Health, sports & fitness 2014 e sub

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Healthy Hudson Valley FEBRUARY 27, 2014



Health, Sports & Fitness



27, 2014 2 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

Warming up to go the distance Mike Townshend


n the depths of a brutal and seemingly never-ending winter, people might be ready to declare shoveling the driveway and coming inside to watch the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as a sport, in and of itself. And here at Ulster Publishing we’re dreaming of spring too – and of the sports and recreation opportunities it will provide. For the most part, Healthy Hudson Valley: Health, Sports & Fitness looks ahead to a time when we can throw

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a softball, hit the rail trail to ride a bike or head out to fish. As spring begins to break next month, ticks season will begin anew. Jennifer Brizzi’s story on Lyme disease talks a bit about the science behind the illness – and about the people who are suffering its consequences. For grownups out of college, finding a way to incorporate a favorite sport into an exercise routine isn’t always as easy as it used to be. Quinn O’Callaghan’s story on the winter sports leagues at the Hudson Valley Sportsdome talks about those brave souls playing in beer leagues with their friends. Paul Smart takes a look at how striped bass fishermen have dealt with new Department of Environmental Conservation regulations for live bait. Despite the frigid temperatures, serious anglers are online chatting in forums, talking strategy and

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dreaming of catching a stripey. Carrie Jones Ross takes a look at how working out at the gym, especially with CrossFit and exercise plans like it, can be empowering for women – both psychologically and physically. In January, our region lost a true patron and watchdog of environmental health when legendary folk singer Pete Seeger died. Frances Marion Platt digs into how Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will move on from the loss of its charismatic founder. Throughout the winter, members of the Catskill 3500 Club have braved the snowy hiking trails of our local mountains to climb to the top of all 35 Catskill High Peaks. The club hikes all year to make it to those summits. Lynn Woods talks to club members to find out what motivates them to reach the peak. Lately there has been news about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Sharyn Flanagan takes a look at the “not as new as one might think” phenomenon of standing desks – as well as looking at a newer, aquatic take on yoga that’s more friendly to seniors. Both help topics go together because they both tie into bone density issues. We hope you enjoy. And thanks for reading.

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Dome sweet dome Men’s leagues abound at Hudson Valley Sportsdome Quinn O’Callaghan


It eems like a long walk from the parking lot to the Hudson Valley Sports Dome in the middle of February, with wind chill hanging somewhere around minus eight degrees. But 30 feet away, right off the Milton Turnpike in southern Ulster County, is something striking. Outside of high school, college, and privategym beer leagues – the dome is the go-to spot for grownup athletic competition. The place is vast, coming in at 92,000 square feet with four 65-by127 fields. It’s got this strange feel to it, with its tepid air and soft lighting and constant twinge of new sporting equipment. It’s like it’s always early springtime. It’s like it’s Flushing Meadows on a Sunday. Early on a mid-February evening, Sal Bona and his Cosimo’s five-on-five soccer team is throwing down with the much younger and faster, and shockingly un-aptly named Old School. Bona, 49, has only been playing for four years. “I’m Italian,” said Bona. “It was going to happen eventually. It’s in the blood. You know, most of the other guys here are younger than me, but I do it to keep in shape.” He’s pretty spry out there for an old guy. Around ten minutes in, he nets a goal, dropping the ball ten feet in front of the net and going four-hole on the opposing goalie. “It’s a very competitive league,” Bona said. “And it’s also very expensive. It’s really a great place to come and learn. Though, really anyplace is – but this place is great.” There must be hundreds of people in the dome. Some games are heavily attended (the game featuring mostly high-school kids on field one has a genuine crowd). Other games are sparsely attended (at Cosimo’s versus Old School, the peanut gallery consists pretty much of just me and a player’s mom). The place is always bustling, considering that on any given Thursday, 14 games might be going from seven to eleven o’clock. Some teams


featured are sponsored – read: have matching jerseys – like Cosimo’s, and some, like the hilariously named Winterfell F.C., do not. “The competition in this league can be really intense,” explained Bona’s teammate Jamie Lee Parchment. After Parchment whiffed on a wideopen shot early in the period, he suffered a whole mess of on-bench ball-busting. “Right now we’re in the playoffs, in our second league,” he told me. “I started out well, but I’ve started to get a little cold.” Bona said that the level of competition in the

league can fluctuate. Considering the breadth of experience of those who choose to compete, it stays at a pretty high level. “You’ve got guys from all over. There’s college kids here, high school kids, adults – SUNY [New Paltz] even has a team here.” Indoor soccer is far from the only adult league that the dome hosts. There’s a pick-up lacrosse league, which is on Thursdays until the end of February and costs $15 per night. Men’s flag football is a competitive league that runs through the middle of April. In the springtime the dome offerings aren’t so prominent for obvious reasons (the

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27, 2014 4 | February Health, Sports & Fitness weather is warm). The area is rife with adult sports leagues, at least in the spring and summer. Contacting local high schools is a good bet for those who want to get back into the mix. Most schools host pickup volleyball and basketball leagues in the sunnyseason downtime. Wear-and-tear does start to show, though, when you’re a non-professional athlete blasting away in a beer league of any kind. Sal starts to huff and puff around the end of the first period, and the bench makes its way in after halftime. To be fair, they weren’t just warming the metal. They arrived late and spent no time warming up. Nick Heslop, who played high-school level soccer in Jamaica growing up – “it’s like college level in high school over there,” he assures me – is on the field for no more than five minutes before he

hounds a ball to the corner, pivots funnily on his foot, and grips his stomach. Back on the bench, he shoots the breeze with his teammates and nurses a torn, popped, strained whatever – something in his torso. Such is the eventual destiny of most beer-league players, it seems. You consign yourself to a team, play like you’re hustling for a national championship, screw up a muscle or get your nose exploded going for a slide tackle or a rebound or a fumble recovery. You skip a week, and then you do it again. Cosimo’s takes the game, 4-2, and gears up for another go in playoff game Number 3. Games come hard and fast when you’re stacked up against almost 30 other teams, and even though the next game might take them into eleven o’clock, Cosimo’s is going to jam on. Here’s hoping they stretch for this one.

