Monday, August 23, 2010

good stuff, continued

unfortunately blogger is wreaking havoc on my computer skills. therfore these pics are in reverse order, and they precede the writeup....use your imagination.
at least the visual folks will be satisfied-

a day on hwy 1

come on!?!?

more eye candy

high sierra trail

on foot for once

at the start

house of prostitution.....nevada.

coming off the road at I-70

arches- moonscape

wilson arch, not in the park

this is what getting annihilated by a hail storm looks like 9 minutes before hand

prettier times in the hills....

rain and cold heading out of pagosa. a long trip looming.
things changed when i found out about a car ride to california. peter and brian are running the high sierra trail, and steph could use some company for the crewing. my dark thoughts about dust storms change to light hearted smiles about friends. i'll meet them in moab and get a free pass across the desert. doesn't hurt that i get to hang with some super cool folks that i can learn from!

hot and sunny by durango, replacing calories and a ripped tire.

phone call from brad smythe (leadville bound) brought joy in the afternoon.

the 15 minute talk meant, however, that i was still 15 minutes outside of cortez later when the hail storm attacked. ominous black clouds rolling east, just as i rolled west.

after getting annihilated i found an awning at the first available building and waited out the worst of it.

cortez offered food and a leaping off point for the evening's ride, but the a mechanical changed things a bit.

a bracket on the bicycle broke and instead of riding into the night to look for camp, i spent an hour in walmart fabricating a replacement. due to the late hour i opted for a cheap hotel room.

west to utah in the morning, i send post cards from yellow jacket, co. homage to the alma mater.

monticello offers a great meal of hummus and sprouts (once in a while i go without coke and candy...!)

the trek to moab sees dry heat yet again, and i guzzle the 55 miels worth of fluids i packed. wilson arch is really astounding, the red rock contrasted with the bright blue sky. i hike for a bit.

reaching moab i hustle to the information center and here about arches national park. the last minutes of the afternoon are whiled away waiting for a hitch across the "no bicycles allowed" bridge, with no knoweldge of the pedestrian bridge 300 yards away, over the colorado r.
i was livid after an hour and at least 50 empty pickup trucks passing me by.
after failed attempts to call police and sherrif's dispatch, a 911 call got me the requisite info:

police: "the main bridge over the colorado? there's a pedestrian bridge right behind you!"
me (thinking): "WTF! no one thought to annouce the pedestrian bridge with even a small sign!?!?!?!?!?"
me (outloud): ""wow, i wish there had been a sign, thanks for the info."

riding into arches park late afternoon, my emotions are dulled, and i enjoy the moonscape. so much of this trip is totally new to my eyes. as the sun sets i am still miles and miles from the park entrance, and i need to leave the park to camp (or do so illegally).

setting up a late night vantage point, i sit and contemplate balanced rock for a while.
next i head to the park headquarters and use my waterbottles and camp soap to wash off the road grime.

riding out of the park i consider an allnight trek to the interstate where peter and steph will pick me up in the morning, but i instead opt to roll back into moab and hit the denny's.

my hamburger is delicious after another 150 mile day....
around 1am i poach a campsite at an intown campground, and am out before 5:30am.

the ride up to the interstate is really nice. i get stopped by road construction for a bit and explain the trek to the flagger. she asks if i ever get tired of riding?
"umm, sometimes...."
cruising in to the interstate exit i talk the proprietor of the lone store into letting me hose/shower off out back, and bring myself back to socially acceptable standards of cleanliness.....almost.

soon enough the subi pulls up, and i am out of the elements.

the ensuing 12 hours bring me up to speed on the boulder community, and the recent FKT knowledge. steph works in the back seat while i am googly eyed over the western landscapes. utah, nevada, death valley, and finally the sierras. we land in lone pine, and find that brian has already secured whitney permits for the trek, and peter/brian must get to sleep immediately.

4am and we are in the car again, me dropping off the guys at the whitney portal. i drive back down to the motel amd fall asleep in the front seat, not even making it back to the room to nap for the couple hours i can afford.

at 7 i wake up and panic for a moment thinking i've overslept. up int he room steph is basically ready to go, and we hit the road. a 5+hr ride to sequoia park is what this crewing epic needs....

the drive is fun for the conversation, and we get to sequoia intime to get a last minute campsite, and head to crescent meadows to start our own trek.

the plan is to hike in until we meet the FKTers, and then try to keep up with them back to the car. 18 is but an estimate for the trek. after several hours of hiking we find a glorious granite hillside and waterfall. steph meditates while i explore the mountainside. the haze from several prescribed fires is obvious across the vale, but the expansive views of these mountains continuously blow my mind.

after an hour's diversion, we trek on, finally deciding a mile or two before bear claw meadow that if we go much farther the return run is going to be a monster itself. the whole hike back we hope the guys will catch us near the cars, but they don't. we end up sleeping until almost first light in the car.

upon arrival, peter and brian recount the serious altitude issues brian encountered, as well as the accidental off-route excursion in the early morning hours. still, sub 25 hours is a FKT for the high sierra trail, and the guys are happy. we go sleep in the almost unused campsite for several hours and then pack up for a trip to denny's in vesalia, ca.

a dip in a river on the way out of the park is a highlight.

once in vesalia my next travel plans must be decided upon. brian recommends that i ride with them to his house on the monterey peninsula, and then continue the bike trip. i am excited for the 1,890,560th time this adventure, and agree.

evening brings us to pacific grove, and i am exstatic that i can sleep at brian's place. peter and steph head to their retreat (their kindness in including me is so awesome), and i cozy up for a decent rest.

i miss my early alarm (which seems to happen at least every 3-4 days :) - and get to eat breakfast with friends....very nice. thank you brian and sophie!

i cast off into the misty pacific morning, with the pebble creek 17 mile drive and hwy 1 in the plans for the day.
can life get better?

of course pebble beach and carmel are pretty, but the day really starts as i head south towards big sur.
the spectacular mountains sea are ispiring and i crank all day. the pictures will speak for themselves.

i camp at morro state beach, after finding a quarter machine shower near the marina. arriving in camp after 11pm, the guard shack is empty and although the campground is full, i find a spot to set up.

before 5:30 i am on my way again into town, hawkeyed for breakfast.

the ride towards fresno kicks my butt all freaking day long. i am back in the dry heat, and there are some hills, but the headwind is a monster. 30, 40, 50, 60 miles.....into this wind...with the worst traffic thus far, hwy 41 is not a good choice. yikes!

dan calls and offers to deliver me from my sins by drving to lemoore and retrieving me. thank god, 110 miles in these conditions is as much as i want. the last miles are ridden in the backseat of the audi, like a visiting business man.....except the smell and coating of road grime.

up next: a return to sequoia?????????????? and yosemite.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

part 1 - nashville to pagosa springs

so, after hanging out in bell buckle for a day, and enjoying a rest day with good company, i got a ride to the bus station in murfreesboro.

big mistake. i will not be recommending greyhound anytime soon.
i had 2 main reasons for choosing the bus.
1. i could buy my ticket last minute without a monstrous penalty.
2. i could know where my bike was at any given time, and be sure it wasn't being dropped off a forklift onto a runway.

these were smart reason, IMHO.

here are the reasons why i would negate the importance of these previously stated reasons:
a. on a plane from nashville to denver you might sit like a sardine for 3 hours- not 26 hours!
b. on a plane i feel it would be less likely to wake from your uncomfortable sleep at 2am to the dude next to you rubbing your leg.
c. did i mention the dude who was rubbing my leg while i tried to sleep?

