The 2005 Gay Outdoors Gathering Was The Best Yet

By Mike Boisvert.


Registration. Nice to see folks from last year returning this year: Tim Buchanan, our Registration Director, he totally rocks--- he brought up some firewood to share with everyone; many good friends including Rich Dezso, Carlos Davila, and Rick McCurdy; Richard Corzo, (who won the raffle last year for a free pass to this year's GO Gathering); Jay Thomas (our local representative) and other returnees (sorry, I'm bad with names).

It was a cool setup as it was right along the Connecticut River and private. An approaching thunderstorm delayed our wine/cheese social with thunder and a few sprinkles. Once we felt we were no longer threatened the evening's festivities began. Candles were lit, the campfire began to light up the woods, jazz music played in the background and the full moon made its appearance. Very nice. Everyone turned in around midnight. 


I was not too hung over from the night before--but coffee was a nice pick-me-up. At 8:30AM the day's trip leaders gave an overview of the activities planned. I started it off with providing information of the 'State of Gay Outdoor Recreation' panel discussion starting at 9 AM. Then Jonny Rosenfield gave some good insight on the hikes to the old growth forest and the gay nude swimming hole to The Ledges in Harriman Reservoir. Next up was Rich Dezso who was leading a trip to the gay nude swimming hole at Vermont’s Rock River. I then explained what to expect on the canoe trip down the Connecticut River. I finished it off by providing details about the GO dinner banquet later that evening. 

Almost everyone attended and participated in the panelist discussion about the State of Gay Outdoor Recreation. Discussions centered on the need for gay specific gay outdoor recreation travel companies/clubs, the changes over the years, and what challenges are we facing today. We also spoke about club infrastructures such as allowing women, keeping the nature of the group secret from others and volunteering for "green service projects." A lenghty discussion took place about liability insurance and the impact it has on organizations. GayOutdoors will have a feature article on this next month. 

For twenty of us, the padding trip on the Connecticut River was next. I loved it--it was great to have some new folks joining us that normally wouldn't have done this—it was warm and sunny. Perfect for canoeing and kayaking.

We headed down the Connecticut River back to Barton Cove campground. It started to get warm. The paddling was easy. We then paddled through the spectacular French King Gorge with its 250 foot high rocky banks and under the graceful arch of the French King Bridge. As it got closer to lunch, Jon and I began looking for a spot to pull in our boats. We found an ideal spot and got everyone together to pull in. What fun! We spent having lunch, swimming and jumping off this small rock ledge into the water. It was hard to get going after this break! Jon and I were guiding this trip and tried to be helpful. It was great how everyone helped each other out providing paddling tips. Proceeding downstream and through the Narrows we reached our campground, Barton Cove. We took time to explore the nooks of this peninsula. The rock formations were fascinating, and we saw a multitude of wildflowers and ferns--not to mention shore birds. We paddled by Barton Island, where we saw the mother Bald Eagle overlooking her young in this huge nest. With weary arms we landed on shore.

Next was the dinner banquet at Famous Bill’s Restaurant in Greenfield.

We started off with a happy hour. The reports I received from the other groups indicated they had good trips. Folks loved Rock River. Others enjoyed the hike to the old growth forest and the Ledges. After a drink, everyone was getting more relaxed and it was very pleasant all around.

After the meal orders were taken, we had our annual Outdoor Trivia Contest before dinner. Almost 90% of the participants lost on the first question: "What is the safest place to go to in a lightning storm?" The answer was a forest but everyone felt it was a cave. After some jesting the contest continued and after two more questions we crowned this year's champion: Russ Clifton from West Sacramento, California. He won a $25 gift certificate from REI. We will be 're-engineering' next year's contest to make it more fun (i.e., easier).

Meals were cooked to order and there a nice variety choices to choose from. It was great to have a delicious sit-down dinner with friends after today’s activities. After dinner we made a few announcements about Sunday's activities, thanked everyone who helped make this year's gathering successful, spoke about next year's gathering in New York, and then held the drawing for the door prizes and these were the winners: $50 Gift Certificate to REI went to Ray Ross from Sydney, Australia, a free pass to next year's GO Gathering went to Rick McCurdy from Manchester, New Hampshire; a weekend for two at the Mad River Lodge in Waterville Valley went to JP from Boston, Massachusetts; a $25 Gift Certificate to REI went to Carlos Davila from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; and the other $25 Gift Certificate went to Russ Clifton from Sacramento, California. All winners also won a fun rain hat and posed for a picture together.

After dinner, I shared a slide presentation of the first successful self-led gay expedition to the top of the highest mountain in the western hemisphere, 22,834-foot Aconcagua. There was a lot interest and folks found it riveting, intense, and inspiring. Everyone particularly enjoyed the honesty of the presentation by sharing the minor conflicts that arose within the team during the climb. 

The meals were good and the service excellent. The two women who waited on us at some point realized what we were all about and seemed to enjoy the festivities.  

Back at the campground, the campfire was lit again as we gazed at a blue moon reflecting off the Connecticut River. Joe Kim led a rousing game of Mafia that was new to the group. Everyone loved the game so I think we have a new Saturday night tradition.

Speaking of Joe, this year's young members award go to Joe Kim from New York City and his buddy Shane Tattan from Boston. It was great to have more gay outdoor enthusiasts in their early twenties join us. I hope you both return next year and bring more of your friends. You are the future of GayOutdoors! And if you are in your early twenties and reading this, join us! You'll have an excellent time. Joe and Shane certainly did!  

There was a lot energy and folks stayed up later than Friday. I heard that things started winding down around 1 AM.


Sunday a few folks took a yoga session run by Rick Frank. Rich Dezso ran a paddling trip from the campground itself to the bordering Connecticut River. Ken Levine took a road cycling trip with another person. It appears that most folks were interested in hanging out at the Glacial Potholes in Shelburne Falls. These are some of the world’s largest potholes (one is 39 feet in diameter). Almost everyone went swimming into the potholes and particular enjoyed the potholes that were fed by cascades overhead. This natural made water park is very, very nice. One feature is watching the cute local boys making flying leaps off the rocky ledges! 

After some good-byes, we began to pack up and head back home.

As mentioned, everyone was soooooo great. As always there are a few shy ones, but after a while, they were part of the group. There was a really good mix of people. There were loud ones---hey Jon Zibois, how are ya doing? Jon Normand can't be praised highly enough for his help in making this come together. The Barton Cove Campground had plenty of room for all us, the food at the banquet was plentiful and yummy, and the activities fun and inclusive. Gay Outdoors IS THE BEST. Hugs and kisses to all.

This was the best GO Gathering yet! Thanks guys. Jon and I enjoyed meeting, talking, hanging, and playing with you all.

See you in 2006 in New York’s Catskills. We plan on renting an entire campground at the heart of where all the hiking trails exist, seek out secluded swimming holes for skinny-dipping, go river tubing and have another banquet/slide show. 

To see pictures click here: http://www.gayoutdoors.org/page.cfm?typeofsite=photogallery-detail&id=125

To see more pictures click here: http://www.gayoutdoors.org/page.cfm?typeofsite=photogallery-detail&id=126

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