Thursday, July 26, 2018

Folded Rock Trail

A few days ago I asked a friend named Wilson at the Brewery to suggest some local hikes. I have this gig testing outdoor gear for a magazine article and women's day packs are one of the items I am testing. This means actually getting outside for hours at a time on the trail to see how the gear handles the miles, humidity, sweat, dirt, rain and body of this woman and her world. Wilson suggested this trail I took today. I kinda want to punch him, it was so damn hard...

I thought a nice short hike after a morning of rain would be nice. Wilson suggested what he called "The Battenkill Trail" and what the internet called the "Peak Rock Trail" and what the actual trail sign called "The Folded Rock Trail". And I was duped. I was sooooo duped. I have this association with the word Battenkill that equates summer activities with comfort and leisure. The Battenkill river is where I swim after a day of hard farm work. It's where I cast flies at dawn to brown trout alone in a pool. It's where I tube lazily with two beers in me. Battenkill does not mean workout. I was a damn fool to think this day would be easy.

I pulled up to the trail head at 2pm. I had a loaded day pack, Friday, and her pack ready to go. All morning it poured but the afternoon seemed bright and sunny. Since we were between rain storms it would easily be 80% humidity. I didn't care because I was told this Battenkill Forest was an easy hike with views of the river. A piece of cake.

It was not.

I have run half marathons and this hike was harder. The 1200ft climb happened fast, on a trail so steep I wanted to use my hands at times to pull me up. Friday and I took 2 and a half hours to reach the look out point, the top of the trail. My average run of a mile, a SLOW mile, is 12 minutes. This was no run. This was a steep mountain climb in a humid wilderness with a 20lb pack on my back. I was so glad I over prepared. I had packed a liter of water for Friday in her own saddlebags. She also had soft treats for calories. She drank and ate them all as we stopped every 1/2 mile or so.

I was drenched in sweat. Friday was panting like mad. To her credit she was as perfect on this trail as she was at Merck Forest. And this time there was a doe running off trail in front of her and she didn't chase. She was perfect. I think mountain smashing is her super power.

When we made the look out we stopped for half an hour. We both needed a real rest. I ate nuts and she had water and treats. The view was amazing, the entire Battenkill Valley. This trail is ten minutes from my home and I didn't even know. So many years on this farm were just about getting through the day on my own acres - I had no idea there was this adventure 6 miles away....

We made it up and back okay. It was honestly harder coming down. My quads were not used to that sort of shock work. It was so steep it took just as long sliding down the mountain as it did pumping up but we did it without a twisted ankle, tick bite, or sunburn. Preparation matters. Taking your time matters. Friday was amazing.

I am grateful for these challenges. I am so glad I am discovering Friday's talents. On farm she is, at best, backup to Gibson's herding. On the trail she is Wonder Woman. And I am learning from her.

Happy Trails!