Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Calling Noah...

Labor Day weekend was a decidedly mixed bag this year, weatherwise.  Friday was fabulous, though lightly populated.  A new couple from Athol MA made a repeat visit, as well as a couple from the Catskills who had first come to the Ledges last year and were returning for the long weekend.  Other than that, there were a few regulars, but the incipient start of school seemed to depress turnout, even though conditions were just about perfect.  Saturday, on the other hand, was muggy and humid, but with occasional non-severe showers.  Camaraderie was excellent though.  Weather on Sunday was supposed to be about the same, which was good because that's the day the annual Ledges fall cookout/cornroast is held.

Sunday dawned clear and sunny, but by afternoon skies were overcast.  About the time I arrived there was a fairly intense shower, which resolved in about 30 minutes, after which some sun poked through for a while.  Despite the weather, a lot of people showed up and once again the camaraderie was good.  Food was distributed, beer and margaritas were consumed, and the cooking fire was started.  Some folks with foresight put up lean-to's made of tarpaulins.

Just as things were getting going, though, the rain came again - with thunder, and with lightning.  People crammed under the lean-to's.  The storm didn't seem to want to leave - rain was intense, prolonged, and although the food was good (it's always good), after an hour of eating corn and watching dramatic beach erosion take place, people were getting tired of the rain.  I waited for a lull and left at about 5:00, but I was astonished to find that the creek which crosses the trail was a torrent, and had to use the bridge upstream.  Even then the rain did not let up.  Oh well, I suppose there's always next weekend.

September and early October are often great times to go to the Ledges.  It's definitely quieter than in full summer, but there's more likely to be sun and there is plenty of real estate.  Cliff diving is usually out of the question because the water level is too low, but since all the teenagers are back in school, this doesn't take place much anyway.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cooler now

Last weekend the weather took a bit of a turn in a cooler, sunny-but-windy direction.  Water temps have dropped to about 75 degrees from their former high of 82 a few weeks ago.  But there's now much more beach available, which means at least that there are good places to set up that are screened a bit from the wind.

A fair number of new couples I'd never met before appeared last weekend.  There was a pair from Stoneham, MA who were very nice, who appeared both Friday and Saturday.  Another pair from Monson, MA stopped by to visit Mt. Snow, get massages, and go jet-skiing.  But they also happened to go to The Ledges on both days as well.

On a more somber note - the lake level is now low enough so that if you jump off the cliff by the spruce tree over the main rock you WILL injure yourself.  A young man did this Friday afternoon, without looking or asking anyone, and reportedly broke his arm.  Please, if you aren't sure, JUST ASK.  As of last weekend, it was still safe to jump off the rope swing, however.

We've also gotten reports from the Sheriff's Department that more than one person using the TransCanada picnic areas have called to complain that they can see naked people over in the Ledges area.  While this makes most of us think, "well, DUH," the Sheriff's deputy really doesn't think it is a good idea to ignore complaints.  The agreement is that nudists should avoid setting up on the side of the promontory which faces the textile area, or on the very tip of the promontory itself - at least during the peak season.  Historically the tip of the promontory has been the boundary of the clothing optional area, so we aren't losing much space under this agreement.  But I do hope this is not a sign of things to come.  The Ledges has been around for a very long time, and I hate to think it would be closed simply because some newbie Vermont visitors were trying to force their view of how the world should be upon the rest of us.  It would almost be better if the nudists had been doing something actually wrong - but near as we can tell, they weren't.  They were just there, and that was enough.

Weather this coming weekend is currently forecast to be cloudy with showers on Thursday and Friday, but sunny (albeit in the lower 70's) on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday is forecast to be a really nice day with lots of sun in the upper 70's, so I may take a vacation day then.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Excellent prospects

I haven't written a post for two weeks because I've basically been having too much fun.  So, my apologies, and I will try to do better.

Weather was perfect (and very hot) two weekends ago.  Lake level dropped almost six inches a day, and we now have most of the main ledge available, some significant amount of beach, and some of the stone enclosures on the south side of the naturist area available (and in use!).  On Saturday there were quite a number of new visitors, including an engaged couple hailing from Vermont and Alaska.  The Alaskan had (I gather) never enjoyed nude recreation before and totally loved it.  (The Vermonter was "yeah, I've been swimming naked since I was born, big deal." ;-) )  They made a repeat visit on that Sunday as well.

This past Saturday was great weatherwise too - maybe not as hot, but certainly with plenty of sun.  People seemed to take the Sunday forecast into account, and timed things to show up Saturday instead.  The parking lot was almost full by 12 PM.  Once again, there were a lot of people I did not know, including a first-time group from Keene, NH, who came along at the invitation of their neighbors, and a number of first-time couples I did not get a chance to talk to.  But those I did talk to were generally enthusiastic, and I think we will be seeing them again as well.

