Browse Tag: Delaware Water Gap

Inspiration Needed

Scott Jurek
Inspiration

Inspiration Needed

Given that my level of physical activity has been so long for too long, as I wrote about yesterday, I felt in need of a book to read that would inspire me to get motivated and pick up the pace, especially in light of a 25K trail race on my horizon in April.

The first book that came to mind was North by Scott Jurek. The first reason this book is an inspiration is that Scott Jurek himself is an inspiration. Just look at some of these accomplishments:

  • Appalachian Trail Speed Record: 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes: 2,189 miles – 2015
  • U.S. record for 24-hour road run: 165.7 miles – 2010
  • 7 x consecutive winner of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run – 1999-2005
  • 2 x consecutive winner of the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon – 2005, 2006
  • 3 x consecutive winner Spartathlon 152 miles-Athens to Sparta, Greece – 2006-2008

That should be more than enough inspiration for any runner. Much more is listed on his website at www.scottjurek.com/about-scott.

My Connection

The second reason that this book is an inspiration to me is due to my long connection with the Appalachian Trail. I remember dreaming about hiking the whole trail as a kid before I ever set foot on it. It’s still a dream, but in reality my experience of the trail is limited to several miles in New Jersey and Pennsylvania on either side of the Delaware Water Gap. Even so, there is a certain magic I feel when I’m on the Appalachian Trail, a sense that if I really wanted to, I could keep going for hundreds of miles in either direction. I remember when Scott ran the trail in 2015. I followed him on social media. I regretted not being able to be at the Delaware Water Gap when he crossed into New Jersey. I read North when it came out in 2018. I laughed. I wept. I ran more. I’m trusting it will have the same effect on me on my second read.

Read more of my Appalachian Trail related posts at this link.

A Sign from the Running Gods?

So, I pulled North of the shelf. How should I break down the pages to finish before the Hyner Challenge in April? What about a chapter per week starting tomorrow, Saturday, January 2? Let me check the number of chapters: 17. What is the date of the race? Saturday, April 24. Let’s see how many Saturdays there are between now and then. January 30 will be 5. February 27 will be 9. March 27 will be 13. April 24… race day… will be… 17! No way! 17 Saturdays! 17 chapters! Finishing the last chapter on the day of the race! Perfect!

God help me run!

Early Morning Run at the Water Gap

Leaving the house at Zero Dark Thirty

I left the house at 5:30 AM to meet my son for a 6:00 start at the Delaware Water Gap. Our goal was to run a 10 mile loop twice: up the Red Dot Trail on Mt. Tammany, along the ridge on the Tammany Fire Road, the Turquoise Trail over to the AT by Sunfish Pond, the AT back to the start. And… Finally! The trails at the Delaware Water Gap were free of snow!

The run was tough going for me. I felt slow and tired. We got to mile 7 and what I thought to be a small stone in my shoe turned out to be a blister on my heel. By the time we finished the first loop, I had blisters on the backs of both heels. I put Band-Aids on them and started up Mt. Tammany again. My heels were ON FIRE!
Halfway up the mountain I started getting spasms in my hamstrings. I had taken Endurolytes and Sports Legs to prevent spasms. But that wasn’t enough to overcome the fact that I had not run more than 7 miles in one shot in months. The second time up the mountain got me. It seemed to take forever to make it.

I knew I couldn’t make the full 20 miles. So I sat on a rock and bemoaned my miserable condition. While my son continued on the full loop, I took the Blue Dot Trail back down to the parking lot. I was done.

I made it 13 miles. But according to my crazy training plan I should have done 21. Things are not going according to plan. But here are some photos.

Looking through the Gap just before sunrise
The Moon in the Belt of Venus, halfway up Mt. Tammany
Giving it my best on Mt. Tammany
Sunshine on Mt. Minsi, the shadow of Mt. Tammany, the Delaware River, the Poconos, the Moon, the Belt of Venus… all beautiful!
A snow-free Tammany Fire Road

My son taking in the beauty of the early morning sun and the snowmelt along the Turquoise Trail
Sunfish Pond

THE END
(Once the blisters start, fuck taking any more pictures.)

While Sitting on a Rock in the Woods

When you reach mile 11, have blisters on your heels, spasms in your hamstrings, and come to terms with giving up the 20 miles you had planned, getting off the mountain, and settling for 13… while sitting on a rock in the woods and feeling like a loser.

Again?

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