Week 5 – Road to Carmel

Total Miles – 26.87

Today starts a strange week since I am traveling. The team at XPlora modified my schedule accordingly since I will be going to Puerto Rico for an extended weekend. I was scheduled for a 2 hour long run and that will just not fly in that Puerto Rican heat. I learned my lesson when I did something similar in Miami a couple of years back. You have to be used to that heat.

Run 17 – 1/11/21 – Back to it, today, I ran with little to no pain or discomfort on my right arch. So it was a good day.  I wound up running at lunch and on the clock.  I did not have much time in my schedule to fit in the 55 minutes I was slated to run.  I opted to do it simple.  So I did a semi loop, that takes me to Bronx River Trail and back.  The Trail parts are an out and back affair, but I start and end in different places.  Always loop when you can loop!

Being on a time crunch sucks, because I knew I had the lunch hour and the meeting awaiting was not going to take itself.  Luckily, the person I had the meeting with was understanding.  Other than experiencing no pain, there was nothing to today.  It ended with the now common strides, which I am beginning to enjoy.  They play a mental game to push you to get ready to go hard when the tank is seemingly near empty.  

Run 18 – 1/13/21 – Semi Long / Half Marathon Pace – Because of my trip to PR this week, and not wanting to run extended miles in PR, a real long run just does not scream Caribbean getaway weekend.  I had to pick up Martha to do our COVID tests before the trip.  Thankfully it was negative and the place Martha selected to do the test was an in/out affair.  The moment I dropped her off at home, I suited up, and headed out.  The semi long run was 75 minutes, so I figured about 8 miles.  I decided to do what I did a couple of weeks ago and loop Central Park which is 6 miles, plus the mile from her house to Central Park and back was the perfect distance.  Remember what I said about loops.  Well, to do this specific loop I have to undertake the massive Morningside Mountain, it’s a mountain NOT a hill.  Last time I did it at the end and it hurt.  Today I decided let me tackle it at the start. Guess what STILL HURT!  It’s no fun regardless how you do it.  Today it crossed my mind to not do it at all, but then no loop! 

Once I got into Central Park the idea was to wish upon wish that the Half Marathon pace moments did not come in any of the big hills.  And thankfully neither did, but they both finished with them so it was a false sense of hope.  I will say my mind was not ready for the midweek long run and as I was tackling it I was thinking wait, I have to run again tomorrow.  This sucks!  

The two points when you have to push for 8 minutes at Half Marathon pace, about a solid 8:00 minute pace. You question, Can I push? Then after I push and slow down.  You kind of think, I am done?  My body is shot and I don’t want to do that again.  

It was 29 Easy, 8 hard, 20 Easy, 8 Hard, 10 Easy.  

When I slowed down the first time, I hit the brakes too hard.  Meaning it was about a couple of minutes before I stabilized my pace.  Just dreading as I made my way up the East Side of Central Park when I would have to speed up again.  When I did, everything was against me, the willingness and my mind.  The body was yelling too.  Yet I took off too fast and had to work to bring the pace back down.  Working hard to bring the pace down.  It’s like I was just complaining and now I seem to be running too fast and can’t figure out how to slow down, without feeling like I am coming to a screeching halt.  

The run ended on the lower flat side of Morningside and was I happy for that.  While the Arch no longer HURTS., I still felt discomfort damn near the whole run.  Yet no pain.  I’ll take it as still healing.  I get the Asics tomorrow so I hope that I can do my short run with those if they come in on time.  

Run 19 – 1/14/21 – Today was a final easy run before I head out for the weekend.  The shoes I have been waiting for got in today.  Bright and early in the morning.   I got a brand new last years model of the ASICS GT2000 8.  This year’s model are the 9’s.  

Funny story, I went into the ASICS store in the city, right before the pandemic started to buy these.  I had done my research and knew that these were the shoes I wanted and needed.  They are the most closely resembled the shoe that I have been using for over the decade, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS line.  (Go To Shoe).  When I got to the ASICS store the sales person fitted me.  Had me run on the treadmill, had me stand on the thingy that measured whatever and said.  Yes, the GT2000 would be good BUT, the Kayano’s offer more support, more this, more that.  All for only an extra $40.  In other words, he upsold me heavily.  I went in with an idea and left with another.  I bought the Kayano’s and honestly was not overly happy with them, I felt like they wore out so quick, I barely got 300 miles out of them.  

Fast forward to last week. I speak rather consistently with Sal Aguirre.  A Mexican dude I met while he lived in my hometown in the Dominican Republic.  Anyway, I was telling him my show woes, and he said, dude I never buy this year’s model and I swear by the GT2000’s but also use other brands.  The GT’s being what I have the most of.  I was going to buy the GT2000 9 but found a great deal on Zappos for the 8’s.  Those are the shoes I ran with today. 

I will say that I did not feel discomfort or pain in my arch at any point in the run today.  I did after, but I think that is a product of having an area that is still sort of raw and healing.  During today’s 45 minute run, no pain, no discomfort.  They felt stiff the first 10 minutes or so, but that is to be expected.  I am sure they will continue to mold themselves to my foot.  Also, they have a cloud like sense to them.  They feel very squishy while still feeling supportive.  An extremely good blend.  

On the run end, my body was extremely sore after yesterday’s  semi long run.  By mid run though, the roughness went away and it was an uneventful loop.  Great final run before the trip.  Now I wait to get my credit from RoadRunners and I will also get the New Balance 860v11… So I will be running with three different brands.  A nice change of pace.

Run 20 – 1/16/21 – Long Run Puerto Rico – Today I will say I almost died and that is not me overreacting.  I have been training in very cold weather.  Usually when I run a warm day is the low 40s.  I came  to Isabela, Puerto Rico for a long extended weekend and had to do a long run.  Of course I spoke to my coach and as you probably already read he had me do a semi long run midweek.  So that this weekend I had a short long run.  By short long run, we are talking about a whopping 8 miles in this heat and sun.  

I told myself I would wake up early and run.  Yet, I did not leave until about 8am.  The sun was already out and the heat was gradually increasing.  I started at an easy 10m pace and even that was a struggle as the heat started to press.  I guess, you get accustomed and acclimated.  I was far from acclimated!  

The view though was amazing! VERY AMAZING.  They have a trail that hugs the ocean and all you see is the waves splashing on the water.  Yet, you still get drowned out by the heat.  By mile 4 the turn around point in my out and back venture.  I could no longer properly breathe,  I was shuffling.   This lead to me pausing and cursing at mile 6.  Where I berated myself for stopping with 2 miles to go.  I again stopped at close to 7 miles and here I thought long and hard about walking the rest of the way back.  Yet, I chided myself and soldiered on! At mile 7.7 I hit a massive hill, right when I knew the end was over the bend.  I paused, composed myself and attempted to finish strong.   

