Monday, February 27, 2012

I'll Just Have to Earn It!

I've always been of the belief that if you didn't earn it you shouldn't wear it.

For that reason I've never worn a race T-shirt unless I've completed the event. As a result, there's been a few race shirts that have been used for cleaning the car or other not so glamorous ends.

Because of this, I can't purchase this shirt form Ink Burn (yet), but boy do I want one.

I guess I'll just have to earn it!


Harriman/Bear Mountain Reconnaissance Run: Part 1

Earlier in the week my plan was to run the 17 mile western portion of The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k at Bear Mountain on Saturday

On Friday morning we had an inch of snow on the ground and it poured on the drive home. Wind advisories were issued for Saturday with temps in the high 30s but with 45+ mile per hour gusts the windchill would be in the teens to lower 20s. The forecast for Sunday was much friendlier, wind advisories were lifted and the report was for mostly sunny skies with temps in the 40s.

Since this was going to be my first real run of any distance in Harriman State Park and I'm unfamiliar with the trails and I'm sure the winds would be pretty strong in the higher elevations, I thought it would be best to let the Saturday plans turn into Sunday plans.

I woke up pretty early on Sunday and started to get ready for the run, I tried not to wake my dog because he loves joining me on trail runs, but I didn't think I should take him with me today. There was too many unknowns for me to risk taking him along on what I was expecting to be a 17 mile run.

I arrived at the empty parking lot at Anthony Wayne Recreational Area and was out and on my way into the woods of Harriman at about 7:45AM. It was chilly and a little breezy but nothing in comparison to the day prior.

Silvermine Ski Road
I exited the parking lot by following the Anthony Wayne Trail (White) out the ramp I had driven in on and crossed the bridge over the Palisades Parkway and turned into the woods.

I was excited but I needed to control my heart-rate, it was going to be a long day in the woods with considerable elevation gain. I've been told on more than once that the Bear Mountain Ultra was one of the tougher Ultras around so I needed to be smart about today's run and not take it too lightly.

Bridge on Silvermine Ski Road
Although I have never run here, the terrain was familiar. Hilly with lots of rocks! The path was a partially covered by about a 1/2 inch of crusty snow.

Before long the path left the woods and I had about a half mile run on Seven Lakes Road. The turn-by-turn directions indicated I would be taking a left on Silvermine Ski Road, which I assumed would resemble a fire road and was unmarked.

I took the first of several leaps of faith and assumed that the road I found was correct and that it would lead me on a climb to the eastern edge of Silver Mine Lake.

Eastern Shore of Silver Mine Lake
Because of the snow, I nearly missed the right hand turn onto the Ramapo/Dunderberg Trail (Red). Something caught my eye and I noticed a thin trail dropping off to the left and I turned around to see I had just missed the path I was supposed to take up to the lake.

I followed a lovely path around the lake, feeling how crisp the wind coming off the water was. Across the lake, the western shore was bathed in a warm glowing sunlight as I was in the windy shadows.

Rock Field
The trail  left the lake and started a crusty climb. There was more snow here and I was crunching into about a 1/2 inch on every step. The path curved to the left a bit and I was running into the rising sun. I continued along, managing my pace as the grade increased and my heart rate soared.

In typical Hudson Highlands fashion I crested the hill to get but a short recovery period before coming across a rock field at the bottom of yet another climb.

Mountain Laurel Single-Track
I crossed the top of this particular hill and descended into some cool single-track running, the path followed through a tunnel of Mountain Laurel down short stair-scapes and around corners and up short boulder scrambles.

It was refreshing to leave behind the labor of a grueling uphill climbs to use the momentum from the down grade to staircase up the small winding up-steps of rock and shrub.
Sighting the Shelter from Above

As I lost myself in this motor-cross like series of accelerations and quick climbs I rounded an exposed boulder emerging from the Mountain Laurel and beneath me saw the first shelter.

I looked down to see what has always intrigued me and yet I've never experienced. For years I wondered what these shelters were like and if they were used and the biggest question of all, "Where are they"?