- so, arriving in denver after an "interesting" 26 hours on the bus, i put my bicycle together in the parking garage of the greyhound station and pedaled off around 1pm.
leaving denver was uneventful, i kept the mountains on my right and headed south on the first main road i encountered.

i found out that my friend's aaron and leah now live in colorado springs, and since i got such a late start i was happy to find that they could accomodate me for the evening. the trek south from denver was notable for several reasons:
first, the headwind was ridiculously demoralizing. i was struggling mightily for 10mph on flat ground. i got off on a canal trail so that i didn't have to deal with the traffic AND the wind, but it was a let down to be trying so hard for such a slow pace.
second, the scenery was instantly inspiring, it's been several years since i was in CO, and the mountain views, and general wide-open-ness of the area were really refreshing.
third, around palmer lake i caught up to another cyclist, who turned out to be an interesting guy. he has survived some really extreme cancer operations, and now lives without most of his digestive system. we chatted for several miles before stopping for a beer. he drew me some directions for a convenient way into the springs, and we parted ways.

arriving at the kelly's house around 9:30, leah and i went out and filled me up on taco bell, catching up about work and life. it was a good time, but she had to be up early so the evening was short. when i got up i waited for aaron, who would be arriving home from the night shift at 8:30, and we met up with another college friend for a big breakfast at the village inn. good times.

this morning's late start was a little bit of a let down, heading out at 11am...but if you want fun social time you gotta pay the (time)'s worth it.

so, friday morning was another one of fighting the wind on my trip southwest. I had lined up a visit with the furtaws in pagosa springs for saturday evening, so i needed 265 miles or so in 2 days.

i managed to make it to canon city after an early afternoon of dealing with more rough winds, and was almost tuckered out. after a meal of food, i hit the road again and headed into big horn sheep canyon, along the arkansas river.
great stuff. you could take a picture a second through here and every one would be worth framing!
i jumped in the river at one of the may access points and felt instantly refreshed. gosh there is nothing like a cold river to make you feel alive.


i camped at about 10 miles east of salida, and then got up at 5am and road 165 miles to pagosa springs....two mountain passes (9,000 and 10,800 feet) and arrived last night at 9 pm. that was a really long ride. crossing over the continental divide at mile 150-ish of a day long trek is pretty "special" (read: exhausting) good stuff. today i was dragged into taking a day off with the furtaws (ok, so i was easily convinced!) - a 5 mile walk this morning showed my legs as ok, and pizza and beer at the brewery tonight should get me ready to push on tomorrow.

(reminder to fill in more details about the salida->pagosa springs trek)

next to the canal path south of littleton, co

san luis valley, co

necessary evils?

arkansas river valley

arkansas river

no comment

a long day

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


in bell buckle for a day off, after just one day on the road!

the prologue consisted of a serious bicycle trek.
my 6am sunday morning start was delayed 8 hours due to the rush to get all my work out, and actually pack. 3am sunday saw me finally go to sleep, with a few more hours of computer work to do sunday.

with a 2pm start, 290 miles to the cantrell's in TN no longer seemed like a 2 day option, but without the experience necessary to guess an ETA, i just started off into the hot sunday afternoon sun.

1am found me in calhoun, ga - and in need of some rest. i hit the motherlode when i found the hotel pool gate unlocked, and the shower house open! i got to feel clean and lay down on a lounge chair next to the pool for 3+ hours.
4am and i was done with resting...and took off into the cool morning, heading west through the chattahoochee national forest. later, when the sun came up the views of the ridges in the area were really nice. i struggled to navigate efficiently around chickamauga and lookout mountain, but found my way to hwy 41 and along the tennessee river.

at sullivan's bait shack i found three old codgers shooting the bull and having a beer (at 10am) of course it was miller time for me as well.
after 20 hours of sugar drinks the beer was really refreshing. i followed that with a jump in the river, where the current was much stronger than i'd guessed it would be.

the hilly last few miles to nickajack lake were another surprise, especially as the mercury steadily climbed.

i got a 2 liter mountain dew in halestown, and the attendant was vehement that murfreeboro was going to be a "hard haul."

god he was right!

climbing up from jasper i walked my bike for the first time ever. the short steep pitch about 3/4 miles from the top took me from the the gage bursting. as i traversed the mountain towards monteagle i continued down the path to dehydration, and in tracy city i was absolutely having an episode. i had a quart of chocolate milk and then started at my food for over an hour before i could take a bite. sure enough though, the miracle of recovery happened again, and i was back on my way.

plunging down from monteagle, i had another beer in hillsboro, and doused myself with cold water for the umpteenth time as the temperature finally started to fall (slightly).

the last 15 or so miles were really nice, the scenery through bedford and rutherford counties was inspiring.
just before i would have needed my headlamp, i arrived.

31 hours for 290 miles. lounge chair nap included.
i must have spent $35 on food and cold drinks!

this effort earned a day off, before i catch the bus to denver.
the good thing is, 200 mile days are now on the "doable" list.
even better, not having ridden the bike in several months, the legs actually got better as the ride went on.

check in again from CO.....!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I want be a Southern Highlander when I grow up

So I finally got to run across Georgia this past weekend.

The route I came up with is about 200 miles, and travels from the South Carolina border at the Chattooga river, to Castle Rock, GA – also the finish for the Vol State, which I finished several years ago (on my 3rd attempt).

In between the river and the rock, I chose miles that included US highway, State highway, rural county roads, gravel forest service roads, mountain trails, and even a powerline cut that was labeled as a road by google maps when I was doing my route research.

Last Friday, July 2, I drove to the Cohutta Wilderness - near Blue Ridge, GA – and left some provisions, a tent, sleeping bag, two jugs of water, some food and Gatorade off in the woods. This would be around 100 miles into the trek, and there were no services or motels within satisfactory distance in either direction. I then drove to the base of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain, and set out another similar buffet, this time just including a sleeping bag and bivy – this was about 42 miles in to the route. Then I drove on to the Chattooga river bridge, parked on the South Carolina side, and curled up for a night in the back of the van.

Around 1am, I was jarred awake by yelling, “LAW ENFORCEMENT – SIR, PLEASE STEP OUT OF THERE!!”
Seems sleeping in your vehicle at this trailhead is illegal. I complied with the officer’s request that I vacate the premises, drove 2 miles east and parked 200 yards down the first gravel road I came to. After first light, I woke up and rolled around, still tired, and not particularly excited to start the day just yet. At 8am I drove back to the trailhead, pulled on my waist pack, and locked the van door.

Crossing the bridge was a little daunting, would I have a rough day and wimp out from the challenge, hitch-hiking back to the car only to be disappointed? 200 miles is a long way. I decided I needed to come at this one with NO STRESS, letting the miles come as easily as possible, without any pressure for distance or speed.

I walked several miles up from the river, given the early morning, pack and full water bottles, and a tight Achilles, there was no reason to start running immediately. The mountains are beautiful and the clouds were cooperating by shielding me from the sun at least half of the time.

Cruising in to Clayton, GA on US HWY 76 – 8 miles in to the run, my mind and body were warming up for the task, and I realized I was getting off on the right foot by dissociating from the major task, and just letting the miles come. I had a biscuit at a small diner, and bought a little pocket knife at the local ACE hardware. Heading out of town I was looking forward to crossing over Lake Burton, and getting the first dunk in cool mountain water of the trek.