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ere’s a look at some of the other adult sports leagues around Ulster and Dutchess. If you’re interested in signing up for adult sports, note that many of these outdoor teams start playing in the spring. Wintertime sports are listed too, to give readers ideas for next year. Basketball: The Red Hook men’s basketball league runs through the summer and attracts players from all over the Hudson Valley. Contact league head Kevin Moul at 758-6086 for information. • City of Kingston also has an Over-30 basketball group. Their season this year is mostly over, but learn more for next year by calling Rob Dassie at 481-7334. Softball/Baseball: The premier area softball and baseball leagues for adults are based out of Saugerties, hosted on the Cantine Field baseball facility. For more information, go to The signup deadline is March 6. • New Paltz has both a women’s and men’s softball league. Call Diane Fox at 674-7596 to learn more about the women’s team, and Jim Tinger 325-2593 to learn about the men’s team. • Kingston’s adult softball team can be contacted by calling Ralph Vanacore at 481-7337. Hockey: The best place to look for an adult hockey league, again, is Saugerties. The Saugerties Hockey League, which plays all winter in the Kiwanis Ice Rink, is currently not accepting teams, but those interested in playing in 2014-15 should go to Rowing: The Hudson River Rowing Club is your best bet. The all-ages association has masters’ tournaments starting in May, and can be contacted through Track and Field: The Empire State Games, the New York State track and field competition, is an all-ages event. Details on the Empire State Senior Games have yet to be posted, but the event will be held from June 1-8 at SUNY Cortland. The site will post details as they come. Pickleball: New Paltz offers a chance to play a unique sport, pickleball. The game is a racquet sport that combines aspects of ping-pong, badminton and tennis. Accidentally invented in 1965 out in Washington State by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, the game has become popular. New Paltz’s league plays indoors during the winter months and outside during better weather. Contact the New Paltz town recreation department at 2552512 to learn how to sign up for the adult league. Soccer: New Paltz has an adult soccer team. Contact them by calling Adrian Capulli at 2551316. Volleyball: New Paltz has an adult volleyball league. Contact them by calling Joe Fenimore 943-0826 or search for them on Facebook. Their season starts in March. • The City of Kingston has an indoor and beach volleyball team as well. Their indoor season started in the fall and lasts into the winter. To learn more, call Ralph Vanacore at 481-7337. • Saugerties has a winter coed volleyball team through Saugerties Athletics Association. The season this year is mostly over, but to learn more about them for next year head to

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Kids and counselors at Wild Earth summer camp play in a grassy field. Tall grass is a place Lyme-spreading ticks can hide, but with the proper precautions risk of illness is reduced.

Safety outdoors Lyme disease prevention crucial in spring, summer Jennifer Brizzi


ince Lyme disease was first discovered, near Lyme, Conn. in the early 1970s, we’ve had to deal with it – from figuring out ways to avoid it, to ways to handle it if we have it, all the while keeping our outlook as upbeat as possible. Some local folks know a lot about how to do that, like Ann Guenther, a New Paltz naturalist. “It’s not all bad,” she said. “Lyme disease gives us a daunting challenge … to think about it in a different way. My hope is that we can take a deep breath and look at the big picture.” Lyme is difficult to treat and diagnose, she added. “It lasts a long time, can take weeks, months, years to get over.” But there are ways to look at it in a positive light. Borreliosis, the scientific name for Lyme, comes from a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, named after scientist Dr. Willy Burgdorfer who helped discover it. Black-legged deer ticks, Ixodes scapularis, have gotten the bacterium from feeding on infected animals – often white-footed mouse more than deer. The ticks then transfer it to the humans on which they feed. The longer the tick remains attached to the skin, the more likely the transfer of bacteria. Although the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. may have declined slightly since a high of 29,959 in 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 22,014 confirmed cases of Lyme in 2012, plus another 8817 probable cases. But just this month CDC stated that incidence was likely ten times that, around 300,000 cases. “There has been a general increase in incidence,” said Dr. Rick Ostfeld, a senior scientist and disease ecologist at the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook. “And it continues to spread, north, west and south .… There are various reasons, and only partial answers as to why. Global warming is one, but it doesn’t explain it all.” Urbanization is another factor. “We’re chopping the forest into bits,” Ostfeld said, “which favors

certain animal species.” Development has given unexpected advantages to rodents. “Mice thrive in fragmented areas, when we discourage their predators,” Ostfeld said. Lyme research is ongoing, such as a clinical xenodiagnosis study released in February by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, which attached live disease-free ticks to the skin of 36 people with and without Lyme. Many experts think Lyme research is underfunded. In most but not all cases a rash, starting as a small red area at the site of the bite and growing over days or weeks, and often but not always resembling a bull’s-eye, is the first symptom. Sometimes there is no rash at all. Other symptoms may include flu-like symptoms like fever, aches and fa-

A black-legged tick or deer tick is the bug responsible for getting humans sick with Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. After feeding on sick mice, ticks spread borrelia burgdorferi – the Lyme bacteria – to people. Photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

tigue, which may persist or come and go. Possible complications are many and include arthritis, fatigue, hepatitis, eye inflammation, nervous system and cardiac problems and more.

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27, 2014 6 | February Health, Sports & Fitness Guenther mentions the “brain fog” and gaps in memory, both short-term and long-term, along with mood swings, anxiety and depression. “These are both symptoms and side effects,” she added. Other tick-borne diseases can manifest themselves in similar or different ways. For example with some there is no rash. With anaplasmosis, transferred by the same kind of tick, symptoms are more severe, with a higher fever and a stiff neck, said Dr. Ostfeld. Anaplasmosis is transferred by the same kind of tick as Lyme, as are babesiosis and powassan. Diagnosis can be difficult. Medical tests can

“Don’t just say, ‘I hate ticks.’ Nature is not as sweet as we’d like it to be,” said Ann Guenther. have ambiguous results, and Lyme symptoms can masquerade as those of other diseases. Treatment is with antibiotics, the sooner the better. Even after treatment some symptoms often linger. When you get Lyme you don’t develop immunity, and can get it again and again. “People are turning to fringe practitioners now,” said Guenther, “like physical therapy, massage, diet, yoga, supplements or meditation. Those alternative healers are more acceptable now, and have skills they can transfer and apply to the disease.” Money can be an issue. Because of the challenges in diagnosing Lyme, many doctors are hesitant to treat it. Some insurance plans won’t cover it,

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Members of the New Palt Lyme Disease Support Group want to create a positive atmosphere where people can talk about the tick-borne illness and how it impacts their life. Pictured here from left to right are Rick VandenHeuvel, Trina Greene, Dan Guenther and Ann Guenther. and people can’t afford the treatment. “They have to pay thousands out of pocket,” Guenther said.

