Mohonk Preserve

Mohonk Preserve

Ridgelines #188

Autumn 2017  #188

Autumn is amazing at Mohonk Preserve! During “leaf peeping” time, the Preserve welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world who come to enjoy nature’s fall splendor. In this issue of Ridgelines, you’ll learn about the 2018 edition of Rock The Ridge, the Preserve’s spectacular 50-mile endurance challenge, newly available research reports and other treasures from the Preserve’s Daniel Smiley Research Center collection, and the venerable Climbers’ Trail Crew, recipients of the 2017 Thom Scheuer Land Stewardship Award.
Don’t miss out on one of the rites of autumn – a Preserve hike to take in the peak colors of fall on the Shawangunk Ridge. We look forward to seeing you on the land!

Rocking The Ridge Again in 2018!

Lace up your running, walking or hiking shoes and get ready to Rock The Ridge® in May! Combining a unique physical challenge with a commitment to environmental stewardship, Rock The Ridge is a 50-mile endurance challenge with a 24-hour time limit. After five successful years, preparations are underway to Rock The Ridge again on May 19, 2018. 

Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to the U.S. Marines to complete a 50-mile march in 24 hours, Rock The Ridge revives this American spirit of fitness. Covering 50 miles in one stretch is a major achievement, but the 24-hour time limit allows for people with a wide range of abilities to participate by running, jogging, hiking, or walking, and the joint individual and team format makes for a unique experience.

Challenge yourself and help preserve one of Earth’s last great places

Ridge Rockers may participate in one of three divisions: Individual 50-Mile, Team 50-Mile, and Team Relay. In addition to competing in the event, participants will also fundraise to support Mohonk Preserve’s award-winning Land Protection, Land Stewardship, Environmental Education, and Conservation Science programs, which all work to protect an iconic landscape named one of “Earth’s Last Great Places,” and reach beyond the borders of our over 8,000 acres. Funds raised will help save the land for life by safeguarding clean water integral to the health of the Hudson River and New York’s water supply; protecting critical habitat for wildlife like the Peregrine Falcon, which is listed as an endangered species in New York State; and inspiring the next generation of conservationists by providing accessible environmental education programs for kids and adults. 

In 2017, Rock The Ridge attracted over 400 participants from 23 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, including many first-time 50-milers and several teams that walked the entire distance. Ultramarathoner Dylan Armajani was the first finisher with a time of 7:15:33 and the first female finisher was Karen Benway with a time of 7:59:39. Participants raised over $195,000 to support Mohonk Preserve!

Sign on for a memorable adventure – become a Ridge Rocker!

Between now and race day, all 2018 participants can take advantage of training tips and encouragement from our Rock The Ridge team, including ongoing fundraising support and the opportunity to qualify for great monthly fundraising prizes.

Whether you walk, run, or do a mixture of both, Rock The Ridge will be a spectacular outdoor adventure and an opportunity to help fundraise to support conservation at the Preserve. Register by October 15 for an early registration discount. Our 2018 race will be bigger and better than ever, so reserve your spot today and join your fellow Ridge Rockers on May 19, 2018!

Not a racer? You can still participate as a Virtual Ridge Rocker

Can’t be there on race day, but want to support the event? You can donate to Rock The Ridge participants by visiting our CrowdRise page or sign up to be a Virtual Ridge Rocker on our Registration page and do your own fundraising (no registration fee or fundraising minimum applies). You can also sign up to be a Rock The Ridge volunteer and help with the event by contacting Preserve Associate Director of Volunteer Programs and Special Events Andy Reynolds at

Whichever way you choose to be involved, we appreciate your support of Rock The Ridge and Mohonk Preserve! 


Historic Research Reports Get a New Life

Can old data help us with new science? Mohonk Preserve co-founder Daniel Smiley, for whom the Preserve’s Daniel Smiley Research Center was named, dedicated his life to understanding and protecting the Shawangunk Ridge. A thorough scientist and researcher, he meticulously recorded his observations on many subjects, from the flora and fauna of the Preserve to weather and other environmental phenomena.
“As a naturalist, Dan always let nature and serendipity guide our daily path. And, as unpredictable as nature is, our subject was mostly different each day. It was a very special time in my life,” said Mohonk Preserve Director of Research Emeritus Paul Huth. Dan and Paul’s observations were summarized in internal technical research reports still housed in hard-copy format at the DSRC.
Scientists typically share their projects and results in peer-reviewed publications and scientific journals. While a few reports were published in The Chirp, the newsletter of the John Burroughs Natural History Society, Dan rarely published his observations, choosing instead to distribute them personally to colleagues and store them in the archives. “There are thousands of these observations at the DSRC,” said Mohonk Preserve Director of Conservation Science Elizabeth Long. “We are working on getting them scanned and creating a database – it is a big undertaking.”
After consulting with visiting scientists, Elizabeth and Paul concluded it was time to give these research reports a new life and make them publically available to researchers and scientists, citizen naturalists, and anyone interested in the natural history of the Shawangunk Ridge. Some of these reports, like “Temperatures 90° or Above” written in 1979, could hold tremendous scientific value today – all they need is a researcher to take an interest and follow up. Others show a quirky sense of humor or an oddity of nature, like “Keys to Taste and Morphology: Blueberries and Huckleberries of the Shawangunks,” featuring a 1980 study of blueberry “terrior,” just like wine grapes. “No one said science couldn’t be fun,” said Paul in his introduction to the piece.
Paul worked closely with Dan and co-authored many of the reports. This summer he began to sort through them, choosing some select pieces to digitize and share through social media with the help of Mohonk Preserve Media Associate Amanda Rogers. Using the online publishing platform Medium, these reports are being made public — each with a new introduction authored by Paul that gives important and interesting context to the modern reader. “To me, profiling these Research Reports allows our audience to experience the breadth and depth of our interest in nature, which I had the privilege of experiencing with Dan during the 15 or so years of our working together,” said Paul. 
These research reports, along with Species Spotlights and historic Ridgelines articles, can be viewed on Medium, here. The Research Reports are published bi-weekly, and links are posted to Mohonk Preserve’s social media channels. You can also follow the Preserve on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see these reports and more!
For additional information on the Preserve’s robust Conservation Science program, click here.

