I had intended on staying out for two hours on this weekend's long run, but ended up with only an hour due to other commitments. So, I did the best I could do with that time.
I parked at the parking lot at the northern end of Moreau Lake State Park, just east of the high point of Spier Falls Road, the only car in the lot at the time. From there, I started running up the green trail, and quickly found myself out of breath. It's amazing how much elevation changes the game. Once I had gotten past the initial burst of steepness, the trail leveled out, but it was rarely flat. I made my way over to the junction with the Ridge Run trail (red), and headed left, toward Moreau. A short while later I found myself in a deciduous forest, still winter bare on this hot May day, and I stopped to admire the beauty of the landscape for a moment. There were several exposed ridges, and they were captivating. I headed on, and a moment later I found myself at the Moreau Overlook. The view was fantastic, and there were two other runners up there admiring it as well. We chatted briefly, and one of the runners asked me if I could take their picture. I said sure, snapped a few pictures of them, and then she returned the favor. We chatted a bit more, and then we were off on our separate ways.
I was alternating between walking and running a lot throughout the run, and it reminded me of when I was first starting to run on level ground, and made me think about how far I've come since then. I made my way along the Ridge Run Trai, and then headed over to the Western Ridge Trail. The Western Ridge runs along long, thin stretches of exposed bedrock before it starts to descend in earnest, and it was really fun to run along.
The Western Ridge was interesting to descend, and I did my best to stick to fast footwork instead of my typical descent pattern, which involves a lot of fear and cautious shuffling. It worked, though I did revert to walking when the terrain got sketchy and I was worried about loose rocks on top of steeply angled ones. All told, I did four miles in an 1:11; nothing to write home about, but the terrain definitely added an extra element to the run. If I had been hiking here a few years ago, I'm convinced that it would have taken 2 hours, possibly 3. I remember looking down at my GPS a few years ago, walking back from Awosting with my brother, and saw that we were going 2.5 mph, on level, easy ground. My pace on hikes before I started hiking was typically 1 mph for steep ground (800-1000' of ascent per mile) and 2 mph the rest of the time. Descents were as slow as ascents, due to the constant fear of falling. Using my poles helps a lot, but trusting myself and keeping my feet light seems to help even more.
I can't wait to get back up here, hopefully next weekend, to explore more of the trail network and work on making myself stronger.
A few closing thoughts: the descent down the Western Ridge trail was very much like a descent down a High Peak, and I think it's a good training ground. The trail themselves are a mix of rocks, loam and exposed bedrock. This is fairly typical for the Adirondacks, and I think it'll be a good training ground for hiking and running in the High Peaks.
Also, I can totally understand how people get lost on the 15k race. The trails aren't always obvious; and there's a lot of terrain that looks like a trail. I also saw what appeared to be several herd paths or true game trails, further complicating things.