Monday, July 13, 2015

I Meet Scott Jurek on the AT

My friend Sara and Scott Jurek with his support crew in Sheffield.
Scott Jurek is running the Appalachian Trail, trying to break the speed record made by Jennifer Pharr-Davis  in 2011 of 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. His plan was to run 50 miles a day for 42 days. Can you imagine? That's almost two marathons everyday for 7 weeks. It is grueling.

A friend of mine, Sara, has followed his running for years and loves his book, Eat and Run, part autobiographical and part vegan cookbook. She wanted to meet him as he ran through the Berkshires. So we followed his Facebook page and his Delorme tracker and went out to find him.

The trail crosses various roads here in southern Berkshire county, so we finally found him running with his wife along the trail in Sheffield. We said hello and got a few photos and then went to find his support crew at the Housatonic River. There we met his crew of runner friends who are coaching him and taking turns running with him as does his wife sometimes. She is also a long-distance runner.

Sara had baked Scott some vegan muffins. When he came running up, he first conferred with his crew, then thanked her for the muffins and we got a few more photos. After eating one and restocking with water he was on his way again.

I enjoyed meeting Scott, his wife Jenny, and his crew, and wish him good luck in his run to Mount Katahdin.

UPDATE: Yesterday, Sunday, July12 at 2:03pm, Scott finished the trail at the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine. His time: 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes. He broke the record by over three hours. Wow is that close!

He enjoyed one of Sara's
homemade vegan muffins!
He was nice enough to stop for a photo with me while his wife Jenny ran on ahead.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Paragliders on Brace Mountain, NY

Yesterday I hiked up the South Taconic Trail from its southern terminus on Quarry Hill Road in Dutchess County, NY. I was with the Silver Scramblers, one of many hiking groups in Berkshire County. We climbed up to South Brace Mountain, continued north to Brace Mountain, then into Massachusetts before going back into New York and down the Robert Brook Trail.

The South Taconic Trail has incredible summits and views.
The first half-mile is very steep.
Because of recent rains, the brook beside the trail
was unusually full and made a spectacular cascade.
The rocks were a challenge but manageable.
We all made it up!
The view was our reward!
Many of the rocks had various lichens thriving on them.
Large rock outcroppings opened up the landscape
for long views toward the Catskills.
As we ate lunch and admired the view from the summit of Mount Brace, several hikers came up the trail. They were carrying large backpacks which held paragliders. We were excited to see and talk to them as they set up to take off. Brace is a very popular take-off spot in the Northeast; a good open spot to catch the breeze and the thermals which can lift paragliders high in the air. The Mount Brace Outdoor Club operates a landing field in the pasture below and regulates the paragliding and hang gliding on the mountain.

The setup included a careful check of the ropes to make sure none were twisted.
The pilot is strapped into a seat with his equipment.
First is a test to make sure all the lines are functioning properly.
Now the final check and he's ready to go.
And he runs off the hillside into the air. Amazing!
This man was being coached from the ground by radio communication.
I can't help but think how brave they are to do this!

A woman arranged her paraglider on the ground, ready to get in position for take-off.
Many strings (hundreds?) hold it all together. Spaghetti to me!
It looked like lots of fun, but a little scary!