Now the positives, I had no pain to speak off.  I started the run with a tinge in my left knee as always, but it quickly disappeared.  My arches never screamed or yelled at me either.  So winning all around.  

 



Week 4 – Road to Carmel

Total Mileage – 20.83

Run 13 – 1/4/21 – Start of an Easy Week – Lucky number 13, and the start of what is suppose to be an easy week. Today was an easy 45. Not much to it than a basic loop around the neighborhood. I did have to stop almost immediately, my tight shoes again causing pain in the arches of my feet. Once I loosened up, so did the pain. Before I run again, I must completely re-lace both my running shoes.

The loop I tried is somewhere in the vicinity of 4.x miles. Since it called for 45 minutes, I opted for the loop, but it fell short of expectations and had to divert a couple of times to try to add mileage. A good rule of thumb should be, if it says 45 minutes, find something that has close to 5 miles.

Run 14 – 1/14/21 – Pain – Pain is a good motivator to do nothing. When I started this training I had just bought a pair of Brooks GTS 21’s that seemed to be fitting the bill rather well. Upon starting the training I pondered the idea of getting a second pair so that I can alternate between two pairs of shoes. Great idea right. I rapidly decided GTS 21’s are very comfy let me get a second pair! This will be perfect! I go and buy the same shoes in a different color. At first, I avoided long runs with them since I needed to break them in before I put them through the torture. After 3 or 4 runs, I decide to up the mileage on the shoes fast so that I can simply alternate between the two shoes. So I went gung-ho on the new shoes and wore them religious. Then! PAIN! I had felt the pain in arch before, the slight discomfort, but figured they would just get settled in. Last week after my Friday run, I really felt it. After the long run even more. I told myself is the way I am tightening them. I spoke about re-lacing, that this was helping. Yet, the pain was still there.

On this run, I ran with discomfort and/or pain the entire time. To the point were, when I finished, I could not put my weight on the foot. Mind you today had strides of 1 minute at 5k pace with 90 seconds of rest. Somehow, I did that without crying or stopping. Yet, when I was done and cooled down. I realized I had made a mistake of gigantic proportions.

I am taking a couple of days off, no training! Stay off my feet. The act of walking hurts the arch on my right foot. I called the company I use to buy the sneakers and started a return process. Now, I am thinking about using other sneaker brands to supplement. Instead of the same exact sneakers. I opted not to decide right away and will await a week to decide. For now, I just hope I can quickly run without that pain.

It makes no sense though, same brand, same model, same size. Yet different feeling!

Run 15 – 1/8/21 – Skipped – Skipped, letting the arch on my right foot heal. The pain after my last run persevered and after talking to my coach I avoided all working out for a couple of days to make sure I could do my long run.

Run 16 – 1/9/21 – Pain but… – After my Run 14 I needed a break due to the pain on my right arch. I returned the shoes that caused the pain, and today when I put on the exact same shoes but in a different color. I knew that things would be alright the moment I put them on. After two days of icing my foot, all I had left was a dull faint discomfort and these shoes were not pressing anything.

I did a reverse route similar to a recent long run, starting on the Bronx River Trail and then coming up California Road. The hills to get to California Road were murderous, but I did not seem to slow down much as I tackled them. By around mile 6 I started feeling a small throb on my right arch. To the point were I felt at times that I was changing my strike. I had to mentally try to correct it, knowing if I continued to modify I would wind up hurting something else. When I did not modify, I definitely did feel the arch. I felt it but it did not hurt. It was like someone pushing in with their thumb hard. Whereas Wednesday when I felt it. It felt like someone was pushing in with a knife hard. Big difference.

I have decided to change shoes. After speaking to my coach and a friend, I will try a three shoe approach. I will eventually purchase a pair of Asics GT2000 and a pair of New Balance 860’s. Let’s see how that ball rolls. I will continue to ice my arch.

Week 3 – Road to Carmel Marathon

Total Mileage – 26.82

Run 9 – 12-28-20 – Today was an easy run with strides at the end. I had never done strides before I started training with Javier and Xplora. The idea is that you do a 5k pace for 30 sec, followed by a trot. In this case to the end the run.

I started with a slight dull ache in the inside section of my left knee. That never really went away. I will blame it on me wearing shorts in 35 degree weather and never warming up. My body though felt real heavy. It’s amazing how Saturday, my natural easy pace came out as a 9:09 pace and today, I barely broke 10! But my legs felt like two lead weights holding me down. As I ran, I really wondered, how in the world I would be able to do strides at the end. How when my body felt so bogged down would I be able to speed up to sub 5k pace.

The body is an amazing thing though, because I was able to push and in that push also went the dull knee ache like it was never there. Oddly that first 30 second push, I had to slow myself down. Let’s see how the rest of week goes. I’m hiking as well this afternoon. So my legs will be extra mush at the end of the day.

Run 10 – 12/30/20 – 800m 5k Pace X6 – Today was going to be a hard day. 5K pace which is sub 7:10, and repeating that 6 times after having warmed up for nearly 2 miles.

I told myself, just do it in the gym. It forces you to keep the pace. You set the speed on the treadmill and just stay there, don’t dare slow down. When I got to Blink Fitness, there was a line to get in, by the time I parked and walked to the entrance the line had already grown. I said FUCK it, and left. That was a sign. It was about 30 degrees not terribly cold and I had told myself that I would try Van Cortlandt Track. So, I went back home to grab my sweater, hat and gloves and off to the track.

The track turned out to be sort of like packed dirt for like half and asphalt the other half. The packed dirt I am guessing is easier on the knees. Do note though that there were patches of mud that should be avoided so going after some heavy rain or a big thaw is not a good idea. I also had the great idea again of running in shorts. Way too cold for that.

The 2 mile warm up was not bad, but, the pushing to 5k for such extended periods of time HURT. Like the first one was fine, the second a little harder. The third time around, it was a struggle to keep the pace. By the 4th round, I doubted I could keep that pace for the whole 1/2 mile. It was a struggle to push. Like David Goggins says in Can’t Hurt Me, when you feel like you can’t go any further, you’ve only gone 40%. You have another 60% if you push. Well, I pushed, and while I felt like I could not do anything more, like I could not push not an iota more. I still did and I finished! It’s a mind vs body fight. My mind is telling me that I can’t, but my body knows best, it’s not giving me signs of anything. Just pick a point and push to that point! Check, rinse, repeat!

The cool down felt amazing, except it was freezing like literally freezing and my gloved hands hurt from the cold. Yet, I was done! Workouts like that help push you to do better! They push you to know that what you thought impossible before you laced up your shoes is possible and look! You just did it!

Run 11 – 1/1/21 – New Year’s Easy Run – The day started, not quite hungover, but not quite right either. It was a long night waiting to say adieu to 2020. I knew I had to run, so getting up and dusted off was a must. A quick easy pace 50 minutes.

