Browse Category: New Jersey

Beavers at Saffin Pond

Oh, hi. We got more snow again. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about my wishful 50K training plans you can surmise what more snow means: I AM DOOMED! What did the plan call for this weekend? 18 miles? By the way, it’s officially Spring. This is bullshit.

That being said, my mood improved once I finally got out the door. Read on.

I went to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation to run yesterday. I lacked motivation and felt like a loser after not going for my long run that morning… because I lacked motivation and felt like a loser. It’s a vicious cycle. But my wife came home yesterday afternoon and said, “Hey! It’s really nice out! You should go for a run!” That, in my mind, translated to, “Hey! You’re a lazy fat slob! You could really use some exercise! Why don’t you get off the couch for a change!” So, I got up and went.

It turned out that the trails were even more snow covered than the week before, as seen below. The previous weekend it took me 2 hours to trudge through 5 miles of snow and I took the road back to the parking lot for the last mile because my feet were so cold. This time I decided to go 2.5 miles and turn around instead of attempting the 6 mile loop.

There’s a trail under there somewhere.
When the only person to travel the trail before you was wearing snow shoes… lucky bastard.

Since I didn’t have a lot of motivation and since the snow made my effort to exercise turn into one big suck, I reminded myself that it has often been under those circumstances that I’ve been rewarded by seeing something cool, like a bald eagle, or a deer up close, or a cool snake. Though snakes don’t usually come out in the snow.

I saw a few ducks at mile 2, not too exciting. Then I was taken by surprise to see beavers swimming in Saffin Pond, which is near the parking lot. I had seen evidence of beavers in another area of the reservation (see photo). I had not previously seen any indication that they were in Saffin Pond, which often has many humans about it given its proximity to the parking area.

Looks like there’s a beaver around these here parts.

Seeing the beavers was truly rewarding. I could have watched them for hours if it wasn’t close to sunset and my wife wasn’t waiting for me to come home for dinner. So I recorded several minutes of their activity. The video above is 5 minutes of peaceful beaver swimming with a momentary disruption of an angry beaver slapping his tail.

It took me an hour and 45 minutes to go 5 miles this time at Mahlon. It was a little faster than the prior week because I just wanted the suck to be over. However, all the snow we have gotten this month has buried my training plans. I was supposed to do 18 miles this weekend. That’s hard to do when it takes almost 2 hours to just go 5. It’s impossible to do when your motivation tank is empty. I need to get with the program because my 50K is only 4 weeks away. Here’s hoping for a warm week and some rain to clear this snow before next weekend!

Guess What Happened AGAIN

Guess what happened again.


A nor’easter.


Yes! Again!

I give up. My hopes of running up significant trail miles are dashed. How many miles did my lunatic plan call for this weekend? 15. And I haven’t gone more than 6.7 miles on any given run yet. With several more inches added to the trails, forget it.

I did not attempt the Delaware Water Gap this weekend. Instead I stayed closer to home and ran at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. “Ran” is not exactly what I did for most of the time I was out there. The first mile wasn’t too bad. After that, forget it. The farther I ventured on the 6-mile trail, the deeper the snow got and the less the trail had been traveled. I plowed through snow for 5 miles. That took me 2 1/2 hours! My feet were pretty dang cold and my socks were crusted with ice by then. There’s a camping area near mile 5 with a paved driveway that leads to the main road. I got out of the snow at that point and ran on the road for a mile and a half back to my car. The road was scary! No shoulder, hills, curves, and cars going way over the speed limit! I was glad to be done when I reached the parking lot.

Below are some pictures from this early morning adventure. I’m not reaching any of my training goals, failing pretty hard and considering dropping out of the upcoming race. But at least I’m getting some nice photos. Enjoy.


Season’s Greetings! It might as well be Christmas with all the snow we’ve been getting!

Week 3 of my 50K training. I was shooting for 12 miles this week. But seeing as we had a nor’easter AGAIN a few days ago, I was sure the trails would be covered even more than last week. I knew that attempting to gain miles via the Tammany Fire Road was not a workable plan. Reaching 12 miles by doing Tammany loops (3.35 miles each) would mean up and down Mt. Tammany 4 times. When I got up at 4:30 AM I knew I didn’t have it in me to make it 4 loops, especially with increased snow on the trails.

When I arrived, I soon found that the snow was deeper on the trails as I suspected. It was mildly packed on the Red Dot Trail. It was less packed on the Blue Dot Trail. That made for a super fun descent on the mountain. Most of the rocks were well covered. Running on the narrow slightly packed single tracks was a breeze. The steeper sections of the trail were less packed and a lot of fun to careen through! I knew if I fell it wouldn’t matter. I would just land in deep snow. It felt like being a kid again! Plus, I set my fastest times ever on that trail. But I only had enough in me to do 2 loops, not nearly 12 miles.

Here are several photos.

The sun rising about Mt. Tammany
Another beautiful view of Mt. Minsi
This shirt makes me look like a 6-foot tall highlighter running through the woods.
Sun and single track on the Blue Dot Trail
Pleasant single track over a very rocky stretch of the Blue Dot Trail
Nor’easter wreckage along Dunnfield Creek
Nor’easter wreckage along Dunnfield Creek

90 Minutes of Pure White Snow

Snow on Mt. Tammany ahead

Last week’s training run took me to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. This week’s run took me to Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap, one of my most favorite places on Earth.

