Dynamite 6th Annual GO Gathering in New York

By Mike Boisvert.

Friday, July 11

Outdoorzy guys from Texas, Missouri, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Quebec and all over the Northeast gathered at Fahnestock State Park near Cold Spring, New York from July 11-13, 2008. It is so cool to drive into an event and see GO stickers on cars everywhere! Upon arrival into the large field the first thing that caught everyone’s attention was the large canopy tent with tables and chairs decorated with rainbow flags.

During the afternoon, with the help of volunteers, guys registered and were given instructions as to where they should pitch their tents and park their cars. Since the Appalachian Trail goes right beside our campsite, Gary (Radar) left a note for thru-hikers to visit us for free cold beers, snacks, camping, food and fireworks.

Tim brought in a truckload of firewood and his contribution allowed us to enjoy huge campfires every night. Thanks so much Tim!

Around 7pm the Beer Swap got underway with dance music and campfire. New and familiar faces attended. Name tags were distributed and there was much excitement in the air with our annual reunion underway!

We had a surprise visit from the local police who saw all the GO Gathering directional signs around town so he followed them. He said he was "curious" and I informed him we were a gay outdoor group holding our annual camping weekend. He looked around at our big canopy tent and our campsite. He chuckled as he said, "Between the big canopy tent and the pink flamingos all you have missing is the dance floor." He smiled and said he was just being "nosy." Sure sounds like he wanted to join us! I should have invited him to join us after he got off work but it did not occur to me. Next time :-)  

GayOutdoors provided two cases of beer from New Hampshire micro breweries to put the Beer Swap into high gear! All the other guys brought a six-pack from a local micro-brewery so we had lots of great beer to try from around the country. We had a great evening around the campfire and tomorrow we didn't need to get up early since activities were not starting until 10am! All the guys were introducing themselves and greeting each other. There were some great discussions around the fire the entire weekend. If only I had time to note them all here we would have solved world peace, hunger and climate change...LOL.  

Saturday, July 12

Overnight we had a certain moderator take over the nightly "snorers" symphony orchestra which causes ear plug sales in Cold Spring to quadruple the next day. Artillery fire from nearby West Point woke us up in the morning. The humidity rose as the morning progressed and the temperature reached the mid-80s by noon. 

Jon and I woke up around 7:30am with Andrew serving us coffee while we lay in our sleeping bags. There were quite a lot of guys already awake. Jon cooked us a delicious steak and eggs breakfast with potatoes/grilled onions. The amber in the firepit from the night before was hot enough to forge steel out of iron!

At 9am we huddled together and I introduced the trip coordinators for the day who spoke about their activity. Bob organized a hike following the Appalachian Trail to Canopus Lake and back Dennis organized a hike on the Catfish Trail with views of the Hudson Highlands and Mark organized a hike up Breakneck Ridge with spectacular views of the Hudson River.

Jon and I organized a swim/sunbathe excursion at Little Stony Point Beach followed by a boat cruise down the Hudson River. It wasn't all that busy when we arrived at the beach around 10:30am. It was hot day so taking a swim was the perfect solution. We had a chuckle with the boat in front of us named Do Me.

We could have spent more time there but had to head off to Newburgh, NY to buy our tickets for the Hudson River Boat Cruise. A couple more guys caught up with us while we were having lunch before boarding the boat. Enjoying the cool breeze on a boat during a hot day is a nice way to relax. We enjoyed the up close views of Bannerman Castle wishing we could have set foot on the island. Some of us kayaked to this island the year before so this boat ride brought back memories. The boat provided great views of Breakneck Ridge, Storm King and West Point. When the boat turned around the cool breezes we enjoyed earlier from the headwind disappeared and we began to feel the heat of the day. 

We took a shower and then relaxed at the campsite waiting for the BBQ potluck to kick-off. While we relaxed, four thru-hikers arrived and we encouraged them to join us for the night. We met Laini and Levi and Meatbag and Doxie.

We had a good laugh when an entire Boy Scout troop paraded past our site to set up at the campsite beside us. I'm sure the scoutmasters were impressed with our rainbow flags blowing in the breeze...hmmmm. With the laughing, eating, and dance music I bet some of the boys (and maybe the scoutmasters) realized they were with the wrong tribe! Our wish is that during this weekend we ended up having some positive influence regarding changing the Boy Scouts policies towards gay guys.     

Around 6:30pm we turned on the 4 burner propane grill to kick off the Potluck BBQ. We had marinated chicken wings, delicious pesto chicken strips on skewers, flavorful pork chops, tasty steak, spicy sausage accompanied with such dynamite side dishes as indian curried rice mixed with almonds/raisins topped with a spicy sauce, green beans in this incredible pasta type sauce, wonderful types of cold pasta salad, wraps and much more. Did I mention we had lots of beer leftover from the night before to drink? 

After dinner we made a few annoucements and gave an Appalachian Trail t-shirt to George for traveling the farthest: Houston, Texas! Honorary mention goes to Stacy who flew in from Missouri.   

We lit up the campfire which was in the supernova category since it outshined everything else around it. We played some great dance tunes on the stereo. There was lots of eating and drinking and fun conversations. Lots of laughter and stories were shared about past adventures. Plans were being made for future adventures. A couple of guys were inspired by the thru-hikers and thinking about hiking the entire Appalachian Trail! 

The award for the best decorated campsite must go to Dave and Steve with their pink flamingos and the flashing orange lighting outlining their tent poles at night. Great job guys!

At 10pm we lit up the sky with fireworks.  Rockets were shot up into the sky exploding in a burst of color and sparks. Yea! WooHOO! All the guys did not expect such a wonderful show and gave us a round of applause for putting on such a wonderful spectacle. We even caught the attention of the boy scouts next to us who brought their chairs into our campsite to enjoy. We were happy to share!

More drinking continued and we began speaking in tongues. A truly great group of guys. We certainly proved that we came here to "Make New Outdoorzy Buddies in a Friendly, Supportive Atmosphere."

Meatbag approached me later on and told me that this was the best night he and Doxie have had since they started out backpacking on the Appalachian Trail 3 1/2  months ago! That was so great to hear and he promised to send us a photo of himself on Katahdin when he finishes. It was also Doxie's birthday tomorrow so we were happy to give her a memorable birthday. 

We also received a thank you posting in our forums from Levi: Click Here To Read

Some guys stayed up to the wee hours of the night. There were some rumours that inside certain tents sounds similar to the local wildlife were being heard!  

Sunday, July 13

The fire from the previous night seemed to have heated the atmosphere again. Andrew again woke up Jon and I with serving us coffee again in our sleeping bags. We are so spoiled!

Some guys drove into Cold Spring for breakfast. Everyone started packing up and headed for home. Somehow we had burned 99% of the wood and there must have been at least 600 empty beer bottles.

Then slowly we took our leave from a wonderful time spent in good company, having made new outdoorzy buddies, and feeling the satisfaction that comes from having spent a weekend enjoying outdoor activities in the Hudson Highlands of New York!

And thus goes another GO Gathering into the history books...

See you in Virginia next year!

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