Hills were definitely the order of the morning, with each rise taking up to a few miles, and being followed by an equally long descent. Along the stretch between Clayton and the lake, I noticed that I was catching up to nearly stopped traffic in the west bound lane. When you’re on a multiday journey run, abnormalities like catching up to traffic on a big highway are some of the highlights of your day. I didn’t noticeably increase my pace, but my curiosity was piqued. I hoped that if I kept chugging along, I would catch those slow moving cars, and eventually get the payoff of learning what the heck was going on up there!?!?!!

Well, sure enough, a mile or so, and several bends in the road, later, I saw the culprit. There on the highway was a horse drawn wagon, with another rider on horseback just ahead of it. Finding out that I was sharing the road with other foot traffic made the diversion that much more interesting. I slightly increased the pace, looking forward to the interaction that the riders and I might share. While impatient duallies and other traffic took their chances speeding past the wagon when there was room, I diligently made my way down the road, finally drawing even with these folks, and asking, “How far y’all headed?” Well, they were surprised enough to see someone on foot out there, and we all broke in to a laugh. The man at the reigns issued a nice offer of a ride, but I declined. Later that afternoon I wished I hopped on for a bit, as I haven’t been in a horse drawn wagon since I was a kid…but at the time I was just thinking about my “unsupported” run.
I slowly pulled away from these fine folks, although they almost caught me when I entered a country store several miles down the road.

The next thing to look forward to was crossing over Lake Burton, and going for a swim. The temperature was rising, and the coolest mountain lake in Georgia was a welcome pit stop. I climbed down under the bridge and swam for a few minutes. Dropping the core temperature on a hot day gives some serious relief.

Climbing back out of this valley, I was really enjoying the trek. I realized that I have finally figured out how to journey run. It occurred to me that “this is the way it’s supposed to be.” Ever since I started solo intercity running, I’ve struggled with the difficulty of doing long runs of this nature. Usually the troubles were mostly due to a combination of trying to go far and fast, and not having the maturity to deal with disappointment and exhaustion. This run felt different. I was walking when I needed to, apportioning my energy, and really enjoying the moment. And I was also looking forward to a rendezvous I had set up. My buddy James was going to meet me at Dick’s Creek Gap, where my route turned from the highway onto the Appalachian Trail, and provide me some food and company for a few miles.

I was really blissful heading up to the gap, I sang aloud, and enjoyed the unpopulated National Forest that surrounded me. It was a very happy time.

When I arrived at the junction, I actually ended up waiting almost an hour for James, since he’d been caught in traffic leaving Atlanta, on his way up to meet me and then spend the weekend on the lake with his fiancĂ© and family. I made it a point to not stress about the lost time. Stress wouldn’t help, and I was in the middle of a marathon stretch without a store, so I absolutely had to wait for him, whether I felt like resting or not. Just when I started to worry, James arrived, with 3 pbj’s, a half gallon of Gatorade and some fruit. Unfortunately since he was running so late, he wouldn’t be able to join me on the trail, but on a positive note, the meeting (Lauren and her mom were there too) boosted my spirits, and I was ready for the next section of the trip. I had one marathon down, and 7 more to go.

I hiked up the trail at a brisk pace, not running since my stomach was completely full with all three sandwiches and at least 48oz of Gatorade, and also because the trail climbs fairly continuously up from the gap for several miles. The shade of the trail was welcome, although the steeper pitch actually brought me closer to overheating than anything else all day. After 5.5 miles I reached Addis Gap, and turned west on a FS road, that cuts down across the valley towards Brasstown Bald. I ran most of this long descent, and came out on Miller Creek Road, travelling through a mix of second mountain homes and run down farm houses. Reaching highway 75, I could see Brasstown’s silhouette looming huge in front of me. Across the highway the road changed names to Owl Creek, and I settled in for some enjoyable valley miles. Since I was down around 2000 feet now, and Brasstown’s 4700’ visage was to the west, I was comfortably out of direct sun for the day. Quite nice.

Crossing the valley I decided that 42 miles to the base of Brasstown would not be enough for the day. There’s a motel on the other side of the mountain, in Young Harris, but that would cost money, something my caches were intended to save me from spending. After the first major pitch of the climb, I arrived at my stash and used to the two jugs of water to pour over my head and clean the road grime and drop my core temperature. I decided I would just have to carry my sleeping bag and bivy until I was ready to sleep. Added encouragement for continuing was that I knew when I reached the top of the mountain I’d have an exceptional vantage point for the July 3rd fireworks that would be shot off all over north Georgia tonight (conservative folks up here prefer the fireworks not occur on Sundays).

With the added bag of gear and food, I pushed hard up the remaining 3 steep miles of the climb, and arrived at the parking lot near the summit at sunset. I met a few other revelers with my same intentions, and joined Ben and Reba Fowler, from Gwinnett for the remaining half mile hike to the summit tower. I was all too happy to share some time with these folks, as I had hardly had any company all day. Atop Brasstown the temperature was fair, but the winds picked up and my damp clothing (from the water jugs) betrayed me – I got cold and sat down in a somewhat sheltered spot. At 9:35 the fireworks in both Blue Ridge and Hiawassee started, and it was pretty neat to see some big fireworks, and be looking down on them. The chill made the joy short lived however, as I had dropped my sleeping bag back at the parking lot. I made my way back down, and decided to hike down to Young Harris before looking for a place to rest.

The Wagon Train Trail down to Young Harris is 6 miles of almost unrelenting downhill, so I shuffled my way down, hoping to find a hose at the college campus at the bottom, so that I could clean off and fall asleep. Around midnight I popped out of the woods, and within a few minutes, found a closet behind the cafeteria that wasn’t locked, and happened to have a hose with cold AND HOT water…..lady luck smiles! I was carrying a tiny packet of soap, so I went inside, and took a clandestine shower, of course hoping that no one had heard me and the campus patrol wasn’t going to come knocking (or not knocking….)

Cleaned up and finished with the day’s 52 miles, I dried off and walked another mile or so in the early morning hours before finding Old Union Cemetary. Next to an old rock wall, I laid out my bedding and used the wall as a pillow.

I slept like crap. Oh well, the shower and bed were free!

I awoke Sunday at 5:45, and packed up my stuff, the sleeping bag had some dew on it, so I decided to carry it down the road for a while and let it dry before I stashed it somewhere. I hadn’t had any dinner, and breakfast was two pop tarts, since there wasn’t anything open at this hour. After an hour or so I stashed my bag and bivy in an abandoned barn, and went along my way. After 8-9 miles I reached Blairsville, and excitedly entered the first establishment, Wendy’s, to order a couple biscuits and get the fuel gauge off of “E.”

As I sat, I turned on my cell phone and found that one of my old college professors Dr. Sparling, had called and planned to visit me for a bit on the road today. Aha! Something external to look forward to, one of the great motivators on the lonely road. I had already knocked out a small chunk of mileage for the day, and after knocking out one more chunk, I would have company for a couple hours….great news! It will always put a little pep in your step.

