Bear Mountain is far more popular with visitors than the Harriman side is. My plan was to get our early and take advantage of Day Light Savings Time and Sunday Church to beat the tourist/hikers that are sure to arrive (from NYC and elsewhere).
As result I was a little slow to get started, but I eventually managed to find my bearings and started into the woods at the far end of the southern most parking lot.
I headed South on the Ski/Bike Trail which meandered through White Pine groves. Turning right onto Beechy Bottom Rd/Ski Trail I had an easy run on on a wide fire road that mostly ran at a 1 or 2% downgrade.
|View from the top of Pines Mt.|
The yellow path started on a gentle upgrade and grew increasingly steep until I reached a short scramble to the top of Pine Mountain.
The slight red cast of buds across the tree tops was evidence that Spring is just around the corner.
|Descending Pines Mt.|
Reaching the bottom the yellow path turned to the right, I followed for a few meters before I had a feeling that this wasjust not right. My internal compass was telling me I was heading in the wrong direction.
|The Historic Route|
The unmarked road continued for about a mile at a very pleasant downgrade on soft earth with scattered tree limbs and minor storm erosion.
I soon smelled wood smoke and saw rooftops. I was immediately thankful that the road I took was in fact the correct turn and I was approaching Queensboro Road, which will be the location of an aide station during TNFEC.
As I approached the clearing there was a placard commemorating this historic route which retraces the route of the British Army as they marched to take over Ft. Montgomery.
From Queensboro Road my directions were to follow a woods road to the red-cross trail. I found the woods road easily enough and it wandered gently into the woods. It came to a stream with a dried river bed alongside it with some massive boulders lining the edges.
|The Woods Road Disappears|
The path seemed to disappear completely. I scoured the surrounding hills looking for signs of an adjoining path but could find nothing.
Then I heard voices. Someone was approaching. I could certainly ask them if the knew where the red-cross trail was.
Four runners were approaching, ...and the wind began to howl.
I started the inquiry with an assumption that they too were training for TNFEC. The lead runner confirmed my suspicion and told me that it was difficult to find the turn onto the red-cross because a number of fallen trees obscured the turn. It was just another 100 meters up the riverbed from where I had turned around.
No sooner had they set me on the path to continue when they seemingly vanished into the woods ahead of me.
Was I that tired? Were they that much faster than me? Where did they start? Could they be on fresher legs? Did I do too much yesterday? Holy Jeeze, we're going in the same direction, how did they do that?
Either way, I had to run at my own pace or I would certainly end up in trouble, I knew there were some tough miles ahead.
|Lower portion of Timp Pass|
I had heard about the difficulty Timp Pass, but to see it from the bottom, thinking I'm supposed to be running this was just a daunting task.
I shuffled along and kept a fairly decent pace (well at least it was before I saw those guys who disappeared ahead of me). I got as far as I could before I had to walk, huffing and puffing my way over the top of the pass.
I stopped and checked my maps at the top and started to encounter more hikers navigating the accessible park.
I continued down Tim Pass Road which was strewn with what seemed like more rocks than the entire previous 7.5 miles put together.
This run was amazingly rocky and I questioned the sanity of the event organizers and the runners for going along with such a fool-hardy plan.
Eventually Timp Pass road turns off to 1777 which winds it's way through Doodletown.
If I were to continue north on 1777 I would have headed to The Bear Mountain Lodge where TNFEC will finish. But my car was parked at Anthony Wayne, so I still had a few miles to go.
|Winding up The Fawn Path|
1777 West joins the white and eventually finds the Fawn path that wraps it's way up a small hill and descends on the other side.
As I'm coming down, I can sense that I'm close to finishing. My internal compass is telling me I'm just about there and I probably have less than half a mile before the parking lot is visible.
I encounter a couple more groups of hikers and I know I'm just about done.
I emerge from the woods to the Ski Trail and have but a few hundred yards till turning parking lot.
I turn right through a gate and down a steep paved path which makes my quads burn and run the last few meters across the parking lot to my car.
I had some challenges on this run, most of which would have been alleviated had I been more familiar with the route, but I can be proud of completing another difficult run in The Hudson Highlands.
One thing I can be sure of is that The North Face Endurance Challenge is going to be a very tough event.
Today I covered 11.86 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,743 feet in 3 hours and 49 minutes.