I will say running on no sleep is never fun, the body does not react the same way, with the same preciseness. I opted to stay as close to a 10 minute pace as possible. Ended with 9:44 with a nice loop around the neighborhood. Even better, there were many people out and about, so I was not alone.

It’s always nice to see people running. Not sure why seeing other people run makes me happy but it does!

Nothing specific. A slight dull discomfort in the same place. Left outer knee this time. Last time was inner. I did roll it out the moment I got home and that felt painful yet wonderful. Let’s kick 2021’s butt. I did 695.1 miles in 2020, Let’s break 800 in 2021. Life is nothing but goals and I am planning to do 2 marathons and a Triathlon so, why the fuck not!

Run 12 – 1/2/21 – Long Run 95 Minutes – I think the shoelaces in my new sneakers were too tight. After the last easy run, I got a really bad pain like if I was wearing the wrong shoes. I walked and lived it with for the whole time and the beginning of the run. I had to unlace my shoes and re-lace them, to loosen them up. After almost 10 miles for the long run I can say that it worked.

Today, I ran the first couple of miles with my girlfriend in the city. She was hoping to do 4 miles to my 10, so we started off in west Harlem and ran down to the North Western side of Central Park on 110th Street. I don’t know if you have run Central Park, but the hill on 110th on the west side is the worst hill in the entire Park. A full loop of the park is 6 miles. The Upper loop is like 1.4 miles, but like I said it is the hilliest part of the park. I wound up doing the hill on 110th TWICE. I went into the Park with Martha, did the hell of an upper loop, she exited, and I continued to loop the entirety of the park.

One thing I will say about running in the park, it is never boring. You always have something to see, always have something to distract your mind as you tug away at the miles. The worst thing to do though which I did as I was traversing the southern most part of the park is look at the street signs. The miles don’t pass when you are seeing. 6601 – 6602 – 6300 – 6301- 6302 – 6400. DON’T DO that. Instead, let your eyes wonder. Do some people watching, do some scenery gazing. As you are running south on the west side of the park, partake of the skyline over the park. It’s a sight to see, how a metropolis and such a huge park coexist. As you head north on the east side of the park try not to think of the end. Try not to think I just have to get to 110th, that’s how you start looking at street signs. NYRR has a training series that does 12 and 18 miles in the park in preparation for the Marathon. The 12 mile run is 2 loops and the 18 mile is 3 loops. So, yesterday I just told myself. It’s just 1 loop, and it’s almost over. Run Roddy Run!

As I exited the park on 110th I had a decision to make. Retrace my steps back to my girlfriends house on the east side of Morning Side Park or take the West side and go for the loop. Sorry, I will choose the loop every time, but the elevation was murder! It was just as high as the highest point in Central Park, with the exception that before getting there you brought it back down to 0 ft before climbing back up. In other words, a terrible idea to end a long run.

I was in pain the whole run. The left knee is starting to be of concern. It’s not pain, but discomfort. Yet, I have been running with discomfort for two years now. It just moves around. I’m really taking advantage of my day off today (Sunday) and relishing that this coming week is an easy week consisting of all easy runs ending with a 105 minute long run.

Lastly, I decided that my backup to NYC Marathon being cancelled this fall will be the Savannah Marathon in Georgia on Nov 6 or San Antonio in Dec. A backup plan against COVID.

First 2 Weeks – Road to Carmel Marathon

Total Mileage – 38.87

Run 1 – 12/14/20 – Easy Run – Today was my first run en route to the Carmel Marathon. I woke up right at 6am and did not hit the snooze button, not because I did not want to sleep more, but because the day calls for sleet/rain/snow that supposedly starts at 7AM. So I wanted to make sure Day 1 was in the books. Now it is.

This new phase and this new marathon is being done using a coach, Javier from XPlora, in the Dominican Republic. The hope being that with proper coaching I can somehow break the 4 hour barrier.

It was drizzling when I left this morning and that drizzle almost kept me at home. I checked the weather on the way out and it said it would continue doing so the remainder of the morning with actual rain/snow starting at 7am. So I put on a hoodie and went. I was going to try the new shoes today, but figured I should wait, not knowing how bad the weather would be.

The run was uneventful, with about 15/20 minutes left I started feeling pain on the inside back part of my left knee. I ran with it the rest of the way. I told myself I need to roll out as soon as I get home and I did.

50 minutes at an easy pace. I use to think easy pace was a 9:15-9:30 pace. The new coach says I need to run slower. So the new easy pace is a 10 flat. We will see how that goes. I have been practicing for a couple of weeks now. I was able to do 5.03 miles in that time of a modified hilly loop or a 10:02 pace. The great thing about that pace is that thus far, I always feel like I can keep running.

Day 1 in the bag, and since I am paying for coaching and this week is about to turn messy. Let me reach out to my coach to modify the week around the snow.

Run 212/15/20 – From the very get go I knew it was going to be a hard run. The idea of holding and 8 minute pace for that long put doubts in my head. So I think I had lost before I even left. Not sure how the 5k will work later this week.

Maybe its the fact of going in circles that kills you. Doing the circles in around the lake sounded like a good idea when I got there, but waiting to get to a certain place just does not make much sense.

Run 3 – 12/18/20 – It snowed quite a bit yesterday and the day before, so I have not ran in two full days because of it. Today, I will run at the gym and it was the first but will definitely not be the last I run on the treadmill. The winters could be tough. I will try and run outside as much as possible, but the treadmill will have to do at times.

The run was an easy one, with strides at the end. I have seen that in different apps but have never really done them. Basically you run slow and just push to 5k pace in 30 second intervals. Nice and quick. I have a 5k test tomorrow and it was nice to see that I can speed up to that without much pain. Can I really hold that for three miles. Tomorrow will be the indication of that.

Today’s run also was done with the mask on the whole time. I need to see about getting a better running mask for when I have to run in the gym. What I am using is too tight and actually feels like it cuts circulation.

Run 4 – 12/19/20 – 5k Test – For this run, I needed to do a 5k test to make sure that I was running at the adequate pace. I was afraid of undertaking this, since the other day, during run 2 I had so many struggles pushing. Having had a big snow storm the other day, the only logical way of doing this was to head to Central Park.

It started with a 15 minute warm up that consisted of 9 minutes at an easy pace. Then 4 rounds of 30 minute at 5k pace and 1 minute super easy. Called Strides. It really does help to ease out the muscles.

Then the 5k test, I came out of the gate WAY too quick. WAY too quick. I started at a sub 7 pace, even though I knew I would not be able to uphold the pace. I then had to slow down and stopped the watch at the 72 street pass, between the horses and the snow. It was the safest thing to do, at least that is what my mind told me to do.

After that, it was just pushing. I have no explanations if not to say that it was hard, but I am guessing it was suppose to be hard. Central Park is not the right place to undertake runs like this. The hills, oh the hills, are long and violent and the downhills somehow are not any better.

I wound up finishing the test in 22:53, a descent showing.