Leaving Blairsville, I was on exposed HWY 76 once again, and today promised to be significantly hotter than yesterday. 5-6 miles later, Dr. Sparling pulled up, and offered me coke and chilled fruit. If you’ve never been running in the heat and had someone offer you ice cold watermelon, YOU HAVE NOT YET LIVED!
I highly recommend any and all melons out in the heat, water, canta, or honeydew. All are unbelievably satisfying. Dr. Sparling then drove ahead and parked, running back to me, and joined me for several miles.

Unfortunately, as we caught up and enjoyed conversation, I found that I was too fatigued to really jog, dodge traffic, and converse at the same time. For 90% of the distance that I had company, I was walking. Luckily I didn’t let this stress me out (I was still just letting the miles come to me) and we enjoyed catching up about Dr. Sparling’s recent travels to Europe and Down Under.

After dunking myself in a creek, and a few more stories, Dr. Sparling turned back to his vehicle, for one more rendevous, and I continued on down the road, which was now (thanks to Dr. Sparling’s suggestion) Old Hwy 2, paralleling the highway, but with much more scenery and a bit of shade. The next time I met Dr. Sparling I downed some more cool fruit and coke, and he promised to leave the remaining snacks on down the road, since there were at least 10 miles further to the next town, Morganton, GA.

I bid Dr. Sparling farewell, and thanked him both for the nourishment and the encouragement. It certainly made the day more fun, and it always boosts morale to have someone in your corner, wishing you success. Half way to Morganton I came upon the fruit stash Dr. Sparling had left, and it certainly saved the day from turning tough.

Nearing Morganton, I came across a small Guatemalan dude, pushing a wheelbarrow across the road. I stuck up a conversation and although he didn’t speak English I asked him how he could wear blue jeans out in the sun on such a hot day. He said he was just used to it, and we enjoyed a few minutes of conversation about how I knew Spanish and where he was from. He told me it was but 20 minutes further to find the gas station in town, and only another 10 minutes past there to reach the mountain waters of Lake Blue Ridge. I made my way in to town, and due to the heat, zipped inside the only store available. I got a jug of cold water, and various drinks and snacks, then headed out back to cool off and again catch up on calories.

Entering into the afternoon, I was definitely feeling the heat, from the gas station to the Lake was only 2 miles, but I was reduced to a walk before I got there. When I finally saw the water I only too happily removed my shoes and jumped in, immediately feeling some relief. Climbing back to the road, I ran over the dam, under the watchful eye of a policeman, who was watching me closely the whole way through town.….I must have terrified the locals with my terroristic dress?

At the edge of the dam, there was a map board, with a diagram of the entire Tennessee River Watershed. I was fascinated. Describing the series of dams and locks along the river, and the other feeder dams (including this one on Lake Blue Ridge), this board gave me something new to marvel at as I meandered on towards Blue Ridge, GA.

Arriving in town, I took a seat in another Wendy’s and really gulped down some calories. The sweet tea was flowing, and the rest of the meal was all much needed. From here I would have a 15 mile trek to my second tent, with just one gas station on the way.

I stopped at the one available resupply, before the mountain road towards the Cohutta Wilderness, and bought a couple salty items, some Pringles and some sunflower seeds, because it had occurred to me that my cache up ahead didn’t have enough salt for the planned full day without resupply tomorrow. After my tent, it would be around 30 miles tomorrow before I exited the woods and had the opportunity to get new fuel.

Turning on onto Old Hwy 2 again, I was really uncomfortable. It was dusk on July 4th, and this road is extremely curvy, with many sections where the kudzu comes up to the edge of the road. I decided I would not run this section now. Drunk July 4th partiers driving on country roads where I didn’t even have a ditch to jump into was not my idea of a good adventure, so I stuck my thumb out and the very first car that came by grabbed me up. My chauffer was a true mountain lady, on her way home from her horse’s stables. She yapped the whole way down the road, telling me about the area and her day. When the road turned to gravel I hopped out and thanked her profusely for saving me 6 dangerous miles. Sometime I’ll head back up there on a weekday, and finish those miles when the traffic is less heavy and intoxicated.

(as a commentary for vol state runners, this would not fly if you want to be creditedwith a finish, since it's a race, everyone has to cover the same miles, in order. If it was a race, i would have either risked traversing the road, or waited until morning when i felt the road was safe)

As I walked up the road several miles, I found an old rope in the ditch, and grabbed it. I wanted to hang my pack in a tree while I slept, so as to keep animals from searching me for food. I was glad to have found the rope, and continued uphill into the Cohutta. Soon I was at the road junction where I’d cached my second night’s dinner and camp. I trudged into the woods and found the stuff. I was wrankled though, because something wasn’t right. One of my two gallons of water was half empty. As I looked closer I realized that it looked as though there was a bullet hole in the jug. NERVOUS. I didn’t want any trouble with anyone, and I wasn’t positive about this being public land, so this was a bit unnerving. Then I realized that the Tupperware with my food was missing all together. I looked closer and realized that the jug was not shot, it was bitten…by something big enough to get it’s mouth around a gallon jug. Aha! A bear has been here, and despite my assumption that granola bars and tuna fish in a Tupperware would be undetectable to a bear, this was not the case. I looked around and in the distance found my food stuffs……completely annihilated….damn!

I decided I didn’t want to remain in this spot, so I used the remaining water and my soap to wash off, and then as darkness fell I repacked the tent and made my way on to the Benton Mackaye Trail. A half mile up the trail I crested the ridge and set up the tent again. Without dinner I didn’t have much to do, and it was already pitch dark out, so I strung my pack up in a tree, and hit the lights.

Again I slept pretty poorly, but arose before first light and found that my hung food was in tact. I bundled up the gear I intended to take, and assessed my fueling situation. I hadn’t had dinner, and here I was with just some Pringles and sunflower seeds to make it across the Cohutta Wilderness. Not exactly setting myself up for comfort!

I trekked along the BMT, thinking of our organized run last year, when Matt Kirk set a phenomenal time of under 6 days for the 288 mile trail. I was moving at a similar pace, but wasn’t carrying all my gear, and really had significantly less elevation to deal with. Anyway, these were two different treks, with two different trekkers, so I was happy to just keep Matt in my mind as I headed towards the south fork trail. When I arrived at the next junction I was surprised to find another coincidence of this route….a sign marking the northern terminus of the Pinhoti trail. Many southern runners will already know that Rob Youngren ran this trail a few weeks ago, and set quite an impressive time as well.
As I turned right, I was on the Pinhoti for a few miles, and ruminated about Rob’s trek. Reaching Three Forks, I turned onto Very Old Route 2, this path is reserved for foot traffic now, but I believe up until the 1950’s it was actually a vehicular road. Going back even further it was the Cherokee trade route through the area. I had selected it as a neat historical addition to the trek, and was glad to find myself upon it.

The ridgeline was beautiful and lush, and I soon came upon some other wildlife enjoying the morning. A young Boar scampered through the brush in front of me, and scrambled over a downed tree as he tried desperately to avoid me. It was pretty wild, this little guy was very distressed about having my company on the ridge, he squealed and complained down the mountainside for at least 10 minutes as I continued on. I never heard any other boar, however. When I reached the junction with the Panther Creek Trail I hooked left and left the ridge, eager to reach the cool waters of the creek and enjoy the view from Panther Creek Falls. As the trail circled back, I ran into the young Boar again, and distressed him to no end. This time he ran UP the mountain squealing and complaining for another 5-10 minutes.

After surveying the largest Wilderness in Georgia from atop the falls, I made my way down into the Conasauga River Valley. When I arrived there I hooked left onto the Conasauga River Trail. I followed this trail for a couple hours, removing my shoes for any streams crossings I couldn’t rock-hop across. Normally I don’t mind soaking my shoes, but I’ve had trouble in multiday runs with blisters, so I decided to err on the side of caution. The cold water felt fantastic, and was almost a good substitute for calories. Each time I dunked myself I felt like a new man.

As I began to think I must be nearing my next turn, I pulled out my compass and was confused to find the river running north instead of south. I guessed I must have stopped paying attention and was in a little curly-q in the river. 300 yards later I got an interesting update. I arrived at the Chesnut Lead Trail. DOH! I just went 4-5 miles in the wrong direction. I couldn’t believe it, but the sign was right there, and I knew what I had done. Ok, I sat down to analyze the situation. I was basically out of food, and had just done a particularly rugged 4-5 miles in the wrong direction. I could backtrack, but my goal for the day was Ringgold, GA, and when I planned the route I knew it was a stretch to think I could get there by midnight. Adding in to the equation that I’d had no dinner or breakfast, and now needed to add 9 miles to the day, I was not excited about “staying the course.”
A small part of me argued that I should stay on course, but the sane part of my brain said that a death march that pulled me in to Ringgold at lunch time tomorrow was not going to be a good thing. I checked my maps and saw that I could re-route and get to Chatsworth in 25 miles, significantly better than the 35+ miles to Ringgold. The downside is that Chatsworth is 35 miles south of Ringgold, so I’d be adding distance to the trip.

As I climbed Chestnut Lead, I just kept my mind right and enjoyed the views. I soaked my shirt and filled my bottles at the last point where I had the chance, I’d be reaching the FS road along the ridge soon, and I needed to stay hydrated as long as possible for this long trek out of the woods. Once on the FS road, my spirits dropped. It was hot up here, and the gravel on the road was the kind that really hurts your feet. I wished I wasn’t wearing my worn out racing flats. I really started to wonder if I wanted to do this under such conditions. The sorry-for-myself started to creep in. Since it was a holiday (the Monday after the 4th) there was a little traffic up here, folks visiting Lake Conasauga, and other day hikers and campers. Each time a car passed going in my direction I resisted the urge to throw out my thumb. This lasted a few hours, while I tried to hold things together mentally and physically. When I reached a sign that said “HWY 411, 16 miles” I felt rough. But I knew I could make it, so I shoved the feelings away and trudged on down the road. Down, Down, Down, I came out of the mountains. Beer drinking rednecks and suburban soccer moms rolled past me, kicking up loads of debris from the very dusty road. When the road finally turned to pavement, I knew this trek was a success, I was over half way done, and there was no way I was going to fail to finish my trip across Georgia. However, just a mile later I came out of the tree cover and entered the late afternoon oven. I was very depleted, not having eaten or drank anything for several hours. And when I reached the highway, there was no convenience store! How inconvenient!!
Luckily, just a mile south I found a gas station and went inside. I quickly gulped 2-3 cokes from the fountain, and got some ice cream from the freezer. Interestingly, after rehydrating for a few minutes, I suddenly felt light headed. I held it together by leaning on the freezer for a minute, and the feeling passed. Can’t explain that one, but perhaps it was my body complaining about the rough afternoon.

I left the store and headed south towards Chatsworth. Only a few miles later I came to a Mexican restaurant, as I hit the outskirts of Eton. I went inside and decided that since I was only a few miles from Chatsworth, I might as well keep refueling, and eat some more. I enjoyed the meal, and especially enjoyed the time in that A/C. I called my brother and he googled to give me the phone number of a hotel in Chatsworth, which I called and found the rate to be $44, much better than the $79 reservation I had had in Ringgold. Score one for wrong turns! I also called Rich Schick, my first real life ultra mentor, and told him about the goings on, since he and I had discussed a cross Georgia run many years earlier. Rich was excited and encouraging.

I got back on the road as the sun was dropping below the horizon, and chugged along the “old federal road” that used to be one of the white man’s only trade routes through the Cherokee nation. I got in to a really good mood through here, and as a train passed next to me, I turned up the speed, and began to recite Bob Dylan’s Song, Hezekiah Jones.

Here are the lyrics:

This is the story of Hezekiah Jones...
Hezekiah Jones lived in a place... in Arkansas.
He never had too much, except he had some land,
An' he had a couple of hogs and things like that.
He never had much money
But he'd spend what he did make as fast as he made it,
So it never really mattered that he had much money.
But in a cupboard there, He kept in the cupboard... he kept in the cupboard books,
He called the books his "rainy season."
The white folks around the county there talked about Hezekiah...
They... said, "Well... old Hezekiah, he's harmless enough,
but the way I see it he better put down them goddam books,
Readin' ain't no good, for an ignorant nigger."
One day the white man's preacher came around
Knockin' on doors, knockin' on all the doors in the county,
He knocked on Hezekiah's door.
He says, "Hezekiah, you believe in the Lord?"
Hezekiah says, "Well, I don't know, I never really SEEN the Lord,
I can't say, yes, I do..."
He says, "Hezekiah, you believe in the Church?"
Hezekiah says, "Well, the Church is divided, ain't they,
And... they can't make up their minds.
I'm just like them, I can't make up mine either."
He says, "Hezekiah, you believe that if a man is good Heaven is his last reward?"
Hezekiah says, "I'm good... good as my neighbor."
"You don't believe in nothin'," said the white man's preacher,
You don't believe in nothin'!"
"Oh yes, I do," says Hezekiah,
"I believe that a man should be indebted to his neighbors
Not for the reward of Heaven or fear of hellfire."
"But you don't understand," said the white man's preacher,
"There's a lot of good ways for a man to be wicked..."
Then they hung Hezekiah high as a pigeon.
White folks around there said, "Well... he had it comin'
'Cause the son-of-a-bitch never had no religion!"

It is unbelievable to me that people have to live with this type of hatred and oppression. Human nature can be an ugle thing. Reminding myself how important it is to stay clear of hate is the reason I appreciate and enjoy this song. I yelled the lyrics under the noise of the loud train passing, and felt energized.

After belting out the lyrics, the train finished passing me, and I trotted on towards the Key West Inn.

Reaching Chatsworth and the intersection with Hwy 76, I got some more ice cream and headed in to my motel. I was more than happy to take a real shower and enjoy a soft bed for the first time in 4 days. I fell asleep after watching some comedy show. I was well satisfied with the day, and looking forward to the next one. I set my watch and phone alarms for 4am, so I could get an early start in the cool morning.

My body had other plans. I slept through both my alarms, something I never do. I think the poor sleep and exhaustion caught up to me and my body mandated the extra sleep. Awakening at the late hour of 9am, I hurriedly left my room and started down the wide open road towards Dalton.

This morning, with nearly 150 miles under my belt, was not very comfortable. I chugged along, and felt like I was progressing quite well, but the miles were coming slowly. I passed a bank sign proclaiming that it was 101 degrees out, before noon! I’m sure it wasn’t quite that hot, but it was definitely getting up there. I called Dr. Sparling to say hello and give him an update. Again, it was good to have someone “in my corner.” Both my parents were traveling abroad, so despite their support, I really didn’t have anyone else “worried” about me.

Crossing the Conasauga Rover again was a treat, although looking down from the bridge and seeing that the beautiful mountain stream I had swum in yesterday was so much dirtier out here where people could trash it was not very inspiring. I did see a beaver swimming across into the reeds, which was a neat treat.

