Sugar Hollow to just beyond Blackrock and back with the CAT 50k training group.
The temperature didn’t feel too bad when we started out, but that first river crossing was so cold it hurt.
The trees became more and more ice-covered as we climbed to Skyline Drive.
Once we were on the AT and climbing toward Blackrock, the ice was so thick and heavy that the trees were bent over and blocking the trail.
We got on a forest service road that paralleled the AT, which was more passable.
The icy trees were so beautiful.
The rocks on Blackrock summit were coated with ice, which made descending the other side towards Trayfoot mountain rather treacherous. Luckily it was only for a short stretch.
But the trail once again became just a bushwhack through heavy branches, so we decided to turn around a little early.
On our way back down, the ice was melting and raining down on us. Some of the bigger chunks of ice really hurt! Particularly when they hit you in the face. The fallen ice was several inches deep on the trail in some places.
We ended up a little short of our 16 mile goal, but it was a fun adventure.
Many blowdowns and butterflies, a tiny toad and blue-sky views from Blackrock summit. Also, a falling tree branch missed landing on my head by about two feet and I stopped for a very refreshing swim at Snake Hole.
The river crossings were not as deep. Somebody had moved several large boulders to be used as stepping-stones across the first one. It must have been a lot of work. I was very appreciative.
The tall grasses along the trail had also been trimmed, which was nice.
I saw a wild turkey and about a million mushrooms.
This little guy was my favorite.
I also saw a lot of pretty flowers, of course.
Something about the way these ones appeared to hover above the ground seemed magical to me (like dancing fairies, or orbs of light.)
The well-endowed tree:
There is a rocky outcropping at the top of Turk Mountain that offers unobstructed views to the west and north.
On the way back down, I wasn’t paying attention and almost stepped on a snake. I screamed and did some fancy footwork. I don’t know what kind of snake it was, but it was fat (maybe 3.5-4 inches in diameter.) It may have been a Rattlesnake.
Since I did so much more walking, I felt a lot better during the final stretch than I did last time.
The only thing that bothered me was my chafed skin. I got the chub rub!
I was surprised that I had Blue Hole all to myself. The cold water felt SO good. It was hot out there today.
I passed a steady stream of people heading up to the swimming hole as I was making my way back to my car. If I had been ten minutes slower, I would have had a lot of company for my swim. I’m kind of happy that I’m so speedy 🙂