Adventures in Pisgah

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mountains in the Mist

Yet another rainy Sunday in Pisgah and I can once again be found headed up Black Mountain Trail. It will be May soon and May in Pisgah means PMBAR and PRAR. The bike race sold out faster than a Phish NYE show but there are still entries available for the running version.  The reason the bike race sells out so fast is that the word is out this is the most fun you can have on a bike in Pisgah. Word hasn't quite gotten out yet about the running version but trust me that it is just as much fun and if you like mountain running and adventure this is the even for you. So, recruit a friend and sign up!

Chances are at multiple times that first weekend in May I will be right here:


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mountain Bridge Wilderness

Yesterday I had the great idea to go running around Raven Cliff Falls but when I got to the trailhead there were hundreds of cars and scores of people everywhere and it did not look like the type of experience I was after at all so I consulted my map and drove the short way to Ceaser's Head from where I headed down Frank Coggins trail into the other side of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness where I knew there would be far fewer people and the solitude I was after. It was unseasonably warm for February with temperatures in the mid sixties and while the hordes of people were out to see the waterfalls the trails in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness are often steep and technically challenging and most people do not venture too far from the popular sights. My route would take me on a few new-to-me trails with a few surprises and plenty of elevation gain and loss. While I did not see the spectacular Raven Cliff Falls I did manage to avoid passing hundreds of people and the waterfall is not going anywhere and will still be there for me to view on another day. 




Pantertown Redux

Such a special place!







Saturday, January 19, 2019


I don't know how, but I managed to avoid hearing the Van Halen song from the time we first considered going on the trip until we were back stateside. I find that interesting because the first thing everyone mentioned when I said I was going to Panama was the song. I almost expected it to be blaring when we boarded the plane or maybe when we landed but it wasn't. Instead, our soundtrack for the trip was Bob Marley and Van Morrison as we drove around the country.

We landed in Panama City late on Christmas Eve and drove to the small beach town of Santa Clara on Christmas Day. It turns out there isn't much of a town to Santa Clara and the beach is very popular with Panamanians on Christmas. It was absolute insanity with people everywhere and gave us a good taste of their culture. 




From there we took a fun day trip to the mountain town of El Valle where we got in some good exploring after our phone GPS sent us way out of our way on the way there through the steepest mountain roads I have ever seen.





After another day in Santa Clara, it was another epic drive across the country and through Panama City with our phones' once again failing us to the quaint port village of Portobello. We stopped at a little beach on the way and once again saw how the natives actually live and recreate. 

Portobello was a great little town and we made friends with our waiter and got in some good exploring once again. We took a water taxi to a little-hidden beach where I snorkeled and then we rented kayaks and paddled around the port checking out the shipwrecks and looking for sloths. 





With our flight home not departing until 3am we had a full last day where we made the obligatory stop at the Panama Canal before returning the rental car and taking a uber to Casco Viejo, the historic old center of Panama  Center, which was a nice mingling of Panamanians out celebrating the new year and fellow tourists looking at souveniers.  A fitting end to a fun journey.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Monday, December 24, 2018

Old Butt Knob

I was headed to Panthertown on Saturday but when I saw white up high on the mountains I changed my course for Big East Fork trailhead
and Shining Rock with intentions of seeing if it was rhime ice or snow I saw from the highway.

My intended route was the classic Old Butt Knob loop I've done many times before. At around eight miles it is not very long but has some good elevation gains on some very technical terrain. 

Things started innocently enough with dry trails and a little fresh snow lingering in shaded areas.


By the time I hit 5000' there was a lot more than a little snow and I was postholing through knee deep powder while having to wrestle my way through a tangle of snow covered vegetation. What had been a cold rain all day on Friday had clearly been snow high in the mountains and made running difficult. To further complicate matters I was dressed for 50 degree dry temperatures, not running through a curtain of snow in below freezing conditions.


After just an hour and a half I was wearing all my clothes and already freezing. I still had over a mile to go to the top and if things didn't improve it was going to be a very slow and cold slog. After much contemplation I made the tough call to play it safe and turn around.

After such a defeat I headed out Sunday to actually run. Just a short out and back to the top of Bennett Gap but just enough.




Sunday, December 23, 2018


Sometimes I think I might have a Pisgah problem. As soon as the snow stopped I found myself once again headed to Pisgah and with highway 276 barely passable I parked at the Ranger Station and headed up Black Mtn. Trail. The snow was deep and the was trail covered in downed trees which made running hard. I got the first tracks but turned around just below Hickory Knob after an hour of hard effort.


A week later and still unable to shake the monkey and I'm right back in Pisgah again - this time for a quick out and back to John Rock.



The clouds were replaced by bluebird clear skies the next day and Black Mtn. was calling once again. The first mile of the trail was still covered in deep snow but further up on the sunny ridges the snow was almost gone and I was able to actually run.

It had been a week since the snow storm so I was quite surprised to see the only tracks were mine from the week before. I turned around at Turkey Pen, saving the top for another day.