Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Trail Adventure

Since I was in Winston-Salem for Hannah's first half marathon (which she rocked by the way in 1:49:07) I thought it would be a good idea to go run at Hanging Rock State Park close by. So I got up with Abran, a friend I made at my last race, and he got a group together (John, David, Darren) to head out to the best state park in the Piedmont.

Surprisingly, on the drive to the Tory's Den trail head it started to snow! Looking at the forecast minutes earlier, the weather was looking to be cloudy with occasional snow flurries, not heavy snow showers. By the time everyone arrived at the trail head and we were ready to go, there was at least a 1/2 inch on the ground. We all started heading up on the Sauratown Loop trail and the footing was a bit hairy. Mainly because all of the trails on this side of the park are a bit primitive and very technical. Technical terrain and wet snow that hides all the technical features in the trail make for one "roll you ankle every few steps" type of run. Despite this though, it was really fun and beautiful to be running through the snow.

After coming off the Sauratown Loop and joining the Moore's Wall Loop trail, we were soon charging to the top of the 2550 ft Moore's Knob (the highest peak in the Sauratown Range) . It was nice catching up with David on the easy climb up to the top. Upon arriving to the summit, the view was like looking down onto a winter wonderland. It was beautiful, but it was starting to get a bit cold standing on the exposed summit. So, Abran, John, and I speed down the never ending stone steps to park visitor center. By the way, I hate those stone steps!

At the visitor center, we all huddled into the lobby to try and warm our wet and cold hands. This is where Abran and I would drop John, David, and Darren and head down Indian Creek trail for an extra 7 miles before following there route back to the car. The first part of the Indian Creek trail goes down a series of wooden and stone steps and the inevitable finally happened. I completely ate it on one of the steps and landed hard on my right side. It was a shocking blow to the system, but I did what you must always do in those situations, get up and keep going and the pain and shock will soon disappear. After the steps, the trail evens out and becomes a nice graded path with a few cold stream crossings. This section would have been a lot more enjoyable if the continually falling snow wouldn't have changed into a mix with rain. The run was starting to go from extremely fun and enjoyable to just down right miserable. Abran said he was feeling the same way.

Coming back up the trail, I was trying to get back to the visitor center as quick as possible. I longed to get warm and dry out my gloves that were soaked. Abran and I probably hung out in the visitor center a bit to long. Even though I dried out my gloves, my hands were never colder than when we headed out for the last 5 miles back to the car. I thought that they we heading towards being frostbite and then Abran told me a good tip of balling up your hands inside your gloves. This definitely worked! After the first two miles, the trail began to become primitive and technical again on the descent down Tory's Den trail.. My left ankle, which has been bothering me the past few weeks, did not like this slippery terrain. I was practically walking down this section and Abran got a good ways in front of me. I was glad when we hit the tarmac again that would lead us up to the warm car.

The 22 miles of snowy trail running was finally over! I had a blast, but I wish the snow would have been a dryer one than what we had, but that is typical of piedmont snow. Other than that, it was a great run with some new trail running buddies and an epic one at that! Here is the garmin data: Snowy Hanging Rock Run

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