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t’s enough to keep us all out of the woods, and away from those junctures of lot and woodland where ticks are abundant. If you love to climb the Shawangunks or the Catskills, camp, hike, hunt or any outdoor activity, you are probably at the mercies of being in tick country. You may need to take a multi-pronged approach to protecting yourself. “We encourage people to be outside connecting with the earth,” said David Brownstein, executive director of Wild Earth, which offers naturebased programs for children, teens and adults on the Shawangunk Ridge. “Ticks are now a hazard, but don’t stop being engaged in nature because of that. Just be attuned. And with kids, it’s about raising their awareness.” Wild Earth uses a buddy system and tick checks after every outing. Awareness is not limited to visual sightings. Some people report “feeling if something’s crawling on you,” he said. “Our best strategy is to check ourselves often,” Brownstein said. “It’s like with poison ivy. You learn what it looks like and then it’s just something you have to watch out for. Then it’s a matter of knowing the symptoms, and addressing them quickly.” Ann Guenther suggests looking at tick checks pos-

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February 27, 2014 Health, Sports & Fitness itively, especially with children. “It’s important for them to be a part of nature,” she said. “Tick checks can be intimate moments. Make a game out of it.” Dr. Ostfeld recommends people apply DEETbased repellents before venturing outdoors. “They do work,” he said. So does permethrin, which you spray on your clothes rather than skin. “It’s good to wear protective long pants and long sleeves, which people may not want to do in the heat of the season.”


ight-colored clothing helps you spot ticks more easily. Shirts tucked into pants and pant legs into socks help keep ticks away from your skin. Wash clothing after wearing in the woods, and check any pets that go outdoors

In most cases a rash is the first symptom, starting as a small red area at the site of the bite and growing over days or weeks, often resembling a bull’s-eye. for ticks, too, which can fall off them and jump onto you. If you find one on skin, remove it with finetipped tweezers or one of those tools designed for pulling off ticks, grabbing the critter as close to the skin as possible in order to get all parts of it. Apply alcohol to the skin where the tick was and wash hands well. “The last line of defense is to be aware of symptoms, and seek medical attention right away,” Dr. Ostfeld said. “If you feel flu-like symptoms – like aches, being tired, muscle aches, chills, fever – in June, July, August, that’s not flu season, and you could have Lyme or one of the others. But they are all treatable, especially if caught early.”

n Sunday, April 27, from 2:45 TO 5:45 p.m., Mohonk Consultations is presenting a community forum called “Lyme Disease: Take Back the Woods!” See or call 256-2726 for information. On May 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wild Earth will host an event called “Light on Lyme,” a festival with outdoor activities, healing demos, and a podium for high-profile speakers, said Brownstein, like politicians and experts on Lyme. “We’re hoping to empower and educate the community about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases,” he


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said. Go to or 256-9830. For those suffering with Lyme currently, their caregivers, and for that matter, anyone with an interest, the New Paltz Lyme Support Group meets the first Monday of the month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, “to support each other in our journeys,” said Guenther. “People can be isolated by the disease and we need to come together as a community.” Call her at 255-9297. “I encourage people to be part of nature,” Guenther said. “Don’t just say, ‘I hate ticks.’ Nature is not as sweet as we’d like it to be, but we are part of it and we need to continue to keep our connections with it.”

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f you’re Facebook friends with a new CrossFitter, you probably had to hide her from your News Feed after about a week of zealous and ecstatic status updates closely reporting how many burpees she struggled through. And she doesn’t suffer silently, either. Every extra five-pound addition to her total barbell weight will likely be photo-documented, along with the corresponding post-workout sweaty collapse. Of course, unless she is posting paleo recipes, it didn’t happen. Before you hide her in your News Feed – like hiding behind the front door when a Jehovah’s Witness knocks – you do start to wonder a thing or two. Like: What the heck is a WOD? And a PR? AMRAP? Are these symbolic cave-etching hieroglyphs somehow related to the “paleo diet�?


rossFit defines itself as a series of constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity in a communal environment. In 2000, Greg Glassman devised a system that combines gymnastics, plyometrics, weight-lifting and metabolic conditioning after he looked at how various athletes trained. In developing CrossFit, Glassman and fellow trainers observed the essential strengths and weaknesses of different athletic disciplines – memorialized on the official company website – by which they ultimately programmed the regime. “Gymnasts learned new sports faster than other athletes. Olympic lifters can apply more useful power to more activities than other athletes. Powerlifters are stronger than other athletes,� the LAUREN THOMAS

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Burpees and squats are essential CrossFit moves, much to the chagrin of all exercisers. AMRAP means “As Many Repetitions As Possible.” Many of the WODs include seemingly infinite rounds of several exercises, concluded only by the timer. “PR” is a Personal Record, a super-big deal for CrossFitters. CrossFit for many is about breaking through to the next level or accomplishment. And paleo? That’s a “caveman diet” of lean meats, low carbs, fruits and veggies – but no legumes. A burpee, for the uninitiated, is also known as a squat thrust.

“It is super fun and makes you feel like an invincible superhero,” CrossFitter Jennifer Araujo said.


a smaller WOD for a specific muscle group and cool-down stretches. The activity is structured in a group. Rather than exercise instructors, the CrossFit instructors function as coaches or personal trainers working with each CrossFitter individually as well as with the group to make sure participants are executing moves correctly.

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27, 2014 10 | February Health, Sports & Fitness wives’ biceps can be more jacked than their husbands’ from CrossFitting, and they can carry four times as many grocery bags, too. And yeah, they’re uploading pictures of that happening. What’s the appeal to women? I’ll be the first to admit that all I care about is looking good. And one only needs to review my high-maintenance diet and lifestyle to see how willing I am to torture myself by unfathomable means for the sake of vanity. Recently I joined a small, cross-training, bootcamp-style gym in Clintondale called BareBones with all Level 1-certified CrossFit trainers. At the moment, it’s mostly women. The fellas are mostly husbands, boyfriends or loved ones of regular exercisers. I can sweat like a pig, grunt like a dissatisfied porn star, or giggle and jump rope like a schoolgirl on the playground with my “Sisters of the Barbell.” To be fair, BareBones is not yet affiliated with the corporate CrossFit. Despite similarities in the exercises done there, there are enough differences that they can’t include mention of the brand name in their own name or advertisements. When I walk into the gym, I am often distracted, feeling edgy and wound up from my day, ready to spit nails at a baby. I check out the WOD, cringe

Syndi Acampora of BareBones Gym in Highland.

and look at clock: I can do anything for 30 minutes. I purge my demons with every strict push-up and dead lift. After an hour of going to my personal limits pulling, pushing, jumping, lifting and worse, I walk out softened, peaceful and gentle in heart as a reincarnated Buddhist monk. An amazing transformation.

