Connecting the Dots

The goal was five more of the Catskills’ high peaks on one of the last weekends before winter, part of a quixotic mission to summit all 35 hiking barefoot.  Odie and I piled into the car right after breakfast, and the drive to Windham went smoothly — except for route 23, where we had to stop at three traffic lights in a row, which sorely tested my patience, and then navigate a construction zone with a needlessly restrictive speed limit.

Yet once out of the car and on the trail, these frustrations vanished quickly.  The path to Windham High Peak was a delight:  smooth dirt at a moderate grade — a rarity in the rocky rugged Catskills — and I moved almost as quickly barefoot as I would have in shoes.  From the summit, we looked south at the distinctive silhouette of the Blackhead range, which Odie and I had climbed just a few weeks earlier.  Back then, we had marveled in the details: traversing three peaks and three notches, experiencing scrambles, slabs, and sometimes smooth trail, and discovering different plants and trees with each step along the way.  Now for the first time, we got the big picture.

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From left to right: Blackhead, Black Dome, and Thomas Cole Mountains — looking south from vantage on Windham High Peak

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Connecting the Dots

Racing at Manitou’s Revenge

As I drove through the predawn darkness to the start of Manitou’s Revenge, my thoughts drifted and I wondered, could I win this race?

The idea was patently absurd:  when it comes to technical trail running, I’ve historically finished in the middle of the pack.  But I’ve been getting faster in recent years, even finishing in 3rd place at a 100-mile race earlier this year.  Further, Manitou’s Revenge is not a large event.  There would be fewer than 100 starters, and for all I knew, the best trail runners might not show up, or they might trip and fall on the rocky paths and drop out.  In which case, victory might go to the tortoise, not the hare.

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Racing at Manitou’s Revenge