Tues - 70min/ 8m/ 1000' - Itusi Trail - LNSP - combo of the Laurel and Hawk Trails
Wed - 30min/ 3.7m/ 200' - Davidson XC Trails - easy effort with about 3/4 mile of barefoot at the end.
Thurs - 70min/ 7.5m/ 1000' - Riverbend Park - first run at this super sweet park. A lot of ups and downs on plush double track with some technical singletrack thrown in randomly.
Fri - 52min/ 6.2m/ 800' - Warren Wilson - With Mad A running along the river trail to connect with the Jones Mtn trails. Climb up and down Jones in the middle. Nice soak in the Swannanoa afterwards.
Sat - 5hr20min/ 23m/ 3000' - Cinco De Mayo Sombrero Extravaganza - What a day. Took way longer than expected on trails that were unexpected. More info below.
Sun - 0hr
Time - 9hrs
Distance - 48.4m
Vert - 6000'
Saturday's run was quite a blast. It was wet, wild, and confusing! The loop that Tim had designed for us to run while celebrating Mexican Independence looked like a nice and easy loop with nominal vert and plenty of places to cool of in if the temps got a bit too hot. Let me tell you, there were more than enough river crossings! But I really didn't mind them. I actually enjoyed the cool flowing waters of the S. Mills river as it provided a walking break and cleaned my shoes of all the muck I was dragging them through most of the day. The loop out of Turkey Pen was as follows: Bradley Creek, Riverside, Bradley Creek, Laurel Creek, Squirrel Gap, S. Mills River. I had been studying the route for most of the week and had all the turns memorized so I wouldn't have to bring a map with me as I figured any written directions/map would immediately be ruined by one slip crossing the river. So, after running the first 13 miles with the Grand Kirk, through numerous river crossings, pastoral fields, and rolling singletrack, we began to separate down the final switchbacks of the Squirrel Gap trail to the South Mills River. This is where things got really interesting. At this intersection there is a bridge that crosses the river and a path, a well worn path at that, that leads to the right after the bridge and begins a gentle switchbacking climb. This is the S. Mills River trail, the trail that we are supposed to take to get back to our cars at Turkey Pen. But, this trail is going upstream, not down as the directions and map had shown. I thoroughly remember that we were supposed to take a left onto the S. Mills River trail, not a right. But I followed the path of least resistance and my compadre's footprints up the switchbacks until I ran into some bikers and asked these two questions. One of which my compadre's seemed to have forgotten to ask the same folks. Here is the conversation:
Me: "Is this the S. Mills River Trail?"
Biker: "Sure is!"
Me: "If I were wanting to get back to the Turkey Pen Trailhead, do I go the way I am going, or the opposite way?"
Biker: "The way you are going is to Buckhorn Gap, you need to go back down and find the trail to the left after the bridge."
Me: "Awesome, I thought that this seemed wrong."
Biker: "Are you with a group of other runners? They passed by us about a mile up ahead."
Me: "Yep, sure am!"
Biker: "Well they are heading up to Buckhorn Gap."
Me: " Yep, they're screwed."
Well, that may haven't been the exact conversation, but close enough. Either way, Tim and Scott were way of course and were in for quite the return trip once they realized their mistake. By the way, I would like to add that Tim designed this course! Haha. Anyway, I went back to the bridge and still couldn't find the trail going downstream. I looked at a hikers map and after seeing a shadowy figure pass by across the river bank, I found the trail. It was completely overgrown in doghobble and full of mud. In order that Hannah not get lost as did the others, I began making a sign in the trail to point her in the right direction. Hannah later told me that it was a beauty and she knew immediately that it came from my hands. So, after spending probably 30 minutes trying to figure out were the trail was and then marking the intersection, I began running again, well sort of. Actually, I was pretty tired, the trail was extremely muddy and it crossed the river a dozen or so times over the next 4-5 miles. I proceeded to walk most of this section until the S. Mills River trail that I knew emerged from this sorry excuse for a trail. I was also nervous in wondering if Hannah would find my sign or not, and my heart rate was out of whack from it, making running through mud less of a desire. This trail was taking its toll on me and it was all practically flat.
Oh well, I finished and Hannah finished. And I found out that the shadowy figure that showed me the trail was the Grand Kirk himself, realizing as I did, after taking the wrong turn for awhile, that the trail is supposed to go downriver. Tim and Scott managed an adventurous trip to the Pink Beds where they hitched a ride back to Turkey Pen with some geocaching hippies in a van! And then the majority of us drove on over to the Weed residence for some great food, beer, and conversation. It was a great run and a great time and I can't wait to do the loop again, minus the 4-5 mile section of the S. Mills River trail. I may never step foot on that one again. Photo cred to Matt Kirk (Grand Kirk)
|the crew at the first river crossing|
|Sombrero wearing compadres|
|Myself running through a field on the Bradly Creek Trail|
|Cliffs above the S. Mills River|