Swimming in Lake Skenonto & Mushroom Roulette
Today was a good day. One of the best actually. I spent yesterday in Larchmont eating seafood risotto and swimming in the sound with my cousins (more on that later) and got back to NYC just in time to wash my feet off and pass out in the AC before waking up bright and early for today's trek.
I met up with Solara and Zach (two dear friends) at Jay St. circa 8:15 (turns out we can get our early morning shit together when there's fun to be had, and by "we" I mean "I") and we grabbed the standard summer NY special - bagels and iced coffee - before lugging ourselves to Penn Station. At Penn, we circled up with S & Z's buddy Rachel and pushed our way through the throngs of peroxide blondes and tan babies onto New Jersey transit, headed to Tuxedo NY for a long hike and lake swim.
We ran across the platform and up the stairs at Secaucas Junction to transfer to the next train and 30 mins later we were at the base of a small mountain (was it a mountain? I'm too sunburned to check) with a handful of tourists headed for the same trail.
We meandered our way up, stopping to take photos (guilty as charged), inspecting the tiny apocalyptic mushrooms growing along the hills (Rachel coined the idea of nibbling them "mushroom roulette") and toyed with the idea of traveling the world. We shouted our top 5 dream trips up and down the hillside, our heart rates rising and falling with every exclamation: Cuba! Sweden! Thailand! Vietnam! Patagonia! Sol and I made a blood pact (if you're reading this, S, we're making it happen) to make a res at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and flipped through our mental catalogue of chefs we admired and wanted to know more about. Had anyone been to that restaurant in Sweden where you forage for your ingredients, so remote that the restaurant had its own hotel rooms? Had anyone tried the new veggie burger at Momofuku Nishi that was engineered to bleed like the OG version?
On and on we wandered, past the "Black Ash Swamp" that looked like a giant lake filled with age old lavender stalks, past the heaven-bent trees with their trunks split and rotting and rooted, past the impervious daisies that seemed oh-so delicate for the rough REI boots half of us were sporting along the trail. We climbed and we climbed and we looked at our Fitbits and finally the lake was in view! Lake Skenonto! The decadent payoff to two hours of slipping into rocks and swatting mosquitos out of our ears. Yessss!
We ran to it - hid behind towels - changed into our bathing suits - and got into that sultry blue, which was like fccccking bath water and made us all hoot and holler with glee. We made friends with the bathers nearby who seemed a little shell-shocked by our arrival (with a sprawling lake why wouldn't we cozy up on the same 3 feet of land?) and I grabbed the rope swing, rocketing into the expanse 5 feet from shore, laughing underwater cause it was so refreshing and childish and un-NY to take pleasure in something so beautifully basic.
We paddled around, peeing in the water, talking about peeing in the water, and sat in the middle of Skenonto on a rock that looked like it was made be a set director - perfectly adrift in the center - and waved to Z on the shore for a picture, remember summers spent canoeing down the Allagash and eating peanut butter with cheddar on bagels and thinking it was the tits. (Shoutout to my old counselor, Jamie Bean, who exclusively wore Old Spice and white tee shirts, and set my YA heart on fire).
After the swim it was time for our picnic - a slapdash communal effort. I had brought rose, manchego, Dubliner cheddar, some fancy if indeterminate goat cheese and green grapes, Sol & Zach brought brioche buns, and smoked turkey; and Rachel brought oreos and lettuce/tomato from her local bodega (they were bamboozled by the order and didn't know how to price her .10 pounds of veggies). We laid our loot on the back of a bag and assembled some delicious if sloppy sandwiches - the kind of sandwiches you tear into cause your sunburn is surfacing and damn isn't that goat cheese melted really good and umm yeah can you pass me the brown mustard?
There's something about nature that makes simple pleasures richer and I gotta tell ya - I enjoyed that god forsaken sandwich, even as my b suit was riding up my butt. We lounged like lizards for a bit and then grabbed our dirty clothes and trash, headed back down the mountain.
By the time we got to the base, we were sun giddy with aching feet, and determined to find ice cream before training it back. Rachel and Zach produced an old school classic - king size drumsticks - and it was such a #TBT style classic - all melting chocolate and architectural balancing act - that I fell backwards on the sidewalk just trying to eat it.
We got on the 4:30 departure back, slap happy and excited about cold showers and totally neglecting our errands. I took the A back to Hoyt with Sol & Zach and they introduced me to their fave hole-in-the-wall burrito joint (cue me missing my life in San Francisco and lunch time burritos and Mexican cokes with Patty and Denise) for an al pastor situation and an agua fresca. I wanted to kiss the old Mexican dude behind the counter when he said he'd make me a special batch of watermelon juice when I ordered it off the menu. Sometimes kindness finds ya in the strangest places.
I skipped home listening to Kanye's "Waves" (step up in this bitch like / I'm the one your bitch likes / waves don't die / let me crash here for the moment / I don't have to own it), my Nikes off the backs of my feet, debating whether I'd so much as drop my laundry off.
I did drop my laundry off and I took it up a level: I made my first ever batch of banana bread. I had some entirely over-ripe ones sitting on a plate in my kitchen which I noticed out of the corner of my eye this morning (pre-contacts) and decided to test drive a recipe; the b bread is cooling on my counter right now and it's pretty delicious, if a little less than sweet.
One thing that I love about cooking: it's all about reinvention. You start with spotty bananas and a lump of butter and you end up with something shareable. Pretty dope, amiright?
Overall, it was a summery - tralala - disco "heaven must be missing angels" kinda day and I'm excited to read "Us Weekly" with a slice of my creation, flipping through pics from earlier today and savoring the fact that I'm not longer at summer camp being bullied by bitchy all-star tennis players.
I'm also thinking I need hiking boots for an upcoming trip to Yosemite for my bday. Shit!
(*Cover photo cred to Zach Kinson, faithful scout leader and friend).