FKT: Stephen Messur - Lenape Trail (NJ) - 2022-05-29

Route variation
Out & back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 1h 45m 56s
GPS track(s)

This one was brutal. 

Initially wanted to have a go at the Liberty Water Gap Trail this weekend, but the east coast got slammed with severe t-storms friday night-saturday. Wanted 3 entire days for the LWGT, so I had to figure something else out. The Lenape Trail comprises 35 miles of the LWGT, so it seemed like a good alternative. No one had put up a time on the out & back route so I decided to give it a go.

Started Saturday afternoon. Weather was perfect. Not too humid, nice and cool post t-storm vibes. Was absolutely cruising on the front-end (35 miles) of this thing. It's a ton of road walking which wears on your feet but allows you to fly. Got into some trail around Upper Montclair which was gladly welcomed. Beautiful views of NYC (which you'll see in the Strava photos). Couple of the early water fountains which I wanted to rely on weren't turned on which made me nervous. Luckily, the trail passes through 19 municipal and county parks, and most of them had functioning fountains which quickly alleviated my water problem. 

The effort was going amazingly until I entered South Mountain Reservation Wilderness (last ~ 6-7 miles of the trail going one-way). It was absolutely flooded. You can see this in my IG video. The walking was slow, nav was pretty tough in the dark per usual, and my feet were absolutely fucked. Soaked, like I jumped in a pool. There was no avoiding the water without taking substantial time to find slowly pick and hop your way around it. There were also several sections of straight field walking through high grass. This, late at night and early morning, was absolutely detrimental to my feet. Beginning the 35 mile stretch back to Newark, I honestly thought I wouldn't finish. My longest effort before this, by the way, was a 50-mile impromptu road walk in 2019.

When I finally exited the South Mountain Reservation at around 7 AM, I knew I had to do something about my feet. There was no going another 30 miles with the condition they were in. Luckily the sun was out, so I posted up on a retaining wall outside of a school and took my shoes off, took my soles out of my shoes, and ripped my socks off to dry. I had another pair of socks which I happily threw on. My feet were pruned and wrecked. Cleaned them off with a hygiene wipe and let them dry as I pounded a cold Chipotle burrito that I packed out. As I put my shoes on after about 40 minutes of "drying" my feet felt amazing. Couldn't even feel the wetness of my shoes.

As I began walking and my feet/legs loosened up, I felt amazing. A rush of optimism overcame me and I knew I had a shot. 

I was cruising on the way back. Random bouts of yawning and exhaustion would set in but I pushed through. My mind eventually couldn't be taken off of the dismal condition of my feet, which was the biggest mental/physical battle. Nothing could distract me. Music, observations, happy thoughts. Mile 60 ish I thought I might quit too. But I'd come to far. I pushed through it. Biggest accomplishment to date. My girlfriend was waiting in Newark with foot care items, gatorades and a jar of vlasic pickles. Just what I needed.

Psyched on this one! Cheers! P.S. hope you enjoy the IG video ;)