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AAC campground Gunks


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Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

The floor is yours Jesse. 

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 860

bidding for a site this weekend starts here. 100 a night anyone?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Adrienne DiRosario wrote:

The floor is yours Jesse. 

Jesse,

Prepare for name-calling, insults and personal attacks. It will be fun. Just not for you.

Jesse B. · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 25

Frank,

Haha, wading into the world of social posts is always fraught with peril. It's not my intention to debate or persuade, just provide some insight. To that end:

The Gunks Campground was born from a complex partnership between several organizations. The layout of the campground and the amenities offered are a result of meeting the interests of all parties involved in the creation of the campground. The wooded buffer between the sites and the neighbors, the single communal fire pit, the full bathroom facilities, etc., whether you agree with them or not, are there to protect the neighbors from noise, to reduce pollution from smoke and encourage people to interact, and to provide a level of comfort that meets the needs of a wide range of guests. 

The AAC does not own the campground. The campground was constructed and is owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The campground is co-managed by the AAC and the Mohonk preserve. The co-managers are responsible for the costs associated with running the campground, including repairs and maintenance, taxes, etc. Operating a facility in NY State is expensive. The rates are structured to cover the costs of running the campground, and do not always meet that goal. 

The challenge of booking a site ahead of time speaks to the demand for camping in the area. Some sites are kept off the reservation system for walk-in's to help alleviate this issue, but the campground can only hold so many people. The Gunks region certainly needs more camping and lodging options for climbers. 

On the topic of the cancellation policy, this is something that I and the club are working on. As I mentioned, it's a fine line between covering costs and losing money, and finding a way to ensure a certain amount of revenue that is also fair to our guests is a balancing act. Keep an eye out for changes to the cancellation policy for next season. 

Cheers,

Jesse

Chris Reyes · · Montclair, NJ · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 40
Jesse B. wrote:

The Gunks region certainly needs more camping and lodging options for climbers. 

Does it ever. Is this something the AAC is currently investigating or will be looking into?

Jesse B. · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 25
Chris Reyes wrote:

Does it ever. Is this something the AAC is currently investigating or will be looking into?

Hi Chris,

It's not an active pursuit by the club. The complexity of getting the current campground established demonstrates the challenges in the area. I don't know if there are other groups currently attempting to expand camping in the area - though I do not have my ear to the ground there. 

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55

Could we get a hint at what problems people have with existing camping/lodging options? I've only stayed in the Gunks once (I'm close enough to day trip) but had no problems.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
David Kerkeslager wrote:

Could we get a hint at what problems people have with existing camping/lodging options? 

Not enough.

Not enough low cost options.

Zero free camping.

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55
Marc801 C wrote:

Not enough.

Not enough low cost options.

Zero free camping.

The fact is that if people are camping for free or cheap that just means someone else is paying for it, so if we want those things, we need to find someone to pay for it. Do you have any ideas for who might pay for this sort of thing?

I'm not saying that I don't think we should have cheap/free camping options--in my ideal society nobody would have to pay for anything, ever. I'm just saying that if that's something we want, we have to figure out a way to get it that is actually a possibility in the world we live in.

More camping options seems achievable, but maybe not at the AAC campground, given the tradeoffs that were made to keep the neighbors happy. There's a wetland area for sale nearby which is cheap, but probably not habitable without some construction work (and wetland regulation may not allow camping--I'm not sure what the laws are there).

Danny · · brooklyn, ny · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 25

Thanks Jesse. Incidentally, I am looking to sell my camping reservation for tomorrow night (Sep 1st), as my girlfriend has fallen ill and we're no longer making the trip up there. If you're looking for a campsite, message me!

Rob D. · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 30
David Kerkeslager wrote:

The fact is that if people are camping for free or cheap that just means someone else is paying for it, so if we want those things, we need to find someone to pay for it. Do you have any ideas for who might pay for this sort of thing?

I'm not saying that I don't think we should have cheap/free camping options--in my ideal society nobody would have to pay for anything, ever. I'm just saying that if that's something we want, we have to figure out a way to get it that is actually a possibility in the world we live in.

More camping options seems achievable, but maybe not at the AAC campground, given the tradeoffs that were made to keep the neighbors happy. There's a wetland area for sale nearby which is cheap, but probably not habitable without some construction work (and wetland regulation may not allow camping--I'm not sure what the laws are there).

Both of the "free" camping areas that closed weren't actually free, they were paid for by us:  slime was a service provided by the preserve and MUA was paid for through our taxes.  Our taxes didn't go down last year and the price of an annual membership to the preserve didn't either (in fact it went up if I recall correctly).  As a weekend warrior (and part of the plague that is nyc climbers encroaching on the serenity that is the gunks) paying for a camp ground through taxes or my annual gunks membership was a fee I could afford.  Paying to camp every weekend has made going up for the weekend a financial inability so I'm climbing less.  If that was the intent of the $20+ a night campground then they've achieved their goal.  

Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 10
David Kerkeslager wrote:

The fact is that if people are camping for free or cheap that just means someone else is paying for it, so if we want those things, we need to find someone to pay for it. Do you have any ideas for who might pay for this sort of thing?

Camp Slime up near the bridge at the Gunks was "Free" with your membership, of course, the Preserve has every right to close it if they chose.

But there was publicly-owned camping area 5 minutes away, but over the last 10 years, it was increasingly restricted, then one side of the road shut down, then the other.

