision. And it rippled beyond normal consequence. Like a mutha. Ramifications up the kazoo. Returned from the summit of Black Mountain near sundown. The Weasel Brothers were gone, at least some of their stuff was, they'd hiked onwards to Fishbrook. (Which was in negotiation when I embarked on my hike.) A family of 4 had moved in, parking a huge tent right on the path. I was beat. I knew I should move on. Decided to cook dinner and go from there. Fatigue (and laziness) kicked in and I stayed put.
The family was very nice, and I had the lean-to to myself. They asked about the beer cans and camping equipment left behind, and, as I gathered up the previous nights' empties, I assured them that Weasel & Quarter were 'green' campers and would return for their gear. (The Millman Pond lean-to is the most pristine and well-kept site I've ever seen, Adirondacks and beyond.) As can be the case with 8-10 year old kids, there was drama. 'Til sunup. No sleep.
Weasel and Quarter, independently, never found their way back to Millman Pond. Got lost. Missed the trail we had hiked the day before. Knuckleheads. Abandoned their gear for the Ranger the hike out, not too cool. Anyways, shoulda packed up that night to Fishbrook, and none of that nonsense woulda happened. And I mighta caught a coupla winks as well.
(Oktober 9, 2011) Hiked out at dawn, drove north to Fort Ticonderoga. Did the tourist thing, wandered about and took pictures. Eventually found myself in the Vermont Pub & Brewery. How the heck did that happen?
MT. ABRAHAM, Green Mountains VT (4006').(Oktober 10, 2011) Been in Vermont's Green Mountains before, but never really explored 'em to any extent. Guess I started a new list! 1st 4000er in Vermont (there are 5.) Easy scenic hike, 5.2 miles round-trip. The Long Trail from Lincoln Gap. 360° view from the top. On a clear day Lake Champlain and the Daks High Peaks in the east and the Whites to the west. My kingdom. Not clear enough for dat on this afternoon, but the contrast between the greenery and peak fall foliage was breathtaking. Or breathgiving.
.:: 2012 35th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
(Oktober 4-6, 2012) #35 is in the books. Rob, Joe, El Whoppo, Domenic, Vinnie, Pat, Zeke, Chaz & JB climbed the mountain on this singular occasion. Nice showing as many of the crew were amongst the walking wounded this year. Many opted for the Pike Brook Road Trail, a longer, easier hike. Some got lost. Tale be told El Whoppo's famous Banditos circumnavigated Lapland Pond early-on and lost the trail. Forced into a bushwhack, they arrived in the dark and their thirst was ragin'!
I took the tried and true Dacy Clearing Way, as did Rob and Joey, who I met Saturday on their descent. A day late, a dollar short. Looked like weather was kickin' in, but of course it turned out nice. Took a buncha pictures at Fishbrook and hoofed down soon after to meet the mountaineers at Adirondack Bar and Grill for lunch. So Erebus 35 was a cuppa coffee fer me. Onto the High Peaks....
(Oktober 7, 2012) Ampersand Mountain is one of my favorite hikes. 3rd time atop this mountain. The trail was pretty wet and muddy from the rains. After a spectacular drive through the center of the Dacks, boot hit dirt at high noon. Ascent is 1775' in 2.7 miles, with a bit of hand over foot scampering. Short but sweet! The views are incredible, the Saranac Lakes, Marcy & the High Peaks, Ampersand Lake...... I saluted the mountain with a Sierra Torpedo. Very popular mountain on the weekend. Ampersand wins the Most Beautiful Women on a Mountain award this year. Just sayin'...
.:: 2013 EREBUS 36: The Four Elders ::.
(October 10-13, 2013) This is the story of the Four Elders. On a picturesque Columbus Day weekend in the Adirondacks, and after the traditional round of golf at the Queensbury Country Club, with Zeek taking home the coveted trophy once again, 11 mountaineers made the journey to Fishbrook Pond on Mt. Erebus. Almost summer weather (though it got down in the 40s at night), with a bountiful supply of chow, brews, and medicinal herb, the outdoorsmen went about their usual business. Rebel rousing, poker games, fly fishing, hiking and Rootin' Tootin' Trouble. I hauled up a mule's load of beer: 2 bombers of our Ten Toes Centennial IPA homebrew, a growler of Adirondack Dirty Blonde, and a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Joey had a selection of Guinness, and, well there was a LOT of beer. And weed as well. A great time was had no doubt, and again just perfect autumn weather. We rarely get bad weather any more. Praise global warming?
At some point during the weekend, Joe, El Whoppo, Zeek & I were talkin' about the days of yore, when men were men and feets were sore. (I rhymed that.) And how we missed our fallen comrades, none dead yet, thank goodness, but just gettin' old. El Whoppo, I think, coined us the Four Elders. Fact is, of the old Tappan Zee folks, we're the ones who make the hike year after year. (Devo's actually the 5th elder, though he couldn't make it this year. Stew, I think, will make the hike again.) All of us are approaching (or passing) the 60 year mark, so there are some health issues, bad hearts, bad hips, bad knees, bad ankles, bad mojo, etc.
Of course, there are veterans and new blood on the mountain. (The new bloods favor Coors Light. Whatcha gonna do?) Charles, Pat & Vinny Bones have been a core part of our crew forever, Rob & Dominic skirt decades as well. But now that Johnny Mudd had called it a day, it kinda brought reality into focus. Rudy's knees are shot, Oaks & Mark hung it up years ago, and the Brothers Weezhul have had some serious issues - Weezhul, in fact, was nearly pronounced dead. So there's some talk of doing something (involving camping) in addition to the traditional trip. Stay tuned.....
