Plateau and Sugarloaf

On the last Sunday in June, I returned to the Catskills for another dose of torture. After mulling various options, I parked the shooting brake at Notch Inn Road, off Route 214 north of Phoenicia, and set out for Plateau and Sugarloaf.

Trail along Warner Creek

In the northeast that weekend, the weather was sketchy. On Saturday, I threw down a hard rollerski workout and beat the rain. With a 50% chance of thunderstorms and a chance for hail Sunday afternoon, I was cautiously optimistic.

I kitted up and set out. Notch Inn Road is a private road, with property owners granting an easement for access to the state forest preserve. At the end of the road, in an unmarked gap in the trees, was the trail head.

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Blackhead Range Catskills Ramble

After poring over maps and calculating mileage Saturday night, I had to make a decision.

One option was the Catskills’ Blackhead range, dropping down to Maplecrest, and climbing Windham High Peak for a counterclockwise loop. That would be 17 miles, including a three-mile pavement slog back to my car.

View towards Colgate Lake

Option two was to go over Black Dome, descend the Black Dome trail and come up the steep side of Blackhead – the route used by the Escarpment Trail Run, returning back to the trail head on Barnum Road. An out and back with a small loop at the end, and a seemingly doable 11 miles.

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Allamuchy: Cheating Death

Usually, my overdistance day is on foot, or on skis. The pandemic hasn’t changed my training routine; I’m pretty solitary during dryland season. Before the lockdown, I was looking forward to two big events in August: the Whiteface Sky Race and the App Gap Challenge roller ski race.

With social distancing the new rule, NENSA served up the #25KinMay Challenge. You can choose different distances depending on your goals. With my eyes bigger than my stomach, I signed up for the Keep Up With Beckwith class — Justin Beckwith is NENSA’s competition director and an all around good guy. 200 kilometers in a month? Looking back through old training logs, I saw that I generally log around 60 km a month on roller skis. Gonna have to up my game.

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