Monday, July 29, 2019

Back to Naked Ground

I headed back to Joyce Kilmer a few weeks ago for some running and playing on the lake. That isn't quite true, actually I headed to Tsali for those things but when I got to the campground it was a human zoo and although there were campsites still available I kept driving as I was more interested in solitude over convienence.

I was hoping to get one of the free roadside sites on Lake Santeelah but as I drove my way around they were all taken until I got to number 13 - a scruffy little site close to the road that didn't look very good.


But after I got out of the truck and poked around a bit I found there was a trail that led ro the river just a short ways away where there was a very nice fire ring, a couple of swimming holes and no sign of people. Perfect.


I had been planning on setting up camp quickly and then going to the lake but the spot was so nice instead I just relaxed by the river and watched the day turn to night.




My plan for Saturday was to run a big out and back up Naked Ground to the ridge where I would continue on for another five miles before turning around. Things started easy enough up Naked Ground - a trail I now know well.


One thing that struck and amazed me were the wildflowers. The rich coves were full of Carolina Lillys and other flowers.



As I approached the top of the ridge the thunderstorms that had been threatening finally gave way and unleashed on top of me. I was still a mile from the ridgetop and thought running uphill would keep me warm but quickly became cold and when I started shivering I pulled out the emergency poncho I'd stuffed in my sack at the last moment. It worked surprisingly well!


I had also thought the storm would pass quickly but it did not. I went right at Naked Ground instead of my planned left  and as I approached Rattlesnake Rock lightning was striking all over and I quickly retreated.

Back at Naked Ground the clouds parted briefly but I continued my descent. I'd been moving slow on the climb and was looking forward to running fast downhill. That worked great for the first two miles but at one of the little stream crossings I slipped and landed hard on my left glute. I hopped up, determined to run it off, but the pain was too bad so I sat down in the creek. After a few minutes I got up and managed to keep running but going fast was over and instead I jogged and hobbled my way back down as my butt turned black and blue. 

 I got back to the trailhead without further incident where the solitude I'd been experiencing was shattered by throngs of people looking for the big trees. No worries, straight back to lucky number 13 for some lunch and relaxing before heading to the lake to SUP and swim. Gray clouds still tumbled over my head but that wasn't going to stop me from ruining the fun - a pattern that would roll over into Sunday morning.


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