With the result of this test, all my times dropped and now I am training more in line with what I think are my capabilities as a runner. This whole week will be a gym week, so we will see how this all goes. I think I will wear the disposable masks which may be better in the long run for what I want to do.

Run 5 – 12/21/20 – Easy run but on the treadmill which adds a certain overall difficulty to the equation. I had not slept well the night before and running for 50 minutes made things rather difficult specially on the fucking treadmill.

The first treadmill was skipping so I had to change machines mid stride. The second machine was better but the never ending monotony of running at the exact same pace for a such a long time makes the whole process rather boring and difficult. I will have to run again on the treadmill soon and not only run, but also do sprints of about a 1/2 mile each while I am at it.

Run 6 – 12/23/20 – 800m at 5k Times 5 – Again this was done at the gym, but I am recollecting it 3 days later. It was the first time I did not wear a mask at the gym. I tried, but running at a 5k pace for a mile with a mask is not easy. Also, my 5k pace was dropped precipitously after the 5k test so it’s even harder to keep tabs on it. Instead of the mask I wore the chin strap, and brought it up if anyone was walking by and during my breaks.

I had to do this 5 times, the first 3 times were hard but doable. 800m is about .5 miles. The last 2 times, I felt like stopping the treadmill as I got close. I take it that if I was running on the road, this is where the drop in speed would happen. The moment in which you give up and let go. The great thing about doing this on the treadmill is that all you have to do is nothing. DO NOT TOUCH the speed controls and ride it through.

Next week, I will try going to Van Cortlandt park for this and see how that goes in the very big running track. Since I also feel that doing it in the track by my house makes it hard by it being so small. Going circles in the track or having to traverse narrow bridges in the park make for a poor experience.

Run 7 – 12/25/20 – Missed – I did not run this run. I went to mom’s house for Christmas with the clothes to run it, but, I could not. It was 100% chance of rain and it did not disappoint. First missed run!

Run 8 – 12/26/20 – First Real Long Run – 80 Min – Just like my 5k pace dropped, so did my easy pace. Supposedly I can go as fast as 9:09 pace. Yet, while I did just that, having done the run at a 9:10 pace. I think this was too fast. I felt like I should have done it slower. I seemed to hit zone 3 quite often and that is not the way it should be. I should have never touched Zone 3 and stayed in Zone 1/2. I tried a different route today, one that included some long arduous climbs. Yet, I still get the pace. I’m guessing that those 3’s are the hills!

Other than that, it was an uneventful run. I started listening to Ready Player 2. Not sure how I am enjoying it , but I enjoy the cadence of Whil Wheaton’s voice doing the narration.

The end of the loop I did is California Road a long 2 mile stint. When I use to do my daily drive from work to home. I use to see this road and say damn, look at that hill, imagine running it. I eventually got to bike it a few times which added to the desire to run it. Not sure if it’s long run material. But definitely enjoyed the run. It was solitary with few souls running as well and the few I did see were seemingly concentrated on their task!

Why I Run!

This was written 12/13/20, as I started my road to Carmel Marathon 2021

It’s late and I am trying to quantify why I run. What’s the drive to lace up my shoes and take to the pavement one foot strike after another. The thought has percolated through my brain and ideas have come and gone, some great yet, some mediocre, yet none written. Tomorrow I start the training to what is in actuality my third marathon. I would say fourth since I ran over 20 miles in Chicago in 2016, but while that has a seeded reason in why I run, a marathon in the end it was not, even if I did get to cross the finish line and have a post run brew.

Many of the roads leading to the answer to this question stem from my mother. It turns out she started running in the mid-90’s and none of us were any the wiser. I know I was a teenager, living in exile in the Dominican Republic, but you would think I would have still noticed or cared. Yet I did not! I feel every day like a terrible son for not knowing or showing support. I did not show support either as she started traveling to run, and doing this crazy thing called marathoning over and over again. Today though, I understand so much more. Eventually back then, I did get involved and I did make sure to wait for her at indicated locations when I could to cheer her on. In her last marathon in 2016, her first and for now her last since a terrible car accident in 2015, I ran over 20 miles following her and my sister Annie all over Chicago. Doing the last few miles with them and even crossing the finish line.

Here’s the thing, I look back at Chicago and while I could see my mother was in dire pain. That every step was excruciating, she moved on. She struck her feet on the pavement and kept moving forward. Staying ahead of the pace vehicle, to make sure she completed the course within the preset limits. I don’t remember the pain when I think about it. I remember the fortitude, the drive, the sheer will it takes to cross that finish line when your body is at odds with your mind. That weekend in Chicago, my mother took me from a person that occasionally ran a few miles here and there. A person that does a charity 5k here and there. To someone that trained to run a half and RAN IT! Before I even took to the road for that half, I had also decided that I would do a Marathon. Scary when you cross the finish line for the half and think, wait, I have to do this all over again for a marathon. My mother reminded me when I told her, that training makes all the difference.

Why else do I run. I have read many books that delve from running with god, to running for health, to running for mental well being and so forth. Every running book I read shines a bit of light into a piece of why I run. I run, not because I want to race and be great. I run not because I need something to do to work out. I run, because running has become a part of who I am. It has become a matter of self. I do not see a life in which I don’t lace up and run. By that same coin, I am a goal driven person, and while I remember finishing the 2019 NYC Marathon and thinking never again, I will never again run a marathon. I will stick to the half, such a good distance, challenging but doable. I lied to myself. My goal driven approach will not let me run half of anything. Full or bust!

So, I run because even though, I may not be as fit as I want to be, or as good as I want to be. I am a runner. As a runner, I need goals. Those goals today are races where I have to push myself. In that pushing, I do have conversations with a higher power. In my case a catholic god, or some semblance of what that might be. In that pushing, it works towards mental health. When you are doing a long run and just taking one step after another for 3 hours, you can’t but not think and put the pieces of your life’s puzzle together. The inspiration for all this being my mother who never gives up, and continues to train to this day to once again at some point run 26.2 miles! Who ran, for years upon years without the support she deserved from us, her family.

I run, to run. Roddy Logic at it’s quintessential best. One step at a time, RodGic!

The road to Carmel Marathon in Indiana starts now! I’m keeping a personal journal of my road. This is also the first time I pay someone to train me, hopefully helping me breaking the 4 hour barrier, but at the very least, helping me finish this training healthy and have attainable goals and plans to cross that finish line strong, and not nearly dead as I did in 2019. Thank you XPlora!

Bull Hill Loop – Mt Taurus

(This post was written in Feb 2018, and published 3 years later)

I have been constantly going up and down Bull Hill for years now.  It’s always an up and back affair that is quickly done.  Similar to other quick area hikes like Lamb’s Hill or Anthony’s Nose.  Today I opted for the loop and it was spectacular.  The up to Bull Hill aka Mt Taurus is always quick.  It’s  a straight up climb to one of my favorite views in the Hudson Valley, more than any other in the area including Breakneck, with the added benefit of being a lot less crowded.

