October 19, 2010
A short run into the woods today, but in an event that – to my delight – was becoming more and more common, I was joined by a friend on the trails. On a lark, I texted Dave Madden. No folks, this is not the same Dave Madden who humbly starred alongside Shirley Jones and Keith Cassidy in that old TV series “The Partridge Family.” Not at all. This Dave Madden is a fellow officer with me in the Orange Runners Club, and if I may – and taking nothing away from the other Dave Madden – is one of the nicer people you could wish to know.
Among the many things that Dave is and does, he is a schoolteacher, and he had told me a few weeks ago that if I ever do a run on a weekday afternoon, to let him know, and he would try to meet me after he gets out of work.
And so it was that Dave agreed to meet me for this short out-and-back run on the Sapphire Trail. This trail was sort of an oddball in the sense that it was essentially the only trail west of NY State Route 17 that was part of the trail running project. In fact, until I had really done a “hardover” of the map, I was unaware that any part of Harriman State Park was even in this particular area.
In any event, at my behest, Dave would meet me at the trail head, which was directly across the street from the Harriman train station. As I awaited his arrival, I decided to have a little fun with my camera. Although I may never ever be a rock star, I took this opportunity to be one in my own mind, and hoped that Dave wouldn’t catch me in the act of making a fool of myself as he pulled into the parking area. Ha!
Arriving at 4:15pm (right on time), Dave hopped out of his car, and in a moment, we were off! The first thing that struck me was the bed of leaves on the floor of the forest. In the run I had done with my friend Tom a mere two days before, the trail had looked nothing like this! Fortunately, the blue trail blazes were good, and with Dave’s eagle eye for seeing them even when I didn’t, staying on the trail was never a worry.
The run comprised a 500 foot ascent up a ridge over a distance of approximately two and a quarter miles, wherein the trail would then terminate at its junction with the famous Appalachian Trail. The first few hundred yards of the trail were relatively level, but then the climb began. It wasn’t a steep climb, but rather, of the slow-but-steady variety. Compared to the hell that the run of two days ago had been, this run seemed short and tame, so I found myself pushing the pace rather hard. To his credit, Dave never complained, although I could hear his heavy breathing behind me, and I knew, by way of comparison, that all this trail running I had been doing was paying huge cardiovascular dividends.
The run up the mountain went fairly fast – 23 minutes according to Dave’s watch. Calculating that at about a 10:00/mile pace, it was quite a bit faster than most of the trail running I do. I remember thinking how odd it was to be running so fast in the early stages of a trail run. But as fast as the run up the mountain had been, the run back down would be much faster!! Scampering across the rocks and down the mountainside, Dave and I were now moving at about 8 minutes per mile! To my surprise, Dave was pulling this off in regular road shoes, and not the trail variety that I routinely wear on these runs.
We managed our way back to the cars in a mere 17 minutes, and to my thinking, at 40 minutes in total, this run was way too short. But short as it was, it was a delight, and it left me (and hopefully Dave, too) with my usual sense of having accomplished something special.
The sapphire is a particularly colorful blue gemstone, and as it happens, is the birthstone for those born in the month of September. As a September baby myself, I reflected fondly on this trail, and on this short but delightful run with my friend Dave. I could only be so lucky as to have this opportunity once again.