I’m slowly but surely checking off the peaks we will face in June, trying to gain as much knowledge of the terrain as possible. With all of us having work and family commitments, and Mama Cat and Bohima-Lion both up in VA, our opportunities to scope out our route are limited. I’m trying to get out there most weekends, and it’s been a blast to explore trails I’ve never run before. I’ve lived in Asheville for fifteen years, but 90% of my running has been on the same 50 or so miles of trails, so this is an excellent opportunity to see new areas.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve focused my efforts on the Middle Prong and Shining Rock Wilderness areas. Although these two areas border one another, separated only by Rt 215, my experience in each has been vastly different. My forays into the Middle Prong have been by and large solo efforts, as I didn’t see another soul on the trails when I summited Big Balsam, Reinhart, and Hardy…although the Monday after I climbed Hardy, one of my Warren Wilson College students told me that she had seen me slogging up the Parkway that weekend on her way to the Smokies. Only a handful of cars passed me that day…what are the odds?
Last weekend in the Shining Rock Wilderness was a different story. It was the first really warm spring day that the mountains had seen and it seemed everyone and his brother was out on the Art Loeb Trail. I climbed Tennent with no problem but bushwhacked for a while around Grassy Cove Top before finding the obvious route up. My legs are getting so scratched up from these bushwhacks that I think I need a new feline name…maybe Cat Scratch Fever? I arrived at Shining Rock with bloody legs only to find twenty plus high schoolers and their camp counselors on top. Not quite the serene scene that I have encountered on other summits, but it was such a beautiful day that everyone was in a jovial and friendly mood.
This weekend’s journey didn’t take me to the top of any summits, but I did run some miles connecting the Shining Rock area with Pisgah National Forest. Not quite as exciting as reaching 6000+ ft, but some great runable terrain. One of the best things about this adventure is having the opportunity to spend long hours alone in the woods…whereas the competitive running of my past sure fed my ego, this journey is feeding my soul. I can’t wait to share these amazing areas with my fellow adventurers in less than two months!
Dixie Cat 4/12/09