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ori LaGattuta of Marlboro is a Level 1 CrossFit-certified trainer at BareBones. LaGattuta said, “I always enjoyed lifting weights, which a lot of friends thought was weird for a girl.” LaGattuta said that she thinks women look better with muscles and curves, than the iconic American stick-figure. LaGattuta said that she no longer obsesses with the scale, and focuses on her performance, pushing and competing against herself. BareBones co-owner Syndi Acampora is a fulltime mom, part-time police officer and part-time professional photographer. She is also Level-1 certified CrossFit trainer and has certifications in gymnastics as well. Acampora, who said she was not athletic when she was growing up, now considers herself an athlete. “I like that it’s constantly varied,” Acampora said. “I am not a routine person, even in my life. I like the fact that it’s turned my thinking off stepping on a scale into that of an athlete getting stronger, faster and being competitive. It’s unlike going to the gym to do the same bicep curls that you have been doing forever. It’s not about dieting. It’s about eating to have better performance. The body image was just a plus. After having three kids, I didn’t even look like this in my twenties

when I worked out all the time.” LaGattuta and Acampora feel that nothing is worth an injury, and in addition to paying attention to form rather than heavy weights their mutual philosophy is to modify, modify, modify. “Just like in any sport, you can get injured,” Acampora said. “I have been injured lifting weights at the gym, back in the day, oldschool weight-lifting. That’s why we do warm-ups, mobility stretching. We push our athletes, but not till they hurt themselves. There’s a modification for everything. If you have an injury or something tweaked, we can do something else. The important part is to keep people moving. No one has to follow the WOD, we can change whatever we want. There’s no need to get hurt.” Christene Spiezio, of Rosendale, is a CrossFit junkie. She has been to gyms in the past, and found herself bored. She never pushed herself to the limits. “With CrossFit,” Spiezio explained, “I do [push] because you are in a class environment with a trainer with you the whole time pushing you.” Spiezio, a marathon runner and a triathlete, said that CrossFit makes her an even stronger athlete. She appreciates that there is LAUREN THOMAS trainer there to ensure that she’s always doing everything right so she doesn’t hurt herself. “The fittest people are there cheering on the not-as-fit people, and vice versa,” she said. “Everyone is doing the same thing. No one is there trying to show their muscles are bigger. You are always being encouraged by one another. I guess, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s like a family. At the gym you can workout right next to someone at the same time every day and never speak to them. In CrossFit everyone knows everyone and works together.” Betsy Riege Strohsal, of Saugerties, is a 66-yearold retired elementary school teacher who has been at CrossFit Ulster in Kingston since last September. She said she has never done anything like CrossFit, but was always active. “The coaches at CFU have been wonderful, understanding my age-related endurance and mobility issues. At the same time, they encourage me to keep on going, at my own pokey pace,” Strohsal said. “When I started I couldn’t even do a burpee. I fell flat on my face and stayed there. I had trouble with many of the moves, even at the lowest weights. I still have coordination problems, but am improving, and the weights I can manage are increasing. So is my endurance. I love rowing, I think because I can do it sitting down.” The best part for her is the much-talked-about CrossFit Community. “It’s very real,” she said. Strohsal signed up for CrossFit games for a second year to see where she compared with her fellow seniors. Jennifer Araujo, of Kingston, said she has lost 40 pounds in four months, and has made significant gains in strength and endurance. “My doctor has confirmed that my heart is actually stronger and pumping blood more efficiently,” she said. “Plus, it is super fun and makes you feel like an invincible superhero.”

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27, 2014 12 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

Under pressure With bone density, it’s use it or lose it Sharyn Flanagan


hen the ancient practice of yoga first emerged in the modern public consciousness in the mid-20th century, some considered it to be fraught with religious undertones, something mysterious and foreign. Today, yoga is about as mainstream in our society as it gets. But still, as popular as the discipline is, it seems that sometimes the pendulum has now swung to the other extreme. Yoga is often presented as something akin to a spa treatment, suitable for some nice stretching and relaxation but without much vigor to it. And while yoga can, indeed, be relaxing and does produce an overall sense of well-being in those who take up the practice, the therapeutic advantages of yoga can offer real health benefits. There are all kinds of yoga practices in our area. It’s a broad spectrum indeed. Here is what three yoga practitioners do. Water yoga Rhinebeck-based Terry Schaff teaches water yoga two mornings a week in the pool at the independent-living community Arbor Ridge at Brookmeade in Rhinebeck. She’s been doing the program there since May 2009. One doesn’t have to be a resident there to participate (or even a senior). “Arbor Ridge has been very generous opening up the sessions to the public,” Schaff said. The pool where the water yoga classes take place is only four feet deep and heated to a comfy 92 to 94 degrees. Participants don’t have to know how to swim, but just in case Schaff completed CPR training. Before beginning the program she was certified as a senior lifeguard at Bard College, where she also teaches yoga. Schaff guides the water yoga class through both Vinyasa-style yoga (flowing poses, moving fluidly from one to the next) and Iyengar-style yoga (stationary poses held for a period of time, increasing strength and stability). “The weight-bearing poses are really challenging in the water because we’re so buoyant. It forces you to use your muscles to push against that,” she said. “As we get older, we lose bone density, and the structure of the bone changes, so if you put people in yoga postures that stress the bone, build muscle and increase our balance, then those are going to be positive ways to address osteoporosis that happens as we get older.”


Instructor Terry Schaff, center, leads a group of seniors in a session of water yoga at Arbor Ridge at Brookmeade in Rhinebeck. Water yoga is good for seniors because it can help combat osteoporosis and build strength. Schaff said she’s seen tremendous benefits in people she’s worked with. “It’s astounding how much people’s health changes. In the water, we weigh ten percent what we weigh out of it, and we can use flotation devices, too, that make us weightless. You’d be amazed what these older people are able to do in the water. They’re doing sequences that my Bard students can’t manage – people who have joint replacements or degenerated discs in their spine, people who can’t move without pain out of the water.” While water yoga is ideal for seniors, there are certainly benefits for those of any age, especially someone with any kind of chronic pain condition, from the soothing effects of water and the applied strengthening of yoga. Schaff will host a severalday workshop in water yoga for all ages through Rhinebeck’s Omega Institute from June 27-29 using the pool at Arbor Ridge (Omega doesn’t have its own pool). In addition to teaching water yoga, chair yoga for seniors and her classes at Bard, Schaff also leads the weekly community yoga class at Sadhana Center for Yoga and Meditation on Warren St. in Hudson. The class draws a diverse group of all ages, Schaff said, a good-sized crowd who get to enjoy the process for just a $5 fee. Many of the participants come to that class with a variety of chronic conditions, Schaff said, because they know she also does therapeutic yoga in association with physiatrist Dr. Loren Fishman, medical director at Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in New York City. Schaff travels to Manhattan weekly to work with Fishman in his offices. The two have conducted workshops together, including a recent weekend workshop at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires.