As far as I could tell, the costs involved were to service the porta-stall (from appearances, a bi-annual tradition at the most) and to have the DEC officers occasionally come around to pick up garbage left by jerks/fine campers who were not camping in designated areas.

In sum, I doubt that $$$ was not the problem.  A $5/night parking arrangement like Rumney had would have sufficed to even have add a garbage service.

I think the problem was noise (this place was the wild west) and unsavory characters.  I once met a guy with his fam who had just gotten out of prison, living in a tent using a rug as a groundcloth.  I saw him begin drinking as soon as he woke up and smash the bottles.  Nearby property owners could not have liked this.

I think the official explanation was that the area needed to regenerate, but again, I doubt it, only 5% of the entire area was available to camp on anyway, and it could have been rotated, and further, every campground in the state is impacted in the exact spot where people pitch their tents, this seems like a given and well-worth the cost to me, but hey, YMMV.

Losing these options pretty much signaled the end of going to the Gunks every weekend for me, but I don't really mind.  Time to move on I guess.

Alan Rubin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

David, A major factor in the Gunks camping situation is that people were able to camp for free or cheaply at the Gunks for, literally, generations. When I started you could toss out your bag and sleep across the street from the Uberfall, along the Carriage Road, and above the Nears, as well as a number of other places. Over the years the locales changed but the option was there for those who wished to put up with the downsides--most recently there were MUA and Camp Slime. Unfortunately when the 'AAC' campground opened those other options ended. While I understand the issues Jesse mentions, it doesn't change the fact that instead of those free/cheap, casual places the campground is expensive, limited in places, mostly reserved, highly regulated, and not particularly user friendly(compared to its predecessors). I understand that times change and am obviously aware of the population pressures in that region, I still think that the AAC should have walked away from that 'partnership' option and sought an alternative, maybe a bit further from the cliffs but one that would be more climber friendly--particularly in terms of costs and number of sites.

Steve Skarvinko · · SLC, UT · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 5

I was excited when construction started on the AAC site, but man, I've framed entire houses in a couple of days with a small crew... why did that take so long time to complete? Once it opened and I heard how much it would cost for a night, I was wondering if it was gunks mafia controlled? I didn't have any interest to stay there when I could easily roll into the parking lot Friday night (driving in from Boston) and snag a site at Camp Slime. After moving in 2015, I was bummed to hear sometime last year that camp Slime had been shut down. Fires hadn't been allowed, you could easily walk to climbs and it was pretty darn quiet vs. the multi-use area(s).  I get the parking safety concern at MUA, people posting-up for long periods of time, fire risks and the multi-abuse to those sites, but why was Slime closed?! The only thing I could speculate was that the AAC site would have a complete monopoly over the area?

Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 10
Steve Skarvinko wrote:

I get the parking safety concern at MUA, people posting-up for long periods of time, fire risks and the multi-abuse to those sites, but why was Slime closed?! The only thing I could speculate was that the AAC site would have a complete monopoly over the area?

The Preserve can do whatever it wants.  But the fact that the MUA is public land should mean something, there is obviously much demand to use it and now, no use whatsoever.

But to be fair, I understand the tension, if I owned property near there with convicts moving in, garbage piling up, I wouldn't exactly be supportive either.

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,989

Slime was being operated using grandfather regulations (access/water/washrooms), once AAC/Mohonk started building something else, Slime was history.  For some odd reason MUA did not have to follow the same rules, but then again it's state property.

Weren't we allowed to camp in the woods just north of the West trap parking lot once upon a time?

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Luc-514 wrote:

Weren't we allowed to camp in the woods just north of the West trap parking lot once upon a time?

Not that I remember. You could always bivi almost anywhere - I've spent many nights on top of the Nears, sometimes the Trapps, along the carriage road, along the Overcliff road and a few other spots BITD - but not full on camping.

Rui Ferreira · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 869
Luc-514 wrote:

Weren't we allowed to camp in the woods just north of the West trap parking lot once upon a time?

Yes, I used to camp there during the late 80's until I moved to the area.  This location had multiple camp sites/pull-off areas

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55

FWIW, both Vernooy Kill State Forest and Shawagunk Ridge State Forest allow camping which appears to be free. The relevant text from the two pages (which is identical):

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

There are no designated campsite on this state forest; however, at-large primitive camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

LB Edwards · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 28

Do the showers really run for 4 minutes and 20 seconds?

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 3
Steve Skarvinko wrote:

I was excited when construction started on the AAC site, but man, I've framed entire houses in a couple of days with a small crew... why did that take so long time to complete? Once it opened and I heard how much it would cost for a night, I was wondering if it was gunks mafia controlled? I didn't have any interest to stay there when I could easily roll into the parking lot Friday night (driving in from Boston) and snag a site at Camp Slime. After moving in 2015, I was bummed to hear sometime last year that camp Slime had been shut down. Fires hadn't been allowed, you could easily walk to climbs and it was pretty darn quiet vs. the multi-use area(s).  I get the parking safety concern at MUA, people posting-up for long periods of time, fire risks and the multi-abuse to those sites, but why was Slime closed?! The only thing I could speculate was that the AAC site would have a complete monopoly over the area?

As much as it was a bummer to lose Slime, I think it probably was necessary given the circumstances.  Slime may have been quiet before, but if suddenly your options are $0 vs $26, I'm gonna guess Slime would've gotten a lot busier and overrun in no time.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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