With a kind of jubilation I had felt I made it to some sort of milestone just to find a shelter.

As I descended from the boulder I was able to hear voices and the faint smell of wood smoke. I was kind of surprised that someone was here given the conditions yesterday and last night.

I stopped to check my map and directions, I don't think they knew I was here (there was a tarp across most of the opening of the simple structure).

My directions were to take the right that goes past the shelter onto the Menomine Trail (Yellow) and down to Silver Mine Lake.

As I passed the small dwelling, I saw someone emerge from behind the tarp. I waved and continued down the path to Silver Mine Lake.

The down hill was frustrating and difficult. It was like a dry riverbed full of roots and rocks to navigate allowing no time for the mind to relax.

Western Shore of Silver Mine Lake
I reached the bottom of the rocky gulch and reached some softer more level ground. The sunbathed western shore of Silver Mine Lake was void of snow or ice. The sun was out and the ground had a soft springy quality.

On several occasions I experienced an excitement in knowing that among the many ways to navigate around a tree, roots and rocks that I  had taken the smoothest path and that the momentum was unhindered and the impact minimal.

The temperature was significantly warmer here and it felt (dare I say) Spring-like.

 As they say, "all good things come to an end".

Abandoned Ski Hill at Silver Mine Lake
I exited the lake path to come out in a small snowy meadow at the bottom of what looked like an abandoned ski hill.

On closer inspection, I realized that I had been here before.

I had met folks in this parking lot to do a training ride for (the now defunct) The Forest Ride. The Forest ride was a fund raising ride we did for 3 years to benefit Black Rock Forest Consortium.

Nawhunta Lake
I proceeded through the field and around an abandoned parking lot. I had some trouble following the path at this intersection.

I crossed Seven Lakes Road for the second time and came upon the beautiful Nawhunta Lake. A little lake lined with gorgeous pines and softer needles.

The directions had me merge to the right onto Nawahunta fire road. A gradual turn but I fell. I just caught a toe and went down. I rolled with the momentum and came up pretty much unscathed.

The fire road was about a mile and a half long with some gentle uphills and some more of the frustrating downhills. I thought to myself it would be so nice to be able to just relax on a downhill.

Long Path Climb up Stockbridge
Eventually the fire road joined with The Long Path (Aqua) and I turned back against the direction I was heading to follow The Long Path up and across the ridge of Stockbridge Mountain.

The Long Path started down in a marshy wetland which I later found out is an underground stream. My feet broke through the frosty surface into the wet murk more than once.

After passing through the marshy flat the path was spotted with rocks which eventually gave way to a pretty serious snow covered climb.

Stockbridge Ridge
Stockbridge has some pretty interesting rock structures and overhangs. There was a scramble that was a bit of a challenge because of the snow and ice cover. I had hoped to take a picture but my camera was acting funny (probably because of my little fall at he bottom).

I managed the climb and there was a period of easier running as I followed the ridge line. I was beginning to feel it in my legs and started thinking about my nutrition.

The Stockbridge Shelter Chimneys
As I was thinking it might be a good time to find someplace to stop and eat lunch I saw the two rising above the rock line I was on.

A welcome site couldn't have come with more perfect timing, as I'm sure there was a smile across my face as I unclipped my pack and made for the inside of the Stockbridge Shelter (built in 1928).

I got out of the wind and sat down in the shelter. I pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had made this morning as well as a scrumptious home-made granola bar my wife made yesterday.

The View from the Shelter
The granola bar was a little crumbled, also probably due to my little fall and roll maneuver. But that didn't stop me from pushing half of it into my mouth. My hands trembled a little while I tried to pull the PBJ out of the bag without getting the stickiness all over myself.

Parting View of the Stockbridge Shelter
I managed about 2 or 3 big bites when I thought I heard voices. I chewed a couple more bites being a little more conscious of what I could hear.

I washed down a dry bite with some Gatorade and I heard it again... definitely voices. Coming from the direction I was heading.

