Getting up before dawn on the Saturday we stayed at Mongaup Pond was one of the best things I did during this trip. Lying in my tent and listening to the woodland creatures sing their own version of the rooster morning song, I worked myself up into going for a short walk over to the lake. When I opened the tent flap and welcomed in another day, I was surprised at how bright it was at 5:15 in the morning up in the mountains. No flashlight was required, even though the sun had not yet risen over the tops of the trees that surrounded the area.
Grabbing my camera, I made my way over to the lakeside boat ramp, with a quick stopover at the nearby bathroom, then took a seat on the picnic table to watch one of Mother Nature's greatest movies. Surprisingly, I was the only person up at that hour. I expected to see a few fishermen out on the lake looking for trout for that night's dinner. Within 10 minutes, I was joined by three men who must have read my thoughts. "Are you fishin’?" asked one as they launched their rowboat into the water. "Only for sunrises" I replied and watched them float out silently to the middle of the lake to try their luck as the sky slowly brightened over their heads.
Sitting on the dock, listening to the frogs call each other from one side of the lake to the other, it reminded me of the sound of rubber bands being plucked. Twang, twang, twang. That, combined with the sound of the water lapping against the pilings and the birds greeting each other with their musical good mornings, created a peaceful background against the rising of the sun.
I sat for approximately 45 minutes before that giant golden globe finally crested the peaks of the Catskill Mountains that surrounded the area. Mongaup Pond is actually a lake of about 120 acres surrounded by 163 campsites situated in the middle of thousands of acres of the New York State Forest Preserve. While no hunting is allowed in the campground itself, it is permitted in the surrounding forest areas. Fishing is a huge
draw here, as there is ample opportunity to sample trout, perch pickerel, and smallmouth bass, among numerous other types of fish. This area of New York is actually considered the "dry fly-fishing capital of the world." A fish hatchery was located a couple of miles down the road from the campground. I am guessing that is where the fish stock for the lake comes from.
Looking out over the lake and watching a large cloud mass come in from the north and cover the crown of the mountains, I wondered if it held rain and if it would affect the swimming, boating, and hiking that occurs during the day in the area. Luckily for everyone, the clouds passed with not a drop of rain and the weather was actually some of the nicest I had experienced all summer. It was slightly breezy and full of sun and blue skies, with temps in the mid-80s. It was perfect camping weather, as we had very little trouble with the pesky insect population. Any instances we did have we dealt with by using Citronella candles and a light covering of bug spray.