Yoga for osteoporosis A past president of the New York Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and currently an assistant clinical professor at Columbia Medical School, Dr. Loren Fishman has practiced yoga for decades, studying with B.K.S. Iyengar in India for a year. Fishman utilizes yoga in his rehabilitative practice treating patients with chronic or acute pain. He has written extensively about yoga as an adjunct to medical treatment. The author of seven books, including Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide (2010, W.W. Norton & Co.), he has conducted clinical studies on the subject. “I did a pilot study about six years ago and the results were quite positive,” said Fishman. “I was so encouraged that I did my own DVD.” He now has over 700 patients worldwide who learn the techniques daily from the digital disk. He monitors the bone density scan results of those who follow the protocol. The results seem to indicate that yoga can be an important addition to the treatment of those with osteoporosis (as well as for those who don’t want to get it). “They don’t all get better, but 80 percent improve,” Fishman said. “They don’t get fabulously better. Maybe a 0.2 or 0.4 on the T-scale, generally. Occasionally they lose ground and occasionally they get very much better, almost a whole point on the scale better.” The subjects in Fishman’s study are required to do yoga every day, but only for ten minutes. Those who do the classical poses (like “tree”) do better, he said. The study has also revealed, he added, that even subjects who had prior fractures due to low bone density have not had additional fractures since starting yoga, indicating that the practice “stresses the bones enough to let them get stronger but not so much as to give them fractures.” The study currently includes over 70,000 hours of subject participation. Some of the people have osteopenia but most have osteoporosis, Fish-

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February 27, 2014 Health, Sports & Fitness man said. He recommends yoga as a more effective weight-bearing exercise (which builds bone density) than simply walking, because yoga opposes one group of muscles with another, subjecting the bones to forces stronger than those of gravity but without any impact. Yoga also allows the joints to expand, circulating their fluid and stimulating renewal of cartilage, tendons and ligaments, which improves osteoarthritis. Not only that, but yoga has none of the side effects of traditional medications taken to treat osteoporosis, Fishman said. “That is, unless you count the side effects of having a better range of motion, better balance, improved strength, enhanced coordination and lower anxiety.” And, he added, yoga is free. Standing desks Another thing we can do to put some weight onto our bones is as simple as getting up out of that chair while we work. Standing desks have become something of a trend these days, associated with companies like Google, who offer standing desks as part of their employee-wellness program, and Facebook, where more than 250 employees requested standing desks after learning of the growing health concerns associated with sitting for extended periods of time. Standing desks are actually nothing new – or perhaps one could say they’re so old they’re new again. Some 19th-century photos of men working in their offices depict the workers either standing or sitting on high stools at tall communal desks. Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill were all known to be adherents of standing while they worked. The growing quantity of literature addressing the perils of sitting all day is somewhat alarming. The dire litany of problems that sitting too much is alleged to create includes shortening one’s lifespan by several years, increasing the likelihood of heart disease, and back or neck pain from disuse and slouching. The New York Times went so far as to ask a few years back whether sitting was “a lethal activity.” Getting exercise when away from work is no panacea for spending the majority of the day on one’s rump, the article claimed. Enter the standing desk. New York-based entrepreneur and blogger Arshad Chowdhury, who develops products to improve life at work, writes

that after two years using a standing desk his subjective opinion was that his posture improved, his legs got more muscular, and he no longer had back pain. He recommends placing a keyboard at chest level, with eyes looking slightly downward at a 105-degree angle. Sports chiropractor Dr. David Ness in New Paltz said he tells all his patients to use standing desks. “What I see in the people I treat – architects, engineers, lawyers, anyone who sits all day long – is that what it does to your body is sometimes irreversible,” Ness said. “In the upper extremities, it shortens your pecs, it shortens your neck muscles, and that’s what causes rounded shoulders and slumped posture. In people with lower back pain, who sit for eight hours a day –and let’s not even include their commute in the car or on the train for several hours a day – you end up with shortened hamstrings, quads and hip flexor muscles which all influence the pelvic tilt and the curve of your lumbar spine.” He said that recent studies have shown that standing versus sitting burns 700 to 800 more calories a day. His advice is to sit in moderation, and “if you have to sit, take breaks and have a plan, know what to stretch and how long to stretch it for.” Ness recommends breaks every half hour. Ness is also a practitioner of yoga, a former teacher, and an owner of a yoga studio. He said he uses yoga-based techniques for a lot of the lower back pain rehab done at his office. Poses like “bridge” and “child’s pose” are particularly helpful there, he said.

Yoga is great for giving a gymnast’s strength and flexibility without the mass, Ness said, but unfortunately not as many men practice yoga as do women. “It’s not seen as hard enough, or they don’t see the reason to do it. But a lot of athletes do yoga as part of their training because it’s so good for you. Yoga does things for you that other exercises don’t, because you’re connected to the ground and you’re only working with your body weight. There are guys who can bench press but can’t do a side plank.” Therapeutic yoga practitioner Terry Schaff agreed about the virtues of standing desks. The key thing to remember, she said, is to learn about what your best posture is standing, sitting and lying down. “Put one foot up on a book, slightly higher than the other, to take pressure off your joints. And we all tend to weight one leg more than the other, so pay attention to how you’re standing. Flip over your shoes. Are you pronating, putting more weight on the inside? Or are you supinating, putting weight on the outside of your feet? Use that self-knowledge to change how you stand.” To learn more about the people and places featured in the article, head to; Omega Institute for Holistic Studies at; Sadhana Center for Yoga and Meditation at; Dr. Loren Fishman at; and Dr. David Ness, 3 Cherry Hill Rd. New Paltz, 2551200,

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27, 2014 14 | February Health, Sports & Fitness


Pete Seeger carries a heavy beam of wood, with some help from young friends, for the 2012 Clearwater barn raising in Kingston. Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s environmental director, said the work of the non-profit group will most definitely continue after Seeger’s death.

Flowing forward Clearwater carries the torch for a healthier Hudson Valley Frances Marion Platt Fresh may the breezes blow Clear may the streams flow Blue above, green below When I’m far away – Pete Seeger, “Well May the World Go.”


ere in the Hudson Valley, few guardians of public health are so fiercely vigilant as the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., a truly grassroots not-for-profit kept afloat primarily by small contributions from ordinary people. But how will Clearwater do now that its founder, folk music legend Pete Seeger, has crossed over at the age of 94 to that place of eternal merriment and song known to sailors as Fiddler’s Green? How will it remain afloat without its charismatic leader? Ever since the fabled Clearwater was launched in 1969, with a core mission to educate the region’s

schoolchildren about estuarine ecology, the scrappy little organization has been at the barricades of the major environmental battles of the era. At the time that the boat was built, with funds that Seeger and friends raised by passing the hat – or his famous long-necked banjo – at “folk picnics” up and down the Hudson Valley “the Hudson River was one big sewer, from Glens Falls to the Battery,” recalled Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s environmental director for the past 15 years. In many riverfront cities, raw sewage was simply flushed into the Hudson. In 1972, the Clean Water Act provided federal subsidies to communities to build wastewater treatment facilities. Seeger and the original Clearwater crew were instrumental in the passage of that landmark environmental legislation, according to Greene. At waterfronts and ports up and down the river, the sloop would tie up at a dock while its crew gave informal acoustic concerts and then invited the listeners on board for a river tour. “People would go sailing and see both how beautiful and how tainted the river was. They’d sail by the General Motors plant in Tarrytown and see the river turn to the color the factory was painting cars that day,” said Greene. Clearwater collected hundreds of thousands of

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signatures just sailing up and down the river, and used the power of song to educate people. Then they sailed down to Washington, D.C., where Pete held an impromptu concert in the halls of Congress. “That was considered a tipping point in the passage of the Clean Water Act,” said Greene. “The music inspired Congress to take action. It was a brilliant strategy.” This “really transformative piece of legislation” regulated discharges into the Hudson River, including both municipal sewage and industrial discharges, and also set standards for power plants.


ince government agencies didn’t do a lot of water testing back in the early 1970s or compile the kinds of statistical data about disease that they do nowadays, it’s hard to quantify Clearwater’s cumulative impact on public health in the ensuing decades. But no one would deny that the Hudson River is cleaner today by many orders of magnitude than it was back then. Many cities now use it, with minimal filtering, as a source of safe drinking water. You can even swim in it at sheltered places like Kingston Point Beach without undue risk. Showering afterwards is still recommended, though, because PCBs – industrial chemicals that disrupt the human endocrine system, cause birth defects and are considered likely carcinogens – can still be found in Hudson River sediments, and can be absorbed through the skin.

