Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trail Diary: Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide 8.7.10

The Plan: Run from Giant Ledge parking on the hairpin turn into Woodland Valley, then up and over Wittenberg (3,790 ft), Cornell (3,860), and Slide (4,180).  Once down from Slide, either run the road from the Slide parking area back to the car or take the public easement trail across Winnisook property, back to the GL trail and run up to the Ledge or all the way up Panther (3,720) if there was enough gas left in the tank. 15-20 miles.

The Reality: Did it.  Mostly.  Didn't make it up Panther but did the main loop and got up to Giant Ledge.  18 miles in 6:13.  Ran out of water (and gas) at the Ledge and decided enough was enough.  The rest of the story:
  • Rocks.  All day.  Rocks.  Miles and miles running on, over, and between rocks--except the spaces between rocks were filled with get it.  Ran in Cascadias, but I have to wonder if a beefier shoe wouldn't be better for this route.
  • You know that thing about not looking at the view while running a trail?  That you should always stop if you want to sightsee?  That rocks are much harder than skin or bones? (Ok, I made that part up.)  I never did actually fall, probably because after the first 2 or 3 ( or was it 6 or 7?) close calls and realizing how bad the consequences would be, I finally started paying closer attention.
  • Woodland Valley is aptly named.  No different than the rest of the forest, I suppose, but somehow, it was just very, very nice down there.  And those stone steps...
  • Deception.  Climb out of Woodland Valley on the red-blazed WS trail.  At the junction of the WS and Terrace Mountain trails, you turn right and the groove & flow starts to really Groove & Flow.  Some of the most fun running you'll have this day.  The sign at the trail junction said 1.3 miles to Wittenberg and 2.1 to Cornell. As you scream down the trail doing your best imitation of Anton Krupicka, you estimate your pace, do the math, and start thinking you'll need to drive to the Biscuit Brook trailhead later, to get some more running time in, since you'll be done here much sooner than expected.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.
  • Ho ho ho.  Silly you.  Never, ever think that.
  • The view of Ashokan Reservoir from "The Wittenberg" is awesome, and by far the best of the three mountains. 
  • Some very tough hand over hand climbing and boulder scrambles on the approaches to all three mountains.  Even a couple log ladders going up Slide.  Could be pretty dangerous in wet conditions.
  • Running the trail in this direction (with Wittenberg first) is the harder--and better--way to go.  I'd hate going down some of those rocks I climbed up.
  • New York State made the "WS" trail from Woodland Valley over the three mountains very interesting.  Perhaps they ran out of money for trail markers because there are only about half as many as they need out there. And they cleverly didn't put them at the places they were most needed.  Just ask the cursing hikers I kept encountering. But navigation is part of the game...
  • If you ever want to know what a set of 10,000 squats feels like, this is the run for you. 
  • Cascadias qualify as rock climbing shoes.  
  • The fragrance of balsam was overpowering at times on the spine of the three mountains.  Sweet, soft, and green.  Wow, was that cool...
  • Plan to take a couple days off after this run.  You'll need to.
The Bottom Line: If you want to run, run, and run some more, don't do this route. If you want a great day of ultra training, with some spectacular views, an upper body workout to go with those quivering quads, a sense of having done some real Catskill Mountain adventuring, all intermixed with some running, this is the route for you.  Plus you can bag three (or four if you manage Panther) of the 3,500+ ft peaks in the process, including the highest peak in the Catskills (Slide Mountain). What's not to love?  Go run a trail!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment