We've been talking and strategizing about running the length of the Shawangunk Ridge for years. We've run all over the ridge, but never from one end to the other. But, on Sunday morning, the opportunity to check this off the list presented itself and we couldn't pass it up. The opportunity was in the form of a car shuttle & drop off, one of the logistical steps that had steered us away from this challenge...that and the 18+ miles of running. We basically ran from the left side to the right side of the photo below.
Once we committed, we studied the trail maps and consulted our friends Amy & Rodney who (no surprise) have actually snowshoed the ridge. We packed a good supply of nutrition--a few EFS flasks of gel and water each and layered on the warm clothes. It may have been 20 degrees when we started.
We started the run roughly at Pine Road and ran through the Mohonk Preserve towards the Steel Bridge. From there we crossed into Minnewaska State Park and ran up to our 10 mile mark at the Awosting Parking lot. Near Awosting falls the trail is completely gone--a victim of Irene. Gone without a trace, right down to a slab of rock. We were feeling really good during this stretch and managed to average 7:30 pace even though the trail is almost all uphill. At the parking lot we fueled up before heading into the next 5 mile stretch to Lake Awosting. About halfway through, we were interrupted again the Irene damage at Cardiac Hill. I hadn't been there since the storm, but the damage is pretty impressive. When we got to the far end of the lake, we took a right on the little path that leads to Mud Pond. This is where things started to fall apart. This is where we went from wide gravel carriage roads to rocky single track. After running only uphill and straight for 15 miles, we switched to hoping from one rock to the next and ducking out of the way of dwarf pitch pines. My legs did not like it. Making it to Mud Pond was a good distraction from my cramping legs. We even got asked for some "Ultra" runners by some hikers. From Mud Pond, we took the trail to Verkeerderkill Falls. This was more single track and some running along the top of the ridge, near the edge of the cliffs. After we hit the falls, the rest of the way back to Sam's Point was long and VERY rocky. Not exactly runnable, but very pretty. Somehow I never really got cold. The final mile was on the road from the Sam's Point Ice Caves down to the parking lot. In total, the run was 19 miles, starting at about 600 ft. and finishing at 2300 ft. It took us about 3 hours 45 minutes. The first 15 miles took about 2 hours.
We fist pumped and high-fived when we got to the car. Then, as soon as our fingers thawed out enough to dial, we called the Brau Haus and ordered veggie burgers, German potato salad and bison chili to go.
There will be a next time for this run. We have to go back and take a different trail (Smiley Carriageway to High Point Road) so that we can actually run the whole thing.
Aren't these photos Laurel took amazing???