Ashokan Reservoir


Ashokan Reservoir photos: Nina Shengold

Just before I turned 60, I decided to walk at the Catskills’ Ashokan Reservoir every day for a year and write about whatever I noticed.  This place of mercurial beauty is practically in my back yard, and I walked there in every season, in all kinds of weather, at all times of day.  Sometimes I walked with companions, most often alone.  I went back there again and again, and I found something new every time.


I started out on the 2.5 mile public-access walkway over the dam, but curiosity led me off-road.  I picked up a fishing license and started exploring the lesser-known paths and coves along the reservoir’s 44 miles of shoreline.  I studied its seasonal changes, its resident eagles (and great blue herons, white-tailed deer, black bears, and equally colorful humans).  I learned about how, in the early years of the 20th century, more than two thousand people were uprooted from their ancestral homes to slake New York City’s insatiable thirst. I got obsessed.


I’ve distilled the fruits of that year into a book called Reservoir Year: A Walker’s Book of Days.  Here are some photos I took at the Ashokan.  (Not one was taken during my “walk year,” when I was adamantly tech-free; I didn’t even take notes on the path.  I carried my daily walks home like a golden retriever with a prize stick.)


As I edited the manuscript for publication, the Ashokan Rail Trail was completed, opening 11.5 more miles of publicly accessible trail along the reservoir’s scenic north shore.


Click on thumbnails to see enlarged.

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