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February 27, 2014 Health, Sports & Fitness Clearwater has long been a key member of the coalition of environmental groups that successfully pressured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to hold General Electric accountable for decades’ worth of PCB pollution of the Hudson from its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls. Dredging of the most polluted areas, upriver of the Troy Dam, began in 2009 and is “well more than halfway done,” according to Greene. “I think they’ll be done by 2016.” Currently, Clearwater is collaborating with the New York State Canal Corporation to lobby GE to use its dredging equipment and dewatering facilities to remove an additional 70 acres of contaminated sediment to create a navigational channel and allow passage of deep-draughted shipping in the Upper Hudson without further compromising local ecosystems. “The more PCBs they take out, the less damage to natural resources,” Greene argued. Testing of fish in the Upper Hudson showed a bump in PCB levels during the first season of remediation, said Greene, but they have now dropped below their pre-dredging levels. Since PCBs tend to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues of fish and other wildlife, especially as one gets closer to the top of the food chain, it’s still unsafe to eat many species of Hudson River fish. And eating fish is the primary vector by which PCBs do harm to human health. At present there’s an “Eat None” advisory for fish from the waters from Hudson Falls to the Troy Dam. In the Hudson from the Troy Dam to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge at Catskill, men aged 16 and up and women over age 50 may eat one meal a month of alewife, blueback herring, rock bass and yellow perch. In the Lower Hudson downstream of Catskill, seven more fish species, plus blue crabs, are considered safe to ingest in limited quantities – but again, not for children or women of childbearing age. Greene said that it may take a whole generation for all Hudson River fish to become edible again. In the meantime, Clearwater distributes pamphlets to anglers explaining exactly what’s safe to eat right now and what isn’t.


nother Clearwater flagship project is something called the Green Cities Initiative, which enlists the energies of local youth to address environmental challenges on the waterfronts of various Hudson Valley communities. In Newburgh, for instance, Clearwater is partnering with the Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance and other community-based organizations to create a multi-use recreational corridor plan for the urban portion of the Quassaick Creek, including a new natural fitness trail around Muchattoes Lake. Young people will acquire marketable “green economy” skills while they learn about ecological processes by building “rain gardens” in both Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, recycling and filtering roof runoff from large institutional buildings to grow organic vegetables and ornamental plants. You’ll see plenty of evidence of such innovative environmental education projects if you attend Clearwater’s massive annual fundraising concert at Croton Point Park, the Great Hudson River Revival, on the weekend of June 21 and 22. Aside from its always-impressive musical lineup – headlined this year so far by Richard Thompson, Martin Sexton, David Bromberg, Dar Williams, Buckwheat Zydeco and Holly Near – the multi-stage event is known for its musical jamming opportunities, a tent devoted just to dancing, plenty of kid-friendly activities, boatbuilding workshops, and exhibits that make learning about the Hudson River and its creatures lots of fun.

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The festival’s green living expo features businesses and non-profits that support an emerging green economy in the Hudson Valley, including health and wellness centers and practitioners as well as providers and installers of alternative energy systems. The food court emphasizes healthy fair fare, and four years ago the Revival launched an artisanal food and farm market where you can pick up some ice cream from a local dairy co-op, herbal salves and tinctures, locally harvested produce, honey and maple syrup, fair trade coffee, probiotic pickles or baked goods designed especially for people with food allergies. Missing, of course, will be Clearwater’s guiding spirits, Pete and his wife Toshi Seeger, who predeceased him by six months. They will be much missed, but the show will go on, both onstage and off, said Greene. “Pete stepped back from the running of Clearwater a few years ago,” she said, noting that the organization is currently in the midst of a search for a new executive director. “Once that person is hired, they’ll want to do a new five-year plan, but it’s not related to the passing of Pete and Toshi. I don’t think that our central mission will change at all. Our board and staff will continue to honor the founder’s vision.” For information about the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s work, including how to become a member, donor or volunteer, visit For details on the 2014 Great Hudson River Revival, visit or


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27, 2014 16 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

Summit view Catskill 3500 club members mull the pleasures of hiking By Lynn Woods


he winter of 2013-14 will be memorable for snow piled so high that taking a dog for a walk was impossible for days at a time. With such elemental wildness brought to our front doors, most of us did not feel the need to go searching for it. But some did. The members of the Catskill 3500 Club headed up the mountains in small groups even on the snowiest of weekends. In fact, in order to become a full member, you’re required to hike up four mountains in winter, in addition to scaling the 35 peaks with an elevation exceeding 3500 feet in other seasons.


arol Stone White, age 73, and her 70-year-old husband David White went on one such hike recently, leading a small group of intrepid hikers 6.7 miles roundtrip over Giant Ledge up Panther Mountain. “That is one of the most beautiful hikes, over Giant Ledge,” said Carol, who is the club’s conservation chair. She and David, chair of membership, live between the Catskills and the Adirondacks in the quaint college town of Clinton. “People say their experience in the mountains is life-changing,” said Carol White. “It’s a mentalhealth day to be out there. To be out in the fresh air and sunshine experiencing sights you’ve never seen before clears out the brain and refreshes the soul. It’s indescribable.” The Whites probably know the Catskills as well as anyone. To update the comprehensive guidebook they edited, Catskill Trails, 4th Edition, they measured 345 miles of trails by surveying wheel. They also authored Catskill Day Hikes for All Seasons, and Carol has written several other books, including Women with Altitude: Challenging the Adirondack High Peaks in Winter. She received the Susan B. Anthony Legacy Award and in 2007 appeared on a panel with polar explorer Ann Bancroft and long-distance, cold-water swimmer Lynne Cox. The Whites began hiking in 1989, becoming Adirondack 46ers in 1990 before discovering the Catskills. Then they hiked all 35 peaks plus the four winter peaks required by the 3500 Club within the first two years, followed by winter climbs the next year of all 35 peaks. The winter requirement, instituted by club president Bill Hentschel in 1966, requires crampons and snowshoes, which nowadays can be replaced by gear such as MICROspikes and Stabilicers, if determined appropriate by the hike leader. Such climbs, in any season, are not for the faint of heart: “There can be an incredibly long hike starting before dawn that goes to midnight,” said Carol, noting that strong hikers will surmount several peaks in one hike. Very often, two peaks are hiked together. Table and Peekamoose summits, for example, are 0.8 miles from each other and are often “grabbed off ” on one hike.