I left thinking the loop was going to be 5.9 miles.  It turned out to be more like 5.5 but I will not complain since it was still a great hike that offered enough elevation to rival some of the easier Catskill hikes and the distance to boot.

The first 2 miles of this hike is all climb, with pretty much no chance to take a breather.  It’s an abuse on the mind and soul knowing there is absolutely no respite from beginning to that 2 mile mark.  Along the way you hit the old quarry, followed quickly by a money shot overlooking the quaint town of Cold Spring with West Point anchoring the picturesque view across the Hudson.  Then more climb and it just gets harder and harder.  Until you come to the big boulder I THOUGHT., and this is again thought! was the best view in Bull Hill and it still may be.  It has competition a little further up.  I was not stopping today.  I took in the sight, walked a little more and took in the sight from the other rock up and to the right of the amazing boulder.

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I kept climbing.  So I guess I never hit the top of Bull, cause I was still going up until I reached a huge boulder that said NYC Money Shot.  It was a clear day and I could faintly see not only NYC but also the Tappan Zee bridge.  You keep going even more and now you start descending and POW a Northern View with views of the Newburgh Beacon Bridge and the Northern end of Dutchess County.

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That was all for the money shots, yet the rest of the hike was still amazing.  You ran into an abandon complex next to a babbling brook I later learned was called Breakneck Brook.  You then follow the brook to the melodic sounds of that amazing burbling water.  There is something peaceful about that sound that negates the rest of the world.   You run into another  abandoned estate and some circle thing I have no idea what it was.  More descending and I reached my car again.

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It’s always a dab of fresh air when you revisit a hike you have done over and over again and see it with new eyes, discover there is so much more to it than you ever thought.  My favorite hike just became my even MORE favorite hike, I doubt there is anything that battles Bull Hill in the area.  It gives you a bit of everything, the only one that comes close is Popolopen Torne.

Sugarloaf Mountain – Nothing Sweet Here, Just COLD SWEAT!

I actually started writing this quite a while ago and never finished.  2018 has not been a hiking year for me.   It has been a running year as I have been dedicating myself to doing the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.  The mountain is seemingly calling me and not to do a measly 4-5 mile hike in the Hudson Valley, I need a gruesome, blood sweat and tears hike in the Catskills, the Adirondacks or The Whites.  I think next week I will venture into the whites to redo some of those trails.

In sum here is what I wrote a while ago,. no modification just what I found in this draft.  Excuse typos and errors, I will not correct this draft:

“Hiking is a difficult venture.  You go out and play a game against an imposing mountain.  The mountain says, I am too difficult for you young one, go hike a hill, or a nice flat park.  I am mountain, you are weak, turn around now!  So it would be safe to say then that hiking a mountain in winter is doubly as hard.  Part of what hiking gives me is that peace with nature, that battle against the imposing behemoth.  It’s David and Goliath, every bagged peak is a won battle against a never ending ridge.

This hike I did under a sheet of ice with a friend.  Ever since I took him on my last mental health hike, he wanted to do another but in winter, to battle the elements and add that extra level of difficulty to the hike.   I told him fine, but you need special equipment, get these micro spikes and if there is too much snow we cancel, because then you would also need to invest in snow shoes.  So we pick what seemed a perfect weekend, there was 1-2 inches of snow over a sheet of ice at the beginning of the hike and 3-4 at the summit, again, under a sheet of even thicker ice.”

That being said., or rehashed from 8 months ago.  I ran into someone the other day with whom I spoke of this hike and the terrors this hike in-viewed in this person has brought me back to finish this post.  Writing about such an endeavor so many months later, can get hazy.  I actually have not spoken to Hector in a while and will reach out to him soon to discuss this and hopefully after my marathon, get back on a trail with him, just not in winter.

I will say that back then I debated how honest to be with my story , you see, I had told Hector get these very specific spikes or better.  Katoohla’s to be exact and he went on and got some cheap 30 dollar spikes from Amazon.  I will say this, never skimp on devices that can save your life.

Please remember I am remembering from 8 months ago and we tend to recollect  the best of things, never the worst.  The morning started weird, first with Hector not having the right socks, and us scrounging at the beginning to find an open store.  Thankfully, we were close to a ski town and found a place.   Then, I noticed the spikes and I said, Hector I said these or better.  He said, these will be fine.  They probably could be, for a stroll in an icy park, no to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain, a very difficult hike without the elements, sitting at 3800′ this is not a stroll in the woods.  In this moment, and I did not tell Hector this, or maybe I did, but I thought to myself.  This is a bad idea, this is a bad and ominous start.

But we headed on, and it looked easy and simple.  Look at the beauty of this beginning:

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It looks simple and welcoming, and Hector looked happy, growling at the mountain he was about to defeat, even if the end left him a bit scarred.

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It did not stay as such.  As we start walking and the snow starts getting deeper and the temperatures slowly start to dip as we climb one of Hector’s spikes is left behind.  The spike literally got caught in the ice and decice to leave Hector’s shoe.  Again not a good sign.  He cannot seem to get a good hang of them on his shoes.  But we keep moving, continually adjusting the maladjusted spikes.

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And the climb is difficult but quick, but the climb is not what I fear since what goes up must come down.  The descents are always so much harder than the climbs in this type of weather.  The descent is when sure footing becomes such a critical part and Hector’s spikes have a vendetta against his boots.  Before we discuss the descent though, look at the beauty of the top!

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But then comes the treachery of the descent.  The descent was ICE and more ICE and then more ICE.  Combined with a couple of straight down climbs that are difficult without the sheets of ice.  In this descent down I have seen Hector go past me, not once but twice.  TWICE., to the point where I am grabbing my phone and thinking, fuck, I’m gonna be one of those calls.  What am I to do with this man if he breaks something in one of these falls.  Thank god Hector is built like an OX.

Then we reach the place we spent an hour considering the ideas, plans and circumstances that led us to this point in our lives.  On the side of a mountain on a seemingly 90 degree drop in a thick sheet of ice.  With Hector’s spikes being nothing more than set decorations.  After some crazy ideas that involve jumping from a ledge to a tree and shimmying down.  I tell Hector look, let me get down, cause while treacherous I can see a way down, but it requires sure footing and trusty spikes that can actually grab on.  I say something like,  once I am down, we will have a better vantage point in which to figure out a way down for you.  As I slowly make my way, I hear you know what I’m gonna try this way… Let’s just say when I got down, Hector was next to me, he went the Wile E. Coyote route and jumped from the ledge to the tree.

After this the rest of the way was, let’s just say a slow impending feel of death adventure down a seemingly harmless beautiful mountain intent on killing my friend Hector.

Look ICE:

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The ice is not your friend though…  Sorry about this pic friend:

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Blood is a beautiful motivator to be careful as fuck!