I don't know why, but at the time it seemed to make sense. Instead of relaxing and finishing my lunch, I put everything away and put on my pack and started out again. I guess I didn't want anyone to see me sitting down and relaxing (when I should be running).

I don't know but I started out of the shelter and down the steep descent. This portion of The Long Path is relatively steep with a lot of rocks and trees. I found it a little difficult to keep my eye on the blazes and more than once had to stop and look for where the trail had disappeared to.

Before long I came across the five hikers with trekking poles on their way to the shelter. Harmless, we exchanged hellos and kept with our own plans.

Eventually it was time to depart from The Long Path. My directions said to take the Fire road down. Apparently it meant a different fire road then the one I had taken because I ended up on Seven Lakes Road (again) a good distance from Lake Tiorati (which was the intended destination).

Now I had to make a decision. I was off of my highlighted course. I had to choose whether to run up the road for what looked like about a  mile or so to get back on the course as it's been defined. Or do I want to take the red trail (that I can see right across the street) and follow that to where it will eventually meet up with the turn-by-turn directions.

Since I've been in the woods for so long and I didn't much feel like running on the road, I opted for the red trail. It wasn't an easy path, it was an uphill climb and there was only one set of footprints in the snow. More than once, I watched those prints mistakenly leave the trail and come back on track.

Eventually I met up with the intended route. I may have added another mile and some climbing to my totals but at this juncture, I was glad to be back on course, at least for a little while.

I continued to follow the red trail to Bockey Swamp. It was a little confusing here.

The directions said to take the unmarked trail but I hadn't anticipated the difficulty in making this decision. It was easy to highlight it on my map, but to actually take an unmarked trail going off into the wilderness of Harriman was another story. What if it was a mistake?

Not to mention I was very much aware I was running low of fluids.

I reviewed my maps and directions for a few more minutes and somehow I decided to push on and take the unmarked trail. Again assuming that this was the unmarked trail the directions had intended for me to take.

Views from the Unmarked Trail
Very quickly I realized that there were only one set of footprints on this path and the path was very narrowly defined amongst the encroaching scrub brush and fallen logs.

By the looks of the tracks I was following I determined that the other set of prints were also from a runner, someone probably doing the same reconnaissance that I'm doing.

Boy oh boy was I happy they were ahead of me venturing out either yesterday or earlier today. I sure needed to be seeing those footprints.

As happy as I was that those prints were there, I still wasn't 100% certain I knew where I was. And I certainly wasn't confident in my assumption that this was another runner training for the same event I was. I mean, what are the odds? And that I would find their track in the snow to follow? Seriously...pretty low right?

Ecstatic to find the Yellow
As it turns out the narrow little unmarked path with the lone runner's footprint abruptly came to an end as it intersected with The Bear Mountain Trail (yellow). I stopped to check my directions and map and guess what? This was exactly where I was supposed to be! I was ecstatic!!

The yellow trail followed a gentle down hill. The ground was a little softer and the rocks were spaced a bit further apart. At last it was a little easier going. At times the grade was almost a little too fast. I didn't want to jam up my toes too much after such a long run.

Once again this trail also came to an abrupt stop. It came to an intersection with The Red Cross Trail (red cross on white). My directions clearly indicated I was to take a left, the other extension of the red cross trail went in the complete opposite direction of where I eventually wanted to end up.

I was getting pretty tired now. I was nearly out of fluids and my Garmin said I had put in 16 miles when I had scoped out this run to be 17 miles.

I had already had a few mentally tough spots deciding on continuing into the wilderness when I wasn't sure if it was the right decision. Now I was just out right tired.

The red cross took me down a gentle grade to a small wooden bridge crossing a brook. I stopped here to check my maps and directions to try to get back to my car as efficiently as possible.

I sat on the steps of the bridge trying to figure out where my next turn was. I knew from the turn-by-turn that I was supposed to take Owl Lake Road. Where the hell was Owl Lake Road? For the life of me I couldn't figure out where it was.

