A Visit to The Holler

by Sue Freeman

One winter day we answered the call of The Holler. Pollywogg Holler is an Eco-Lodge that sits amid the extensive trails of Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond State Forests in the southern tier. It’s obvious that you’re headed for a special place the moment you step out of your car. A trail, doted with abstract sculptures, winds through the woods and crosses a stream near an active beaver pond. Overnight guests can carry their luggage along the 0.2-mile trail or borrow the wheelbarrow to tote their gear.

Pollywogg Holler is a conglomerate of unusual buildings and lodges. The main lodge is a log cabin that houses the kitchen and a dining table and serves as the community center, especially in winter. Nearby is the wood loft, which as the name implies stores firewood and has a sleeping loft with large windows overlooking the complex. An Indian Teepee and a small building called the “Love Shack” off in the woods, offer additional lodging.

Two large ponds are available for swimming or ice-skating, depending on the season. During our visit, the snow was plentiful and we spent our days snowshoeing. Despite the cold winter day, and lack of gas or electricity, we enjoyed hot showers. We opted to use the heated rest room rather than the nature observatory (a.k.a. outhouse). This is luxurious camping after all.

Before retiring we basked in a wood stove heated sauna. Then we climbed the small planks jutting from the foyer walls to sleep in the sauna loft. As starlight lit the stained glass windows, we crawled under an immense pile of quilts and comforters. Throughout the night snow dusted our capped heads – blown in through a crack below a stained glass window. But we slept long and warm in our loft cocoon.

Food was a highlight of Pollywogg Holler, including pizza cooked in an outdoor wood-fired kiln. We huddled around a Purple People Heater - a custom wood stove for keeping people warm outdoors – to eat our pizza. The owners have hand built everything at Polywogg Holler including the Purple People Heaters, often using recycled materials.

We felt at ease in The Holler. It exists in concert with nature, building upon the natural beauty of the land. The people we met were folks who love and respect the outdoors and simple pleasures. In the evening a group gathered in the main lodge and picked up instruments for an impromptu jam session. A sense of peace and kinship permeated the place.

For a treat, answer the call of Pollywogg Holler. Plan some days hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing on the trails of Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond State Forests and enjoy the camaraderie and ambiance of a stay at The Holler.

For more information, visit www.pollywoggholler.com or call 1-800-291-9668. Maps of the trail systems at Phillips Creek and Palmers Pond State Forests can be found in the guidebook “Snow Trails – Cross-country Ski and Snowshoe in Central & Western New York” (www.footprintpress.com or 1-800-431-1579).

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