Anyways, we made it down.  The mountain DID NOT KILL HECTOR… Yet oddly enough he wants to tackle that fickle bitch again but with proper gear.  Proper gear is of such paramount importance.  Gear, Layers and pack like if you are gonna get lost and spend the night.

I remember it took us 9 hours for what should have been a 3-4 hour hike.  The burger I had after was among the best of my life.  The beer never tasted so delicious.

Until next time., I will continue my tackling of these Catskill beasts the moment I finish this freaking hell of a marathon.  Until next year when I tackle the last marathon I will ever do, NYC.

See the rest of the pics of Sugarloaf CLICK HERE FOR ICE AND SNOW, BUT NO DEATH

 

Hunter Mountain – It’s the Climb

Like many people, when I think Hunter Mountain, I think ski slopes.  Unlike other people when I think ski slopes, I do not envision myself swooshing down a mountain.  The simple fact is that Dominicans don’t ski, or at the very least this Dominican will never ski.  The only Dominican I have ever known that ski’ed broke his leg twice doing so.  We are warm blooded and caribbean, it’s just not in our nature.     Hunter Mountain though has the distinction of being the second tallest peak in the Catskills.  There are two different ways to get up to it, a short brutal way and a long not brutal way.  I chose, a short 5 mile up and back route, that was BRUTAL.   Yes, I do feel the need to yell that.

Here’s why.  Up until now most hikes are a combination of climbs followed by a reprieve, then more climbing.  Hunter though, was just climb.  You start off easy enough, with two huge pillars welcoming you into this beautiful mountain.  You start the hike off following a beautiful stream and crossing over a nice wooden bridge followed by a small old dam.  Sounds peachy, right. After the dam though, you climb, you climb until you reach the top with the only reprieve being when you stop to breathe.

On this particular climb, on this particular day, the moment I hit 3500′, the trail turned into an icy and snowy mess.  I was hoping to not bring out the microspikes but, better safe than sorry, when it’s all climb and you run into this:

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As I climbed in this ice and snow, I asked myself, how the hell is this going to be going down?  Microspikes or not, ice is ice.  I stopped and reconsidered a couple of times, turn around or not.  I persevered though, even if I doubted myself the whole way up.  Sometimes I do idiotic things, but this did not feel like one.  This felt right.

Am I glad I did.  Once you get to the top of Hunter, you are immediately greeted with a huge fire tower, a building and not sure what that was but a semi sitting area.  The wind up here was brutal though, I literally had to hold my phone with two hands at all times in order for it to NOT fly away.  As I climbed the fire tower the wind got worst and worst, at one point I decided I needed to forget about everything else and just at all times when I move, hold on to multiple places.  While the top of the fire tower was locked.  Oh my god, I did not have to get to the top to see these beautiful views.

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The last picture are the slopes for hunter mountain or the ski side of the mountain.  I love how the slopes look like fingers from afar.  At this point though the wind and the cold were killing me.  I mean, it was a cold day to begin with, at 4000+ feet, the wind made it nearly unbearable.  So much so, I almost considered putting on another layer of clothing.  Instead, I departed the top of the mountain and took a roundabout way to get to this amazing little view on the other side of Hunter.

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After the view, I decided to concentrate on coming down the mountain.  The first 500ft of so of descent were ice and snow covered so all my concentration and attention went on footing.  Once I passed the 3500′ mark, I took off my spikes and it was a rapid descent to the bottom.

In the end though, it was a quick 5 mile hike that included two miles of the hardest ascents I have done in the Catskills, not because it was difficult, but because it was incessant.

I left the hike wanting a bit more though, so I opted to stop for a bite at a local restaurant and hit Kaaterskill Falls as a quick 2-3 mile add on.  I attacked it from two places.  I did the new trails that cover the top of the falls and the traditional trails from Haines Falls.

Kaaterskill, even in its dry times is a sight to see, so the whole side trip was worth it just to awe at it.  On a day like today, there were very few people there, so enjoying it in tranquility, without the usual crowds was great.

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“While people are struggling unhappily in the cities against the cruel authorities, a waterfall happily and cheerfully flows in the nature; there is happiness only if there is freedom!” (Mehmet Murat Ildan)

As always, CLICK HERE for the full Album and Videos…

Slide Mountain – Tallest in Catskills

Sometimes you simply need a workout or in my case a mountain to kick your metaphorical arse.  To remove the cobwebs that hinder our thinking and give clarity to a foggy world.  So, when I had to choose what my next mountain would be, I chose Slide Mountain, the tallest mountain in the Catskills, aptly thinking that it would kick my ass in the process.

Let’s get the particulars out of the way first.  Slide Mountain sits at 4190′ making it the tallest mountain in the Catskills.  This is the 7th of the Catskill 3500s I do and even though it was the tallest.  It turned out to be the easiest of the bunch thus far.

When I got to the parking lot that day, I was the only car there. So I would have Slide all to myself, and I did.  Apparently, there use to be a fire tower atop Slide. That would have been a sight back then, a tower atop the tallest mountain.  Alas, it’s no longer there. This meant that after a quick climb the trail was pretty much the fireroad that allowed vehicles to get to said tower.  I opted to make it a little bit more difficult for myself and veered off the fireroad into a trail less traveled.  The fireroad is actually the Cornell/Wittenberg/Slide Red marked trail, I would come down that way later on.  I walked another mile up and took the Blue trail that that affords more of a hike with a couple of great viewpoints along the way.   You also get to see an amazing natural spring, where the water is literally just sipping out of every orifice the mountain has to offer.  The ground in the area is very mushy, and the sound of running water simply reverberates the entire area.  You should definitely see the video.

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The reason to take the blue trail instead of the easier and quicker red trail is to get an actual workout and get the feeling that you are hiking instead of walking up a fireroad.  Also, for the spring mentioned above and two viewpoints not available on the Red Trail aka the fireroad.  The first viewpoint affords some great views of Table Mountain.  You also get to see some amazing colors mainly a reddish hue marking the ever changing foliage of the Catskills as autumn gets into the swing of things.  The second, a clear cut view of Table again, as well as Lone and Rocky Mountains.  Here are those two viewpoints.

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Eventually, the Blue Trail reconnects with the Red trail and the aforementioned fireroad which will lead us to the Top of Slide.  Before arriving to Slide though, you get to what the NY/NJ Trail Conference says is the best view in the Catskills.  I may have to disagree, but it is quite amazing.  You tell me:

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Another quarter mile or so, and we arrive at the top of Slide Mountain.  At this point the elevation gain was maybe 1800′, yet I was standing at 4190′ above sea level.

After contemplating the height of my being at the moment.  I pushed through past Slide to an overlook another quarter mile ahead.  Here, you get to see Cornell and Wittenberg in the distance with the Ashokan Reservoir just past it.  This is where I decided to sit and rest and enjoy the view while snacking on something.  The video does this point here more justice.