Was this poor decision making on my part or bad directions represented poorly on the map? Who knows?

I had little choice but to keep moving and hopefully the road will show up. Again, not the situation I wanted to be in but it's not like a solution was going to come to me out here in the woods.

So I suffered through some more rolling hills and some swampy ground. I reached a spot where I could barely follow the path. I probably lost a lot of time here looking for both the possibility of The Owl Lake Road or the continuation of the red cross.

I found a brook that was moving pretty well and the water looked reasonably clear so I took in a few handfuls of water.

I was getting really tired now, small hills were grueling. I couldn't wait for this to be over.. where the hell is Owl Lake and it's damn road?

I never found it. The red cross took my all the way to the Palisades Parkway. Which is exactly what I was hoping wouldn't happen, but if everything went to crap I knew I could follow that North to Anthony Wayne.

I checked the map and saw the blue trail was a little further up and it seemed to join at the parkway as well. I started jogging up the side of the Palisades. A bit more stressful than any other portion as cars whipped by me at 60-70 miles per our. There was garbage and torn up tires. Quite unsettling, I didn't know if I could take this all the way back to the parking lot.

Soon I saw a wooden bridge in the woods, I was excited to see it, in anticipation of getting on what I thought was the blue trail which would take me to the 1779 trail and back to Anthony Wayne.

But it wasn't the blue trail at all, it was the 1779 trail. The trail that would go parallel to the parkway and eventually take me home. So by calculation it looks like I've add about another 2 miles to my journey.

I puttered along the 1779 and tried to put as much of the exhaustion behind me. Then another climb presented itself. I walked it. I was in a bad place. I was searching for something. I finished the last of my drink and was suffering when I remembered I had a packet of Sports Beans in my pack.

What a stroke of genius. I couldn't wait to get to the top of this hill and peel off my pack and dig into that packet of beans. I sucked and chewed and relished those beans. I ate all but 3 and took those with me as I started out again. I chewed on those 3 beans for as long as I could. They gave me some energy and moistened my mouth.

It was a brutal last leg, I was miserable, I tried to keep moving, pace I didn't care about anything, I just wanted to get back to my car. Fortunately the remainder was either flat or a slight down grade.

Eventually I could hear the parkway in the distance, I knew I had to be close to the finish.

As the cars got got louder I began to get more hopeful and found my spirits rising.

There was the last turn to The Anthony Wayne Trail (white). The trail I had started this adventure on. It was far longer than I remembered and than I would have like it to have been, but eventually it exited beside the ramp from the Palisades to the parking area.

I trotted along the grass and across the cement bridge over the parkway. As I approached the sign welcoming me (back) to Anthony Wayne, I looked at my Garmin and it read 20 miles.

I spent 6 hours in the woods and covered 20 miles of unsupported trail running with an elevation gain of 2,920 feet.

Not too bad if I do say so myself

The Route
The Elevation Profile

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snowy Shoes

This morning we had about an inch of fresh snow. Which is not that big a deal considering what a mediocre winter we've had in the northeast this year. But it did remind me of a run from a couple of weeks ago.

We woke up on Saturday morning to 5 inches of the white stuff. Milo and I had a trail run planned and were looking forward to it all that much more now that the snow has fallen.

Prior to the realization of the snow accumulation, I planned to go to Black Rock and get a medium distance run in on the fire roads. With the new snow fall the plan still held true.

So we got up and out early, the drive to the forest was not to difficult, and we arrived just as the sun was rising over the ridge.

I made my final preparations put my gloves on, let Milo out of the car and we were on our way.

We headed up Reservoir Road past the Science Center and into the woods. It took me a few minutes to settle my heart rate and get accustomed to the footing which was really much better than expected  (I had anticipated potential issues and brought along my Yaktrax just in case).

We continued along the mostly uphill grade and reached a comfortable pace and settled into a rhythm, we followed a set of ATV tracks that cut a nice path through the snow and provided some solid footing.