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Gina Paolillo celebrates her 35th peak with her son Jaco and David White, the Catskills 3500 Club’s membership chairman, after getting to the top of Hunter Mountain. Thirteen of the mountains, four of which are clustered together near Slide Mountain, lack trails and are known as the so-called “bushwhack peaks.” “They’re the most difficult – someone characterized them as seemingly four-dimensional,” said Carol, who has collected stories of climbs in her books. Myriad toppled trees blown down in hurricanes, thickets of berry bushes, and the loose rock that can make footing treacherous constitute a veritable obstacle course. Adding insult to injury, the trail-less peaks lack views at their true summits. Sometimes there are views some distance from the summit.


espite these challenges, the 3500 Club has a cumulative membership of 2,228, of which 885 are also winter-peak members. Last year’s graduating class of 131 was the largest in years. In addition, there are several hundred aspiring members. Club members lead hikes up all the peaks on weekends throughout the year, except during big game hunting season, with the group size limited to twelve. (For a list of upcoming hikes, visit and download the quarterly newsletter, the Canister.) The club maintains the trails up Peekamoose and Table, has aided in the construction and repair of several lean-tos, and organizes Wilderness First Aid courses, with scholarships available for hike leaders. Certificates are distributed to new members at an annual dinner held in April, and each year members gather for a festive Winter Weekend.

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David regularly receives letters from people who “talk about what a life-changing experience it has been.” Great wilderness stretching off Route 28 south of Phoenicia and throughout the Catskill Forest Preserve enable hikers to commune with nature far from the roar of gasoline engines. The Bicknell thrush, an endangered species, inhabits only the highest alpine elevations of the Catskills above 3500 feet. Other wildlife, such as bears and porcupines, abounds. The rigors of hiking are uncommonly good for you, judging from the remarkable longevity of some of the 3500 members. Founders Bill and Kay Spangenberger, who started the club in 1962, both lived past 100 (Kay to 101 and Bill to 102), as did the longtime editor of the newsletter, Franklin Clark. According to Carol’s history of the club, recounted in Catskill Peak Experiences: Mountaineering Tales of Endurance, Survival, Exploration & Adventure from the Catskill 3500 Club, the Spangenbergers first got the idea of climbing all the Catskill peaks in 1949. They proceeded to do that and hoped to start a club. No one was interested until over a decade later, when the chairman of the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, Brad Whiting, joined forces with the couple, and they organized the first meeting at the Mohonk Mountain House. Meanwhile, the Spangenbergers, who resided in New York City before moving to Woodstock, hiked all 46 of the Adirondack peaks over 4000 feet. Kay also swam across the Hudson River from

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Club website offers many safety tips, as does www. Being able to read the terrain is also helpful. One hiker who got seriously lost in late winter was able to finally figure out where he was by knowing the differences between a south-facing and northfacing slope, Carol said. Her writings about tragedies on the mountain in Peak Experiences include the story of two men who went the wrong way on the Escarpment Trail in a major snowstorm from the top of 3,940-foot Blackhead Mountain in March 2010. Experienced winter hikers, they dug a snow cave and survived Saturday night. The next day they were suffering from hypothermia, making their extremities useless, and they couldn’t get their snowshoes on. Ten rangers searching for the men – who had called for help using a cell phone – finally found one of them on Sunday night at 9 p.m. The other, who was hypoglycemic, had left to find help and was found dead nearby on Monday.

W Arlo Cusmano, 7, finishes his 35th peak as part of the Catskills 3500 Club on Kaaterskill High Peak. Rhinecliff to Kingston Point. Bill credited hiking and splitting wood with keeping him strong enough to play tennis twice a week at age 84. At that age, Bill hiked up 3,140-foot Overlook Mountain in 58 minutes. They also hiked in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and the West. Bill, born in Kingston, also made the history books as the last president of the Cornell Steamboat Company in the 1950s, which was based in Kingston and had once boasted the nation’s largest fleet of tugboats. Although the oldest club member to finish climbing the 35 high peaks for the first time is undocumented, Frank Serravallo took his first climb at age 73 and celebrated a third full round on his 82nd birthday on 3,720-foot Balsam Lake Mountain with many friends, according to an account in Catskill Peak Experiences. The youngest club member is five-year-old Jaco Cusmano. Jaco’s brother Arlo finished all the peaks at age seven, is now a winter member. Arlo is featured in an upcoming film, To Be Forever Wild. Somewhat ironically, the most notorious climber of the Catskills isn’t a club member but a speed climber known as Cave Dog, who has broken records hiking up Colorado’s 54 14,000-foot peaks and the smaller mountains of the Northeast. In September 2002, Cave Dog climbed all the peaks in the Catskills in two days, 15 hours, 24 minutes, with assistance from his support team of 15. “In fairness, he started timing it when he was at the top of the first peak and finished at the top of the last peak,” said David.


he most challenging trails are Devil’s Path and the Escarpment Trail, both of which are about 25 miles long. “People have trained for climbing in the Alps on the Devil’s Path,” Carol said. “It’s a roller-coaster, hundreds of feet up and still more down over several high peaks.” The highest peaks, 4,180-foot Slide Mountain and 4,040-foot Hunter Mountain, are among the easiest. The Slide trailhead starts at 2,400 feet, so



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you climb about 1,800 feet. The greatest ascent is 2,623 feet up 3,843-foot Peekamoose Mountain. The mountain with one of the best views is 3780foot Wittenberg, with its panorama of the Ashokan Reservoir, a 2,400-foot ascent. While the lack of bugs, crystal air and magical snowscapes are among the assets of hiking up the mountains in winter, people need to be prepared and take precautions in case they wind up stranded in below freezing temperatures. Actually, they need to prepare any time of year, given the harsher and changeable weather at higher elevations. A map and compass with the skills to read them are essential, given that cell phones and GPS systems can be unreliable. The trail-less peaks also lack the “herd paths” that one finds in the Adirondacks, making the Catskills a route-finder’s dream, said the Whites. A flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries is also essential gear, as is food that doesn’t freeze, water (poured in the canteen hot and held against one’s body, to prevent freezing), a whistle, first-aid kit, matches, pocket knife, hat, plenty of warm, layered clothing and extra mittens. The 3,500


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hen it’s snowing and there’s a 20 m.p.h. wind, hiking in the high peaks can be “a little nasty,” said David White, noting the wind chill effect at 20 degrees is minus 10 degrees. But when it’s a sunny day with little wind and mild temperatures, “winter hiking is fantastic,” he said. Actually, the Whites said they enjoy the mountains in all seasons, with the exception perhaps of a humid summer heat wave. “With the different seasons and weather conditions and times of day, it seems that you don’t climb the same peak twice, and mountain hiking somehow never gets old,” Carol said. Although they have also hiked throughout New England, extensively out West, and in Scotland, the wonders and beauties of the Catskills satisfy completely. Hiking the peaks in the winter “opened up an entirely new world.” They learned enough to climb all Adirondack High Peaks and New Hampshire’s 48 high peaks in winter, including Mount Washington, famous for its record 231 m.p.h. winds.

