Friday, August 22, 2014

Cambric Ridge

After being defeated by the mighty Linville River last winter I had been wanting to go back to finish the route we had planned on doing and August is the perfect time to be crossing a  big river so I recruited Jon who recruited Ryan and we headed out last Saturday for a nice run through the Linville Gorge. Back in January I thought for sure I had located where Cambric Ridge trail intersects the Linville River trail so we headed straight down Pinch In, took a left on the river trail and went straight to where I thought Cambric Ridge was. We forded the river and then stopped on the other side to stock up on water for the long, dry stretch back up to the rim of the gorge. When we climbed up the bank to where the trail was supposed to be but it wasn't there.

I knew Cambric Ridge was going to be hard to find but didn't realize just how hard it would be. We spent the next hour fruitlessly searching the East bank of the Linville River for the trail. On the National Geographic map it is one of those particular spots where the exact GPS coordinates are actually printed on the map so we used Jon's smart phone to go to the exact coordinates where the map said the trail would be but it still wasn't there. We talked about continuing to look but decided to actually do some running instead and continued on up the river trail.

The river trail makes for some very challenging trail running and somewhere along the way, as I hobbled over boulders and wrestled my way through downed trees, I realized our only chance of doing a different loop and finding Cambric Ridge to approach from the Mountains to Sea at the top of the rim. So after a brief swim at the Spence Ridge river ford we headed up to the top of the East rim. At the top of the climb Table Rock was right there in front of us so we took the brief detour to the top.

The Mountains to Sea trail across the Chimneys was an incredible stretch of trail but at that point we were four or five hours in to the run but since PRAR I have not been doing long runs and was starting to feel it and was getting worried about finding Cambric Ridge. Not finding it was not an option. Any other way back from where we were would be more miles than I could do. Bailing would be hard an complicated. We had to find the trail.

We encountered a SAWS trail work group along the way and if there is anyone you think might know how to get to a lightly used trail in the gorge it would be them and one guy was able to confirm that he had been on the trail and roughly described its location, which matched the map. That was reassuring. We then encountered an Outward Bound group whose leader did not know of the trail but did have the USGS quad which confirmed Cambric Ridge's location. But based on our experience down at the river I was still a little skeptical.

The mind blowing stretch of trail across the top of the rim burned up almost all of our water and I was threatening to cramp. We had to get back down to the river as fast as possible. After passing through Chimney Gap we started to climb and then there was a trail right where our trail was supposed to be. Hallelujah. There is a God.

And down we go. Cambric Ridge turned out to indeed be lightly used but it is used and it is there. It is steep and littered with downed trees and not necessarily a lot of fun. Or maybe it is and I just don't know it because I was hurting so bad. But at the bottom there was a great big huge and cool river and we were saved.

After cooling down and hydrating in the river we pulled up our location on Jon's phone and saw that we were nowhere close to where the mapped to show the trail to be. Instead of being North of Pinch In trail we were South of it. The map is way wrong. If you want to find this trail from Pinch In go right at the bottom and then ford the river at a campsite a short way down stream.

While Pinch In gets you into the heart of the gorge in a pinch getting out up Pinch In isn't nearly as easy. We made it down to the river from the car in just fifteen or twenty minutes but climbing up it took over an hour. I was out of food but had water and the end was so close it was blinking like a green light at the end of a novel and I couldn't fail to grasp it.

We finished the thirteen mile 'run' in right around seven hours. My legs still hurt.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad I found this we are planning a backpacking trip and wanted to use this to make a loop. Thank you