I sat on the steps of the bridge trying to figure out where my next turn was. I knew from the turn-by-turn that I was supposed to take Owl Lake Road. Where the hell was Owl Lake Road? For the life of me I couldn't figure out where it was.
Was this poor decision making on my part or bad directions represented poorly on the map? Who knows?
I had little choice but to keep moving and hopefully the road will show up. Again, not the situation I wanted to be in but it's not like a solution was going to come to me out here in the woods.
So I suffered through some more rolling hills and some swampy ground. I reached a spot where I could barely follow the path. I probably lost a lot of time here looking for both the possibility of The Owl Lake Road or the continuation of the red cross.
I found a brook that was moving pretty well and the water looked reasonably clear so I took in a few handfuls of water.
I was getting really tired now, small hills were grueling. I couldn't wait for this to be over.. where the hell is Owl Lake and it's damn road?
I never found it. The red cross took my all the way to the Palisades Parkway. Which is exactly what I was hoping wouldn't happen, but if everything went to crap I knew I could follow that North to Anthony Wayne.
I checked the map and saw the blue trail was a little further up and it seemed to join at the parkway as well. I started jogging up the side of the Palisades. A bit more stressful than any other portion as cars whipped by me at 60-70 miles per our. There was garbage and torn up tires. Quite unsettling, I didn't know if I could take this all the way back to the parking lot.
Soon I saw a wooden bridge in the woods, I was excited to see it, in anticipation of getting on what I thought was the blue trail which would take me to the 1779 trail and back to Anthony Wayne.
But it wasn't the blue trail at all, it was the 1779 trail. The trail that would go parallel to the parkway and eventually take me home. So by calculation it looks like I've add about another 2 miles to my journey.
I puttered along the 1779 and tried to put as much of the exhaustion behind me. Then another climb presented itself. I walked it. I was in a bad place. I was searching for something. I finished the last of my drink and was suffering when I remembered I had a packet of Sports Beans in my pack.
What a stroke of genius. I couldn't wait to get to the top of this hill and peel off my pack and dig into that packet of beans. I sucked and chewed and relished those beans. I ate all but 3 and took those with me as I started out again. I chewed on those 3 beans for as long as I could. They gave me some energy and moistened my mouth.
It was a brutal last leg, I was miserable, I tried to keep moving, pace I didn't care about anything, I just wanted to get back to my car. Fortunately the remainder was either flat or a slight down grade.
Eventually I could hear the parkway in the distance, I knew I had to be close to the finish.
As the cars got got louder I began to get more hopeful and found my spirits rising.
There was the last turn to The Anthony Wayne Trail (white). The trail I had started this adventure on. It was far longer than I remembered and than I would have like it to have been, but eventually it exited beside the ramp from the Palisades to the parking area.
I trotted along the grass and across the cement bridge over the parkway. As I approached the sign welcoming me (back) to Anthony Wayne, I looked at my Garmin and it read 20 miles.
I spent 6 hours in the woods and covered 20 miles of unsupported trail running with an elevation gain of 2,920 feet.
Not too bad if I do say so myself