Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Night Run

The kid has been bitten by the trail running bug.  I don't know how or when it happened, but in the past week, we have done 4 trail runs, one at night! 

Last night we set out around 6:30pm, walking up the pavement to the trailhead.  The kid talked a lot, like he does when he is excited.  Apparently, he talks a lot when he is nervous too.  Makes for some good conversation though.

We got onto the dirt trail and started running.  We ran some and walked some.  He was excited that he could see the vapor from his breath in the headlamp.  He wanted me to show him the green spider eyes reflecting in the light.  I showed him the city lights glowing far down in the distance.

He was loving it, and I was pumped.  He is really into soccer right now.  He was wearing his Messi uniform at the hobby shop the other day.  An Argentinean man was in the shop as well.  He introduced himself to the kid and talked about the game. 

I told the kid that trail running will help his endurance during games.  

I'm not sure how I'm going to juggle my mountain bike endurance training, and take the kid trail running..... I'll figure something out!  Maybe it will make me stronger. 

I reminded the kid that we have to turn around before we are tired, so that we have the energy to make it back home. 

After about 15 minutes, we stopped to head back.   We heard barking in the distance.  It sounded a lot like coyotes to me, and I had never heard dog's barks coming from that direction.  My hunch was later confirmed by Frank, who lives over the ridge from where we were running.  Definitely coyote activity in the area. 

We headed back out of the woods and towards home.  I asked the kid how he likes trail running.  He said it was different than in the day,   you have to run slower.  And it was kind of scary, with the coyotes and other noises. 

I'm pretty darn happy right now!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tinker Cliffs Trail Adventure

 My lovely wife dragged me back up to Roanoke, so I packed my running shoes.  I planned to get up on Saturday morning, go for a big run, return to the house, then take the kid for a kid sized run.  When I told the kid my plan, he disagreed.  Telling me that I should take him on his run first, so I would not be too tired to take him later. 

He was actually excited about going, and I would gladly give up my run to run with him, so I scrapped my plans.  We got some breakfast, and headed out the door to enjoy some time in the woods.

We parked at the Tinker Creek Greenway and headed up the smooth single track to the ridge.  We hung out and on the ridge for a few minutes, enjoying the view of Carvins Cove before heading back down.  2.4 miles on the trail and not one complaint from the kid.  Turns out he is pretty excited about trail running and is making plans for future runs.  Awesome!  
The kid!
 We went back to the house and I took a mid morning nap before heading out on my own.  My goal was to get to Tinker Cliffs.  I had never been there before and wanted to get up there.  I had several options to get there but was not sure how any of them would pan out.  I decided to to take the less traveled, almost non existent Sawmill Branch out of Carvins Cove.

I parked at Bennet Springs parking area and headed down the pavement onto Happy Valley Rd, before taking a left on Arrowhead, and then a left on Sawmill Branch to the Appalachian Trail.  

Sawmill Branch where it intersects Arrowhead

The trail went up with little relief all the way up to Tinker Cliffs.  I was not exactly sure that was on the right trail, but I knew that the direction was correct, so I plodded on.  The sun was well up in the sky by now, and I realized that it would be setting in about 5 hrs.  If something went wrong,  if I sprained an ankle,  I could be out here after dark.  Something to consider and take it easy.   

I ran on.  Up,  and reached the AT.  It was a pretty vague intersection,  the first right after leaving Lambert Meadows heading north on the AT.  I left plenty of arrows so that I would not miss it on the way back. 

 I reached Lamberts Meadow and the shelter shortly after.  A beautiful high mountain meadow, with creek running through it.  A few tents set up around the area but no people to be seen.  I continued on, still not sure how long it would take me to get to the top and not sure I would even make it. 
Lambert's Meadow
 At the intersection of the AT and the Andy Lyne Trail, I started seeing more people.  It seems that the Andy Lyne trail is a pretty popular way to get up to The Cliffs.  I had considered taking that route, but would have had to drive another 15 minutes to get there,  time that could be spent on the trail. 

