August 26, 2010
Although the trail running project that I’m presently undertaking began quietly (meaning that I was doing it before I even paid attention to the fact that I was doing it), to the best I can determine, today’s run was approximately the 12th one in the project. Over the next few weeks I will be backwardly documenting the runs, piecing together details as best I can. So in a way, I will be moving both backward and forward at the same time. Sometimes this is how things go. 😉
But today my legs are tired. Probably the most tired they’ve been since the day after the Boston Marathon in April. The trail run this morning began and ended in Pomona, NY, which is on the southeast corner of Harriman State Park. I had yet to dedicate any attention to this part of the park, so today’s run was in some ways, a bit overdue. For starters, I foolishly took the wrong (read: long) way in getting there. But the weather was nice, and the ride up Route 202 out of Suffern was quiet and pretty.
My selected route was to begin on the Tuxedo-Mt Ivy Trail, have me do a large loop north to near Lake Sebago, and then return south via the Pine Meadow Trail. As all of the routes seem to look on the map, this one didn’t appear to be remarkably challenging. But it proved that as far as maps go, what you seeing isn’t necessarily what you get! The first mile or so was almost straight up, and very rugged. Aside from a brief run along a road where the power lines passed through the mountainside, there was barely a flat spot to put your foot on. The entire path (if you could call it that) was comprised of rocks that were between 2 inches and a foot in diameter. It was apparent that the heavy rains from the previous 3 days had washed away what little soil there had been there, leaving nothing but a minefield of stones. And people call this running? Ugh…
As I worked my way slowly up the slope, I kept an eye out for the Red Arrow Trail. It was a short section of trail of the “out and back” variety that, if not run today, I would have to come back for at a later point. For a half-mile trail section, I certainly didn’t want to have to come back another day! And so, after the short out-and-back on the Red Arrow, I reconnected with the Tuxedo-Mt Ivy (TMI) trail and continued to follow it up the mountainside. As I was pushing up the challenging grade, a thought occurred to me, and that being that unless you start one of these trail runs from within the park, there is always a steep climb to start off the run. I experienced this in Tuxedo and in Harriman at earlier points in the project. It’s as if the entire park is surrounded by a wall – much like a castle would be – and the password to get past the guard at the gate is “run up the mountain.” Perhaps this is why more people don’t run these trails.
Anyway, I finally crested the mountain ridge, and from that point continued to traverse the TMI trail all the way to Pine Meadow Road. This area of the park has a collection of woods roads that are marked for use as cross-country ski trails, and Pine Meadow Road is one of them. And being that this portion of road was quite far from any paved road, I couldn’t imagine it being used for much else besides skiing. It was too far into the woods for the casual hiker, and not of any aesthetic consequence whatsoever to a serious one. It was just a simple gravel road out in the middle of nowhere.
After a brief run on the road, I took a sharp left and ran the Y-shaped entirety of the Buck Trail. The Buck Trail is a three-pronged trail wedged in between some of the mountain roads I have just made mention of. Once again, knowing that I would never want to go back here to run a small portion of the ‘Y’ that was not in direct line with the route I had chosen, I decided to run an out-and-back on the upper section of this trail.
At the end of the Buck Trail was a junction with the Seven Hills Trail. Beginning on Seven Lakes Drive near Lake Sebago, Seven Hills follows a circuitous route over and around some of the higher peaks in the southern end of the park. The section of Seven Hills that I ran today was mainly uphill, bringing me first up the side of Conklin Mountain, and then after a right-hand turn, up to the top of Diamond Mountain. Diamond Mountain offered some of the best views I have seen in the park so far. Looking north, a wonderful vista of Lake Sebago opened up before me. And then minutes later, upon reaching the south face, a sweet view of Pine Meadow Lake.
The terrain on Seven Hills trail was primarily rocky, with lots of twists and turns to go around the sides of (or over) large boulders. Eventually I reached the junction of the Diamond Mountain Tower Trail. This particular trail was v-shaped in nature, with one side of the ‘v’ going down the steep, treacherous mountainside, and the other side going right back up it. On this particular trail, with my legs starting to tire at over 2 hours into the run, I chose to leave the “up” side of the Diamond Mountain Tower trail’s ‘v’ for another day. ;p
Reaching the bottom of Diamond Mountain, I turned east onto the Pine Meadow Trail. This section was both picturesque and very forgiving. With soft curves over the mostly-flat land along the northern shore of the lake, it was a true delight to run, especially after all the climbing and descending that had preceded it. I noted an extensive water pipeline here, with a series of concrete boxes that appeared to be built to protect the water pipes in some way. Along this section, I also came upon the not-so-old remains of a structure of some kind. Perhaps it was the house that once belonged to the person who attended the water supply in some day of yore.
At the far end of the lake, I reached another trail that would require a deviation from my loop, yet another out-and-back effort so as to knock off a trail and not have to revisit it on another day. This time, it was a trail called Conklin’s Crossing. The problem with Conklin’s Crossing was that it was uphill all the way to its junction with the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail. But the upside was that it was downhill all the way back to the Pine Meadow Trail, so I sucked it up and completed this little side trip with nary a complaint. I could hazard a guess that there was a notable family named Conklin who once dwelled in this vicinity, as the map indicates that there is a Conklin Cemetery (not accessible by marked trail) on the south end of Pine Meadow Lake, and also a Conklin Road (one of the various woods roads) that extends from the north side of the lake.
Arriving back at the Pine Meadow Trail, a right-hand turn had me headed down the home stretch. The next mile and a half or so were not particularly challenging, but my legs had become very weary, and every little uphill felt like a major climb. Shortly after connecting with the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail again, the descent back down the ridge began. Just as the run up the TMI trail had been at the beginning of this run, the terrain down through this clove between Catamount and Panther Mountains was extremely rocky. On sore knees and dead legs, I made my descent, eventually running beneath the large power lines I had seen at the very beginning of the run, and into the beautiful property of the Town of Ramapo Equestrian Center.
About a hundred yards before the end of the trail, there was a sign that said “Please call out ‘Hikers’ as you approach so as not to startle the horses.” I smiled. It was nice to be near civilization again. After a quick gaze at the majestic horses that were prancing around in the corral, I climbed the hill again and began the 20 minute walk that would take me back to where my car was parked.
Today’s work comprised a grand total of approximately 13 trail miles in all, with perhaps 11 of them being new ground that I would go home and catalog with the appropriate colored pins on my master map. It was a challenging day on the trails, but it was filled with more beauty than I could have asked for. I will sleep well tonight. 🙂