My Shawangunks page

and Cragsmoor, NY – and Sam’s Point – and Verkeeder Falls


“How many are your works, O Lord!  In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

                                                                                                                        Psalm 104:24 (NIV)

My Personal Statement of Belief in Jesus


Although it does have caves, Shawangunk does not rhyme with “spelunk”.  The following may be helpful:


How to say Shawangunk:

There were two brothers named Gumm, once;

Their names were Donald and Richard.

Dick Gumm died in a car crash,

Hit by his brother Don Gumm.


“Don Gumm” rhymes with Shawangunk.  Just trust me, that’s how it’s pronounced.



6/2007:  See my Verkeeder Falls videos on YouTube:




The Shawangunks (pronounced SHON-gums) are magical mountains to me.  I spent many days hiking around their trees, streams and cliffs.  I went to high school in Pine Bush, NY (now apparently the UFO capitol of the east!).  In my senior year I took Physics.  I sat at a desk along the windows, and had a daily view of the Gunks, specifically Sam’s Point.  Many times I wished I was there instead of here.  I could see the opening of a ravine which I knew led to Katykill Falls (or Verkeeder Kill Falls, if you prefer).  I would try to project myself to that place, imagining the cooling spray of water in the permanent breeze of the falls.


My area of the Shawangunks has four lakes:  Mohonk, Minnewaska, Awosting and Maratanza.  I guess my favorite is Awosting since it requires the most effort to reach.  Further south of the public park areas is the hamlet of Cragsmoor, NY and the Bear Cliff nature preserve.  In Cragsmoor is a stone church, The Church of the Holy Name.  Linda and I were married at this church in 1992.


Once when my daughter Claire was very young, we took her hiking at Bear Cliff.  While looking out over the valley, we could see black storm clouds heading our way.  We watched as the storm came up from Orange County and over the top of us.  Linda, Claire and I took refuge under a small rock ledge, safe from the cold rain falling all around.  We waited about 20 minutes for the rain to pass by, then crawled out and went back to the car.


Another favorite spot is in the Verkeeder Kill valley, just below the falls.  Where the ravine formed by the falls opens out, there is a large balanced boulder, which forms a small room below it.  My friends and I used to hike up to the falls from below (parking along Upper Mountain road).  This spot was on the way, and we would stop and rest in the cool of this shallow room.


I mention the hike from Upper Mountain road only because you can’t go that way anymore.  We used to park at a place called Daschner’s.  We would stop at Mr. Daschner’s house (we called it the castle) and ask permission to pass on his land.  He would ask for a donation to go toward homeless animals.  In speaking with him once, I found that he knew my Grandfather’s brothers, Phil and Baird Jamison.  We had a nice talk about farming in the 1930’s and pulling milk on a sleigh through snowdrifts in route 52.  2/2004 – An interesting addendum:  Mr. Daschner and my uncle Baird ended up sharing a room in a nursing home at the end of their lives.  Mr. Daschner passed away there.  After that, my uncle apparently decided that he didn’t want to be there anymore.  He went back home an lived on several more years with his extended family.  Uncle Baird died in 1991 at the age of 97.


I used to hike the mountains in the wintertime.  I remember one hike after a snowstorm.  The snow was a couple feet deep and had hardened in the cold and wind.  This allowed me to walk up above the level of all the low bushes & scrub, thereby making great time in covering distances.  It was a completely different hike than in the summer, when you must wend your way through & around the bushes.


One spring day I hiked up to the Verkeeder Falls.  I started at Daschner’s Castle and hiked straight up.  This took me up a cliff face that had separated off from the main mountain body, forming an ‘island’ of maybe an acre or two.  My scramble up the cliff face took all my attention & energy.  Upon reaching the top I collapsed on the exposed rock and turned around to face south into Orange County.  There before me was spread out a view all the way down to West Point & the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey.  After catching my breath I finished the climb up to the top of the island.  That’s where I was overwhelmed by the realization that there is NO WAY this world could have happened by accident.  I was SURE in my heart that God had created it on purpose, just the way it is.  The thought came to me:  what possible evolutionary reason could there be that I would find this sight beautiful?  I can only find this beautiful if God has placed in me the capacity to find his creation beautiful.  Thus we can come to believe in God based solely on what we see about us.  Much later on I read in Romans 1:20 that ‘…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…”.  This was my ‘mountaintop experience’.


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I had the pleasure of taking a hike from the Nature Conservancy’s Sam’s Point Preserve conservation center back to Verkeeder Kill Falls.  The weather was cold and windy, but sunny.  I’ve taken a few photos & movies of the trip here:  Shawangunk Hike 2006.  I like what the Conservancy has done with the property, and the $7 parking fee is a pleasure to pay.  It’s a small thing to give up in order to preserve the beauty that so many people enjoy.


FAQ:  No, you cannot drive up to Sam’s point anymore.  It’s an easy ½ mile hike.  Yes, the ice caves are reopened.  They’re about a mile from the parking lot.




This afternoon I was at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA touring the exhibits with my son Alex.  He called to me from across a gallery – “Dad, this is from Sam’s Point!”  We were viewing the Annie Leibovitz exhibit “A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005”.  She had taken some photos of Sam’s Point and Verkeeder Kill falls in 1999.  I started to take a photo of the work, but was quickly dissuaded by a museum guard.  Here’s a link to the exhibit while it showed in San Diego.


Here’s Annie’s photo of the birch trees from 1999:               And mine from 2006:

leibovitz_samspoint                     jamison_samspoint


I can see why she gets paid for her photos!  But it was really special to see my favorite place celebrated by our nations top photographer and then exhibited around the country.



See my YouTube page for Verkeeder Falls videos from Dec., 2007.

How could I have forgotten Marc Fried from this page?  Here are his books on Amazon.

I still need to finish my ‘hike’ page & add another page of laptop wallpaper images from the mountains.



Other People’s pages

These people have spent much more time and energy than I in showing off the Shawangunks’ beauty. 




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© 2002-2007 by Chris Jamison                                                                                                               This page last updated 10/12/2007 at 9:53 AM

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