Then the real climbing started.  Up the steep final pitch,  a real butt burner,  I was working tired muscles and they were letting me know.  Made me look forward to heading back down when I could work another set of muscles! 

Bridge to the shortcut around Tinker Cliffs
 I reached the Roanoke side of the ridge, rounded the other side and was greeted with huge views of the Catawba Valley.   To the south, one could see the long ridge that the AT travels along.  Snaking along through the valley. 

I stayed for a few minutes, chatting with some hikers and soaking it in. 

Tinker Cliffs, looking South to McAfee Knob
 After about 10 minutes and a snack,  I turned to head down. I had been on the trail for 1 hr 40 minutes. 
The Catawba Valley

 The return trip was uneventful.  I was running low on water, and focusing on keeping a steady pace and rationing my snacks and fluids.  I need to figure out a way to carry my water filter and some extra snacks.  I could double my distance easily. 
The Goat Path
The Pavement

Running into the sun, on the pavement,  temps around 60,  the last 2 miles were probably the least pleasant.  But I made it.  I was cooked and successful.   I was super happy to have made the goal and look forward to going again. 

Tinker Cliffs is everything that I heard it was.  Next time I'm going to follow the lead of some other hikers up on the rocks taking a nap! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Winding up

 It is raining and I am chillin'.   I have had a super busy month and its not over yet.  We got a new puppy, Ollie, and he is the coolest.  Texas is still getting used to him, being the grumpy old dog, he isn't used to having a young whipper snapper running around!  He is 16 weeks old and almost house broken.   Waking me up around 4am to go outside to pee.  I'd rather get up at 4 than clean up a mess anytime.  It has been nice standing outside in the early hours of the morning.  So quiet and peaceful.  I think about lacing up my shoes and going for a night hike. 

Running is going well.  I'm a little bit bored with it this year though.  I doubt I'll be doing anything epic, like the solo marathon I did last year.  I can still remember the pain....

Been cutting and splitting firewood too.  It is a constant process that I enjoy.  Being out in the cold,  the sound of the chainsaw, the smell of sawdust and oil.  Love it. 
I've been pondering my race/event/adventure calendar for 2015.  It is looking like P111K, Pisgah MTB Stage Race and ORAMM are on the docket.  After that I am planning on doing some bikepacking.  Planning on planning ahead far enough to do a longer trip.  TNGA still looms and now the VMTBT is out there!    Exciting stuff!

Something else in the works too, but you'll have to wait for that. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Still Runnin'

 I ran in the woods.  1 hr 40 minutes.  Over 1000ft of elevation.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Free To Protest

I took the kid to see the UNCA women's basketball team play tonight.   We were having a blast, goofing off and eating ice cream.

 At half time, a group of about 25 zealous college students walked onto one side of the stands holding Ferguson-esque protest signs and chanting "hands up, don't shoot". .....

What the....

Up until that point,  I had not taken notice of how many blacks, whites or other races were in the arena.  Up until that point, I was only experiencing one human race,  enjoying a game of basketball and some ice cream with the kid.   Up until that point,  I didn't notice that there were 3 black cops and 4 white ones.  Up until that point,  I didn't perceive any threats or begin to pigeon hole any attendees.

As I looked around, a black lady cheered,  a Hispanic "looking" guy joined the protest.  An older white male walked away shaking his head and smiling,  a 20 something black male shook his head in disgust, and walked away smiling.  I started to get irritated.  The chant was annoying.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm devastated that a life was lost and that a police officer was in that position.  It sucks for everyone.   I can only imagine what each person involved; family members, co workers, witnesses etc are going through, and I hope that I never have to experience anything like it.

But, I was there to enjoy the game with like minded people.

And then I felt grateful.   Thankful that we live in a place where we are free to make a sign, and sing a chant.  To promote what we believe in.

 In hindsight,  I wish I had walked over and hugged each one of the protestors.