After lunch in Dalton I continued on up the highway, as it shrank for a while, down to just two lanes. I reached a really small convenience store and went inside to inquire about some ice. The lady said she only had big bags, but I should just go one more mile up the road and I’d get to the interstate crossing where there were plenty of places that would have coke fountains. I enjoyed a few minutes of conversation and air conditioning but then hit the heat again, looking forward to more ice soon. I hadn’t realized how close I was to the interstate.

The interstate crossing south of Ringgold brought a little more ice and relief, but the afternoon heat was in the high 90’s, so all the ice was gone in no time. The beautiful views of the Cohutta were lost in the past, and I was just trying to make it to evening. Round about 7pm I stopped for dinner at another Mexican restaurant just north of Ringgold. I immediately ordered a “Dos Equis Mas Grande, Por Favor!” – this meal and drink really hit the spot. It was glorious to walk out of that place with an exploding gullet, knowing that I could go without eating for the rest of the day and I still wouldn’t wake up feeling depleted. I ran on to The Tennessee line, and the town of East Ridge, just south east of Chattanooga.

During this stretch I called and said hello to the Laz family. It was good to check in with my adoptive ultra parents, and be reminded that “after Chattanooga you only have 30 miles left, right?”

I also started finalizing my plans for returning home. My mom was to fly into Atlanta from Munich the next afternoon, and my brother was set to come pick her up, so I intended to find a ride from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and carpool the rest of the way. I found a shuttle service and reserved a spot on the 1pm van, which would get me to Atlanta in time.

As the sun set I ran and walked the last few miles in to East Ridge, and got to the interstate crossing where there were plenty of motels. Just as I was about to enter the Motel 6, I saw a neon sign a little further off my route advertising $29.99 rooms. I turned and went the 300-400 yards to this other place and went inside to secure a room. After filling out some paperwork the guy told me my total was $42. I protested immediately that I had seen the sign outside and was looking for the 29.99 rate. He said he had no more of those rooms, to which I responded that I thought he should change his sign outside, and that I’d be happy to pay the 29.99 rate for any room he did have. After a back and forth volley of unnecessary argument, and him telling me what an upgrade the rooms he had left were, I told him I’d rather give my business to someone who wasn’t going to lure me in with a false add. He promptly yelled at me to “Leave this place!”

Now, I realize this is a marketing technique that most businesses use, and we are all used to it – and on other occasions I have let it slide, but what the hell, man!?? It was fun to get worked up and tell the guy how I really felt. I walked next door and into the motel 6. I checked on the rate, and the guy showed me the sign on the wall, $36. I happily paid him and told him the story from next door. We both smiled knowingly and he wished me a pleasant evening, inquiring about my lack of a vehicle, he reminded me to “get some rest, man!”

So now I had 10 hours until the end of the 4th day of the trek, and I wanted to finish before that mark, so I set my alarm for 4 am, and racked out.

The alarm worked this time and I was on the road by 4:15. I left a stash of some items in a bush by the motel. Things like sunscreen and my toothbrush, my soap and a few other small items I wouldn’t need again (I’ll retrieve these on my way up to the vol state next week).

Running through the predawn in East Ridge, and through the tunnel into Chattanooga was nice. I had some strength in my legs and was able to pretty much continuously run for 6+ miles. In Chattanooga, restaurants were finally opening and I got some food at Bojangles, enjoying every bite and sip.

I trudged on, and over to hwy 11 around moccasin point. It would be absolutely crazy to attempt this when there’s any traffic, because there are stone walls on one side of this road, and a bluff on the other. I criss-crossed the road trying to be visible to the early morning drivers, the sun had come up and I did just fine. Around the other side of this curve at the base of Lookout Mountain, I turned south on the pike, and headed down the hwy to my finish point at the first exit of Interstate 59.

A year or so ago I had run from Castle Rock down over Sand Mountain on my way to a friend’s party on Lookout Mountain, so I intended to use that run as the connector for this route to the Vol State.

I soon realized I wasn’t quite going to be able to guarantee making my shuttle if I continued all the way to my intended finish. I had about 12 miles to go, and really only an hour to spare, so I decided to cut things a bit short and make sure I caught my ride.

I thumbed back to the interstate, washed off in a hotel pool, got picked up by the Nashville->Chattanooga shuttle, and was deposited at the shuttle depot back in East Ridge. Just like that I was off the road. I walked a mile to a thrift store and bought a shirt and some shorts for $7, and weakly ambled back to the depot, where I had about 15 minutes before I got in the van and we headed off to Atlanta. I got there in plenty of time to welcome mom back from a month in Europe, and my brother showed up at the terminal not 5 minutes after we had collected her bags.

Riding home my legs hurt! But I was pretty happy. A good adventure and another dream realized. The trek was nearly 200 miles in just under 96 hours. right at 50 miles a day for 4 days. Basically the same mileage I managed when I ran the vol state with a crew a couple years ago. I attribute this to increased maturity, experience, and the fact that it didn't break 100 degrees every day this time!!!

So I have a couple short stretches to go finish up, and then I’ll have connected over 500 miles of journey running from Missouri to South Carolina. Next up is the trek to the Atlantic!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

lake loop

since barkley i've only run further than 4.5 miles once, although i've done it twice in a day a few times....
this weather is glorious and the lake loop beckons ALL THE TIME.
4.5 miles of joy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

experiencing purity

this years barkley is over.
i am really happy.

being out there may have torn me down again,
but it was a healing time that i've been needing, too.

i've experienced heart break, starting a business, and the continuing search for goals and wants and needs and meaning.
some things have not felt certain or concrete, and i have struggled.

i have been reminded that it is absolutely glorious to be alive.

my highlights:

pre-exploration with GOOD FRIEND byron, in the snow on monday

pre-exploration with GOOD FRIEND mike, in the beautiful warmth on wednesday

complete purity and joy blasting down trail with byron and mike, meeting JB and travis.

in camp shenanigan's all week, dinner with johnny D, leonard and byron.

feeling so good and relaxed on loop one. i haven't been that happy in a long run or event in over two years.

meeting blake and cracking a joke as i descended rat jaw. the view of the petros valley had me in a state of purity and bliss.

leading most of the loop with jim nelson, and being the first ones to go through the tunnel. SO COOL!

heading out on loop 2 and being ready and happy.

turning my light on while collecting my page at the base of the spectacle on loop 2.

enjoying the breeze and the beauty of evening on loop 2.

waiting for jim and sharing raw dog falls, pig head creek, rat jaw, and the prison
on loop 2. still

watching jim disappear strongly on the bad thing.

nailing the needle's eye and competently hitting the bottom of zipline alone on a

moonlit night with intense downbursts of cool air blowing the leaves all over big hell.

friends in camp after 20:45 for two loops.

dad being there with me.

hearing gary say i am "easily on pace for 5 loops." (chuckle)

resting with a stomach that was having a new experience...shutting down.

descending hell on loop 3, asking alan for an aspirin and losing a minute because i stopped being vigilant, just for 10 seconds.

starting up zipline and hearing the rain move in like a locomotive from the SW....a LOCOMOTIVE!

adrenaline pulling us up zipline in survival mode.

slowly nailing the descent of the bad thing.
FREEZING toes under the prison.

quitting at the prison but still climbing uber rat jaw.

