The Gunks Trails Challenge (GTC) was born of a love for all that nature’s playground has to offer. Over the years, our almost unquenchable thirst for the outdoors has seen us spend countless hours rock climbing, ice climbing, mountain biking, skiing, snowshoeing and peak-bagging. It was, however, our almost-spiritual commitment to the ego-stripping sport of ultra trail running which became the catalyst for this project. Inspired by the beautiful and challenging terrain of the mountains just outside of New Paltz, New York, we aspired to find a way to share our backyard piece-of-paradise with others. Breathtaking views, technical trails and the ever-changing seasonal coolness of both the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, offer the perfect canvas on which to paint the picture of personal achievement.
Over the winter of 2010-‘11, we clocked and photographed 12 loops with a simple goal of highlighting most of the best trails the area has to offer. By creating a series of challenges around these increasingly difficult runs (and offering prizes to the “winners”) we simply hope to motivate others to head into the woods for a little “taste.”
We are both middle-aged married guys with five beautiful kids between us. Our aches are many and our day jobs don’t allow us enough time in the woods, but we happily forfeit sleep to get our trail “fix.” GTC has been a labor of love; the product of true friendship built on the unassailable foundation of shared experience.