Adventures in Pisgah

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Winter in Pisgah

One weekend and you are running through a foot of snow with temperatures in the teens and the next weekend you are running on the same trail wearing nothing but shorts and shoes.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mackey Mountain

It wasn't that long ago that it seemed like the whole world was on fire and the apocalypse was upon us. The news rained downed like Napalm and a long November was followed by an even longer December. Eventually the rains came and while they didn't wash all of our sins away they did finally extinguish the fires that had surrounded us. A heavy price was paid but the forests were left to their own again. Fire in itself is a good thing but these fires were not natural . Like so much in this world  they were the result of humans messing with things that are better left untouched.

I've been eager to see some of the fire areas and last weekend I made it over to Mackey Mountain where one of the fires had raged. Mackey Mountain trail is a five mile long stretch of singletrack that if you look at the map appears to lead to nowhere. I had hiked the trail once before with Duma during a storm and recalled it being very overgrown and not too pleasant and hadn't wanted to do it again until I saw that the trail was used to access the fire by ground crews as well as serving as a dozer line at its far end. That was all the news I needed to know that it was time for me to revisit that seldom traveled dotted black line on the map.

Things started with some nice rolling singletrack that took us over a few knobs where big views were abundant. I don't get out to that side of the forest too often so it was nice to be gazing out at the iconic peaks on Table Rock, Hawksbill and Grandfather mountains.

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After twisting our way along the trail for several miles we reached the first dozer line. There wasn't much to see as the fire was kept back from this area.

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A short while later we found this tree which is undoubtedly a Cherokee trail tree.

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From there we kept following the dozer line and reached a burned area. We assumed this was a back burn but that is just an assumption.

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Following the fire line took us to the top of Mackey Mountain itself and at the top we realized that we had left the trail somewhere around the trail tree so we backtracked back to the trail.

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Once back on the trail we came to a very big dozer line where it was clear they would have stopped the fire had it made it that far. Yuri was able to win the race in the process.

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The big cut allowed for more big views.

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Once at the end of the trail we turned around and started making our way back to Curtis Creek Rd. When we got close to the trail tree we encountered this rather phallic tree. Being a White Oak the species was right but the crook looked a little high off the ground to me so I labeled it inconclusive.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cedar Rock Mountain



 Longer isn't always better when it comes to trail running for me. One of my all time favorite routes comes in at an easy eight miles or so. Starting from the Fish Hatchery:

Cat Gap > Butter Gap > Cedar Rock Mtn. > Art Loeb > Cat Gap > John Rock > Cat Gap

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Once you get to the Butter Gap/Art Loeb intersection take the unmarked trail 90 degrees to your left. This trail takes you over the top of Cedar Rock Mtn. Along the way there are two separate pitches that are full on scrambles where caution must really be exercised. The views, of course, are outstanding.

Yuri and I managed to get together for this run the Sunday after Thanksgiving while the whole world was on fire and it was just what we needed. We traversed Cedar Rock just as the sun was setting and then stopped on top of John Rock in the dark to look down on the Hatchery and out passed Looking Glass Rock up to the Parkway and beyond and I couldn't help but state aloud just how lucky we are.

Just eight miles and a lot steeper than it looks.



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Sunday, November 27, 2016

The crest of a trail

Getting a  band back together is easier said than done. People drift apart, habits and interests change, things get complicated. But sometimes it just a matter of calling up a couple of friends and saying, Hey, let's get together and jam sometime and then seeing who all shows up. Last weekend it was just a duo as Jon and I managed to get together for a short but rather spectacular run. First we were going to head to Grandfather Mtn. but then veered off course and went to Bowlen's Creek to run the first section of the Black Mtn. Crest trail up to Ceilo Knob.

At the trail head we met a couple of backpackers who reported having had to flee from the mountain top at 3am that morning due to ripping winds and freezing temperatures. It was almost 50 degrees down at the start  so how cold and windy could it really be up there? Well, as soon as we approached the 6000' mark the world changed and we were faced with exactly the conditions that had been reported to us. The wind must have let up for a little while as a layer of rime ice had formed and was being blown from the vegetation. Although I was under dressed and not wanting to linger too long up high the unexpected conditions were exactly what we had come in search of.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Panthertown Valley

Panthertown Valley is a tangle of trails that lead to some rather unique and interesting places. I have been trying to piece together a route that hits the highlights in a logical way and did a fun half marathon route last weekend that comes close to reaching that goal. Starting from Cold Mountain Gap:

Panthertown Valley Trail > Devil's Elbow > Riding Ford > Powerline > BlackRock > Panthertown Valley > Wilderness Falls > Deep Gap > Great Wall > Big Green > Macs Gap > Little Green > Panthertown Valley

While no 13 mile route is going to have it all this one had a lot. Everything from rolling double track to tight and twisty single track, waterfalls and rock plutons.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

four seconds it seems

I was in Virginia last week for a wedding and being just mere miles from Shenandoah National Park I had no choice but to sneak away for a quick run. Of course the maps I ordered hadn't come in time and I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing when I left the hotel. Less than thirty minutes later and I was at Swift Run Gap and faced with a twenty dollar entrance fee for the park. With only a couple of hours to play I said no thank you and just kept driving.  A little bit later I found a roadside pullout and what looked like a trail with what looked like a sign and decided it had to hit the AT a thousand vertical feet later and started running from there.

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Unfortunately, what I had thought was a trail quickly became nothing more than a bushwhack and the few hours I had to run were rapidly vanishing in a slow slog up an unknown mountain. Right when I was ready to give up I intersected a trail and a white blaze on a nearby tree confirmed I had hit the AT. I ran out and back on the AT for several miles before running down the highway instead of the bushwhack back to the car.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Big Creek Beatdown

I guess I was thinking that since I had run Laurel > Pilot a few times recently I might as well just do the Laurel Mtn. > Big Creek route.  What I wasn't thinking is that it is a lot easier to ride that route on a bike than it is to run it. I guess I had also forgotten just how far it is to the top of Mount Pisgah from Buck Spring.  By the time I was crawling my way across the last half of Big Creek I remembered everything I had forgotten.

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