For those who have mountains on the mind, the stairmaster is a great way to train muscles and spirit. But how to structure the training? I see a lot of different styles at my local health club: people with earbuds dancing on the machines, others plodding along as they read the newspaper, some bent over almost horizontally as they hang from the handrails.
It occurred to me that the same principles of training might apply to climbing as well as running, so I turned for guidance to Daniels’ Running Formula, 3rd edition.
Here’s a race report from Kevin Russell, one of the 74-mile particpants in the recent SRT race, which takes place along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. Kevin’s lively story features field-expedient shoe repair, a porcupine, bushwhacking, and rock scrambles. Thanks for sharing, Kevin!
Behind me the sky had colored with the rising sun, while to the front the southern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains was silhouetted in mauve and cerise.
Odie and I were headed north for a minimalist adventure, the objective to climb three mountains, of which one would be a bushwhack. The protocol for me would be climbing barefoot and descending in LUNA sandals; Odie is always barefoot. Emboldened by slow but successful ascents of Peekamoose, Hunter, and Southwest Hunter, I had developed the peculiar ambition to climb all 35 peaks in the Catskills barefoot, and today’s activities would hopefully get me to number 6.
To make this expedition appropriately minimalist, I was carrying a small safety kit, but no food or water.
The 2nd edition of the SRT Run/Hike took place along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) in New York’s Hudson Valley commencing Friday, September 18 at 6:35 PM and ending Saturday September 19, 2015 at 11:30 PM. The event attracted participants from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and California. 82 racers started out in four divisions ranging from 20 to 74 miles, ready to experience the beauty, ruggedness, and diversity of the Shawangunk Mountains. 73 made it to the finish line for an overall completion rate of 89%. A new record of 22 hours 2 minutes was set for the full 74-mile SRT. There were no reported injuries.
For the organizers, the event started many months ago. For 2015 we changed the format, increasing the number of divisions from three to four and holding them all on the same day. We also moved the last five miles of the course off paved roads and onto an unmaintained trail in the Mohonk Preserve. We spent the months leading up to the event obtaining six different permits, developing detailed safety plans, recruiting volunteers, and hoping people would sign up for an event that provides adventure but not support.
Emboldened by success climbing to the Piz Boe Alpine Lodge barefoot, I resolved to tackle a mountain in the Catskills, despite the notoriously steep, rugged terrain and rocky trails. Hesitant to take on this adventure alone, I recruited another barefoot runner to join me, namely Odie the Labradoodle.
Our destination would be the summit of Peekamoose Mountain, a 3,843-foot peak, which stands like a sentinel along the Catskills’ southern ramparts. We left bright and early, having heard stories of congestion in the area. One of America’s “best swimming holes” is situated on the Rondout Creek, whose source lies on the mountain’s shoulder. This was once a local secret, but the word’s gotten out, and now on nice weekends crowds of visitors converge on the narrow road that leads to the Peekamoose trailhead.
We arrived around 8:30 AM and secured a parking spot, just a few seconds ahead of three carloads of visitors who were evidently bound for the swimming hole. We didn’t hang around, but immediately headed up the steep trail, stepping over a couple bags of trash that hadn’t made it into a dumpster stationed nearby. But after a few yards, all signs of civilization were left behind.
And now it was time for the sandals to come off — and for me to discover whether climbing a rocky mountain trail barefoot was really such a great idea.
This post describes a hiking adventure on Dominica from December 2014. Dominica was recently hit by tropical storm Erika, resulting in significant damage and loss of life. If you’d like to contribute to recovery efforts, please click here:
“Where’s your guide!”
I looked about sheepishly. The tourist book has strongly encouraged hiring a guide, but we did not have one.
“If you get lost in the woods,” the man continued, his face accusatory, “you’ll be in deep trouble.”