Climbers' Trail Crew Receives Annual Stewardship Award

If you climb in the Gunks, you probably know the name Dick Williams. Author of several editions of the definitive climbing guidebook, he is also the prolific pioneer of dozens of first ascents. Less well known is that starting about 17 years ago, with the help of a few friends, Dick embarked on an informal project to repair and stabilize several of the approaches from the carriage road to the base of the Trapps cliffs. That small contingent has evolved into the mighty Mohonk Preserve Climbers’ Trail Crew

Protecting the cliff side

Back in the day, climbers walked along Undercliff Carriage Road and picked a point to strike out over the talus slope, choosing their own path to the base of the cliffs they were interested in climbing. Over the years, many such trails were created. With little thought to where and how these trails should be routed, the number of trails increased, erosion became severe, and some trails became extremely dangerous to travel.
With many of today’s climbers choosing to descend from the top of the cliff via rappel rather than walking down, the approach trail system from the carriage road to the cliff base now receives almost twice the amount of foot traffic as in years past. The resultant erosion has left its mark upon the terrain below the cliffs.
In an attempt to control erosion and other environmental impacts, and the continuing proliferation of poorly planned or constructed ascent trails, the volunteers of the Climbers’ Trail Crew work to mitigate the erosion and random foot traffic issues. They use a variety of techniques to harden the trails via re-routing, elimination and consolidation of multiple access points, construction of stone stairways, retaining walls, terracing, and stone borders.
Today’s cliff-side trail projects are designed to replace older, poorly placed, or poorly built trails now in disrepair. A few crucially located trails are wider than the norm, located and designed to safely, quickly, and efficiently facilitate the transport of injured climbers during rescue operations. For a seriously injured climber, minutes can make a significant difference for a successful outcome, and these wider trails are a very important contribution to the safety of the climbing community.

A milestone contribution

Thanks to Dick’s meticulous record keeping, originally noted by hand and now transcribed to a digital database, Mohonk Preserve has comprehensive and accurate statistics of the contribution of this key volunteer group.
In the past 17 years, nearly 100 volunteers have donated nearly 12,000 total hours of labor in support of these efforts. To date, a total of 48 restoration and access projects have been completed.
To acknowledge the dedication and effort of this group, it was our honor and pleasure to present the 2017 Thom Scheuer Land Stewardship Award to the Mohonk Preserve Climbers’ Trail Crew during the 19th Annual New Paltz Climbing Film Festival on October 7. Thom Scheuer, the beloved Head Ranger of Mohonk Preserve from 1972 until his death in 1999, dedicated his work and life to protecting and maintaining the Preserve as a place for world-class outdoor enjoyment within a high-quality ecosystem.
Mohonk Preserve Climbers’ Trail Crew members who were on hand to receive the award, presented by Mohonk Preserve Chief Ranger Andrew Bajardi, included Rick Cronk, Al DeMaria, Shari and Preston Forsythe, Ethan Ladof, Al Limone, Terrie Marcoe, Jamie Rosser, Dan Tocci, and Chuck Waller.

Seasonal Updates

PHOTO GALLERYView seasonal photographs by our volunteer photographers. See more photos by the Mohonk Preserve Volunteer Photographers on their Facebook page.

Ridgelines Seasonal Gallery - Autumn 2017

GET INTO NATURE. See a full list of upcoming programs including Northern Saw-whet Owls: Mohonk's Silent Visitor and Children's Program: Kaleidoscope of Colors.

IN APPRECIATIONGo to our listing of Memorial and Honorary Gifts, Premium Members, and Business Members received July 1 through September 30, 2017.


Save the New Date! Join us next autumn for the Mohonk Preserve Annual Benefit Auction on Saturday, September 15, 2018. We invite you to save the new date and enjoy the colorful foliage and congenial company of fellow nature-enthusiasts while benefiting the land you love. 

You’ll celebrate the change of seasons with a delicious fall-themed dinner served al fresco — prepared onsite by the Mohonk Mountain House culinary team and paired with fine wines expertly selected by Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits.
Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Give the gift of year-round adventure with a Mohonk Preserve gift membership.
We have many other great nature-themed gifts available at the Visitor Center, including the 2018 Mohonk Preserve Calendar featuring stunning images of the Shawangunk Ridge taken by Mohonk Preserve's Volunteer Photographers. Order the calendar stop by our Visitor Center, call 845-255-0919, or click here.
MOHONK PRESERVE MEMBER REWARDS PROGRAM. Show your valid Mohonk Preserve annual or life membership card at over 30 local businesses listed here, and receive a discount or special offer. 

We welcome our business members who joined between July 1 and September 30, 2017: