Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Standing Indian

The Appalachian Trail forms a horseshoe around the Standing Indian area of Nantahala National Forest. This allows for a good 24 Mile Loop that has been on my to-do list for quite time and the time finally came 2 weeks ago.

After a long week I drove out to Nantahala ready for some peace and quiet  camping by myself. I had been planning on staying at the Standing Indian campground but when I arrived it was jam-packed with a thousand RVs in 10,000 people running in every direction possible - the exact opposite of the peace and quiet I was looking for. So, I drove up Forest Road 67 and found a perfect little camping spot by the river that would give me the solace I needed.

I had a tickle in my throat driving out on Friday and after a great night of sleep Friday night I woke up feeling quite poor Saturday morning. I was camped a mile up the road and was intending on running a full Marathon but found myself not leaving for the run until almost noon. Based on the math I would be finishing at dark or just after dark but I was intent on the route and headed out anyway.

The route started with a long time up Left Ridge Trail which would take me to very near the top of Standing Indian Mountain. As I work my way up the mountain it was clear I was not feeling well and in fact was likely quite sick. By the time I got to the top I was literally crawling.


Undeterred, I went out and back to the top of the namesake mountain and then continued on the AT, intent on finishing my route.


I'd been hoping that once I was on top of the ridge I would feel better and be making better time but was still moving just too slow. After a mile or two I reached Beech Gap and knew it was time for me to abandon the marathon and head back down. It just wasn't going to be happening that day.

I took my time on the descent and just enjoyed the solitude that the mountains afforded me. It was early spring in Nantahala with the first buds appearing in the blanket of green slowly working its way into the land of the Noonday Sun. Somewhere along the way I discovered some inconsistencies with my map and the way the trails were on the ground but all I had to do is head down hill. The trail finally spit me out on FR 67 although much further up than I had anticipated. A very long and slow several miles on the road brought my run to a close at just 16 miles.
As I ate lunch back at Camp I pondered my fate. The smart thing to do would have been to pack up and drive home Lynn as there was no doubt I was sick but instead I decided I might as well go for a bike ride since I brought the bike all that way. I crawled in my tent to change into biking clothes and quickly fell asleep. I never nap, which should have been a sign, and after I awoke I changed and headed out on the bike. I want back up the gravel road I had just run down and checked out a couple of waterfalls that were on the map. Nothing too special but I was glad I at least peddled a little bit. 




Back at Camp once again I debated driving home for the second time of the day but reminded myself I had nothing better to do and might as well just stay. I ate dinner and then enjoyed a fire for a little bit while looking up at the sky wondering if it might rain. Sleep came easy once again in them and I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of the storm and rain on my tent. I felt a little drip at one point but decided it couldn't be much and went back to sleep. I woke for the final time around 8 to my book floating pass my head and an inch of standing water in the tent.

I quickly through all the wet stuff into the truck and drove straight to Franklin where I bought a cup of coffee and got a three-legged Buffalo nickel as change for my dollar. I took that as a sign of good things were to come that day and decided to drive and check out Wayah Bald as long as I was in the area. You can drive all the way to the top and I was relieved as the rain did not let up.  Once of the top I was greeted by horizontal rain sleet and snow. I was soaked as soon as I stepped out of the truck. There wasn't much to see except for the fire ravenged landscape and a very nice Fire Tower. Soaked to the core and undeniably sick I drove straight home where I slept for the next 2 days.

The Standing Indian Marathon will have to wait for another day.

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