My training plan called for 9 miles this week. The plan starts at 6 miles and adds 3 miles each week. I know it’s not the best idea, but I’ve become a bit of a lunatic in my plans in order to get ready for a 50K on April 21 that I really do not want to miss. So I set out for the Gap with 9 miles in mind.

However, there are always things that challenge my accomplishment of all the miles I have in my mind. For one, a nor’easter covered northern New Jersey with several inches of snow a few days before. Also, my family’s schedule has gotten pretty hectic with a toddler in the house, both my wife and I working full time (she working two careers), and both of us needing time to run. The first challenge made the trails harder to run on. The second group of challenges means my time for exercise has decreased, which means my physical conditioning has decreased. I should add one other factor here. My weight has increased. Lugging myself up a mountain is no small feat at this point.

What follows are photos (and a video) and some comments in three sections: The Way Up, The Fire Road, The Way Down.

The Way Up

The snow made for gorgeous scenery. The Red Dot trail up Mt. Tammany was packed with snow, not too hard to navigate. The views were beautiful.

Looking through the Gap down the Delaware River, one third of the way up Mt. Tammany
The view from Mt. Tammany looking over the Delaware River, Mt. Minsi (PA) and the Poconos

The Fire Road

One aspect of my family’s tight schedule is that my wife often works on the weekends. Add a snowstorm into the mix and time becomes even more limited. Due to that snow, I postponed running until Sunday, but had to wait until the afternoon when my wife got home. Well, that added another challenge. By the time I got to the Gap, there were quite a few people on the trails. That just makes it hard to run while maneuvering around folks, something that contributed to badly injuring myself in 2016.

So, when I got to the head of the Tammany Fire Road trail, I decided to see how far I could make it along that route. The trail was covered by several inches of pristine untrod snow. It was irresistible, my pathway to solitude away from the crowds.

I stomped through that snow for 45 minutes making it almost a mile and a half. My toes were getting cold even in their wool socks. My thighs were on fire from marching nonstop. So I retraced my steps back to the Blue Dot trail.

The pristine untrod Tammany Fire Road
The desecrated trod-by-Snyder Tammany Fire Road

The Way Down

The way down the Blue Dot trail was slushy and sloppy. My thighs were on fire but I had a good run down the mountain.

At the bottom I was surprised by the number of trees that had fallen in the storm along the Dunnfield Creek. It was quite a mess! Climbing over some of these obstacles was a challenge with my spent thighs.

I called it a day at 2 1/2 hours with 6 miles covered. I didn’t hit the 9 mile mark. The effort expended in the snow made up for the 3 missed miles.

View from the Blue Dot Trail looking North to the next ridge upon which the Appalachian Trail traverses
The Blue Dot Trail along Dunnfield Creek looking up toward the AT
Along the Blue Dot Trail near Dunnfield Creek
On the Blue Dot Trail with the bridge crossing Dunnfield Creek in the background

An Early Saturday Morning at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation

Is that a porta-potty on my shoulder or am I just happy to see you?

Since it has been decided by unanimous executive decision (by me, myself, and I) to prepare for the Hyner Challenge 50K as best as possible over the next two months, today was my first of 8 planned weekly “long” runs. The object of this plan is to build up my distance each week until I reach the goal of 31 miles at the race on April 21. This is the plan of a lunatic, but I won’t get into that now. Maybe I’ll address the lunacy as I move along in the plan.

If you peruse my blog posts over the past year, it quickly becomes evident that one of my favorite places to run is Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. It’s close to home. It has varied terrain. I usually do a 6 mile loop there. So it made sense to start with that loop on my return to training after my latest injury.

Below are some photos from the trail with a few more comments mixed in.

Follow this link for a video from the same morning: February 24, 2018 – The Birds.

Good running conditions today
Around mile 3

Of course, my ankle was bothersome while running. That’s my new norm. My legs where a bit tired. My aerobic capacity has declined due to inactivity. Weighing 226 pounds now doesn’t help anything.

Beaver Brook

While writing this post I learned that a beaver’s home is called a “lodge.” I guess you could say I relearned it, because when I looked it up I thought, I knew that. But that spoiled a pun I was going to make for the next 2 pictures. I was going to say, “Beaver Dam” for the first and then, “Damn Beaver” for the second. You know, because the damn thing is eating the hell out of that tree. But that bit of wit got “lodged” midstream by my reacquired knowledge.

A beaver lodge
Beaver damage

What is interesting about the next 2 pictures is that one half of the sky was covered by clouds and the other half was perfectly blue. There was a demarcation directly overhead. When I faced the direction of the clear sky, my surroundings appeared more colorfully and the blue of the sky was reflected off the wet trail. (The photo does not do it justice.). When I faced the opposite direction toward the cloudy sky, everything looked bland. If you had seen me at that point, turning 180 degrees back and forth, you would have sworn I was lost. I was simply amused by the color observations.

Facing the blue sky
Facing the cloudy sky

And then there is graffiti on a tree. These letters were either sliced long, long ago and have expanded in width, or someone carved them with a spoon. Logic says it’s the former. I hope “JW” is still remembered.

Is that a “J” or a “V”? Did someone’s Volkswagen die here?

That’s a wrap until the next batch of photos from the woods.