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!
Secrets of the Catskills — Revealed
There is more to life than increasing its speed
— Mahatma Gandhi
I could hardly wait for the weekend, so excited was I to get back out to the Catskills to run, hike, and explore. When Friday evening finally rolled along, I set the alarm clock for 4:30 AM, determined to get an early start. And I was out the door and on the road in the predawn mist.
But when I finally arrived in the Catskills a few hours later, I was dragging. En route I had picked up a second cup of coffee, but even a double dose of caffeine hadn’t helped.
I dragged myself to the starting point of the day’s adventure, the trail to Giant’s Ledge, and looked up: the path was a tumble of rocks.
Hobbling Through the Woods
If you stray off the beaten path, you might encounter a wall of Hobble-bush (viburnum lantanoides). Where the branches touch the ground, they send down roots and grow new stems. Soon there is a thicket eager to hobble the unwary hiker — hence the plant’s popular name. Continue reading “Hobbling Through the Woods”
Bushwhacking in the Catskills with Marcus Aurelius
Nothing is evil which is according to nature
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I leaped out of bed before dawn and by first light was on the highway racing toward the Catskills. The goal was to summit seventeen peaks within 24 hours. This would be a test to determine whether I was ready to challenge an ultra-distance mountain-bagging record in this rugged region of the Hudson Valley. If things went well, I’d be back in a few weeks for a multi-day adventure, this time to officially break the record and set a new one.
What’s interesting about the Catskills is that many of the peaks have no trails. To reach a pathless summit, the runner “bushwhacks” through the woods. This entails following the lay of the land, staying oriented with map, compass, and GPS, and surmounting the obstacles tossed up by the constant flux of nature.
I was eager not only to challenge records, but also to experience the wilderness. I had been reading the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the well-regarded 2nd century Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher. Live in harmony with universal nature, he had argued almost two thousand years ago, and you can achieve serenity and tranquility, no matter what obstacles you encounter. And what better strategy for achieving harmony with nature, than to run through mountains and plunge into trackless forest?
Continue reading “Bushwhacking in the Catskills with Marcus Aurelius”