January 20 – While the Snow Gods have mostly danced far to the north of us so far this winter, those who live around Mongaup Valley and Smallwood, NY know very well that February is typically …
January 20 – While the Snow Gods have mostly danced far to the north of us so far this winter, those who live around Mongaup Valley and Smallwood, NY know very well that February is typically our snowiest month. Remember back in March 2018 when four Nor’easters swept over us in the first two weeks of March? That could yet be our fate and our delight.
A few weeks back, on January 1st of this New Year, the Smallwood Civic Association (SWCA) put on its latest ‘off-season’ event for Smallwoodians: the Sixth Annual Roundtop Trek. About 35 people of all ages showed up in snow boots and parkas to pick a path up through the snowy Forest Reserve to the highest point in our local landscape, a hill called Roundtop. I had never before been to the summit of Round Top and was in fact only dimly aware of the hill’s presence (from the Smallwood Dog Park, looking across the flood plain of White Lake Brook to the southeast, it is the largest but also very unprepossessing prominence in the distance). SWCA President Jonathan Hyman, leading the walk, warned everyone at the beginning of the four mile trek that the trail we would follow would be a steep one and “not for the faint of heart.” To a person—right down to the five year olds and up again into the seventies—everyone relished the challenge. Off we set into the snowy woods. Soon the landscape assumed a primordial beauty. Gargantuan blue boulders dripping beards of ice were tossed like dice among fields of brilliant moss and sun-splashed snow. All around: hemlock and pine, swaying forest, sighing in the wind. The climb up the last extremely steep incline of about 300 feet was a huff-and-puffer for sure. At the top we took twenty minutes to stand around and savor our achievement, the wind, and the view. Then came Jonathan’s instructions how to descend what initially looked like a boulder-strewn and precipitous cliff. Great fun and much laughter was had by all and sturdy men and leaping dogs stationed at critical points helped everyone get down the slope safely. Afterwards, of course—we are Smallwoodians and we dearly love our get togethers!—about forty of us built a huge bonfire on the beach which burned in the firepit until long after sunset. What an amazing day to start the year! Word has it another late winter get together may be in the offing, perhaps in March. Let’s hope we are so lucky!
Work continues apace to improve the Association playground at the Lodge. New equipment for the playground arrived at the Lodge around New Year’s. The equipment will remain in storage until installation begins in the spring. The Association Beach has also been winterized and the boards removed from Mountain Lake Dam in order to lower the Lake’s water level. This assists with the fish spawn and vegetation growth in spring. – All for now. Be well, and until next time!
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