Adventures in Pisgah

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Flat Laurel Creek

Imagine a creek with nothing but waterfalls stacked on top of waterfalls. Imagine a fishing trip with a seemingly endless supply of brook trout just begging to be caught. That was how I spent last Sunday. I started up Flat Laurel Creek at its confluence with the West Fork of the Pigeon river and fished my way up to where the trail by the same name intersected the creek. For a good while the terrain was technical enough that I stowed my fishing pole and concentrated on not getting hurt but the whole time the scenery was simply amazing and I had a hard time believing I hadn't been there before. I hiked along the trail for a little bit and then descended the unnamed creek starting at Wildcat Falls. That creek was too tight to fish but did contain two waterfalls including a very nice one at the confluence with the West Fork. Once I started down the West Fork back to the truck the fishing got really good with me pulling fish out of almost every pool I threw a line into.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Three Map Ride

Last weekend I had to go all the way out to the Wolf Lake area in Pisgah to drop off a sofa so I used the trip as an excuse to explore a little section of the map that had always intrigued me. According to all my maps there were a couple of unimproved gravel roads that petered out after a few miles but left a whole lot of land unaccounted for. Those dotted lines are often more trail like than road like and often lead to more places than the map shows and are perfect for exploring. The star of this area was Miser Creek which fed into what looked like a small natural pond on my various maps. None of my maps showed the same road configuration so I took all three with me: one 785 and two different versions of the 780 map.

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The trail head was right where it was supposed to be and I loaded up the tenkara rod with the plan of riding around for a little while before heading over to the small pond where I would fish and swim. As I rolled out everything was exactly like it was supposed to be with me on FR5077.

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There were lots of intersections and while most of the roads were signed none of the numbers matched any of my maps.

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It was a perfect hot late spring day and I was having a blast checking out an area I'd never been to before. While not overly mountainous the terrain was rather unique with lots of fields, creeks and rolling hills. I rolled right past this mountain bog dreaming of the pond that lay in front of me.

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Eventually the road signs stopped and the roads started to become a whole lot more trail like and I started just guessing which turn to take.

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I would pick a turn, take it, ride for a mile or so on unique singletrack until barking dogs and private property appeared in front of me and then turn around and push back up to where I had come from. This went on for awhile until I finally started wondering where I was and where the mythical pond on the map was. It didn't really matter, I was having fun riding trails that don't see many people much less mountain bikes.

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Eventually I gave in and used the gps on my phone to see where I was and where the pond was. I was far away from the pond and according to the USGS map it wasn't a pond at all but instead was marked as a mountain bog. Yep, the same one I had ridden past hours earlier. I chuckled at the reminder that it often isn't the destination that matters but instead it is the journey.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

rolling along

Not trying to finish the 55.5 was a great decision. Instead of prolonging my case of runner's knee I was able to get it healed and the rest of May spilled into June with plenty of runs, bike rides and even a canyoneering excursion thrown in for good measure. My tenkara fishing pole has been going
everywhere with me. The beauty of tenkara is you don't have to go fishing. It doesn't require much gear or time so stopping to fish along the way is no big deal and not stopping to fish along the way is no big deal either. What is really amazing is that I have been catching a lot of fish!

Too many adventures to list them all so here are the pictures. I'll let you make your own stories for them.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Pisgah 55.5 Ultra Run

The 108 miles I rode, ran, walked, and crawled during PMBAR and PRAR somehow gave me a case of runner's knee so in the two weeks leading up to the 55.5 I wasn't running at all and thought for sure there was no way I could run the race or even start it. With stretching and rest I found I could run some so I decided I would start the race knowing that I wasn't going to be able to finish. Going into the race certain to DNF was an interesting way to start and even though I had secret hopes of pushing through the pain and finishing I knew that wouldn't be happening. I used a drop bag for the first time ever and put two PBRs in a ziplock bag filled with ice so I would have something to drink while I waited for a ride and sent them a head to the Turkey Pen parking lot you knowing that is as far as I would be going.

The  mountain bikers left at 10am and then myself and 3 others started the run 15 minutes later with two others having started running at 8am. I started up Black running with Yuri and was surprised when we caught the first rider before we even got to Thrift Cove. We caught a couple more bikes on the way up to Hickory knob and with my knee already starting to hurt I urged Yuri to go on ahead without me. From there on I would spend the rest of the race going back and forth with a group of racers on bikes. I would catch and pass them on the climbs and then they would do the same to me on the descents. Turkey Pen Gap trail is like a sinister game of shoots and ladders with the trail either going straight up or straight down so our game of leap frog went on and on. I got to the aid station at Turkey Pen Gap feeling okay. I could have kept running up to Yellow Gap but knew I wouldn't be able to handle the descents on Pilot Rock and Black Mtn. and after much contemplation pulled the plug there as I'd previously planned. 

