Seen on the run (August 4, 2019)

Riprap parking to Loft mountain (without taking the shortcut through the campground that we took last time)

21.42 miles

I was on my own for this one.

Brian ran the JIM yesterday. I cheered him on. It looked miserable. And kind of fun. Maybe I’ll join him next year.

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The first half of my run was really quiet. I only saw one other person in the first 9 miles.

It was humid. In less than an hour I was drenched with sweat.

IMG_20190804_092619170IMG_20190804_095616093_HDR The very nice lady who works at the Loft mountain camp store remembered me. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that both times I’ve been in there I’ve been dripping wet.

I scared a bunny.

Okay, maybe it was the other way around.

I also heard a bear crashing through the woods. I saw the brush move, but didn’t actually see the bear. It was moving away from me.

The last 6 miles were tough. It was getting late (I didn’t finish until almost 1:30) and hot. I spent some time wondering if I was suffering from heat exhaustion or just plain old exhaustion. The difference is a little more worrisome when you’re out there by yourself. I decided it was run-of-the-mill tiredness and I was probably right because I finished without any medical emergencies.

There was definitely some walking, though.

IMG_20190804_100915055_HDRI’m trying to avoid routes with swimming holes because I had a mole removed from my leg for biopsy. It was benign but it left a gaping hole in my leg. My dermatologist wasn’t too keen on me swimming in mountain streams. It’s been three weeks now though and I don’t think I can take it much longer. A plunge at the end of this run would have felt amazing. If it’s hot next weekend I’m hitting up a swimming hole.

IMG_20190804_130317370_HDRI had a few gnats on my legs when I finished.

That wouldn’t have been the case if there had been a swimming hole to clean off in.

Seen on the run (July 20, 2019)

Out and back on the AT from Riprap parking to Loft Mountain campground

19.8 miles

Lots of butterflies (and horseflies too!), two chipmunks, one bunny, many hikers, some very fresh bear poop and buckets and buckets of sweat.

Good god it’s hot out there.

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Brian running so fast his feet are just a blur.

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Seen on the run (July 5, 2019)

Long run in Shenandoah National Park

Loop (15 miles): Cedar Run trail to Lower Hawksbill trail to Salamander trail to AT north to Skyland to Whiteoak Canyon trial

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There were a few summers years ago when I utilized the White Oak parking area frequently. There was a shorter version of this loop that I used to run and sometimes I would just run up to the Lower falls for a swim.

I didn’t even check the driving directions. I’d driven there many times. I knew my way. But it had been many years since I’d been (How did I let that happen?) I remembered most of the directions. I got us onto VA-670 no problem. I just completely forgot about the right hand turn onto 643. Oops. Without satellite reception to check directions once we were out there, it took us an extra 45 minutes of driving around to correct my mistake. I’m lucky Brian is so easy-going about these things.

Find driving directions here so this doesn’t happen to you.

It was overcast and 100 percent humidity when we set out on the Cedar Run trail. I always used to do this run the other direction, which meant I ran down the Cedar Run trail. I don’t know how! It is steep and rocky and technical. We climbed for hours through damp, heavy air with a constant drone of mosquito buzz.

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But Cedar Run was full of inviting little pools, cascades and falls and wildflowers often lined the path. Plus the big highlight of the day was seeing an owl resting on a tree trunk along the creek. S/he sat there for a while with her head swiveling around to check us out before she flew away. I love those big round eyes. What is it that makes owls so majestic?

IMG_20190705_085423155_HDRAfter we crossed Skyline drive, we continued climbing up to the summit of Hawksbill (the highest point in SNP). There is a day use shelter there that is situated in a pretty field of wildflowers. A little beyond the shelter, there are great views from the rocky summit.

IMG_20190705_093349216_HDRAfter the summit, we finally got to the first downhill section of the day on the Salamander Trail. Then it was rolling and mostly rocky hills on the AT over to Skyland. Less than a mile from Skyland (and on one of the very few non-technical sections of trail) I tripped over a rock and took a hard fall. There was some pretty good blood.

Luckily there are bathrooms at Skyland and I was able to quickly wash up. Before I did, a lady asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance. She was serious. As you can see, my injuries were far from life-threatening but she seemed genuinely concerned. It took a while to convince her that I would be okay.

I was so hot and thirsty that I bought and guzzled a Gatorade. We filled up our water and headed back the way we’d come until we hit the White Oak Canyon trail. The trail was pretty crowded here, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was tired from the heat, climbing and technical trail and in absolutely no hurry. We stopped and admired many of the impressive waterfalls along the way.

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People kept noticing my bloody knee and asking if I was okay.

The trail was steep and rocky. I have no idea how I used to run this loop. We were mostly hiking.

We stopped for a swim at the lower falls. It felt so good! The water was the perfect temperature. Cold enough to feel refreshing, but not so cold that you didn’t want to stay in and enjoy it for a while. Running to a swimming hole really is one of my favorite things.

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We didn’t get the mileage we were aiming for, but it was a long, hard day on the trails. We are both sore and tired now.

Long run from Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (June 28, 2019)

After 5 hours of driving, we hopped out of the car at Moses Cone and started running. Actually, we both used the restroom and then spent a good ten minutes in the parking lot applying sunblock and bug spray and getting our packs and watches ready.

It was almost 11:30 by the time we started running. We headed up the carriage road trail to Flat Top fire tower. It’s a 2.5 mile climb, but the grade is very gentle. I actually remember it being a much tougher climb than it is.

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view from the top of the fire tower

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Then it was 2.5 miles back down to the intersection with the Mountains to Sea trail which took us a gentle mile further downhill to Trout lake.

I got my Rhododendron fix. They were blooming everywhere along the trail.

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On the other side of the lake we had another two or three miles of climbing on a carriage road before we finally hit some single track. The trail beyond this point was often steep and pretty over-grown, but beautiful. There were open fields filled with wild flowers, soft, pine needle covered sections lined with ferns and rocky, rooty parts along a creek.

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There were several waterfalls, cascades and pools in the creek.

It was mid-afternoon and hot by this point. We were both tired and hungry (we had run right through lunch…) and ready to be done, but I couldn’t resist jumping in the creek. I picked a pretty little spot with a waterfall, but soon realized it wasn’t deep enough to swim. I ended up just sitting down and submerging myself. It felt amazing regardless.

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We were not very speedy and accidentally got off trail for a little bit by Trout Lake on our way back. The Mountains to Sea trail is marked, but there are many intersections and changes of direction. We had to pay pretty close attention to stay on course.

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Seen on the run (June 23, 2019)

Riprap/Wildcat loop

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It was a beautiful day, I’ve just been feeling so far from 100% lately. We had to say goodbye to Molly last weekend. I got a little more sleep this week just because I’m not sick with worry about her anymore. Now I’m just so damn sad. The house feels empty and it hurts. I love that girl so much.

 

 

Seen on the run (June 9, 2019)

Misty Foggy Rainy

South on the AT from Rockfish gap

A busy morning on the trail. Close to a dozen thru hikers, plus a few runners and day hikers.

We had planned to do at least 13, but neither of us was feeling very energetic. We turned around at the shelter so ended up with just over 9 miles for the day.

My attitude was much better though. Even though I was exhausted, I was still happy to be in the woods.

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