o-meliating back to camp

dad being there with me

telling everyone alan wouldn't do it on his own, and being wrong. (very impressed, alan)

laying in the van "coming down."

sharing in camp

witnessing the 3 talented, skilled, strong, tough fun runners come in.

witnessing JB's STRENGTH.

knowing that it's within each and every one of us.

having a place in this world, and knowing that WE'RE ALIVE!

peace barkers

Monday, March 8, 2010


after a good february of long stuff, last weekend i bailed on my double GAAT adventure, i was intimidated by the distance and the terrain and the weather, and i just wasn't excited enough to go after the experience.
i still needed a last long training excursion however, so this weekend i took a shot. all week i was trying to create an adventure that was inspiring and tough.

after an initial crazy idea of a 4 day hike from springer to NC and back while fasting, i decided i would need a shorter, more intense trek, because there is fun exciting shop work calling.
dad offered to pick me up if i went one way.

saturday i went to atlanta and fixed a machine issue for a friend, that took all day, and i drove up to amicalola falls state park.
amicalola to dicks creek gap is 76 miles and both ends are on paved roads.
springer to NC is 76 miles and both ends require extensive forest road travel, much of which is covered in ice right now.
the decision to shift the run 9 miles south and start at amicalola was easy.

arriving after dark, i climbed into the back of the van and packed my backpack with various food items, wind pants, two headlamps, body glide, lighter, balaclava, a couple chemical hand warmers, two water bottles, and a space blanket.
it was a calm clear night in comparison to some of the frigid tundra nights we've seen recently, so i started in a longsleeve shirt (with sleeves long enough to pull over my hands), and short sleeve shirt, my wind shirt, and my woodsman shorts (a couple good pockets, ultralight material). also, i decided to wear the new balance trail 100's, since my other flats didn't have any tread on them, this was a gamble that ended up paying off very well i think.

the approach trail from the visitor center has been rerouted since my last visit, so it took a minute of wandering to figure out where the trail was, but soon enough i was climbing the 400+ stairs to the top of the falls.

the 8.8 miles to springer felt like a little "pre-late-night" prologue. i reminded myself that even though it was night time, i shouldn't be tired because if i was at home, i would not even be thinking about bed yet.
after flurries in athens on tuesday, this week featured a few relatively warm days, so i was assuming that even after the horrific ice storms that demolished the mountains last month, the trails would be nice and clear......i was wrong. south facing slopes were generally very nice, one would think it was normal late winter / early spring conditions, a little frozen mud but generally great trail. north and west facing slopes however were generally pretty bad. with all the thru hikers starting out, at least there was no post holing for me (which would have been rough through some of the 4-5 foot drifts!). however the thru hikers also meant that the deeper snow was packed down, melted in the warmer days, and refrozen into slick patches during the evening. the crusty stuff gripped ok on the shoes, but there was plenty of slick stuff, and this, combined with the sidehill nature of some of the trail, meant that the going was sketchy in many places.

the 30 miles from springer to blood mountain were the balance of the first night miles. and they treated me really well. i was in the early stages of the adventure, naive about what was ahead, and overly enthusiastic about my own toughness. i was daydreaming about potentially adding 20+ miles to the trek and having dad pick me well inside NC, making it a 100+ miler.
that enthusiasm would wane later.
machine shop stuff was playing a major role in my mind as well, mentally i was designing some tools and generally trying to be creative about shop plans. fun.
interestingly, during the witching hours of 2-4 a.m. i passed 3 (count them, 3!) campsites where people had fires going. wha!? who was up tending fire all night (?), it's not like there were groups of people partying. just one or two tents and a roaring fire. i only noticed a single person at each site (and they were miles apart). still unsure about this one, although my best guess is that since there are alot of fresh thru hikers on the trail right now, perhaps they are not yet accustomed to life in the dark woods, and they find it comforting to keep the fire up all night?

i also passed one campsite where i was "greeted" by a couple of snarling dogs. if they were thru hikers, i'm sure they'll become more accustomed to random folks walking by "their" territory at night.

as the sun emerged i was near the side trail to dockery lake, and i marveled at the high rock bluffs to my left. great barkley training there, but i had a destination. i started mixing in good jogging throughout this section, as my legs were begging for some real use. all the 10-14 hour training hike have paid off.
it is a travesty that i left the camera in the van, as the views from blood mountain (and green clifftop and blue mountain and tray mountain) were very special.

arriving at neels gap, and the mountain crossings store, i was hopeful to find a hot breakfast and supplement my foodstuffs. while i didn't sit down to bacon and eggs, i did manage a hot sandwich, a coke, snickers, banana, and oatmeal cream pie. the 10 minutes i took there were well worth it, as i remembered the lifegiving "meal" i received a couple weeks ago at the heartbreak 100k.

the 6.5 miles to hogpen gap laid the groundwork for the day. i was more than halfway done, but the miles were to come much harder now. the sluchy snow and rock were less conducive to easy motion, especially the skiing descent to tesnatee gap and the slick trail up wildcat mountain.

the next section, 14 miles to unicoi gap featured both the best running of the trek, and the lowest mental state. i was still far from done (almost 10 hours to go!), but i was also getting sufficiently tired that eating was less enjoyable, and the snowier sections took alot more concentration. the treacherousness of the trail was obvious, shown by the number of footprints i avoided where someone else had already slipped off the sidehilled trail.
it was early in this section that i re-committed to the full 76. i had been daydreaming about changing the rendezvous point to mile 60 rather than 76, but i knew that the mental training was crucial here. i adopted the just do it attitude. my legs were sore and i was tired. the response to these complaints was to keep going. no need to indulge in the wimpy thoughts.

reaching unicoi gap meant i was set for the longest climb of the trek, and the impending evening.
i struggled up rocky mountain and tray mountain, seeing the deepest drifts, and navigating some slippery refreezing slowmelt. atop tray mountain the views were again amazing, so i lingered to snack and take them in.
the north side of tray mountain was hit hard by the ice stroms, so reroutes were the name of the game on this descent. soon enough the sun slipped below the horizon and i was in my own world again. the normally very runnable (mostly) descent from tray to dicks creek gap was made uber treacherous at times by the ice. i ate it fully once, and went down to all fours on numerous occasions.
i knew if the conditions were good i had a shot at sub 24 hours, but throughout this section the necessary ambitious pace was negated by ice and limbs. the next goal became 25:20, which would mean a pace of "exactly" 3mph. unfortunately the final descent was the worst ice and snow of the entire trek, and i meandered down to hwy 76 at 9:45pm, for 25:30 elapsed.

i was spent pretty good, but with a good meal and a little nap i could have gone on, which is exactly what i will have to do in a few weeks!

the mt100's were actually awesome for the crusty ice, as the rock plate kept the bottoms of my feet relatively happy, and thank goodness i didn't take the 152s with no tread, i'd still be out there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

76 to 76

well i don't need to see crusty ice and snow again for

just got in from the 76 to 76.
drove up to amicalola falls saturday,
packed my pack, and headed north at 2015 saturday evening

although there was annoying ice and snow over significant portions of the first 40 miles, i was rockin and rollin when i hit neels gap at 0945 sunday morning, 13.5 hours in.
grabbed handfuls of food from their stuffs, to supplement what i was carrying.

the trail through the night was frozen solid and crusty, affording decent footing since most of the trail is on south facing slopes, with the snow melted thin.

holy cow, the last 36 miles had plenty of runnable dirt, but had i known ahead of time what i was committing to, there is no way i'd have gone after this beast. from tray mountain north, i was ice skating my way along the sidehilled trails. had i not been exhausted, i would have been majorly it was, i just needed to get to hwy 76, where my dad was going to deliver me from my sins.

