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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Sam’s Point Loop

“You come all the way up from Jersey?”

The guy who accosted me on the Publik House’s patio in Ellenville, NY, was some years older than I, sporting a bushy white beard and minding a high-spirited grandchild. I slumped in a chair, contemplating a hard-earned post-run meal and adult beverage.

Minnewaska meadow

“Yeah… I’ve been in the eastern side of Minnewaska a lot, but not so much the west side. Were you a berry picker?”

“Yep, a long time ago.” He sighed and looked into the distance. “There weren’t so many rules then.”

Continue reading