In years gone by, I’d think nothing of thru-running the entire 70-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT), most recently in 2015, when it took me around 24 hours. This year, however, still recovering from a sore ankle tendon, it would have to be a slower execution, and accordingly I drew up plans to thru-hike 40 miles of the trail over a two-day period. This is the stretch of trail I’m responsible for as a volunteer supervisor with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, where I work with a crew of twelve other volunteers to keep the trail marked and passable. This hike would be an opportunity to inspect conditions and see what work was needed.
The exotic beauty of the Shawangunk mountains never fails to amaze me — the gritty white conglomerate and dreamy pine barrens so different from other New York landscapes. Each trip brings fresh discoveries, and familiar sights are revealed in new ways. Here are some photos and observations. I hope they inspire you to come experience the trail for yourself….
(The Shawangunk Ridge trail connects the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park, New Jersey, with the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Rosendale, New York. For thirty miles, the SRT is co-aligned with the Long Path, New York’s signature long distance trail.)
It was around 6pm on Friday, September 16th when a bunch of SRT 70-Mile participants hopped off a yellow school bus to meet the remaining SRT 70-Mile participants at High Point State Park in New Jersey. Like a school bus of children on their first day of school, we were excited and nervous (and most of us had to pee). After a quick race briefing from the Race Directors, we were off to the starting line at the SRT’s southern terminus. We snapped a starting line photo and the RDs let us loose on our journey to Rosendale, a 72 mile trek along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
The shuttle bus from Rosendale (where the race finishes) bumped across a narrow bridge to a small parking lot, illuminated by a single light. The 8 of us (that was it!) trotted out into the misty darkness. The race director gave us waterproof maps and our race numbers and a few navigational tips before the 6 AM start.
The third edition of the SRT Run/Hike took place September 16-17, 2016 with 102 starters across all divisions, up from 82 the year before. A remarkable 92% of starters successfully completed the course this year — a surprising statistic for a minimalist format event which provides little or no aid or course markings. Excluding the dauntingly difficult 70-mile division, the success rate for the other divisions was almost 97%. Besides the inevitable scrapes and bruises, there were no injuries during the event, and no-one got lost. The runners deserve credit for showing up prepared to navigate on their own and manage their hydration and nutritional needs — exactly the spirit of mindfulness and self-reliance we sought to promote in creating this event. And perhaps it’s the case that the magical beauty of the Shawangunk Mountains imparts extra energy to those who move through the wilderness…
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!
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.