“This course is incredibly dangerous, not just due to the terrain but the potential for lightning, rock slides, and other severe hazards that could severely injure you or even worse.” – Dick Vincent, RD
This year was my third time in Escarpment Trail Race. I missed it last year since I was on the road trip to Colorado. And as usual, it was raining again. Probably it was me, not the weather fault. Probably 8 of 10 races that I ran this year were raining. But on the other hand, we had sans lightning. Also, this was the 40th Escarpment Trail Race, yeah older than me.
“Local legend has it that the Devil’s Path derived its name from the first Dutch and German settlers to the Catskill region. Supposedly, they took one look at the high, deeply notched mountains marching west from the Hudson River and figured that only the cloven-footed Devil could walk such steep, treacherous ground.” – Backpacker.com
I have heard this infamous trail for years, and actually got a bit of its flavor in Manitou Revenge a couple of times. But I had never done the whole thing. So I pitched this idea to Chang, my partner in crime when I go to trail running adventure.
Devil’s Path Trail
A classic North East kind of trail
Cayuga 50 was one of my two race nemesis. I had been in this race twice before and I DNF-ed on both of them. One from a rhabdo symptoms and the other one was from falling to a rock on my busted pelvis. But this time I came in smarter and stronger, I was ready what might come. The question was, would I have the will power to face the stairways to heaven out and back twice.
General Description From The RD
Cayuga Trails uses an out-back C-shape course configuration w/ a lollipop loop on the far end. The out-back configuration was chosen secondary to the FLT extending onto road and fairly unremarkable sections beyond each terminus. The result has allowed entrants to have the opportunity to see the race shaking out ahead and behind them in several points. It starts and ends in Robert H. Treman State Park where it ascends the gorge trail, passing through the Lucifer Fall’s area in the upper gorge and the Finger Lakes Runner’s Club’s Old Mill AS, before wrapping out/connecting with/descending on the Rim Trail. Both sections are double/triple track trail which was intentionally chosen to allow the field to accommodate packs while minimizing potential impact to more sensitive surrounding single-track. Once clearing IronHeart Racing’s Underpass AS runners will cross a creek and ascend single-track through and beyond the Finger Lake Land Trust’s Lick Brook Gorge. From there it feeds through to Buttermilk Falls State Park where it begins the lollipop loop, traversing the upper old reservoir, merging w/ a scenic park road and descending on the old Burma Rd to Trails Roc’s Buttermilk AS. From there it ascends the Buttermilk Gorge Trail on its way back to the start. Fifty milers complete two circuits, 40k’rs one.
The elevation gain is most likely somewhere around 9,000 though GPS devices have recorded as much as 11k+. It’s tough to get a handle on an accurate read given the nature of the tight gorges and inaccurate signals. There are creek crossings around mile 4, 7.5, and 11.5…hit again on the return so the feet will stay wet.