So what would lead me to start a race I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish? Well, first of all Pisgah Productions puts on great events and I figured a DNF would be better than not starting at all and since this was the first year for runners at the race I thought one more starter might tempt more people to give it a try next year. And even though I only made it ten miles or so Black > Turkey Pen is still a good run and nothing could have been better. Thanks Pisgah Productions!

Monday, May 11, 2015

sympathy podium

After ten years it is hard to know what to say about pmbar anymore. The most notable thing that happened was when early in the race on Turkey Pen Gap trail my headphone wire got snagged on a tree branch and broke. That meant no music for me, no sweet distraction if things started to get unpleasant, and nothing to do except talk to my teammate who only seemed interested in talking about the race.... Other than that it was just business as usual. Much like last year, our plan was based on survival so we could live to run strong on Sunday. With that in mind we did the math and figured the Laurel Mountain checkpoint was not worth the effort for the time bonus and picked the shortest route. That meant several very long and flat stretches which absolutely suck on a singlespeed but is still much better than the alternate routes. Surprisingly most teams took other routes and we spent a good part of the day riding by our selves. We started seeing teams once we got over to the hatchery and had company from there to the finish.

PRAR the next day was just more of the same. This year Pisgah Productions shuttled us over to the Fish Hatchery for the start where we would run to 4 or 5 checkpoints before returning to the finish at the Black Mountain trail head. That meant teams would be finishing mainly on the Art Loeb trail and seeing a different part of the forest from last year. We decided to go for all the checkpoints and headed up 475B for the Sunwall checkpoint on Looking Glass Rock. Yuri and I were the second team out right behind Jay Curwen and as we fell into our pace on 475B all the fast teams steadily passed us. Out and back to the rock and then a long stretch of road over to the Farlow/Daniel checkpoint before climbing 475 to Glouchester Gap and a checkpoint on Rich Mtn.There was another team at the CP and we followed them down what we thought was the Art Loeb but after a few minutes when we hadn't reached 471 I knew we were off the trail and headed for Outward Bounds. So we backtracked back to the CP, found the Art Loeb and continued on to Butter Gap leaving the other team to an unknown fate. After loading up with water at Butter Gap it became all about the Art Loeb. It is a difficult stretch of trail and the previous days 70+ mile bike ride plus 20 miles of running started to work my left knee. We still had to get to Bracken Mountain and then back down to the finish so I paced myself and just kept moving forward. Bracken came easily enough and from there it was all downhill to the finish. In the end we ran around 32 miles and while it hurt pretty good it was still a ton of fun. Mark your calendar for next year. This race is only going to get better!

While our double podium luck from last year didn't hold this year we somehow ended up on a podium for doing second best in both events over the weekend. I think Eric just felt bad for those of us who were dumb enough to do both.
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

a pair of shoes to last through may

The end of April in Pisgah can only mean one thing: hardcore training for the spring race season. PMBAR and PRAR are the first weekend in May and then later in the month come the 111 and 55. PMBAR is indisputably the biggest race of the year and is truly a local's event. This year will be my tenth time participating in the twisted fun of pmbar and my second time trying my luck at prar. While other's have legitimately been training I have spent the winter and spring just trying to have fun. Vegas and Tahoe with some local runs and a ride or two scattered about. Big mountains, maybe, but no big miles. So be it, I'll go out there, see what happens and hope to have an adventure or two along the way.

Here is a snapshot of my training regimen:

So, it is Sunday morning and I'm sitting in my truck at Fisherman's trying to decide where to go. Around me several groups are preparing for one last big ride before the big day - heading up to Laurel Mtn., no doubt - and I'm trying to decide where to go fishing. I want to go to the waterfall on Slate Rock Creek but that sounds like a really far way to ride a bike so I decide to head a much shorter distance to the Hendersonville Reservoir instead. The ride is short enough that I am able to pretend I'm Superman and the fishing is good.

Wednesday afternoon and I'm pulled up at Fisherman's once again. This time I have to do the ever important Test The Bike Ride and head to the reservoir, of course, where I know the fishing will be good. The ride is short enough I am able to pretend the bike is in brand new condition.

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