(Halloween 2013) Attending the Almost Dead Party for the Weezhul last weekend were 3 of the 4 Elders: El Whoppo, Joey, and myself. And Mikey Stew, Mark, Quarter, and the Weezhul hisself, all of whom have not been regular in recent years. (Not exactly how I meant it to sound, but that's up for debate.) El Whoppo presented his plan to the 'Lost Boys': (and this is paraphrased but accurate) "Every other Columbus Day weekend would be hikers will be transported via Norman Zeek's boat to Black Mountain Point, and the festivities will begin there." It's a fine and inclusive plan, and logistics will have to be hammered out, especially transport.
For me, personally, I'm willing to split time - camp at Fishbrook and hike down to Black Mountain Point for a night, and double back to the pond. If it's the islands this won't be possible. At any rate, the Fishbrook Pond Oktoberfest will continue onwards, as the youngbloods have dug in. And until I can't do it, I'll be there.
.:: 2014 37th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FORK ISLAND ::.
(October 9-13, 2014) FORK ISLAND?? As a gesture to include the increasing number of casualties who can no longer make the hike to Fishbrook Pond, we were ferried out to an island on Lake George via Zeek's Stingray. Chaz, Johnny Mudd, Domenic, Rob, Vinny, El Whoppo & Zeek were the first wave, followed by Weezhul, Quarter, JB, Devo, Rick and Sean. Sadly, many of the folks we'd hoped to draw on this option didn't make it. Stew (broken leg) and Gerry (bum knees) are on the DL. Oaks, Mark and others... who knows?
Fork Island is a 12 campsite island, one of 170 islands dotting Lake George. Camping is an option on 44 of these islands. Beautiful spot, large enough to hike around and explore. Between the motorboat and a canoe, we got to check out some of the many islands in the area. For summer, the swimming looks to be as perfect as Fishbrook.
Gots to say, a very nice option. Zeke produced a keg of Smuttynose Robust Porter, there was plenty of medicinal herbage, and gorgeous campsites. Fork Island is pretty magical. Every other year is my understanding. Don't wanna lose Fishbrook Pond.
2015 1st Annual Erebus 2.1.
.:: 2015 38th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
director: Joey Paz.
(October 7, 2015) Joe Paz & I hit the lean-to at around 6pm on Wednesday, scamperin' for timber in a depleted forest. Managed enough to sustain us for the evening, first fire in a week! Then, from across the pond .... a flash of light ... and another ... . And finally, a WALLY FOO-FOO! One of ours.... But who? Then Rob-C turns up. Hoo-Ra! Had a nice evening, shootin' the shit and sipping on a growler of Great Adirondack John Brown Pale Ale. And checking out Rob's fine chair.
Since our presence on the mountain was not seen (or heard) in 2014, Rob stated that this was Erebus 2.1 - the 1st Annual. Joey & I couldn't argue that, so we took a vote and Joey Paz was elected director, a seat he has filled several times in the past. He was our first official director in 1979.
(October 8, 2015) Thursday brought El Whoppo, Dom, Vinny & Chaz. And endless 6 hour Trouble game (El Whoppo won it) resolved with Chaz faceplanting for 2 hours. Top shelf drinkage, fine scotch, bourbon & tequila, (sounds like a Kinks tune), beer & weed. And the second official field-test of the Fishbrook Pond Hopholler Hitched Wethop Wedding Ale. A DEE-V-licious brew! Some debate on the future, as this year was down to 7 campers. The Lake George Islands are penciled in for next year, and if they don't draw enough of the elderly back there will be more discussion. I've stated my goal to stand atop Erebus on the 50th - Zeek, Joe, Mike & Rob are probaly on board. (Good lord willin' & the creek don't rise.) We'd all (except Rob) be over 70 years old. It could happen! Great trip as usual, we hiked down in drizzle, otherwise perfect weather.
As our brotherhood ages, and many amongst us are no longer able to make the hike, our canine kins' window is even shorter. Sadly, several legendary Erebus dogs have passed on. Zeek, Mary & Marlene's beloved Woody is gone. He was a rambunctious energetic dog who attended the Ocktoberfest and the summer trip multiple times. A fine and unpredictable companion. Chaz's dog Scruffy's ashes were dispersed this year (some of 'em in my face) at the Lean-to. Don't get me goin' on Scruffy.... Neil & Weasel's dog Husker hiked the mountain and beyond on numerous occasions. Husker was a great dog. Let it be written.
Also some interest in returning to the High Peaks - Joe, Zeek & I just returned from climbing Haystack and Gothics, two of the finest hikes in the Adirondacks in my experience. Another good sign for the future.
.:: 2016 39th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at the LAKE GEORGE ISLANDS ::.
(Columbus Day Weekend) Awaiting data.......
.:: 2017 40th ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST at FISHBROOK POND ::.
Oktober 5-7, 2017 The 40th seemed somewhat of mixed bag. I only made it as far as a Lake George motel room. Reports are: Stew broke his leg at the tail end of the hike. Had a heck of a journey down the next day. Vinny Bones brought up some finely crafted t-shirts, Hail Vinny! (I got a t-shirt despite my failure to make the hike.) Devo hiked up Friday night and everyone bugged out on Saturday. Sucks, but that happened to me before.
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