October 8, 2010
Garbage Day! That’s what the run into the woods today would be, at least in one sense. To be sure, no trail run on a gorgeous Fall day can ever truly be referred to as garbage, but I use that descriptive here because the trails I would be running were a collection of small pieces that were kinda left lying around undone, so it felt as though I was doing some Fall “cleanup”.
I found my parking area along County Route 106 with little trouble, and I prepped for the first trail section by doing…..well….nothing, really. 😉 It was cool, and the trail segment would be quite short, so I didn’t even see a need to carry any fluids. The run was a moderately steep one up the southern face of Black Rock Mountain on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, but as it turned out, the most challenging part of the run was finding the darn trail! I could see the red markings on the roadside, but for all of me I simply couldn’t find the place where the trail left the road and headed up the mountain.
After about 15 minutes of rambling back and forth along the road, grumbling and scratching my head, I finally figured it out, and off I went. 😉 I made it up and down the mountain without much difficulty or fanfare, and I was back to the car in less than 20 minutes. OK, Part I done!
The next item of business on the agenda was facing me from across the road. It was a much steeper and gnarlier climb up to the top of Tom Jones Mountain.
It was steep, and it was gnarly. Luckily, I had been smart enough to strap on my Fuel Belt for this portion of the run (I was becoming warm after the run up Black Rock), and by the time I reached the summit of Tom Jones, I had already downed one of the 7 oz. bottles.
On the way up, I met with a couple of teasers, wherein it looked like I was approaching the top, but I really wasn’t there yet. I’ve seen this time and time again in these mountains, and the more and more I do, the less rancor I find building inside me. Each time now, I appreciate and am grateful for the extra effort that’s required to make it all the way. 🙂 Finally cresting the mountain, I reached a lovely viewpoint, and as I looked east, and could see all the way across the valley to the Jackie Jones Tower, near Lake Welch. According to the map, there was a shelter nearby, but I didn’t see it, nor did I wish to spend any time trying to find it. 😉 Off I went!
I crossed the junction of the Victory Trail, and smiled as I saw the delightful blue V’s on the trees that I had remarked about in prior entry. Not far to go now and I would be done with this section. All that was left was a moderately difficult ascent of Parker Cabin Mountain. After passing a trio of day hikers on the way up, I reached the top, and recognized the junction of the Triangle Trail. I had been to this spot coming from the other direction in early August. That day had been an ungodly hot day. The weather today was much more favorable.
Coming back down the mountain, I again reached the junction of the Victory Trail, and decided to take a side route from here back out to the road. Honestly, I had no desire whatsoever to have to go up the back side of Tom Jones Mountain, only to have to scramble down its steep, rocky slope on the north side. A half mile run down Route 106 – I thought would do me just fine. 😉
Next up was a very small section of the same Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail (R-D), this part however being located about half mile north of Lake Tiorati.
Unfortunately there was no prescribed parking area for this trail, so I would have to “cheat” and park illegally along the roadside of Seven Lakes Drive. But the trail segment was quite short (perhaps a half mile), so I wasn’t overly concerned about the Parks Dept hauling away Maxine while I was out shuffling along on the R-D. 😉
On the way out to the end of this segment, I passed some sort of giant woodchipping yard that the park undoubtedly uses for its ongoing tree cleanup process. There didn’t seem to be anything going on as I passed by, but after making the turn and heading back to the car, I could hear the hydraulic valves of the chipping machine. And sure enough, as I passed by the facility a second time, there was a chipping operation in progress. In a matter of moments, I was back at the road, and happy to see that Maxine was still there, dutifully waiting for me.
So now there were three of today’s four pieces behind me, and only the Hurst Trail left to go before I would call it a day and head for home. The Hurst is a short trail that connects Appalachian Trail (from near the Fingerboard Shelter ) to Seven Lakes Drive at the southern end of Lake Tiorati. Once again I was faced with no official parking area, so I had to leave Maxine by the roadside for a short time while I rambled on this out-and-back trail segment. The section began on a very rocky woods road, then darted into the woods for several hundred yards, and then finally scaled all the way up Fingerboard Mountain, just past the aforementioned shelter.
There were a couple of places along the way where the trail had been re-routed around some downed trees, and this is something you’ll see from time to time out on these trails. Trail conference volunteers do an amazing job of keeping the trail system marked and maintained, but some of the trees that fall are just too darn big and cumbersome to be cut and moved. So the path of least resistance is to simply run around the tree, and this is one of the ways in which a trail can change, like an ever-evolving organism.
Anyway, in about 15 minutes time, the Hurst Trail was in the books, and I was back to the car and all done for the day. Four loose ends had been tied up, and I could now go home and fill in the corresponding map pins with a feeling of special satisfaction. 🙂