It's mildly interesting to me how people react to being naked in public for the first time.  Some people just have no problem with it whatsoever, and some require quite a bit of courage (in liquid form, often) before they try this - but then they're just thrilled at how comfortable and natural they feel.  Nonetheless, I've met a very small number who seem to have real trouble managing even after they get naked.  The female member of one couple this past Saturday definitely had issues of this kind; while her boyfriend was gregarious and clearly comfortable in his skin, she was clearly NOT comfortable, to the extent that she did not even seem willing to chat.  Obviously, if you discover that that's how you feel, there's no point in pushing the matter - nude recreation is not for everyone (strange as that seems to me...)  But I don't think you will really know until you give it a try.

For those who like jumping off the rope swing, the water level is still plenty high for that.  The other jumping-off place by the spruce tree, though, is probably too shallow now to jump off of safely.

I am looking forward to this coming weekend.  I will be taking Friday off, and if weather is good, Thursday afternoon as well.  See you there!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer in full swing

This past weekend at The Ledges was terrific.  Water level is descending (though still somewhat high for this time of year), but most importantly lots of new and interesting people came by.

Despite the fact that Saturday's weather was less than ideal, we had young visitors from the Bennington area who had such a great time over the July 4th weekend that they decided to return despite cool and occasionally drizzly conditions.  AND they came back Sunday morning also.  Never having swum without swimsuits before, by Sunday it was clear they totally got religion about nude recreation.  I have a feeling they'll be back again.

On Sunday, long-time Ledges alumni from Auburn MA and the general Boston area came by.  I'd never met them before but they were cool.  And, later in the afternoon, a group of eleven post-college women showed up from Chelsea and Charleston Mass.  Great fun, lots of cliff diving and rope swing activity.

Awesome folks with an awesome attitude.  Special mention goes to the girl with mermaid flippers, who shot amazingly high out of the water with apparent ease.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Too much rain

What happens when it just keeps raining?  If you guessed that the water level in Lake Harriman just keeps rising, you're right!  In fact, due to the really significant amounts of rain in the entire Northeast, there are nice tinkly little waterfalls in places there never were waterfalls before.  And they are all feeding into the lake.

Last weekend, although the weather was good, the lake was cold - really cold, 61 degrees Fahrenheit, in fact.  That's fully 10 degrees cooler than it was even two weeks ago.  Refreshing is the right word, when I'm trying to be polite.  (Sometimes I'm not so polite.  This is, after all, June.)

But worse, the water level is at historical highs.  It was quite disappointing to see a number of people come by, only to find no place to set up at all, and give up.  I don't think I've ever seen that happen before.  Some people are happy to squeeze in to what space there is, but others prefer a bit more privacy, and they just aren't going to get it for a while.

It looks, though, like the pattern of the last month is finally breaking.  We'll know, I guess, when we go even a couple of days without significant rainfall.  Weather looks reasonable for the upcoming weekend - summery humidity levels, with some chance of thundershowers but nothing unusual.  We'll just have to see.

At least TransCanada seems to realize this year that they have more water than they can possibly use for power generation, and they've started to draw down the water level at a modest rate already, even though there's not any demand to speak of for peak electricity yet.  Perhaps by July 4 the main ledge will be open again.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hot weekend, great start to the season

After a really lousy Memorial Day (some places got snow, no kidding), the weekend of June 1st was hot, humid, and very sunny.  Water level was up significantly due to the previous week's downpours, but not as high as I feared.  Further good news - it was definitely warm enough to swim.

It was entertaining to be asked if it was safe to jump from the rope swing.   I always patiently explain to people that early in the season jumping and diving is fine - it's just later, when the water has gone down fifteen feet, that there may not be as much clearance as one would like.  If in doubt, ask a local.  Right now, though, you can jump/dive safely from either the ledge with the rope swing, or the high rock with the lone spruce tree (provided, of course, that you aim for deep water and away from the ledge).

People turned out in surprising numbers, and there were a few newcomers mingled with the familiar faces.  Lots of news traded hands too - personal, some of it, but some of interest to the broader naturist community - specifically that Lighthouse Beach on Long Island has been closed to nudists.  This is blamed on Hurricane Sandy, but most people who used to go there think it has a lot more to do with a certain head ranger who is new and doesn't approve of nudity in general.  Not sure what exactly will happen - but people from that part of the world are understandably upset by the turn of events.

I'll definitely be by again this coming weekend.  While it may be rainy Saturday morning, there's a good chance at the time of this writing that Saturday afternoon will be decent.  And Sunday looks great.  In the immortal words of Jack Lord: Be there.  Aloha!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Almost managed to swim last weekend

I visited The Ledges on both Saturday and Sunday last weekend.  Weather was sunny and dry both days, with cold mornings but fine afternoons.  Even though the front gate is closed, and the leaves on the trees are just starting to appear, plenty of people turned up; mostly regulars, but a couple of unfamiliar faces.  The water, however inviting, was just too cold for anything other than a quick, breathless splash.

Conditions at the beach, though, are excellent this year.  Almost no winter damage at all, and the water level was still low, meaning there was a lot of beach to use.  Sun was intense - I got a bit of a burn - but on the whole it felt great to be out again after a long cold winter.  I'm sure the water level will rise, but with luck (since it's been pretty dry) it won't come up much between now and the first traditional beach days on Memorial Day weekend.  In any case, I'll keep an eye peeled for you. ;-)