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27, 2014 18 | February Health, Sports & Fitness

The big one Striped-bass fishermen are stoic about DEC live-bait regulations Paul Smart


ooking for a new underdog to cheer on? A new demographic that’s been hidden until now, when big-G government’s inched towards one of its meat-and-potato – or perhaps we should call it fish-and-rice – issues? How about bass fishermen? They’re a folk with whole cable channels marketed just to them, and a whole subset of Hudson Valley tourism trade aimed at them. Wondered about the huge parking lots around the Point up in Catskill, or along the waterfront in Beacon and Newburgh? They’re not all for art lovers and big trailer containers loaded with paintings and sculptures. Ditto all the boat berths on either side of the river headed north to Albany and out along the Mohawk River in what was once our state’s great empire-making canal corridor. All this stuff is for the folks who eye our sometimes-salty waters for the striped bass that come up them each year. And those bass are big. They can get up into the 70-pound range out at sea. Striped bass the size of a fourth grader have been rumored to swim in our own river waters, according to some tales we’ve heard. The world record is a nearly 90-pound, 54-inch-tall stripey caught by Greg Myerson off the coast of Connecticut three years ago. A 55-pounder was caught by a Catskills man some dozen years back. The striped bass is also the official saltwater fish of our state – as well as that of New Jersey, New Hampshire and Virginia. Stripers are also the official fish, no particularized designation, in Maryland, Rhode Island and South Carolina. So with that much love and tradition behind striped bass fishing, what’s with this underdog idea? Well, it turns out that new state Department of Environmental Conservation restrictions on catching river herrings could impact fishermen

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Striped bass, or morone saxatilis, are a key sport fish in New York State. Fishermen didn’t seem fazed by the Department of Environmental Conservation recent restrictions on using river herring as live bait for stripers. Illustration provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. hunting for striped bass. Why’s that? Because herring are starting to get as endangered as what was once considered the best of all striped-bass lure fish, shad. That’s right, herring: those fish that in their various forms get mixed with cream and sold as accoutrements to bagels – or the much larger alewives, which are used as both lobster bait and the British breakfast staple, kippers. The result is that the herring season from March

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15 to June 15 has a per-angler limit of ten per day. That’s for keepers. Anything over that’s got to be released. Few of those fish can be had by the traditional netting manner – only those caught in the main portion of the Hudson. Other herring must be hauled in by angling, which the DEC tactfully defines on its website as “fishing with a rod and reel with hooks/line.” How does this shift sit with striped bass fishermen? We lurked around the big spots in our stretch of the Hudson Valley, where the parking lots are built huge to tournament bass fishing. Given those massive piles of snow we’re all still buried under, no one’s around yet. So we took the search online. At Stripers247. com – “All stripers, all the time!” – there’s much ado about the deep spots in the river, where the bass start migrating for spawning purposes come early April. Fishermen are using the site to talk about the types of fish caught in various parts of the river. That 55-pound record keeper from 2001, in turns out, was snagged just south of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. “Stripers spawn anywhere above Bear Mountain Bridge, primarily in the Newburgh Bay area and the waters south of Kingston through Catskill. Prime spawning habitat are gravel bottoms on flats. Please allow stripers to spawn in peace; target nearby rocky areas where post-spawners and males Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9-6 • Sat. 9-4

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February 27, 2014 Health, Sports & Fitness feed,” wrote one blogger on the site. “Best baits vary,” the fish-speak advice continued. “Early, bloodworms and sandworms, threaded and dangling on hooks, are effective. Later in spring, live eels hooked through the lip and swum freely do better. Fish worms and eels on incoming tides along the bottom. Whole or chunk herring and bunker also catch stripers and many drift whole or two-inch chunks of herring on two-ounce slip sinkers with a swivel, a three-foot leader, and a five/zero hook. “Lures, such as troll plugs like large Rapalas, are good, especially later in spring. Other good lures include Yo-Zuris, Striper Swipers, and Bombers. Early on, small bucktails often work.” So it seems the idea of live-bait herring’s not that big a thing, especially for those headed into the Hudson Valley from elsewhere. Serious fishermen are finding alternatives. Another author basically pooh-poohs the idea of herring as the “ideal” bait by noting the nature of spawning stripers. “Male striped bass swim in the middle of the column, usually below the top twelve feet. They feed in the top twelve but cruise and rest in the water below that. That is why you normally catch male fish while trolling,” he noted, after recalling days when shad had been his baitfish of choice. Shad are regulated, too. “Lady striped bass, heavy with eggs, move up the river following the contours of the river in shallow areas and in deeper channels they will stay close to 30 feet in depth.” I went to a spot a former Ulster County resident told me about – under one of lower Manhattan’s older bridges. It was the new Brooklyn, a mix of post-industrial and loft living, with demographics to match the shifting real-estate market. Two older guys talked about how all the dumped bodies used to attract crabs, which in turn attracted

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small fry fish. Stripers love those fry. Meanwhile, two newer hedge-fund sorts used flies to catch bluefish and talked about how the stinkier the bait the greater the haul. They may have been talking about their business lives. Live bait didn’t play into the equation, they all agreed. The fact that herring communicate by passing gas – something reported on in National Geographic a few years back – got a rise out of everyone, too. What about boat fishing – where one trolls a line back and forth – versus shore or pier casting, where tinkle bells are used to alert the beer-drinking fishermen of a potential catch? Didn’t matter, they answered. It was all sport, in the end. And this idea of the underdog, where those who fish for striped bass never get their due respect? Online, at that Brooklyn pier, and amongst those in Catskill and Newburgh who rent space

| 19

and sell gear to the bass-fishing population each spring, the word was out. Anyone who spends big money on boats, trailers, sonar fish finders, tackle, lures, bait and everything else involved in the striped-bass industry will always feel a bit like an underdog. Even the pros with the World Fishing Network and various indie fishing shows – from “Bassmasters” to “Fishing with John.” Why? It’s an idea to which anyone who’s watched the big one get away – or come back to shore with zero fish at the end of the day – can relate. Think of the need for justification to wives, accountants, oneself. And all those fish left trying to spawn in that mighty river, as well. For more about all this, from shad and herring to striped bass and all else in the river, including full details on seasons and regulations, visit And good luck out there.

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