Cooperative Living: Week 5

On Labor Day Weekend, Carp and I drove four hours up into the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York and attempted some mountain climbing. As a first backpacking experience for me, it went pretty smoothly. Carp had a real backpacking pack, but I just had a regular backpack. We ended up tying my sleeping bag to my backpack with a set of shoestrings.

Beginning our ascent up the mountain, I soon learned that this hike was not your traditional wood chip path, but was full of constant rocks going straight up hill

along with other challenging surprises.

We passed a beautiful waterfall, and made stops every 10 minutes or so to catch our breath.

About three hours into our hike of constant climbing, we started asking hikers we passed how much further it was to our destination- Gothic peak.

They would tell us answers of anything from “it’s just up the hill!” to “it’s 10 hours away.” So we really had no idea how far we were looking at. We took a risk, and kept going.

We found only one spot along four miles of trail up the mountain that was flat enough for a campsite, so we left our bags there and continued up the mountain. Another hour later, and moral was failing. We were getting more and more answers of “it’s going to be at least a few more hours,” so at some point we decided to start back down the mountain and pitch our tent.

Our campsite ended up being at around 3,000 feet, which was a good way up the mountain. We ate trail mix for supper, and said hello to the hikers walking past us as the sun went down. We shared water with some of them, and made sure they had flashlights to make it back down, because they were going to be hiking a few hours in the dark for sure. It seems that we weren’t the only ones who underestimated the length of time it would take to climb to the peak.

There were noises throughout the night that sounded very much like a bear growling, but Carp assured me that it was just a plane overhead. I was not convinced, but decided to fall asleep anyway.

Around three in the morning, the rain started. Something that we had not anticipated at all for some reason. Our bags and bear box were sitting out in the rain a ways down the trail, and they got soaked. Also, the inside of the tent got wet, though we stayed dry in sleeping bags.

We were not dry however for the three hour hike back down the mountain in the rain. The forest was glowing with green life all around us, and felt like a rainforest. The mist was hanging onto the mountain tops, and looked very pretty. We thought we might see some of the hikers from last night stranded along the trail that morning, but thankfully everyone seemed to make it out safely last night.

Finally back to our car at the bottom of the mountain, we drove to the nearest town (Keene Valley) a few miles away, and hit up the local diner. Our clothes were soaking wet, but so were most of the other hikers’ clothes at the diner, so we fit right in. We got coffee for the road, said “what a hell of a trip” and headed back to Syracuse.

Back in Syracuse, we made it back just in time for our weekly Sunday potluck, and we had vegan pot pie with homemade chickpea meat ball soup which went perfect with the rainy weather. We hosted a guest from Syria who is attending the university in town, and got to know her while we ate and all cleaned up together.

Earlier this week on Monday we attended a meeting with the Workers Center, which helps migrant farmworkers in the surrounding area organize for rights. Currently, they are in the process of seeking shelter for farmworkers who have lost their jobs and homes due to organizing, and they are aiming to create a santuary space in the city. The meeting was half in English, half in Spanish, and as I had volunteered to be notetaker for the meeting, I did my best to keep up.

On Tuesday I watered the garden and learned how to make vegan macaroni and cheese (with nutritional yeast).

Wednesday I spent the afternoon at my internship at the refugee resettlement agency, and I made stir fry with the 10 different types of peppers we have growing in the garden.

We learned that Francis, our cat in Rochester, will be moving to a new home soon- but staying in our lives! Also I learned about some of the local cuisine in upstate New York: salt potatoes (literally just boil potatoes in salt) and Utica greens (similar to southern greens, but with a bunch of other ingredients added in). My housemate’s homemade vegan mac and cheese: potatoes, carrots and nutritional yeast blended together to make the vegan cheese. Very good- and full of vitamin B- turning my pee bright yellow!

Friday morning I helped to organize an action for the first time. This emergency action is set for Tuesday in support of DACA, and is happening in cities nationwide. I will be a legal observer for the event- videotaping any interactions with the police, and taking photos for social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Reading the news, I learned that today is the coldest September 1st in the past 50 years of Syracuse history. Wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants outside I was still a little chilly with the low being 42.

Later that day I cleaned the kitchen (my weekly chore)- took out the compost bucket (it had turned to slime), and washed the kitchen towels. I also worked on the stone wall in the garden. We are expected to contribute about six hours a week toward the house.

Friday night I went with some of my housemates to see an outdoor showing of the movie “Get Out.”

Like what you read? Check out my blog at

You can also support my writing financially on Patreon.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store