The Plan: Run from the Biscuit Brook trailhead on the West Branch Neversink up Big Indian Mountain (3,700 ft), over Eagle (3,600) and maybe to Haynes (3,420) and return. 16-17 miles.
The Reality: Started out fine. Some slow climbing up rocky sections for the first mile or so, then some excellent groove & flow on a very runnable, easy downhill. But in a recurring theme for the day, it didn't last long. For every 5 or 10 minutes of runnable trail, I slammed into something rocky, slick, or just steep enough that I couldn't run for the next 5 or 10. And starting at maybe 3 miles in, the trail was frequently very overgrown. Lots of small beech, raspberry, blackberry, viburnum, and woodfern. Much of it was from ground to head, so you couldn't see the trail below your feet nor the markers up ahead. Lost the trail a bunch of times. Scratches from my ankles to my shoulders. In other words, your basic fine day on the trail. And Hammer ain't got nothin' like ripe blackberries for refueling mid-run. Never did see the yellow trail junction at 5.6 miles, so I either never made it there or I missed it twice (on the out and on the back). It would be hard to believe that I hadn't even made 5.6 miles by the time I gave up the ghost and turned around at 1:43 into the run, despite the roadblocks. I was able to hammer some sections pretty well. Finished the "run" in 3:16. I'm sure I made it over Big Indian, but I don't know about Eagle, and I can't imagine I made it to Haynes (none of these are above treeline and much of the run is on a ridge, so you can't always tell if you're on a summit). I'm guessing I got 11 or 12 in, but it was 3+ hours running a trail--that's nothing but goodness.
Run it again? Only with a partner, and only if we were through-running all the way to Pine Hill or a side trail to somewhere else. Beautiful forest, although at times you really couldn't see the forest for the trees.
Cool Feature: Once up on the ridge, you're running along the "Catskill Divide" which is the divide between the Delaware and Hudson River watersheds. Well, it's cool to some of us....maybe you had to be there....
After the run: I ran again, an easy 5. On the...gasp...poisonous roads. Kids were playing in the pep band at the school football game, so I clenched my teeth and grabbed a few extra miles to school, then caught a ride back home. Ahh, the exhaust fumes, rocky shoulders, and redneck drivers. I am so done with all that. Not sure what I'm going to do this winter, though. Snowshoeing on my lunch hour just ain't gonna work.
Be happy...go run a trail!