Hunter, the Hard Way

“Is this the way to Hunter Mountain?”

Here we f’n go, I thought. We were on the Spruceton Trail, a jeep road leading to Hunter’s summit and fire tower from the west. One of the biggest trails in the Catskills, it’s a veritable highway. How could you not know where you were.

Annapurna

Biting my tongue, I replied, “It’s a mile or so up… do you have a map?”

He pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and unfolded it. Definitely not a NY-NJ Trail Conference map. But it was something.

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Poaching the Smiley Road

“Four mile post. Entering the lost community of the huckleberry pickers. You are not forgotten.”

Someone had carved this inscription into a board and nailed it to a tree at mile four, coming from Ellenville, on the Smiley carriage road.

Smiley Road
Along the Smiley Road

Earlier this month, I’d run a loop in Sam’s Point Preserve, partly inspired by Marc Fried’s book The Huckleberry Pickers. The Smiley road figures large in Fried’s book.

In 1900, the Smiley brothers, owners of Mohonk Mountain House and Cliff House and Wildmere on Lake Minnewaska, expanded their already extensive carriage road network with a seven-mile road from Lake Awosting to Ellenville.

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Climb to the Castle: The Masters

“I wasn’t ready for this,” Leonard Plunkett said in the gusting wind outside Whiteface Mountain’s iconic castle. We were recovering after the Climb to the Castle, the annual roller ski race up the Whiteface toll road.

Climb to the Castle
Climb to the Castle

“Nobody’s ever ready,” I replied. “But now that you’ve done it, you know what to expect next year.” He smiled, and I hope that I planted a seed for his return next year.

On Friday, I’d met Leonard and chatted with him at one of the more civilized bib pickups I’ve been to. He was up from New York City with three other skiers representing Manhattan Nordic. A big shoutout to the Madshus rep for pouring pints of Big Slide.

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