25:30 after the start, a couple hours after dark sunday evening, i had gone from amicalola to hwy 76......76 miles, around 21k +/- elevation.
without the snow and ice i think i'd have eclipsed my 22:50 similar route of two years ago by a fair margin.

comments on a nike slogan applied to hard runs:
after rockin and rollin all night, i had begun to have serious doubts around mile 45. these doubts were shouting in my face by mile 50, with the option of having dad pick me up at mile 60 rather than 76.
the order of the day was to just do it, discomfort can be its own bedfellow!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

feb recap

f: 20 miles, 2,000' - mind not right for 150 miler
s: 22 miles, 1,000' - fast run.

the last week didn't turn out like originally planned.
i was going to go out with a bang,
a 150 mile bang, the whole georgia AT, twice without stopping.
instead i wimped out and turned around after 10 miles, for a 20 mile workout.
my head just wasn't up to it this time.

with the 20 friday evening, and the 22 sunday evening, i did manage to get to

333.1 miles
70,700' gain

(not quite krupicka's 501 mi, 101,300', gosh that's impressive!?)

for the month.
this is approximately an average of 24 miles and 5,000' every other day.

technically i did not even come close to a real 30 miler every other day.
but i am almost satisfied.

if the last big workout had been accomplished i'd have done the equivalent.
granted, not completing that workout makes the numbers pale in comparison to the goal,
but the first three weeks speak for themselves.
i now have 3 weeks to continue preparing for barkley, and a week to rest.
i believe i can be ready. that was the purpose of the month.

looking forward to the coming 3 weeks of training,
i had a dream last night in which i finished (and won, there were 3 other finishers) the barkley.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


week three february

m: 0.0
t: 0.0
w: 15.5 miles on roads, 900'
t: 15.0 miles on roads, 700'
f: 56.0 miles heartbreak 100k, 17,000'
s: finishing friday run
s: 4.0 miles in marion, mt. ida, 800'

total: 90.5 miles, +19,400'

monday and tuesday were rest

wednesday was a solid an exciting road run that felt good and finished fast with metallica in the ears. it was super cold and windy. windy!

thursday was a tired but solid run in slightly warmer conditions

wow. will add some here soon.

up and over mt ida from matt's place. with lily too.
beautiful day, warm, almost too warm...shook things out.
felt better than expected, but that doesn't mean i felt good!

a bit behind on the goal, but a very solid week, my feet hurt, my legs are heavy, and when i start resting, i'm gonna be getting seriously stronger.

cumulative for feb:
291.1 miles, +65,700'
in mountains:
210.0 miles, +61,700'

Monday, February 15, 2010


week two february

m: 0.0
t: 0.0
w: 11.0 miles on AT, +2,000' (cancelled 50 miler due to conditions)
t: 27.0 miles on roads, +1,200'
f: 10.0 miles at FHSP, +2,000'
s: 16.0 miles at FHSP, +4,000'
s: 10.0 miles at FHSP, +2,600'

total: 74.0 miles, +11,800'

monday and tuesday i was waiting for weather.

wednesday i found it.
high winds, lots of slick ice, very cold temps....i called the 50 miler for safety.

thursday was trying to make up for wednesday. good road running.

friday was 10pm-2am in some more freezing ass cold.

saturday was an abbreviated long day, with good company.

sunday was a wrap up and much needed check of the falls and jaw.

a good week although the miles didn't pile up. next week's got some catching up to do.

cumulative for feb:
200.6 miles, +46,300'

Sunday, February 7, 2010

hop on board

week one february

m: 33.6 miles on AT, +10,300'
t: 0.0
w: 40.2 miles on AT, +12,000'
t: 0.0
f: 0.0
s: 22.0 miles on roads, +1,000'
s: 30.0 miles on AT, +11,200'

total: 125.8 miles, +34,500'

monday was a crashing crystal palace.
all day on a couple inches of crushed ice.

wednesday was COLD. COLD. COLD.

saturday started in a rough way but ended happy.

sunday was icy and snowed without snowing. pretty.

barkley train has left the station. carl is on board.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

new training plan

it's called:

30 miles every other day in february.

the plan is to do alot of miles, and take a lot of rest.
the mileages don't need to be exact, and they just have to average to 30 miles / 2 days.
distance can be put in the bank, and days can be alternated if need be.

the total would be 420 miles in 28 days. not really that crazy when you look at it as 105 mi/week.
plenty of people do that.
the difference will be the long workouts, and the vertical.

if i don't execute the training, i don't see the point in toeing the line at barkley.

here we go.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


picture thanks to someone's facebook, hopefully they don't mind....
my buddy jason modified it slightly....

anyway, i went out to mountain mist with the mission of "winning."
honestly i knew there were probably 3 guys for whom a horrible race was still better than my best day, but the week before the race i was trying to decide what strategy would give me the best shot.
i humorously told several people at the start that i was going to start in the lead and not let anyone by me.

unfortunately this only lasted about 3/4 mile, because david riddle saw me go off the front and he is for real.

that being said, after the first couple of slight inclines i knew this was not my day. everything i would normally charge up, i was red-lining on. by 3 miles more than 10 people had passed me, and i was wondering where this day was going????

i reached the first aid station (at 6 miles) in 15th place. it wasn't a particularly slow time, but my legs were not sprightly at all. i was trying to decide what plan B should be. i kept pushing, knowing that plan B was to give it my all, even if it was a slow time.

i took it easy on the first big climb of the day, and decided i would just have to go slow for a bit and regroup. i did this, but was soon let down by the results....i had figured if brought the tach down a bit i would get in a groove and start picking people off. instead i was still getting passed! not blown off the trail, but passed none the less.

when i reached half way, someone noticed my "i'd rather be sprinting" shirt, and commented that i was moving pretty fast.....i just mumbled that "something's gotta change!"

soon there after i caught my great friend byron backer and i said, "man, i'm gonna have to eat some humble pie tonight!"

byron's response was just what i needed to hear.
"you're moving ok. you're in 17th, the others aren't that far ahead, i'd say you can catch 10 of them if you keep your head in it."

byron is the man, i've shared alot of miles with him, and the dude is just awesome. he has more experience at going out hard than anyone else i run with. and that comment was perfectly true.

i replied, "thanks for the encouragement, just gotta regroup and keep the head in it."

from there on, i wasn't floundering anymore. i still didn't have the normal legs, but i found my groove. down to the land trust and up waterline, and then mounted somewhat of an attack in mackay's hollow. by the end i had worked back to 12th, and although it was the 3rd slowest of my 9 finishes at the mist, i gotta say it was one of my better efforts. 4:53.

post script:
after spending the last 3 days in bed, i realize that my body was trying to race, and fend off illness out there on the course. i couldn't climb because my immune system was in over drive.

since barkley is the real focus, this is a little comforting, knowing that the 4:53 wasn't due to being out of shape, but probably was influenced alot by the cold that was trying to nail me.

thanks to byron i get to be happy with my effort. the more time out there and the more maturity gained, the easier it will become to regroup and keep the head in it.