Just before we reached the two mile mark we reached The Great White Oak which is at a split in the path. I'm told that this oak was standing when George Washington and his troops traveled between his Headquarters in Newburgh NY and West Point.

We turned to the right and followed down one of my favorite stretches with near perfect solitude. We came across another fellow out walking his dog, enjoying the quiet morning as we were. Our dogs did the usual dog-to-dog greeting.

Again we were on our own in the peaceful and muffled woods. I don't know if there's anything as serene as being in the woods after a fresh snowfall. We took a left and carried on past Sphagnum and Tamarack ponds.

Here there were no longer any ATV tracks and we were cutting our own path in the snow. I had thought we may have been the first ones through today but I saw something that took me a while to figure out, mostly because it was most unexpected.

There were two irregular tracks in the snow on either side of the trail that I couldn't place. I wondered what they could be. When it finally struck me that they were mountain bike tracks. Only these tracks didn't have the knobby tracks normally associated with mountain bikes and actually left a very smooth imprint in the snow.

We began to circle back and came along the stone house which looked so quaint in the fresh snow. Black Rock will often let scouts do overnights here. I've had a hotdog or two here after helping the scouts plant trees on Arbor Day.
Milo asked for a treat and we began the stretch home past the Great White Oak and past Alack Meadow pond down the long downhill and past the science center again.

The covered footbridge was picturesquely covered in snow

The final 1/2 mile was ours... a brisk downhill and the sun came out over the valley as we  descended to the parking lot.

We dusted ourselves off and climbed into the car and headed for home to warm up with a grilled cheese and some tomato soup. Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

Final snowy mileage: 7.33
Time: 1:43:47

PS: The snow was gone 24hrs later

Reconnaissance Runs

Everyone keeps telling me the only way to train for The North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain is to get out and run on the trails of Harriman State Park. And I've been told more than one time that Bear Mountain is one of the harder Ultras around.

Course Description: Runners can expect terrain changes from packed dirt to loose rocks, from tree roots to leaf-covered trail. The Bear Mountain Endurance Challenge course cuts to the chase, with some trails heading steeply uphill rather than zig-zaggin at a gentler grade. Descents end in wooded hollows before the next rapid climb ending with breathtaking views. Make no mistake: this will be a tough test of off-road endurance.

Elevation Change: 4 out of 5 stars
Technical Terrain: 5 out of 5 stars
Overall Difficulty: 5 out of 5 stars
Scenery: 5 out of 5 stars

2012 Bear Mountain Elevation Profile

I completely agree and don't want to be dismissive about the difficulty of the course terrain, but I've been taking on some pretty challenging Hudson Highlands runs over the last couple of months.

I've recently completed unsupported trail run/scrambles over most of the trails on Schunemunk Mountain and some very challenging single track and fire road combo runs at Black Rock Forest.

2012 Participant Guide
Fortunately, I live in the area, only 22 miles from Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, so I've decided it's time to check out the course for myself

The Participant Guide for TNFEC at Bear Mountain outlines the course with an overview map and turn by turn directions for navigating the trails.

I've converted the directions to my NY/NJ Trail Conference map and highlighted the entire route on a real trail map that I can bring with me this weekend when I set out to do some reconnaissance.

The course overview looks kind of like a damaged butterfly (or a really crooked figure-eight) with two wings that fan outward. One to the east and the other to the west and intersecting at near the center.

Interestingly, along the division of the east and the west wings runs the Palisades Parkway (which also comes pretty close to dividing Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks). The Anthony Wayne Recreational Area which will be the location for both Aid Station #1 and #4. is located right on the Parkway.

2012 North Face Endurance Challenge - 50k Course
From the Anthony Wayne parking lot, I can follow the western or Harriman portion of the course (from aide station #1) in the same direction as the TNFEC returning to Anthony Wayne (aide station #4) 17 miles later.

This is the reconnaissance route I intend to take on weekend. I hope I'm not wrong about my training and the 17 miles is similar to what I'm anticipating. I know it will be hard miles, but I think I'm  prepared.

If all goes well, next up.... the eastern wing.