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At this point, I still feel like I needed a work out.  I had only done about 1800′ of elevation gain.  So, I kept going to try and find another natural spring that was suppose to be a half mile past and what a half mile it was.  I started to descend at a pace that was scary, since I knew I would have to climb back up later.  Some points where so steep they put in some really steep stairs to assist.

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If I kept going a couple of more miles on this trail,  I would have gotten to Cornell, followed by Wittenberg.   After hiking close to 3/4’s of a mile without finding the spring, I turned around and climbed what I had just descended.  A total of about 500ft in 3/4’s of a mile.  Talk about a nice workout.  I sat on the ledge right past Slide again and just enjoyed the peaceness of being at this point, at this time, without another soul in sight.  On a side note.  The author John Burroughs apparently introduced the world to slide mountain and he used to come up here to think and write. There is even a plaque in his honor on that ledge.

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The way down was quick and uneventful.  I took the fire road down and the descent was quick and almost a trot.  In the end, the hike did exactly what it was suppose to do.  It gave me a spec of clarity when I most needed it, which is always welcomed.  I have not been back on the mountain for a serious hike since this one and I miss it along with the reflection.  Cuba and random weekends got in the way.  I will get back to it now that the temperatures are dropping and I am done with training for the Queens half marathon.  Nothing better than winter hiking to warm a cold world.

For a full gallery of photos and videos CLICK HERE.

I will end this with three quotes from the guy that found the mountain and used it as a haven to read/write/reflect

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order” (Burroughs)

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” (Burroughs)

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” (Burroughs)

Mount Katahdin – Baxter State Park

Certain things in life cannot be explained, they have to be experienced. If you asked a sky diver what is it like? They will tell you it was thrilling but words cannot describe the thrill and the excitement the few seconds before you jump out of that plane.

The trip to Katahdin should be classified in the same manner. It cannot be quantified with mere words and I cannot begin to express the feelings that the largest section of wilderness in Maine encompass. If you have hiked with any consistency, you will eventually hear of the Appalachian Trail, and you will hear of its 2169 miles (miles vary depending on your source) from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. My fascination with the AT came after reading AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller.  Just recently I also started reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson which is turning out to be an amazing an insightful read into the history of the Appalachian Trail as he attempts to traverse it.

This trip brought many firsts for me, and I would like to thank my hiking partners whom you will see scattered through the pictures.  They were Chad, Sarah and Stephen.  They took this journey with me and made it a memorable experience that I will not soon forget since this trip brought firsts like camping and partaking in a hike of this magnitude to name just two.

The drive to Katahdin was a grueling 9 hours from NY, and the thought that I drove 9 hours simply to hike, hints at the craziness and dedication I have towards the best mental health partner I have, a big honking and intimidating mountain.  I drove the first 3.5 hours alone up to the meetup point where the gear was consolidated and the rest of the trip was completed.  This was by far the furthest north I have ever been in my life and the expanse that is Maine when you get up past Portland and then Bangor is immense.

I won’t bore you with the camping details, since camping can be done pretty much anywhere.  Since it was my first time, here’s what our campsite looked liked.

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Campsite Before

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Tent After Set Up

Once at the campsite we found out that in order to get into the park you had to reserve a parking space.  No one did this, luckily they accept a number of walk ins per parking lot per day.  The lot we needed to be in, only accepted 7 walk ins per day.  So, we went to bed at the crack of dawn, to wake up at 3:30AM and queue up at the entrance to the park to ensure our 9 hour drive was not in vain.   Upon arriving at the entrance to the park, we were the 5th car in line at close to 4AM.  FIFTH.

Let me stop here and tell you that this was worth it for one simple reason, the sky.  It was a perfectly clear day and I have never in my life seen the stars the way I did this day.  At the entrance to Baxter State Park, there was absolutely no light pollution of any kind and the stars shined so brightly they looked like sparkling christmas lights.  I can’t fathom a way explain it, suffice it to say that even though I was dead tired, I just stood there mesmerized.  Part of me wishing I was already 5269′ up in the air atop of Baxter Peak seeing it from even closer.

Since we were the fifth car in the queue we were able to get in, and take the 20 minute drive from the entrance to the parking lot.  The original plan was to park at the Roaring Brook campground and we did, so we started on the right foot.  The luck ended there.  We planned well for our hike, unfortunately as the saying goes, even the best laid plans do not survive contact with the enemy.  Our plans did not survive.

We started up the Chimney Pond Trail and of the hike started very moderate, alongside Roaring Brook.  The air was chilly, check that, it was outright cold with terrible gusting winds.  After the first two miles and 1000′ of elevation gain, we came upon Basin Pond.  It’s a beautiful sight to see a body of water like this so high up on the mountain.  It’s an even more amazing sight with Katahdin in the backdrop, with its peaks covered in dense cloudy fog.

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Basin Pond

We stood here for a bit, but the wind and the cold made it difficult to just stop and awe at this specific point.  The trails so far were amazingly kept, with the harder areas nicely covered as such… Look at the glaze of clouds at the top of of the peak again in the background.  If you were to just base the hike on the picture below, you’d say it was a walk in the park.

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Stephen en route to Chimney Pond

The Chimney Pond Trail brought us to the Chimney Pond Campground alongside, wait for it…………………….

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……………………….Chimney Pond.  This campground consisted of mainly lean to’s and sits at almost 3000′.  The nights here are cold as well as the days.  The people I spoke to that stayed there, told me the evening temperatures were in the mid 20’s in the middle of SUMMER.  After a quick break and a snack we got up to take a look at the beautiful Chimney Pond before doing our planned hike up the Dudley Trail.

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Chimney Pond

After enjoying the beauty of Chimney Pond situated 2914′ above sea level and 1700′ of elevation gain.  We head off to find the start of the Dudley Trail, here a ranger stops us and asks about our plans.  When we tell her, she says, NOPE, not happening. Here’s what you can do… Every plan we made to tackle this mountain went out the window right here.  The Dudley Trail suffered a rock slide and was permanently closed.  Oddly enough, while I was distraught at the time, this was the best thing that could have happened to us.

At this point we had two options.  We can either take the short/quick Cathedral Trail which was treacherous by Katahdin standards or the Saddle Trail which was just bad.  I pushed hard for the Cathedral Trail and thank god I was outvoted.  The Saddle Trail was hard enough!  The first mile of the Saddle Trail called for over 1400ft of elevation gain in one stinking mile.  The last part of it was loose shell and rock with the small summit so close yet so far.  Pictures can’t provide the depth of perception that it is to look up and realize you might just as well be going STRAIGHT up.

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Chad coming up Saddle Trail

The top though, that top is worth it, and it’s not even the peak, but this flat expanse gives you an amazing 360 degree view of what you are dealing with at 4400′.

