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Trail report: Catskill Escarpment Loop, 5/7/11

On Saturday, Michelle, Zach, Adrianne, Adrianne’s friend Tim, and I drove out of the city to go for a hike (originally Schunemunk Mountain but ultimately Catskill Escarpment Loop). It ended up quite the adventure.

First, we lost 40 minutes when the New Jersey vortex mixed up my knowledge of north vs. south. The former is the direction we wanted to go, the latter is the direction we went.

After we turned ourselves around, we drove two and a half hours and overshot our original trailhead by 50 miles. Yes, that’s correct: we landed an entire hour past where we wanted to be. This is uncommon of my navigation skills, but I’ll attribute it to both my and my navigator’s lack of sleep.

Oh yeah: it poured the entire drive too, and Zach was the only one to remember his rain jacket.

Thanks to the NY-NJ Trail Conference website, we searched based on our new location and found a great trailhead ten miles away. The skies cleared in a perfect circle over the mountain.

The hike itself meandered through the woods until it hit a series of wonderful overlooks. Likely my favorite thing about the NE’s outdoors are the majestic deciduous trees. In the late afternoon sunlight, ribbons of color graced forests running from the valley up the opposite hillside. It was a short experience for the time we drove, but a great escape from the city.

One more story. Three minutes prior to parking at the trailhead, the empty light went on. Based on my past experience, I knew I could get another 30 to 40 miles on the tank, and it wouldn’t be too big of a deal to find a gas station on the way back to fill up. After the hike, Michelle asked to stop at a country store nearby for “old-fashioned” ice cream. We do, and unfortunately they’re not stocking it yet. Back to New York City we go.

The car won’t start.

Not only that, the starter won’t turn over. There are two possibilities I can think of. One, we’re so close to being out of gas that the car has a fancy electronic kill switch to keep you from running the battery down (unlikely but possible). Two, there’s some other random, unknown problem with the car and we’re completely out of luck. Given the prior adventures of the day, I suspected the latter.

As it turned out, a half hour later, after calling Zipcar’s excellent customer service, reorienting the car and trying to start it repeatedly, and pulling the shop owner and his friend in the mix, it was user error. The electronic access pad you use with your Zipcard can enable and disable the car’s ignition. When I showed Tim how you access the car after leaving the country story, I inadvertently disabled the car. Zipcars don’t start when they’re disabled, and they do start when they’re enabled. Simply scanning my Zipcard again solved the problem. Oh, technology.

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