Why Ultra Running?

This gorgeous video by Matt Hart captures the beauty that inspires my Ultra training.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Doing the Hundred Push Ups
Today I read some interesting posts on The Loop at Runner's World about a 100 push up program. The idea really seemed to be catching fire and a lot of people claimed to be printing out the schedule and committing to doing the free six-week program.

I think it's great when people make commitments to in public forums, I know I've used it on more than one occasion. It's kind of like, if you say it in public, well... it's gotta be true. In this case a six week commitment to a simple schedule at the end of which you eill be able to do one hundred consecutive push ups (something I have never even considered as a possibility).
This really intrigued me sense I've been trying to mix some cross training into my winter running routine. Lately I've been experimenting with adding P90x workouts into my training.

I've read a few articles about runners and a modified P90x schedule, but in all honesty I know I like running more, so as soon as the weather starts to cooperate I'm going to opt-out of the P90x routine for being out on the road or the trails.

Because I haven't been able to commit to the daily 1hr workouts heralding the benefits of muscle confusion, I've been just kind of winging it to get some core and upper-body work in to supplement my running routines. In fact, my first P90x Shoulders & Back workout was something so humbling I commented to a few of my friends that I do push ups and pull ups like I'm one of The Golden Girls (no comment on which one I think I resemble).

So this routine sounds like it may be just about perfect. I can easily do the pushup workout on days I'm scheduled to run as well as the days I want to recover or do some cross training.

It also has a Smart Phone and iPad apps, which should make it very convenient to record and track my workouts.

So here it is..."I'm Doing the Hundred Push Ups". Now it's reality and I'll be sure to provide updates about my thoughts on the plan and my progress.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Schunemunk Trail Run/Scramble

In my new trail running quest I've thought of a few local conquests that would be pretty cool to say I've done. Those are to run the length of the Highland Trail which starts in my hometown and ends 150 miles later on the Delaware River at the NJ/PA border. Another thought was to run the Long Path. But today I decided I would run the length of Schunemunk Mountain.

For breakfast my wife made some delicious whole wheat french toast.I made my final preparations and was ready to go. I would need her to drop me off at the Long path trail head in Monroe, 7.75 miles from today's point to point trail run/scramble.

My favorite running partner, Milo, would join me today. He's a tireless dog who gets so excited when he sees me pulling on my running gear there's almost no way not to take him. And who could break his heart like that?

My wife drove me and Milo to Monroe, NY to begin our adventure. The run started at a train trestle and junction of the  Long Path on Route 32.

The start, just of Rt 32 in Monroe NY

She wished us luck and asked that  we be careful and drove off. It took me a minute or two to get my Garmin activated and then we were under way. We started up a a quick incline to the train tracks above.

The Tracks with Schunemunk in the background
The tracks are an extension of MTA NJ Transit commuter line that extends to Port Jervis NY. This is a surprisingly difficult portion because there's really very little comfort in the footing. For hiking and running the traveling is limited to the stone bed that supports the tracks. There's virtually no path and you need to watch your step.

Eventually we turn off the tracks and start heading into the woods and up the mountain's southern point. I knew there was just a short comfortable trail run before we would be starting the steep scramble upward.

The Scramble Upward
Before long my calves were screaming and I warmed up enough to take off my gloves and headband. I was power walking shortly after my GPS chirped one mile. Yeah, that was somewhat disheartening, but sine I've done this as a hike I anticipated the need to walk early.

We continued up the Long Path careful not to catch a toe on the many rocks and roots that lined the path upward. We hustled as best we could... well I did, Milo seemed to have no trouble at all.

"Little Ticky Tacky Houses"
We crested a few interim climbs where I had to use my hands grabbing some small trees and rocks for help on the steeper portions.

We rose above Monroe to a view that reminded me of the theme song of the Showtime series Weeds, "With all the little ticky tacky boxes all in a row". Only these houses were nestled under an amazing ridge. I wondered how many of the inhabitants actually ventured out to experience what was just a stone throw from their homes.