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Me taking a Panoramic Shot of Stephen taking a Panoramic Shot

I don’t think any picture can appropriately capture this.  At this point everyone in the group was still fairly sure that the hike was simple thus far and not the worst ever, not the most beautiful ever.  Here Chad made a comment in regards to an amazing hike he did in Colorado which was harder.  We all made stupid comments which right now, I can say were all categorically false and us simple blowing smoke up our own asses.

The end was in sight though.  You could feel the excitement as we traversed this snow encrusted ridge.  Wait what, YES, it snowed the day before and there was quite a bit of snow up there.  The next mile, took us through the amazing Ridge, climbing the final 900′ or so to the top of Baxter Peak aka Katahdin!

Upon arriving at Baxter Peak and seeing Knife’s Edge we questioned looking at it if that was the actual trail and if so, how could it be.  It can’t be the trail.  No it’s not.  They would not do that, that looks well… No, No, No.  The reason we wanted to take the Dudley Trail was to tackle Knife’s Edge on fresh legs, we did NOT do this and dammit this is why.  How can a trail inspire so much fear just by the sight of it.

Let’s put a pin on this:  Here is Katahdin!

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Baxter Peak Group Shot

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Baxter Peak Solo Shot

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Views from Baxter Peak

Ok., now look at Knife’s Edge!!! It’s 1.1 Miles from Baxter Peak at 5267′ to Pamola Peak at 4902′.  That 1.1 Miles took us 3 hours to traverse.  Along the way you have clear goals, South Peak is the easiest to get to, then Chimney Peak and finally Pamola.  With some sections a mere 3 feet wide and a 5000′ drop on either side.  Seriously, I have never in my life been as scared, or questioned my choices as hard as I did at this point.  I would never do Katahdin without doing Knife’s Edge, so I think I may never do Katahdin again.  There were points in this traverse that I questioned my sanity, my manhood, my abilities and my belief in a higher being.

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Knife Edge Seen from Baxter Peak

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Knife Edge en route – Sarah

So the worst part is that as you are nearing Pamola you hit a point where you are like, it can’t get worst than this.  It’s impossible, this must be over.  I don’t know how many times I told this to myself.  This has to be the worst, but this fucking mountain kept saying, worst, HA!… Hold my beer let me show you THIS:

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Knife Edge – Trail, what trail… it’s just rocks!

or this

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The Start of Knife – South Peak on the Right!

or this

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Descending Chimney Peak – Knife Edge

The final blow was the picture above, where, you see Pamola at the end, and Chimney right before it.  Yet, it’s not until you get to Chimney that you realize that you have to descend I really can’t say how many feet STRAIGHT DOWN, just to reclimb them to reach Pamola.  Mind you., I was afraid to take pictures of even worst areas for fear that I would, well, die if I got myself distracted.  Knife’s Edge cannot be explained or shown.  It needs to be experienced, if you think you have been scared. Imagine being stuck trying to get down, not knowing how.  Imagine trying to get down, where even though you are testing the waters trying to figure out where to step and how, a mistake is a drop that will not end in broken anything, it will end in DEATH.  At one point in that final picture Stephen and I are looking at Chad being coached by Sarah on the best way to come down, and with the most serious face in the world and in a totally earnest manner.  Stephen looks at me and says “I don’t think Chad is gonna make it”.  We can laugh about this now, but at the moment you start questioning, WTF are we gonna do if he can’t!  Chad would later state that had we been able to take the Dudley trail instead, he would have turned around at the start of Knife’s Edge, because from this side it looks even worst than from Baxter Peak.  So., leaving the worst for last worked for us here, if not, we would have lost Chad real early in the hike.

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Seriously, This Picture Highlights our phone obsession – credit Stephen for the pic

At this point, we are sitting atop Pamola Peak (everyone on their phones) and took the Helon Taylor Trail to get back to our car and complete the loop.  I jokingly pointed out that it should be a cake walk from here on out.  I failed to realize that we would be descending 3700′ or so in a mere 2.7 miles.

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Starting the final leg – Helon Taylor Trail

As you can see from that picture, it looks simple, yet it was not.  It’s a lot of elevation to lose in very little time.  I would have definitely preferred if we did not lose that much so quickly.  After a while, you wonder how much more can you go down.  The views here were phenomenal but it seriously felt like we would never stop descending.

We finally made it back to the Roaring Brook parking lot after having hiked 12 miles in a little over 10 hours.  3 of those hours used to traverse a tiny 1.1 stretch called Knife’s Edge.

The best part was that we knew we were going back to the campground to a pig roast of epic proportions.  I could not wait to eat and recover at least a little bit of the 5000 active calories burned in this juggernaut of a hike.  Any semblance of idea I once had to become a thru hiker and doing the entirety of the Appalachian Trail went out the window with this hike.  During the pig roast we met a thru hiker that had just finished the Appalachian Trail and in the past years also completed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.  He said that while the AT is the most historic of the trails, being the first of its kind in the US.  The Pacific Crest is the most beautiful of the three and the Continental the hardest.

We all crashed bright and early afterward with plans to have a whole day of activities the following day.  We wanted to do so much, in the end after a hearty breakfast at a quaint diner that tailored to hikers.  We decided to hike another 6 or so miles to see some beautiful waterfalls.  I know TLC always said to not chase waterfalls, but we could not help it.

We started our journey with Katahdin Falls located on the famous AT.  At no point in our hike the previous day did we set foot on the AT, so it was nice to traverse it now even if just for a few miles to see the falls.  The Hunt Trail from the base of Baxter Park takes you all the way to Katahdin Falls and continues to the peak, it’s the route used by the AT.

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Katahdin Falls on the AT

Katahdin Falls was followed by another 3 miles or so to see Big Niagara and Little Niagara along another stretch of the AT a little south of Katahdin Falls.

Little Niagara

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Little Niagara on the AT

Big Niagara

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Big Niagara on the AT

We actually jumped into the water in Big Niagara, well Stephen, Sarah and I did.   It was a bit on the nippy side for Chad so he just sat on a rock and ignored the idiots jumping into 50+ degree water in 60 degree weather.  He was definitely the smart one in the group!

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From left to right, Me, Sarah and Stephen

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Chad waiting for the crazy people to stop swimming!

The only thing that could have made this weekend better would have been a Moose sighting, trust me, we looked.  We drove and walked so much in search of one that I think we should have seen one out of the pure will of our desire.  Alas, we did not.  Maybe next time.

This wraps up the trip., and what a trip it was.   if you want to see all the pictures and videos, just CLICK HERE for the full album.  Katahdin is one of those places you should definitely visit at some point in your life.  Even if you don’t risk it and do Knife’s Edge.  It’s worth the trip for everything else.  If you can, make sure and book the trip at least 4 months in advance so you can get a camp site or cabin in the park, and make it more than just a weekend.  I could fill a whole week of outdoor fun without ever leaving Baxter State Park!