Rhode Island – Jerimoth Hill

Spanky On The Summit Rock

You know, it’s always difficult to think of an opening line for these summit stories. I have this personal need to come up with something witty, interesting, timely tidbit, poignant to today’s current events, a work of literary genius. It ain’t happening at the moment (maybe it never does?). So that’s my opening – the fact that I really don’t have one.

This week’s summit circus is being headquartered out of a campground in Saugerties, NY. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts highpoints are within reasonable driving distance so we just leave the old trailer at the campground and strike out hither and thither and yon to the summits on a day trip basis.

Our campground (KOA of course) is in the Catskill Mountains. The Catskills are geologically considered to be the northeast extension of the Allegheny Plateau. They are old and well worn, infested with streams and waterfalls, full of craggy old rock formations, covered with green, I mean really green, hardwoods and evergreens, and…..for purposes of Spanky entertainment, the squirrel and chipmunk population is doing quite well, thank you very much.

I’d forgotten how pretty it is up here. As a kid, my parents used to bring me up to Catskill Game farm – a (from what I remember) really cool, large, kiddie petting zoo in the woods. Somewhere in a box, underneath a bunch of other stuff I’ve been saving and have not looked at in eons, are pictures of me in little kid suspendered coveralls petting a llama. It was a real treat, a place I just loved as a little guy. Ah, to be a child again. Although there is some evidence of NY yuppies having strayed into the Catskills, the place has not really changed a lot from my childhood memories – rural mountainous country with a couple of little towns thrown in here and there for good measure.

I might also add that the Catskill region has several claims to fame. The Woodstock Music Festival took place in Bethel, NY – not far at all from where we are camping. Where the hell would we be without Woodstock? It was the first and last event of it’s kind. It can never be duplicated, it changed a generation of music, I’m just pissed that I didn’t go – don’t think mom would have let me anyhow.

The Catskills were once known (to this day for many) as the “Borscht Belt” or the “Jewish Alps.” In the 40’s, 50’s, and partly into the 60’s, resorts such as Grossingers, catering primarily to a Jewish clientele, provided the first break for many a famous comedian – Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, Buddy Hackett – to name a few.

Did I say Buddy Hackett? A perfect segue into a personal, “brush with fame” story. Somewhere back in history, my buddy Don and I did a last minute, early spring, 4 day ski trip to Aspen, CO. We were enjoying the primo spring weather, having lunch outside on the deck at Snowmass (basically next door to Aspen) and noticed that there is uproarious laughter erupting from a few tables away. Upon closer inspection we realize that Buddy Hackett (an Aspen resident at the time) is doing his shtick for a few appreciative fans.

We are just about done with lunch, ready to go out for more frolicking on the slopes, I head off to the men’s room, and when I get back, Don says, “Come on, we’re going skiing with Buddy.” And that my friends is just what we did. Took several runs with him. He was hilarious, the dude is genetically incapable of being serious. One joke after another. It was also interesting to observe that every kid in the place seemed to know him. We’d be riding the chair lift or skiing and kids were constantly yelling and waving, “Hey Buddy!” You gotta love a 65 (at that time) year old short, kinda fat, Jewish comedian, that continues to entertain (especially kids) even as he skis.

Now for the point of this here story. Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island. Early on the morning of June 17th, 2007, me and the Spankster crossed the Hudson River, headed down the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston (let’s see who’s a James Taylor fan out there) across the Berkshires (more on the geography at a later point), jagged south into Connecticut and crossed just a hair over the Rhode Island border to Jerimoth Hill.

Oh yeah, just as we got off of I-395 onto highway 101, we were stopped at a light, this guy wearing a full on clown costume, clown nose and makeup, and a mop of pink clown hair, pulls up next to us on a Honda Goldwing motorcycle. I laughed, Spanky found it necessary to bark his brains out. Whoever you were, cool, I don’t know you but I respect your attitude.

At 812 ft, Jerimoth Hill is no monster mountain. It does, however, beat out Florida, Delaware, Louisiana, and Mississippi, coming in number 5 from the bottom of the hit parade. So it doesn’t sound like a big challenge does it? Today, not so much, but historically it was known, jokingly, as “tougher than Denali.”

The actual summit area is owned by Brown University. But………..to get there from highway 101, one must cross private property, as in the edge of someone’s yard. The guy that used to own said private property apparently got sick of people just cutting through his land, at their leasure, without even asking permission, leaving garbage, and just generally being idiots (as many people have a tendency to do). So he just categorically shut it down. There are stories (and I stress that they are stories) of motion detectors being installed, shots fired, etc. Don’t know the whole truth but suffice to say that it was not easy access.

In June, 2005 Jeff and Debbie Mosley bought the property, and started to allow access on weekends from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A trail has been cleared next to the Mosley’s driveway, a sign, map, and trail markers have been installed by the Highpointers Club, and as of just a few weeks ago, Jeff and Debbie have started to allow access every day of the week.

Please people, let’s not louse this up. No way, no how are the Mosley’s even remotely obligated to allow people to pass on their land. But they do. I you ever go there, please respect their privacy and leave no trace of your visit.

Just as Spanks and I were ready to head up the trail, Jeff (the owner) happened to be outside of his house and we had the honor of meeting him. He did want to make sure that I had some kind of a dog poop removal appliance (I always carry poop bags with me), went on to greet us warmly, we thanked him exuberantly, and chatted a bit about the history of the place, etc. He’s a nice guy and we thank him for his hospitality.

The trail to the summit is about a tenth of a mile with a whopping 15 ft gain in elevation through the Rhode Island forest. The actual summit is on top of a boulder marked with a rock cairn adjacent to a clearing in the woods. We did the usual picture thing, Spanky did his obligatory dog stuff, but……….it was 90 degrees out so instead of running around in circles, Spanks spent lots of time sniffing in the shade and just plain old laying down to cool off.

Spanks and I exited the woods and ran into a guy wearing a Navy Seal (embroidered on a polo shirt) shirt along with a young couple along with their little new addition to the human race (yep a baby). This guy actually was a seal, today he guides trips up Kilimanjaro in Africa. We gave him an official “Spanky and Rein” business card – hope to hear from him and take a gander at his website. By the way, they did inform me that this will be the little baby’s first summit.

As Spanks and I pulled back on the road, both Jeff and Debbie waved goodbye to us. See ya and thanks again.

That’s it for the Rhode Island highpoint. Thanks for keeping up with us and please, remember to floss every day!




The "Summit" Lies Just Behind The Tree

Spanks Takes Five On The Trail

USGS Marker

2 comments:

Ken said...

Spanky looks pooped. Are you giving him enough jerky and coffee? You never mentioned you knew Buddy; that must have been quite an experience. He was a funny guy. BTW- I was the guy in the clown suit. I’ve been checking up on you two just to make sure you’re ok. Yeah, that was me in Mississippi too, yep, Elvis.

Spanky and Rein said...

Kendude,

You are a clown!

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