Cresting the First Vista
A few minutes later and we approached the first of many magnificent views of the Hudson Valley. It felt as though I were standing on a kind of windblown moonscape.

I quickly realized I needed to put my gloves and headband back on. The wind was cool and crisp, the trees were short and wiry, we scrambled across some rocks and followed the aqua blazes into waist to shoulder high scrub brush.

Scrub Pines and the Western Ridge
We continued along some moderately undulating terrain refreshed by the lively winds and the smell of the scrub pine. In the distance, the western ridge providing views of terrain to come.

I was cautious of my footing as most everything was rock or hard packed trail with rocks with seemingly violent intent. More than once I though it sure would be horrible to trip and fall on this.

Sea of Rocks
We descended into into a chilly valley between the east and west ridges. The footing was less than certain but we managed to maintain a decent pace to the bottom. As we crossed over a small stream the ascent to the the next ridge awaited. A massive rock fall just to the right was intimidating. I was grateful the path maneuvered around the sea of rocks.

I was pleased with the climb up to the ridge. I kept my legs moving at a decent pace although I was worried I would be suffering on the climb. I seemed to have found a rhythm that was working.

Highland Trail/Jessup Trail
It wasn't too much further before The Long Trail intersected with the Highlands Trail (Aqua) and the Jessup trail (Yellow). I would follow the aqua and yellow for several miles across the top of the ridge.

Now we started to finally make some better time. It took us almost 50 minutes to go just 2 miles! But now we were on the backbone of the ridge which is composed of mostly a purplish conglomerate mixed with beautiful Scrub Pines and the occasional deep crevasse.

Pitch pines and Conglomerate
We continued along consistently being surprised by magnificent views. To the left I could see the Shawangunk Ridge and beyond. I saw one ridge in the Catskills Mountains that seemed to be completely white with snow.

Our progress felt good and because of the solitude it was hard to believe we were only 60 miles from New York City.

Hudson Vista
We followed the Jessup Trail for a couple of miles when we came to a stunning vista to the east that included Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge on the other side of the Hudson. Photo opportunities seemed to be everywhere on this remarkably clear day.

Schunemunk Summit
About half way through our journey, we crossed the summit of Schunemunk. It's only 1,664 feet, but it's the highest point in Orange County New York. I was surprised to see this marking as I've been on hikes where it seemed like it took forever to get to this point.

I fed Milo some treats to keep him from going into a calorie deficit and we continued on.

I now felt confident, knowing I've been here before I was comfortable finding my way home without relying on the trail map. We continued along the hard backbone of the mountain, weaving our way between the wind-swept open spaces and the shelter of the short scrub pines.

One more depression to Deep Hallow, where we switched to the Red/White path and climbed to the top of the last ridge. We crested the last of the scrambles with a soaring heart rate knowing the remaining miles were going to be predominantly flat and eventually down hill.

The white/red trail turned right and the white (Trestle Trail) would take us home. My pace began to increased on the forgiving terrain when I approached a couple of hikers looking at their trail map.

So as not to surprise them I announced myself from a distance with a greeting "good morning". The woman (almost knowingly) glanced over her shoulder as I passed and asked if I was training for The North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain which stopped me in my tracks, because "yes" that's exactly what I was doing.

We talked for a few minutes exchanging pleasantries and tales of endurance and then it was time to finish this run.

In Loving Memory
Milo and I continued along the Trestle Trail as it began it's decent on the northern end. As we started down the nose of the mountain there's a beautiful overlook with a gorgeous bench that was constructed in memory of a loved one past.

The Moodna Viaduct
From this bench there's a tremendous view looking north that overlooks my house and the Moodna Viaduct Train Trestle.

After a moment to reflect on the great run, Milo and I continued for another half mile of toe crunching decent and we were off the mountain.

We finished our end to end run of Schunemunk Mountain .

Milo and I traversed the 7.75 miles with 1,784 ft of elevation gain in 2 hours an 55 minutes.

The Route

The Elevation Profile