As the weather had been improving and my future trail races edged nearer I knew I had to get out of the city and run on some real terrain soon. A manager of mine at work runs ultras and said she did most of her training on the trails in Cold Spring, NY. That very day I picked up a map and began planning for my next day off that had some decent weather. Along with the map, I used the app Trail Run Project developed by REI which had two loops at the trailhead my manager indicated including information on how runnable they are, the usual stats, and pictures of the route. I decided I'd run the slightly longer left loop and see how I felt with the chance I'll run a second smaller loop to the right if I felt up to it.
Seeing as I didn't know if I'd be running 7+ miles or 15+ miles, packing was a bit challenging. The trail is accessible via train and the trail is never too far from civilization so I knew I could pack pretty light, however I needed to add enough food and warm clothes to get me through the train ride to and from. Below is what I carried, with the exception of the blue handheld which I ultimately decided to leave at home. I think I'll create a longer post on how I pack at some point.
I left the house at 8:30am with Lauren who was taking the same train to work. I normally hate riding in crowded trains in rush hour but I knew it would only make getting to Cold Spring that much sweeter. I took the B to Bryant Park and walked the short distance to Grand Central where I took a Poughkeepsie bound train at 9:43am. The round trip cost $29 as I planned to be off-peak both ways.
The train as near empty considering it was a work day and I was leaving the city bright and early, and boy was the ride beautiful. I was pretty content just watching the scenery pass by and dozing off for a short while.
After arriving to the Cold Spring train station, I ran almost exactly one mile to the trailhead. The roads were quiet and the shoulders were wide which made for a stress free commute.
The beginning of the trail uses a 70 year old road that has since closed for cars, meaning that it was a very easy start to the run. This was welcomed considering how rarely I run trails these days and I knew I would need some time to get my mountain legs back. The trail then transitions to a buttery single track which proved a bit more challenging but nothing too intense.
Pretty shortly into the run I experienced the first of a few river crossings which indicated the point of the loop that got insanely muddy and a bit more technical.
The entire run at this point was a steady climb however after the muddy river sections it rocketed up making my pace dwindle and my heart rate get into "racing" territory. The climb got me out of the river however and the trail started to dry up.
The photo above was just before the crazy climb, the trail got a bit more technical but still only moderate (despite how hard my city legs were struggling). I didn't take any photos during the big climb as I just wanted to get to the top. Once I got to the top, theres about a mile or so traverse on top of the ridge, offering numerous photo opportunities and lunch spots. Despite the cloudy gray day and lack of greenery being February, it was still beautiful and a welcomed change to my usual Brooklyn views.
At this point, I knew for sure I wouldn't be adding a second loop into the mix. I even contemplated taking the white trail all the way back down to the trailhead shortening my run significantly but I ultimately decided to compromise by sticking with the original first loop. The descent on the other side got pretty rocky and wicked steep which didn't make my knees too happy but it was fun to finally fly down some trail again.
After what felt like forever, I finally reached the old road that I started on. Knowing that it was smooth sailing from there I picked up the pace significantly for the last mile and a half or so. At this point the sun finally came out and I was able to enjoy some warmth and pretty trail views before reaching the parking lot.
After reaching the trailhead I decided I'd run to the town center to grab some lunch from a restaurant I looked up the day before. The route was mostly the same as the run from the train to the trailhead with the exception of a very short trail on the side of the road that I had found.
I ate lunch at Hudson Hills Cafe. They had a number of vegan options and the service was extremely fast. The food was amazing despite the higher price tag. The only complaint I had was that it was a bit of a fancy place and I don't think the staff nor the fellow diners were too pleased to see a muddy and sweaty guy come into their quaint little cafe. After swallowing my black bean burger nearly whole I was left with the predicament of rushing to the train which came in a mere 15 minutes, or taking my time and checking out the town and wait for another train in a little over an hour and 15 minutes. Considering the size of the town and my lack of money to spend I thought it be best to just get home and get settled for the upcoming week. I will be back no doubt.
I hopped on the train and relished in how comfortable the seats were after my adventure and the commute was just as pretty as before.
I was pretty relieved to be home after a long day (that flew by) but knew that reality had to set in once again with a long list of things to do before the work week ahead.
Overall, the day was great. The trail was tougher than I had thought and it woke me up to a need for more focused training in the weeks ahead. While a bit demoralizing, I will take it as fuel to get to where I need to be and I will try to go to that area for my long runs whenever possible. Solely considering the fact that I was able to escape the city for a bit and see some pretty amazing views, I am pretty content.
Numbers + Gear
This was my first run in my new trail shoes, the La Sportiva Akasha. They are a moderately cushioned long haul type of shoe and I couldn't have found a better testing ground for them. The trail had numerous types of terrain from insanely sloppy trails to bare rock to loose and packed dirt. The shoe performed well in all however it excels in muddier conditions over dry. My heel did move quite a bit which I found aggravating but next time I will lace up a heel lock and see how that goes.
The run with the road running to and from the trail read at 8.6 miles however considering I forgot to re-start my watch after a photo opportunity I'm just gonna call it a solid 9. Over those 9 miles was 1,593 miles of climbing.
You can see the strava link here.